I looked at upgrading our Home Theater. We have a Windows 7 machine that we use as a HTPC and a jukebox. Mickeysoft has pretty much abandoned Windows Media Center, so our doing OTA recording on this machine looks dicey in the near future. TV has a line going through it. Sound is fantastic, bought, it takes up a lot of room. We got rid of DIRECTV and set up a laptop to stream Netflix and play movies. I did this so as not to interfere with the HTPC recording. Disk, arm contention and all that jazz. We love streaming. We are seeing some great movies with the Netflix DVD plan. I miss maybe 3 or 4 shoes that I don’t get, but it’s more than offset by being able to watch Kimmy, Evil (House of Cards) and a zillion other things.
So I go to look at TVs. 4K TVs are the rage. We set Netflix Windows 10 app to play at High Quality, up to 3GB per hour in data.
Comcast has capped data usage at 1 terabyte per month in 20 states or so, so I am using that as my monthly budget. I have seen articles that say they will offer data beyond the cap at an extra $50 a month, but, Comcast is the last company I want to give more money to. 3 GB per hour or 333 hours to use a terabyte of data. A high estimate of our streaming usage is 5 days a week, 4 hours or 20 a week or 80 hours a month. 80 hours of Netflix at High is 80 x 3 or 240gb or around 1/4 of the cap. So cap wise, we look okay.
To stream 4k, they say you need a good internet connection. Our speeds are not bad. We stream at high quality, Dolby 5.1 and our current TV is 1080i, or half the bandwidth of 1080p. We when we first start streaming a show, the quality is not so good. Okay, they use a lot of compression in streaming, and they do a lot of tricks to conserve bandwidth. I think of it like this, they do not paint all the pixels in the background for the first bit of viewing, until they figure out how to paint them on the screen correctly for this particular show. On our TV, it only paints half the pixels of HD 1080p, and the quality at the beginning is low. HDR basically quadruples that. I have heard mention of HDR streaming is crap. I goggled “tips for streaming 4K”. I was not impressed with what I saw. Pretty much useless drivel. So it’s June in 2017, streaming 4K does not look like a real possibility. There is another technology called HDR that has promise to increase video quality, however, in both cases 4K and HDR, the content available with these technologies is low. I doubt many OTA broadcast stations will offer any 4k soon. I would be surprised to see even 1080p in the near future.
My bottom line, if you a cord cutter, wait on 4K and HDR.
FYI, I get a little confused when I see YouTube saying look at this 4K (Ultra HD) content, which they scale down and show on my PC at 480i. The videos are nice, but, I know I am watching 480i. I think they should say, your equipment can’t handle the 4K