Television as we know it in the early 21st century is in the midst of a vast sea change. Content and technology. Where we view TV-like video, which devices we use to view so-called television, and the overall quality of what we view.
All are undergoing massive changes that threaten the traditional viewing fare from broadcast television to the massive stack of channels in cable TV. These changes are enormous. Think of it this way. Just a few years ago we viewed TV in 480p and used VHS to time shift programming.
Today, we have an increasing supply of 4K HDR video streaming online. The iPhone’s camera takes 4K videos. YouTube handles 4K video. Samsung is pushing the envelope with an 8K OLED TV that threatens to make movie stars of today look like your grandparents of yesterday.
Think wrinkled and pimpled, blemished and tarnished. In just a few short years we’ve gone from analog 480p video to 720p HD to 1080p HD and jumped past 2K UHD to the next level, 4K HDR, which happens to be where Apple has settled Apple TV. 4K. HDR.
Is there a vast difference between the various and sundry HD versions? Yes. And no. And it depends upon the content quality itself. A 1080p movie viewed on a 4K display may not be an instant visible difference in quality, but look closely, or side-by-side, or view the latter for awhile and go back to plain old 720p, and you’ll note the differences right away.
Samsung is showing on an 85-inch QLED TV of the future. We plan to buy two and replace the sliding doors to the balcony of our condo because whatever image we show on the displays will be better than the Chicago skyline and winter we see now. Just kidding. But you get the idea, right?
Samsung promises the same display will have artificial intelligence built-in to convert older and lower resolution videos so they look better than the originals. The Korean conglomerate promises a 150-inch Micro LED TV in the near future, too.
Who can afford such high resolution devices? Not even Apple customers. This year. For now, Apple seems to have decided the next plateau for television viewing is streaming based, 4K HDR, and that level alone will leave broadcast television in the dust as people move to streaming videos with higher quality– a plateau which may last only a few years. Remember when 2k UHD was all the rage? That didn’t last long.
Apple is pushing the higher resolution envelope in many ways. Not only does iPhone already shoot 4K video, and iTunes deliver 4K movies, but the company promises home grown content to compete with the likes of Amazon and Netflix.
What all of these changes mean should be obvious. Video quality is making an enormous leap, Apple is deeply involved in the mix, and our TV stars and movie stars are going to be full of wrinkles, pimples, blemishes, and birthmarks we may not enjoy viewing as much as we did back in the days of HD.