STREAMING SATURDAY: Do Streamers Really Care about 4K?

As someone who streams your favorite movies and series, is having 4K resolution really that important to your streaming experience?

In my opinion, streamers don’t want or need 4K resolution for their favorite shows and series. Full disclosure, I’ve never seen anything in 4K resolution. Perhaps I’d have a different opinion if I were finally exposed to the grandeur of all that is 4K’s glory. Probably not, though. Knowing what I’ve found out about 4K resolution, I think it would be more of a hassle to stream my favorite shows in this hallowed resolution. Let me tell you why you don’t need 4K resolution for your favorite streaming services.

4K Feasibility

To enjoy your favorite streaming programs in 4K, you’ll need to do two things: have a large TV screen, and sit very close to it. My research into this subject indicates that a person would have to sit very close to the TV screen in order to truly notice and appreciate the 4K improvements. One blogger suggested viewers would have to be about three to four feet from a 55-inch screen to enjoy the 4K difference. The larger the screen, that longer that distances becomes, but it’s not much. Most people aren’t going to sit that close to a TV screen unless they want one nasty eye-strain headache!

4K Availability
Here’s perhaps the biggest reason why most streamers don’t watch TV in 4K – it’s not widely available. Netflix and Amazon, for example, have but a few 4K titles that they make available. These can be viewed on the Netflix and Amazon Prime Video app on the newer 4K smart TVs. The built-in Netflix and Amazon Prime video apps on most 4K TVs play the few 4K titles at a bit rate that’s slower than 1080 Blu-ray. The picture and sound quality is sacrificed in the manner of color depth, contrast ratio, and frame rate to achieve the 4K resolution. In most cases, you can’t even tell that you’re getting 4K resolution even if you are. This is why my colleague Stuart Sweet said that Amazon 4K “isn’t all that OR a bag of chips.”

Easily Improve Your Streaming Experience
There’s a much easier way to improve your viewing experience at home. It’s called bias lighting or backlighting, and it’s a very easy and inexpensive thing to do. In the most simple of terms, bias lighting is the act of adding a USB LED backlight kit to the back of your TV. This contrasting set of lights behind will help your eyes determine the differences between blacks and greys, making them appear darker and richer. This backlight kit also reduces eye strains and headaches that come from watching a bright TV screen in a dark room. If you want to improve your streaming and TV-watching experience as a whole, you need this backlight kit in your life.

Happy Streaming!
As streamers, we believe we’ve found the best series, shows, and services to watch all this great content. With our favorites already chosen, it’s only natural for us to look for ways to improve the manner in which we view these shows. Just do yourself a favor – realize that 4K resolution isn’t that special. Maybe it will be the way we all watch TV in the years to come, but right now, it’s a rarity that isn’t worth the trouble. Just use what you have and keep enjoying your favorite streaming content.

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.