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Holiday Advice on Ultra HD

The holidays are now upon us, which means it’s time to think about gifts. We asked our tech-side sages for advice.

Specifically, we asked the video-engineering braintrust: “What are you telling your family and friends when they ask if they should buy an Ultra HD/4K TV?” The overwhelming majority (14 of 24 asked) replied with variations on “wait.”

Here’s a sampling:

• “Wait. Set prices are still too high, programming still too limited. But hey, if you’ve got money to burn, knock yourself out.”

• “Buy one only if you’re a gamer. Otherwise wait a year.”

• “Watch the color space specs to determine when to jump. I want one now but I’m making myself wait.”

• “Wait for [a] price drop. Wait for 10-bit panels and High Dynamic Range.”

The last came from a broadcast-side engineer who likes to point out that 4K TV isn’t just about resolution.

The No. 2 most repeated response: Not enough content created in 4K exists to feed the sets.

(Note that almost all 4K/UHD sets contain within them ways to add bits to the picture, known in the lingo as “uprezzing.” Note also that content-side people sniff at this. “It’d be like you painting a masterpiece,” one snarked, “then handing it to the guy to hang it on a wall, who proceeds to add more paint to it.”)

“Just say no. No content,” wrote one pal. Another: “If you like watching YouTube videos in 4K, then go ahead. Otherwise, there’s pretty much no video content — a few things on Netflix soon, but definitely not ready yet.”

Another notable observation: “Don’t bother. Go get one of the last remaining plasmas while you still can and enjoy a good picture.”

And, as sustained proof that engineers are pretty funny people, this dandy: “If you really want to confuse them, tell them to wait for 8K.”

My personal favorite, from pal Stewart Schley: “I mostly like to gently suggest not watching television at all, even in standard definition. But that’s just me.”

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