It's most likely that your local or regular cinema screens films digitally now. In many cases, this is still being done at 2k, images that are 2048 pixels wide.
Though some chains, here in the UK at least, boast proudly that their projectors all pump out 4k, which is 4096 pixels wide. That's very true, but it's also the case that these 4k projectors are often being used to show 2k files.
It takes a pretty big screen for the step up from 2k to 4k to really make an impact. I won't get into all of the maths here but audience members in a fairly typical cinema wouldn't be able to discernany difference at all if they were to sit in the back two thirds of the auditorium.
Great for people near the front, though, right?
Let's assume you sit about seven feet away from your TV set at home. For 4k to make a measurable difference to your perception of the image, your TV would have to be around 140 inches, diagonally. That's about three metres wide.
So, I don't think 4k is by any means the urgent next step in video technology. On the other hand, I do know that it is most definitely coming, and fast.
Sony have this week said that they want to establish a standard format for 4k. The twist is that this time, unlike with Blu-ray and DVD, they don't mean a physical format, they mean a file format. In fact, Sony's CEO has this week said at the Consumer Electronics Show that a disc format might even be unlikely.
Streaming video is likely to be at the forefront of the 4k push, rather than packaged media or broadcast. No surprise, then, that Neflix are already working hard, getting ready to ride the 4k explosion.
Pocket Lint saw a 4k Netflix demonstration at CES. It was a pretty modest demo, tucked away quietly, but it was definitely 4k content, and it was being streamed, someway or another.
Samsung are partnering with Netflix on the development of this tech, which will likely mean Netflix 4k apps on the dashboard of Samsung 4k sets.
It's early days yet, but these things do have a way of accelerating. How long until I stop cluttering my house up with piles of Blu-rays and start hanging off the wires for 4k streams, I wonder?
I'll miss packaged media, but I've already welcomed Netflix with open arms. And a nice big 4k TV? Don't mind if I do. But I do mean big. I'm not going 4k unless it's going to really mean something.
If you're going to join me in this grand indulgence, you'll need a pretty robust connection to the web to get your content. This is from Pocket Lint's piece:
The new codec of H.265 is claimed to allow for further file size compression of 40-50 per cent more than H.264 video, with no loss in picture quality. It can ensure UHD images are streamed efficiently using existing bandwidth, but streaming 5.1 or 7.1 audio will still take up as much bandwidth as before. So file sizes will naturally be larger, with all things considered.My current connection allows me to stream 1080p Netflix in two rooms simultaneously, even while I'm surfing the web, so I think I'm most likely set already.
Right, let's try and put a number on it, just for fun. I predict that I'll have a 4k set at home and will be watching 4k streaming video on it in... ermmm... let's say 2017.
I'll keep you posted.