Look, I hate to be the bearer of bad news here. If you bought one of those really inexpensive 4K TVs over the holiday season, it may be a boat anchor by the end of the year. Why? Because if it doesn’t meet up with the standards set by the major manufacturers, you won’t see 4K.

DIRECTV, DISH, and major streaming box providers have all cooperated with the HDMI Licensing people to come up with one standard that will be used for 4K from this point forward. It’s a minor modification to the HDMI 2.0 standard called HDMI 2.0a. Right now it’s the best picture quality you can get, and that’s probably all you need to know about that.

The other part of the puzzle that doesn’t affect picture quality is HDCP 2.2. This is the latest, supposedly uncrackable version of the content protection that has kept companies like Disney and Sony happy for a decade. HDCP isn’t something you want, it’s something you need because other companies need you to have it. HDCP stops you from making perfect digital copies of your content and putting them out on the internet.

If you don’t have HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 in your new 4K TV, you’re limited to what you can stream, because none of the new 4K products out there will work. Often times if a low priced TV has these features at all, it’s on only one port, and many of the lower priced TVs don’t have them. In theory, any TV with HDMI 2.0 (not 2.0a) can be upgraded to the latest, but then of course you’re depending on the manufacturer to provide you with that update and most of the time that doesn’t seem to work out.

If you haven’t bought a 4K TV yet, I urge you to look and think carefully. Spend a little more money if you have to, otherwise you’ll be giving that 4K TV to your cousin Rick at the end of this year when you’re out shopping for the next one, just sayin’.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.