What’s the Difference Between 4K Ultra HD, Curved, OLED TVs and Do You Need Them?

George Tinari

If you’re browsing for a new TV and haven’t been in the market for a while, you might recognize a lot of new and unfamiliar terms. You thought HD was the best of the best and seemingly out of nowhere, now 4K Ultra HD is what all the companies want you to buy instead. You thought flat screen TVs were the future?

Nope, now curved TVs are marketed everywhere. And forget about trying to pick between plasma, LCD, LED and now OLED TVs.

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TVs are forever evolving, but should that matter if you already have one that works? | Shutterstock

The bottom line is television manufacturers recognize that people don’t typically upgrade their televisions very often. They tend to buy one and keep it for many years, sometimes for up to a decade. So to increase sales of televisions as much as they can, manufacturers work hard to introduce new features that will draw you in. 3D was a perfect example of that, yet now it’s barely ever talked about.

While certain new features of televisions are obviously fads, many of them are here to stay too. So with that, let’s go through some of the newest TV tech and whether or not you should really consider it.

4K Ultra HD: Here to Stay

4K Ultra HD is perhaps the one technology out of the three on the list that’s guaranteed to keep growing until it just eventually becomes the standard. 4K represents a pixel resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. It’s a significant step up from the 720p and 1080p HD televisions that currently dominate the market. These have 1280 x 720 and 1920 x 1080 resolutions respectively.

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4K is the way of the future | Shutterstock

Tip: There is also a version of 4K with a resolution of 4096 x 2160, but that’s widely used by professionals rather than seen in consumer televisions — at least for now.

More pixels just mean a sharper picture since there are more crammed in, to detail it. Just like standard definition 480p was the norm at one point, 4K will slowly but surely make its way into every household at some point.

However, 4K is far from necessary for now. The biggest reason is because there isn’t much content available in 4K yet. Most movies and TV shows display in 720p or 1080p format, so buying a 4K TV just to watch smaller videos defeats the purpose.

Plus, 4K only really matters if you’re very close up to the screen. Since pixels get harder to discern the farther you move back, 720p and 1080p is more than adequate for most people already.

Curved TVs: Probably a Fad

In a few years, we’ll all look at curved TVs as an old fad not much different from 3D television. The curved TVs that have been popping up on the market use a curved display that supposedly increases viewing angles and overall makes for a more cinematic experience.

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Curved TVs don’t live up to the hype | Shutterstock

While it is true that at some side angles you might get a better view of the side of the TV opposite to you, many users have actually complained that viewing angles are worse overall. The curved display tends to squish objects on screen and distort them.

Curved TVs might look appealing, but they’re gimmicky and it’s far from a television necessity. Stick with a flat screen.

OLED TVs: Here to Stay

OLED TVs are different from standard LED backlit displays you’re familiar with for a few reasons. But make no mistake, they’re better in just about every way. For one, OLEDs can actually shut off to display black colors, which means you won’t find any TV with deeper black levels than an organic light-emitting diode TV.

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Panasonic hops on the OLED TV bandwagon | Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock.com

Second, OLED requires fewer materials to power the display which means your TV will probably have much thinner bezels and a thinner case overall. Plus, this makes it far more energy efficient.

OLED tends to have better color accuracy than LED, LCD, or plasma screens as well.

Since OLED is a relatively new technology to hit the big screen, what’s available on the market right now will likely be at the high end of your range if not over your budget. But OLED TVs will eventually trickle down into smaller and less expensive TVs over the years, so be on the look-out. They offer the best picture so OLED isn’t going anywhere.

The Bottom Line

Your ideal future-proofed TV, if cost isn’t a concern, should be 4K and OLED. You’re safe leaving curved screens behind.

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George Tinari

Written By

George Tinari

George Tinari has written about technology for over seven years: guides, how-tos, news, reviews and more. He's usually sitting in front of his laptop, eating, listening to music or singing along loudly to said music. You can also follow him on Twitter @gtinari if you need more complaints and sarcasm in your timeline.