Is now the time to buy a 4K TV?
Sometimes I'm tempted to buy things I don't need, even when I
know full well they're not practical.
For example, TigerDirect is currently offering the Seiki SE39UY04 39-inch 4K Ultra HDTV for
when you apply coupon code
at checkout. That's the lowest price
I've ever seen on a 4K TV, and therefore I must have
Well, okay, quick reality check. Let's take a look at some of
the pros and cons here.
In case the terminology is unfamiliar, "4K" refers to ultra
high-definition television, also known as Ultra HD. The number
derives from the screen resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, which
is four times greater than standard HDTV (which runs at 1,920 by
1,080). More pixels equals a sharper picture, so if you thought you
current TV was crisp, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
About two years ago, when 4K TVs made their debut (to much media
fanfare), you could expect to pay as much as $20,000 for one--never
mind the fact that there was little to no 4K content available to
Now, you can grab a 4K panel for just a few bucks more than the
price of a regular old HDTV. Awesome, right?
Maybe not. For one thing, there's still very little 4K content
out there, meaning all those extra pixels will be going to waste.
It's not like you can tune in a bunch of 4K channels on Comcast
(you can't) or rent 4K Blu-ray movies (ditto). In fact, Samsung
recently went so far as to offer 4K TV buyers a couple of free 4K IMAX
--which are delivered on a hard drive
to plug into the TV.
Make no mistake: With this Seiki and TVs like it, you'll still
get a very nice picture when viewing regular HD stuff--cable TV,
Blu-ray movies, console games, etc.--but don't expect the sun and
What's more, there's not much value in having such a high screen
resolution when the screen itself measures only 39 inches. Indeed,
many would argue that even full 1080p is overkill on a 39-inch TV,
which is why many older models topped out at 720p (that is, 1,366 x
768). At that size, your eyes just don't see the higher pixel
So, to answer my own question: No, this is not the time to buy a
4K TV, at least not one that's only 39 inches. The exception is if
you're looking for an ultra-high-resolution PC monitor (and have a
video card that can drive it), in which case this is an absolute
steal. Check the reader comments on TigerDirect's product page to
see how a few users have leveraged this TV for that purpose.Veteran technology writer Rick Broida
is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his
money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC
World and Wired.