Searching for Ultra HDTV, and Where to Find It

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- HDTV turned my sister-in-law into a huge football fan. She set aside her U.S. Weekly as the crisp, high-definition video exposed the unexplored details of the game -- glistening beads of sweat dripping off the quarterback's temples, someone yawning in the crowd, everyone's wrinkles.

High definition mesmerized millions. It was better than being there!

Now, there's something even better. Ultra High Definition -- better known as 4K or Ultra HD -- stands to potentially replace HD. At four times the pixel resolution of HD, some liken the upgrade to the same, eye-popping experience one felt when moving from the standard-definition TV to HDTV.

But while 4K TVs have been available to consumers for a year, finding Ultra HD movies and video content is difficult.

"It looks fantastic. My own personal experience is I was standing two feet away from it and looking at a concert. I felt like I was there," Sweta Dash, an analyst who tracks the TV industry for market research firm IHS iSuppli, told me last month. "The trouble with that is even though 4K TV looks so good, we don't have 4K content."

A lot can happen in a month. In early September, Sony ( SNE) launched the first 4K video download service. A few weeks later, Netflix ( NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings confirmed his company will begin streaming 4K content next year.

The industry is making 4K the next big gamble, even those who lost on 3D TVs. Many directors and studios are now shooting with 4K cameras to future-proof the movies and TV shows. A new video-compression standard called High Efficiency Video Coding aims to replace HD's H.264/MPEG-4 AVC to support UHD content. Also, the TVs are available.

The first Ultra HDTVs showed up in stores last year with high price tags. LG's 84-inch behemoth cost $22,000. By January of this year, pretty much every major TV maker had announced an UHD TV at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Critics aren't sure consumers will notice the differences, especially if the TV screen is too small -- UHD enthusiasts recommend at least a 60-inch screen. To take a peak, search for "4K resolution" on YouTube for video shot with a 4K camera. Keep in mind, if your screen maxes out at HD quality -- or 1080p -- you will be watching a 4K video on a lower-resolution screen.

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