After spending the last couple of years as a bit of a niche product, Ultra High Definition, or 4K, TV is set to go mainstream in 2016.
The format offers four times the detail and picture quality of regular High Definition, giving viewers the most most lifelike images ever available in the home.
In 2014 Netflix became first major content provider to offer shows in 4K with its political thriller House of Cards and now routinely produces all of its original commissions in the new format.
The service’s line-up of 4K shows also includes Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Daredevil, Better Call Saul and Grace & Frankie, one of the funniest sitcoms of recent years.
Netflix’s rival Amazon also offers 4K content on its Prime Instant Video service, most notably the alternate history series Man in the High Castle which looks simply stunning with its retro-feeling architecture and costumes.
Both services are ramping up their 4K offerings and Amazon will be using this autumn’s arrival of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May’s new show The Grand Tour to drive interest both in the format and in the video streaming service itself.
The show is Amazon’s biggest commission to date and its extensive use of overseas locations will help showcase 4K’s superior picture quality, possibly helping the online retailer shift new TVs as well as subscriptions.
4K TV is also set to get a boost from that long-proven driver of home entertainment upgrades: sport.
Last year saw the launch of the UK’s first broadcast sports channel, BT Sport UltraHD, which BT has been using to showcase its exclusive Champions League coverage.
Delivered via broadband to BT’s UHD set top box, from next season the channel will also include Premier League matches as well as selected fixtures from BT’s other line-up of sporting rights.
Premier League games are also likely to be a key feature of Sky’s upcoming UHD service which will launch later this year for those households with its new Sky Q set top box.
This boost in content is obviously good news for those who rushed out to buy a 4K TV when they first hit the shelves but it’s also helping to drive interest among more casual buyers of home entertainment devices which in turn is leading to lower prices.
A number of retailers are looking to cash in on the renewed interest by selling big brand 4K TVs for around the same price a standard HD TV would’ve cost you just a couple of years back.
Comparison and voucher sites are a great way to spot a bargain, for example via voucherbin.co.uk we discovered that Curry’s are offering a number of deals on 4K TV sets including the Samsung UE60JU6000 Smart 4k Ultra, which launched last year with a hefty £1299 price tag, for under £800.
That’s a saving which will make early adopters weep!
By the way, notice that ‘Smart’ in the name – most 4K TVs include apps for streaming services such as Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix so you don’t need a separate set top box or device plugged into the TV.
Other commonly seen apps include YouTube and music video service Vevo while some makers have signed up exclusive apps such as Now TV on selected LG models and the BFI Player and arthouse film service Curzon on selected Samsung TVs.
Don’t forget – if you’re planning to do a lot of streaming via such apps, especially those which offer 4K content, you’ll probably want to upgrade your current broadband package to one offering unlimited downloads to avoid hefty overage fees.