Among the deluge of Scotiabank ads on this seasons' Sportsnet hockey broadcasts you may have also seen Rogers self-promoting its new "4K TV service." What is 4K TV? It's the next generation of "Ultra-HDTV," something pretty much none of us asked for, well, except the struggling TV manufacturers who are still mad you didn't all buy into the whole 3D TV revolution on which they had banked their futures. Nevertheless, it's coming, so you might as well learn about it.
Rogers, Bell, and all our other national TV service providers, want a piece of this very profitable 4K HD pie. This coming Saturday, Sportsnet's Hockey Night in Canada will broadcast the Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens game in 4K HD; the first ever hockey game available in that format. The ACC is now fully equipped for 4K HD, so TSN will also start broadcasting Toronto Raptors games in this format too.
4K HD requires a huge amount of bandwidth to transmit, so to view it you will have to upgrade to very expensive cable packages. At current rates they start at $1,800/year! These packages may also include very high, or even temporarily unlimited internet bandwidth caps. That's because watching 4K HDTV, or streaming movies on Netflix or similar services, is a very data intensive affair.
Movies, and in the future NHL games on the NHL Gamecentre App, will suck up 100GB each or more, requiring a bare minimum connection of 25Mbps without anything else downloading at the same time. Rogers minimum cost unlimited internet package in Toronto starts at $59.99/month.
Unless you really want to see individual beads of sweat dripping off James van Riemsdyk's nose, one wonders how that can be worth it. (image from hockeyontrend Tumblr)
Oh, and you have to have an actual 4K HD TV too. If you don't have one yet, the cheapest option available at Best Buy Canada is a 43 inch model from VIZIO, which will cost you $750, plus HST. However, it's reported that a TV under 55 inches will not offer any perceptible difference with 4K HD to most human eyes. The cheapest 55 inch TV at Best Buy Canada will set you back a cool $1,180, plus HST.
For "the ultimate bragging rights" you can buy this 85 inch Samsung for a ridiculous $40,000 (plus $5,200 HST, though if you are spending that much on a TV you probably don't care about sales taxes).
NHL.com says 4K HD is not yet worth it
Just because they believe you need a 4K TV in your home — and a beefed-up cable package — doesn't necessarily mean it'll do you much good.
He went on to agree with the advice that TV's under 55 inches are not useful for 4K HD TV.
Most viewers who own TVs smaller than 55 inches probably won't see a difference in 4K picture quality, according to a report from digital video and audio mastering firm THX.
He then discussed what is actually available for everyone in 4K HDTV at this time.
Rogers has committed to 4K resolution on Sportsnet for another 19 NHL games, 81 Toronto Blue Jays home games. A separate 4K feed of Sportsnet will be made available to other cable providers, the company said.
Bell is making its own foray into 4K content with the broadcast of the Toronto Raptors home game on Jan. 20 and further commitments to 4K programming on its TSN channels this year.
You can catch some Hollywood movies on special Blu-ray discs remastered in 4K, but you'll require a 4K Blu-ray player, which costs around $150.
Netflix offers a limited selection of 4K content to stream, including most of the in-house series and films, like "Jessica Jones" and "Narcos." A small group of Hollywood films are also in the higher definition, including "Ghostbusters" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." All of this is only available when you upgrade your Netflix package to $11.99 per month.
Shomi, the streaming video partnership between Rogers and Shaw, will offer more than 100 hours of 4K entertainment, though a timeline for that rollout hasn't been announced. Bell's Discovery Go streaming video service on Samsung's Ultra HD TVs also has a lineup of Ultra-HD titles.
So what do you think? Will you be upgrading to 4K HD? Have you already? Will you do it if it's cheaper? Are you still sticking with your old CRT TV? Vote in our poll.