Welcome to part one for getting the most out of 4K in your home! This first article, 'Guide to 4K UHD Blu-rays' will be focusing on physical media and the components needed to watch TV and movies in your living room or home theater. Listed below are a few options and tips for getting your Home Theater ready for 4K. Each category has multiple price and feature options that offer you a great starting point. This article won't go in to great depth of every feature for every device, there are plenty of great resources for that already, this column is more of a quick start guide.
(updated November 22nd, 2016)
4K UHD TVs
Choosing a 4K UHD TV should be your first priority. When buying a 4K TV there are many features to look for. HDR/WCG is the latest feature to grab many peoples attention; it allows for a greater depth of color and enhances highlights and shadows. It is going to be the new standard going forward: it is not required, but highly recommended. There are no UHD TV's that offer 4K in 3D, any 3D options you see are for 1080p. When in doubt look for this logo.
4K UHD Blu-ray Players
The second essential piece of equipment you need is a 4K UHD Blu-ray player. Make sure when purchasing a 4K player that it is NOT an 'upscaling' only unit. Currently, there are no UHD players that offer 4K in 3D, any 3D options you see are for 1080p. When in doubt look for these logos.
Can't decide which one to get? Check out The Ultimate 4K Hardware Shootout
To get the most out of your new discs, you'll want to pick up an amp that can decode Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. These new formats allow for height channels which really draw you into a film. In addition to the new height channels you typically gain a few extra surround as well, 5.1 setups are so 2005. Alternatively, you can hook up your 4K UHD player directly to your TV for a 4K picture and standard Blu-ray audio running to your existing amp. When in doubt look for these logos.
Many of you already have surround sound systems, but here are a few great choices for a upgrade or starter kit. Speakers included with your fancy new TV are horrible, make your home theater experience something special by adding a surround sound system.
- Vizio - S3851w-C0
- 5.1 SoundBar | 3.0 Bar with rear surround speakers that plug into 6” wireless sub. (No separate amplifier required.)
- Klipsch RP-250F
- 7.1 or 5.1.2 - Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Capable Speakers and Yamaha 7.2 Receiver | Includes Towers, Surrounds, Ceiling/Height Satellites, and a powered 10" Subwoofer
Any HDMI cable certified as '2.0' will work, just make sure you check the specs (18Gbps, NOT 10.2Gbps). Don't fall for name brand hype. HDMI cables are digital, they either work or don't work. AmazonBasic's line of cables are fantastic and have a great price, they are highly recommended. When in doubt look for 18.0 Gbps in the description.
AmazonBasics 6’ - HDMI 2.0 | Ethernet | 1080p 3D | 4K @ 60Hz | 48bit/px depth - $6
AmazonBasics 15’ - HDMI 2.0 | Ethernet | 1080p 3D | 4K @ 60Hz | 48bit/px depth - $10
Aurum Ultra Series 10' - HDMI 2.0 | Ethernet | 1080p 3D | 4K @ 60Hz | 48bit/px depth - $18 (3 Pack)
AudioQuest Diamond 6’ - Will a $1,500 cable will make your picture look better? (It won't, but it does have free shipping!)
Miscellaneous Gear to complete your experience
Speaker Cable - MediaBridge 100' White $30 | MediaBridge 100' Clear/Copper $20 - In general, look for 14 AWG.
Universal Remote - Logitech Harmony 350 $40 | Logitech Harmony Home Control $125
Surge Protecter - Belkin 12 Outlet $20 | Don't go crazy buying a $100 surge. Most offer a $100,000+ lifetime warranty anyway.
Wall Mounts - Cheetah Tilt Mount 32"-65" $26 | VideoSecu Articulating Mount 37"-70" $60
Jump start your 4K UHD Movie collection!
New 4K UHD movies and TV shows are being released all the time. These are a few popular ones to get you started. Also, don't miss the Demo Disc page.
Mad Max - Fury Road - A really fun 2 hour car chase that should be watched at full volume!
The Martian - Matt Damon is stranded in space... again. He grows potatoes in space poop.
Sicario - Quiet intense thriller with brief bursts of action that focuses on the drug trade between Mexico and the US.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - The title is longer than the actual fight between Batman and Superman!
Smurfs 2 - Your kids will love this beautiful lighthearted movie with a good message.
Wild - Reese Witherspoon stops shooting heroin and goes on a really long walk.
X-Men Apocalypse - Looks amazing (especially the Quicksilver slo-mo scene) and will test your sub.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact me if you need advise on how to build the ultimate home theater!
Part two: 'Guide to Streaming 4K' can be found below.