4K Is Not The Right Question

As a full-service provider of digital signage systems and media, Kiosk & Display is frequently asked if we support 4K screens and media production. The answer is yes. However the right question is: are you ready for 4K media marketing?

“…we see customers focus on the quality of their TV screens without considering the content…”

There is no doubt that 4K TVs are on the way as a future technology. With four times the number of pixels as current HDTV screens provide, 4K will get you clearer, sharper, more lifelike images – especially for small text up close. Combined with the new features like High Dynamic Range (a Dolby Vision-like standard) you get a TV with the ability to deliver more colors, more contrast levels and increased brightness.

But ask yourself, is this a key difference to your marketing success?

All too often we see customers focus on the quality of their TV screens without considering the content that goes on them. From the time required to work with larger files sizes, to the frequency of updates that can be produced or afforded, we question if 4K makes sense for our customers today.

Here is why:

  • To the untrained eye the 4K vs. 1080p HD difference can be subtle unless you are doing a direct comparison in a big box store.
  • The cost and time to produce 4K media in-house, or with your favorite vendor, is going to increase to handle equipment updates, network upgrades and time to deal with larger file sizes and increased rendering times.
  • The bandwidth required to load media to your TV players will increase. This may impact your Internet bandwidth usage or network traffic depending on how your players are wired and your upload schedule.
  • Instead of focusing on screen resolution, consider getting a better ROI when content is targeted to your audience, more frequently updated to match their rate of viewing, or creates an element of interaction, than any increase in screen color and detail.
TV Pixel Comparison Chart

Here is what we recommend:

  • Install 4K TVs only if you have the budget, brand and content that will shine with 4K. If your brand is full of rich photography or video and you have budget, go for it. If you have limited dollars, have a clean flat graphic look, save your money.
  • Don’t mix and match 4K & 1080p TVs at same location. Creating a comparison will draw attention to the difference will not serve any positive purpose.

    “…high-definition has matured to the point that it’s ready for widespread adoption, but your decision to buy a showpiece for your home theater and installing it for your business is very different.”

  • Upgrade to 4K in parallel to your system upgrades. Getting new computers and network upgrades? Did your media provider upgrade production systems? Have the prices dropped even farther on 4K TVs? All things to consider before you leap.
  • If you plan to “future proof “ your technology investment by installing 4K TVs for your business – don’t cheap out. Unless you are ready to pay for or produce 4K content today you will need to make sure your 4K TVs are good at upscaling your existing 1080p content. As far as scaling performance is concerned, you usually get what you pay for.
  • If you plan to add 4K TVs to only part of your network, have a plan in place to test your legacy screens with this larger content.  You many need to down-sample before loading the content to these older screens.
  • Try testing out 4K for a specific purpose first.  Maybe sponsoring a 4K TV screen in the lobby of local theater where they already capture high resolution video and images. Then just add your logo.
  • Consider adding a sound bar to any new TV. As TVs get smaller and sleeker with each technology leap, the quality of the sound has decreased. If your marketing uses or needs sound, consider a sound bar as part of your solution. It is best way to boost sound quality without investing in a fully integrated and programmed sound system.

The bottom line is Ultra high-definition has matured to the point that it’s ready for widespread adoption, but your decision to buy a showpiece for your home theater and installing it for your business is very different. Currently we believe you will get better return on your investment if you improve your content instead of your display. If you do decide to take the 4K TV leap, consider the whole process of producing and distributing the content and the impact it will have on your systems.


Did you find this article helpful? Have other thoughts? Reach out through via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.  We love to hear from you.

Confused by some of the formats listed here, or others like – LCD, LED LCD, OLED? See Tom’s Guide for understanding these features from a consumers point of view. Contact us for thoughts about how this changes for a business installation.

filed under: Techie Stuff

Sharon Klocek-Ibbotson is the Creative Services Director of Kiosk & Display and a graduate of the ABA School of Bank Marketing. Sharon focuses on interactive digital signage content strategies, services and product development for her group which is based in our Rochester, NY office with a team of designers, programmers and developers.

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