When the first 4K HDTVs arrived a few years back, I stuck with my tried-and-true LG plasma display and it's seemingly obsolete 1080p resolution. I had several reasons. The industry delivered the first 4K displays using LCD technology, which has problems with black levels and viewing angles. The lack of availability of 4K content proved to be another roadblock. So I waited.
LG delivered its first OLED TV in 2010, a puny 15-inch unit. OLED technology looked like the most promising technology, but scaling up resolution, cost, and limited lifetime of blue OLEDs proved daunting. The advent of "white OLED" – really a sandwich of red, green, and blue which use color filters and sub-pixel switching to generate colors – addressed both cost and lifetime issues. By 2016, LG OLED TVs had dropped from stratospheric pricing to merely very expensive. Sony and Panasonic began using LG OLED panels in their HDTVs.
I still waited.
By 2017, LG HDTVs had started dropping in price. The cost wasn't quite to the point where I would pull the trigger, but the trendline looked clear. So I began planning my 4K home theater pipeline.
It's All About Content
It's been interesting to see how 4K content has been slow in coming until the advent of HDR standards.
Content has historically trailed technology. Color TVs arrived when most of the existing shows used black-and-white. Television remained at a 4:3 aspect ratio even as DVDs moved to support widescreen. HDTVs hit the market long before 1080p content became the default. If the technology is good enough, content hits an inflection point where the new features begin arriving rapidly.
That time is now for 4K HDR (high dynamic range). All of Netflix's new shows are now available in 4K HDR. UltraHD Blu-ray is finally trickling in, with new movies shipping in the new format. It's been interesting to see how 4K content has been slow in coming until the advent of HDR standards. I'd argue that HDR offers a notable improvement in image quality and presence beyond simple resolution scaling. The combination of 4K with HDR can be stunning.
It's this inflection point in content availability plus hardware costs dropping that finally made me jump on the 4K bandwagon.