4K is the most straightforward step forward: It offers four times as many pixels as 1080p. But while that might sound exciting, it’s not a noticeable leap unless you’re sitting very close to a large TV set. HDR, on the other hand, is an upgrade you definitely can’t miss. It lets you see both brighter and darker elements in an image. Shots of the sun or huge explosions end up looking almost as vibrant as they do in real life. (In fact, on high-end TVs the brightness can sometimes make you squint your eyes.) And while being able to see darker images might not sound exciting, it’s a big help for things like Daredevil’s nighttime fight scenes.
The benefit of wide color gamut support, or WCG, is immediately noticeably when you’re watching something like Planet Earth 2, which shows off seemingly every naturally occurring shade. Until now, home video formats could only display a limited amount of colors. But with WCG, all of the primary pigments — red, green and blue — are bolder and more realistic than ever.
So what makes things better for 4K and HDR next year? The most obvious answer: The TVs supporting those new formats will come even further down in price. Previously, you’d have to spend close to $1,000 to get a decent 50-inch TV. But today, one of the most widely recommended 55-inch models, TCL’s P series, goes for just $650. And if you don’t mind skimping a bit on picture quality, you can find already similarly sized sets for even less.
That also means that large TVs are becoming more affordable. Vizio’s mid-range M series line starts at $1,000 for the 65-inch model, and you can go all the way up to 75 inches for $2,000. That’s the sort of TV you previously could only dream of — not something normal people could buy. By next year, many consumers might consider a 65-inch set as their default upgrade, and I wouldn’t be surprised if TVs beyond 70-inches become more popular.
And even if you’re not just trying to stuff the biggest screen possible into your home, once high-end technology, like OLED, is also becoming more affordable. Not surprisingly, OLED is the upgrade videophiles are really excited about. It offers more contrast than LCD sets and better black levels, plus it doesn’t suffer from motion blurring. And if you care about home decor, OLED sets can be shockingly thin. LG’s new W series are as thick as two quarters stacked on top of each other — something that also requires them to be wall mounted, since it’s physically impossible to balance them with a traditional table-mounted stand.