Beware the 4K con

December 22nd, 2015
Buyers of an Ultra-High Definition (UHD) TV should be certain they are purchasing a genuine 4K set in order to guarantee the best entertainment experience.

This is the advice of Samsung South Africa, which is cautioning consumers against some of the so-called branded televisions on the market that are not true UHD. According to the International Committee for Display Metrology (ICDM), Measurement Specifications are likely to be revised so as to prevent low resolution TVs from being sold as 4K UHD TVs to unsuspecting consumers.

“Customers should always check the exact resolution of any television that claims to be UHD quality,” says Matthew Thackrah, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Electronics SA. “A true 4K TV will have 3 840 x 2160 pixels with exceptional screen quality, whereas a fake one will only offer 3K resolution at 25% less (2 880 x 2 160). The latter also use the RGBW method – which stands for Red, Green, Black and White – that replaces some of the RGB (Red, Green and Black) sub-pixels with white sub-pixels to cut back on production costs. It also, unfortunately, cuts back on the quality.”

Thackrah says the original Measurement Specifications as outlined by the ICDM are being purposefully misinterpreted by manufacturers selling RGBW panels as UHD TVs. The colour is compromised and users therefore do not fully experience true UHD resolution. Many consumers have been caught out by the fake UHD TV moniker, not realising how the combination of RGBW technology and low 3K resolution will impact their viewing.

“It is essential to examine the credentials of any manufacturer claiming to sell a UHD TV and to make sure that resolution is true 4K,” says Thackrah. “Check that the TV has an aspect ratio of at least 16:9, a colour bit depth of 8 bits and a high frame rate of around 24p to 60p. Many units don’t have clear information about the display or the core technology, so ask the right questions and make sure you get the right answers before you make a purchase.”

Samsung has invested considerable research and development into its UHD TV range, including the premium SUHD TVs that have incredible depth, colour and captivating visual quality. Generally, fake UHD TVs do not come with as much feature variety as the genuine article and rarely give consumers the connected lifestyle and dynamic experience that come standard with the real thing.

Thackrah advises consumers that, before spending money on a new UHD TV, they need to check the specifications and be sure that it is a worthwhile investment and not a cheap fake. He says the fact that the ICDM is considering amending the Measurement Specifications going forward should provide customers with an additional layer of protection in the future.

“The picture quality of a fake UHD TV is nowhere near the deep blacks and vivid colours of true 4K,” concludes Thackrah. “It probably won’t turn on with your mobile device, tell you the weather and the time, provide a variety of connectivity options and allow for complete user control from anywhere in the home. A Samsung SUHD TV is something you can truly be proud to have in your home and we urge people not to compromise on quality.”

Spotting the difference between real and pseudo 4K / UHD TVs

  • Take a close-up photo of a white portion of your TV screen
  • Zoom in the photo as far as it will go:
    • If you see perfect vertical and horizontal lines of red, green and blue, repeated in this order throughout, your TV is a genuine 4K UHD TV.
    • However, if you see any lines of white mixed in with the red, green and blue lines, your TV delivers pseudo UHD TV.

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