TV Specifications 2015 Year-End Review


The above shows the compression ratios for current and upcoming generations of TVs. For this current holiday season, UHD-1 TV sets (4k resolution at 60 fps) have premium pricing. We also have a slew of 4k devices only capable of 30 fps, which may be worse than 1080p devices capable of 60 fps, in my opinion.

  • Resolution – 4k resolution (3840×2160) has more dots per surface area, and can display more at a time
  • Framerate – 60 fps (frames per second) is considered the optimal rate for gamers because it represents smoother game play and eliminates noticeable frame judder. The same applies for TVs. Above 60 fps is considered to be good for action but not strictly necessary.
  • Color – technologies for HDR (high dynamic range), 10-bit/12-bit color depth, 4:4:4/4:2:2/4:2:0 color subsampling (bigger the better)
  • Connectivity – HDMI 2.0+ or DisplayPort 1.2+ connections are mandatory to guarantee sufficient bandwidth deliver the video signal. TVs do not typically come with DisplayPort connector.
  • Bitrate – Measured in megabits per second, this is only really a concern for streaming content over the Internet for most folks out there with some sort of data usage cap. Most connections can achieve the sustained download speeds required by UHD content. However, to sustain 10 Mbps stream over a hour typical of 1080p, it consumes over 4 gigabytes an hour.
  • Smart – usually means the TV can either playback files or connect to the Internet. However, smart TVs get outdated fast, as manufacturers typically are not good at updating the devices, and the software outpaces the TV sets by a large margin. TVs can last 5 years or more, but software tends to be obsolete in less than half that time
  • Content protection – you need HDCP 2.2+ for some newer content for copy-protection of UVD content, but that is only if you wish to buy a Bluray player that requires this.
  • Codec – there is some confusion here as well, because HEVC uptake has been rather slow, with branding causing even more confusion. As with previous video standards, hardware support for processing video efficient has been mixed.HEVC is also referred to as H265. The previous video codec which has been popularized was H264, specifically 8-bit. Hi10P is a specific profile of H264 which allows for a 10 bit color space for more accurate color representation, but there is very limited hardware level encoding or decoding support for Hi10P, particularly on PCs.
    • HEVC PC codec support as of 2015 – only Nvidia Maxwell 2nd generation cards support HEVC decoding in hardware up to 10 bit color space for UVD-1 compatibility, and Intel has partial support which is of limited use. AMD doesn’t support HEVC at all
    • HEVC streaming box support as of 2015 – for the Apple/Amazon/Google TV solutions, this is limited as well, even on the 1080p front. Do your research…

I am not very compelled at all by newer TV features past 1080p at this point. There just isn’t much consumable media available at a high resolutions of 4k, nor am I willing to spend extra to pay for the added quality in the color data. There’s a good chance that you need to invest in new playback hardware as well. I’m happy to stick with 720p content for a long while to come.

The exception is that higher video quality is nice to have for photography and videography. Smartphones technologies have been leading in this direction, but you would need a high resolution display and a compatible player to take advantage. This doesn’t bode well for TV manufacturers going forward for typical consumers with so much confusion in being able to understand the technology