Like the evolution of man, or Simon Cowell’s face, TVs have changed beyond all recognition in a relatively short space of time. But is the latest new look always worth it?
When I was growing up, our family TV was the size of a small car. It had four channels, was prone to losing all signal if it was too windy and my brothers and I were the remote control.
This weekend, I visited my parents – one time owners of the aforementioned car – only to discover, while sitting down with the kids to watch the 1991 film, Hook, that they have invested in a new 50-inch 4K OLED TV.
Oh, how times have changed. This was my first experience of 4K and, it transpires, it’s freakishly good. So good, that I can’t decide whether it’s the best thing to happen to TV, or the worst.
The picture quality is truly outstanding. It does look like you are peering though a window and the level of detail really has to be seen to be believed. Dustin Hoffman’s Hook, complete with intricately detailed twitching ‘tache, is more terrifying than ever in 4K.
Is detail always a good thing?
However, while the 32-year-old film had never looked so bright and colourful, it had lost all of its 90s filmic brilliance. Seeing it in such detail meant that Neverland looked like a studio set and Spielberg’s cinematography like he had shot the whole thing on an iPhone.
It was simply too good. Films are meant to look a little distant, other worldly and detached from reality. We want to suspend our disbelief when we watch, so by making it look too real, the illusion can be shattered. Like watching the behind the scenes footage of your favourite movie, being able to see the pores in the actors’ skin and every tiny detail makes it feel like you are in the room, watching them rehearse, rather than in the cinema watching the end result.
As the weekend progressed, we watched other programmes on the shiny new TV and the same filter-less experience applied. It was all a little disconcerting. However, at one point my children put a Pixar animation on and – whereas I’ve always thought that the detail in films like Monsters Inc. is incredible, seeing it in 4K is breathtaking. These TVs take modern animation to a whole new level, bringing the characters to life even more and giving you a deeper appreciation of the technology and talent that went into creating them.
So, will I be investing in a 4K TV? Of course I will, at some point. I’m well aware that this post reads like the moanings of a grumpy old man and that people undoubtedly had the same reservations when colour TV was first introduced. We have to embrace new technology, even if it does take some getting used to.
Nevertheless, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to see Simon Cowell‘s face in 4K just yet!