A year ago, buying a 4K TV might not have crossed your mind. Content wasn't readily available, prices were high and the technology was only in its early stages.
However, just 12 months later everything has changed. If you're in the market for a new television, there are now more reasons why you should opt for a 4K Ultra HD TV with HDR tech than not.
It can be a little mystifying though, with different technologies, logos and, sometimes, confusing messages on what to look for. That's why we've put together some simple tips, tricks and things to consider when looking for your next TV.
Buying a 4K TV: Resolution
A 4K television is so called because it has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, creating a far sharper picture than the current, widely used standard for TVs, 1080p.
A 1920 x 1080 TV is capable of displaying just over 2 million pixels, while a 4K Ultra HD set has more than 8.25 million pixels to play with. That is quite a staggering and impressive difference when it comes to detail and sharpness on a screen.
It's a far greater jump in resolution than when we switch from HD (720p) to Full HD (1080p), which was roughly twice as many pixels. Ultra HD (2160p) is more than four times Full HD.
Modern TVs, such as the Sony BRAVIA XD93, also has excellent upscaling technology built-in, so even normal HD broadcasts and Blu-rays look better on a 4K set.
Buying a 4K TV: HDR
High dynamic range technology, otherwise known as HDR, increases the depth of an image and presents more accurate colours than on previous TVs. This is because a HDR TV is capable of deep, controlled black levels while displaying brighter areas of a picture more vividly than ever before.
It means that you will see more detail in dark areas of an image, but without washing out the deep black zones. And whites on a screen will be bright and natural.
A wider colour gamut, which allows the TV to display more variants of red, blue and green than ever before, ensures objects on screen look more like they would when viewed with the native eye.
In short, movie directors love HDR tech because it presents their work more accurately - as they intended - than ever before.
Buying a 4K TV: HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2
All external 4K content sources, including 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players, Amazon Fire TV set-top-boxes require HDMI 2.0 inputs with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, otherwise they are incapable of feeding the TV 4K video.
Modern 4K TVs often have at least one supported input. You should really look out for more though, because unless you plan to purchase an Ultra HD-ready AV receiver, as more 4K devices are released, you'll need more inputs to hook them up to.
The Sony Bravia XD93 has four HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2 compliance, for example.
Buying a 4K TV: Content
Although upscaling your existing Blu-rays and normal TV broadcasts makes the pictures look better on a 4K telly, it isn't until you've seen native Ultra HD content that you realise the potential of the format.
There are several ways you can get 4K video to view, and new Ultra HD movies, TV shows and, even, games are also on their way.
Both Netflix and Amazon Video offer 4K HDR movies and shows, to stream through your new TV if they are available, without the need for a separate set-top-box. You should check to see if the apps for both are supported before you choose your new set. YouTube too offers 4K video, so also check that app is on-board.
There are now a couple of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players on the market, with plenty of good quality discs to buy through multiple retailers. You'll need a HDMI 2.0 input with HDCP 2.2, as detailed above, but 4K Blu-ray images are the best you can possibly get right now. They look stunning.
Paid TV services, such as those from Sky, BT and Virgin Media, have or are soon to offer 4K television broadcasts, for sport and movies. And Microsoft will be launching a 4K-ready console in the form of the Xbox One S in August. It features a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, Netflix and Amazon support and even has HDR tech for gaming.
In short, there are, or will be very soon, plenty of ways to watch and enjoy 4K HDR content, you just need a compatible television.
Buying a 4K TV: Smart TV
Smart TVs have been around for many years now. A Smart TV is one that can hook up to the internet, through a wired or wireless connection, and offers multiple services, such as TV and movie streaming, games and other information apps.
Different manufacturers tend to have different Smart TV platforms, but one of the best we've used is Android TV, as found on Sony's and a couple of other manufacturer's sets. Like the mobile phone operating system, it offers access to a rapidly expanding list of apps and games, all of which can be played through the TV.
Services such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Google's own movie services are available, as are hundreds of triple-A games titles. It is simple to use and navigate, and uses the Google Play Store to download software - much of which is totally free.
Some sets, again including Sony's, offer PlayStation Now. This is a cloud gaming service that provides access to hundreds of PlayStation 3 games without you needing to own a separate console. For one monthly fee, you can start any of the games, with the video streaming to your set and your game controller commands whizzing back in the other direction. The end result is a console-like experience without any other external device, save for a PlayStation DualShock gamepad.
Buying a 4K TV: Design
The final aspect of any TV you need to consider is how it will look in your living room. Whether you plan to wall-mount it or place it on a cabinet, or whatever screen size you choose, it has to look as good when switched off as when filling a room with exceptional images.
For us, that means a minimalist design is best - something that blends in rather than dominates a room. Sony, for example, has Slim Backlight Drive technology on its latest range, which ensures HDR picture performance, while keeping a superslim footprint.
Cable management on modern sets is also much better than ever before and is only really applicable when the TV is on the stand, and isn't really relevant when wall mounted. One of the best cable management systems we've seen is on the BRAVIA XD93.
Buying a 4K TV: Audio
A trade off of the slim design of flatscreen TVs can be audio performance. While the built in speakers are perfectly adequate for general TV viewing to be honest, if you want the best audio performance from your movies, games and TV shows, you should really match your new TV with a dedicated sound system, be that a soundbar or home cinema speaker set-up.
Ultimately, the TV you go for has to match your own wants and desires, but we recommend that you also consider whether it is futureproof. With 4K Ultra HD and HDR tech on-board you can't go far wrong.
There has certainly never been a better time to buy a television than now, with prices at an all-time low for incredible, immersive experiences we've never before seen.