It’s time for another television technology arms race again! First we had flat-screen plasmas to replace our space consuming tube TVs, followed by the LCD HD ready revolution, then full HD, uninspiring 3D televisions which failed to light up the publics imagination or meet the manufacturers sales targets! Smart TV’s quickly appear over the horizon – giving us the Internet experience on a larger scale, and LEDs came to rescue us from the expensive energy bills plasma TVs generated. So what’s next? 4k ultra HD TVs of course! All cranking up that home tech arms race and potentially our energy bills again.
So do we need 4k ultra HD TVs?
Close-up 4k screens look fantastic, however, do you need that kind of resolution in your front room – I think not. 4k images are for cinemas, where you’ve big screen projection and an audience to please. Okay if you lucky enough to own a 6m wide private cinema with a 4k projector it may be a good thing.
Then there’s the issue of what are you going to play on it, at the moment there isn’t a playback format like DVD or Blue-ray for ultra HD films. Downloading 4k content isn’t really an option at the moment as the files will be huge. Even the animation studios are complaining that 4k content is going to drive-up production costs, as animation films are rendered in 2k – have you ever spotted this when you’ve been to the cinema? Don’t get me wrong I like technology and love films; my tech life stretches back to days Spectrum computers, Amstrads and DOS, that’s until I discovered Apple Macs in the late 80’s. I even used to work with good old 35mm projected film before it was called 4k! I just think that there has to be a tangible benefit for consumers to technological improvements and a consideration for the energy consumption and data storage implications.
There is also the energy usage issue of ever expanding screen sizes and resolutions. Take a look on Sust-it and you will see that 4k-screens use far more power than HD ones. Even the European Environmental Bureau‘s (EEB) are making noises to ban super sized, energy hungry TV’s as happened with vacuum cleaners. The EU funded Cool Products campaign says European TVs use the same electricity as Sweden and Portugal’s residential energy consumption combined!
Downloading content from the cloud has an energy usage overhead that’s unseen, easily forgotten and rarely mentioned. Somewhere there’s going to be server ‘farms’ crammed with hard drives and computers streaming this content, all being cooled by massive air conditioning units pumping out yet more Co2. I’d rather go to the cinema any-day!
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