Although TVs with 4K resolution have now been around for a few years, up until recently they were primarily used by early adopters due to their high costs. However, as the cost of 4K TVs went down, their popularity skyrocketed and it became a mainstream staple in homes around the county.

2016 was a record-breaking year for 4K TV purchases. Electronic retailers made 4K TVs the center attraction during their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and consumers were more than keen to buy them in droves.

It seems incredible to think how far the technology in TV’s has come in recent years. Most people don’t think of TVs when they think about technological growth (smartphones and computers dominate those thoughts) but TV has really come a long way. Only 10 years ago 720p was the common resolution available and since then we’ve seen HD TVs become commonplace and now 4K TVs.

As it was with HDTV’s, the broadcasters have had to play catch-up to meet the demands of 4K resolution. Netflix and Amazon were the first broadcasters to offer 4K streaming and Sony was the first studio to actively start releasing their films as 4K digital downloads. In 2016 many sports broadcasters started filming events in 4K resolution.

2016 was also the year that Ultra HD Blu-ray players were released commercially (including Microsoft’s release of the Xbox One S), which support 4K playback. Once the manufacturers and broadcasters joined the race it further solidified the hold that 4K TVs have on the home theater market.

However, one of the major drawbacks to 4K resolution is the amount of data that it uses. 4K not only needs large bandwidth to stream the content but it also needs large storage capabilities. The average 4K movie is around 40 GB which is roughly 10 times the size of an HD movie file.

With the issue of Net Neutrality back on the table in the US and computer hard drives shrinking, costs to enjoy 4K on an ongoing basis are likely to become major issues.

So where will 4K TV go in 2017 and beyond? We’ve already seen that consumers have an appetite for high quality video. As movies become more expensive (seriously, have you taken a family of 4 to a movie lately?) consumers will be looking for alternative means to consume their entertainment.

Between high quality resolution TVs, larger screen TVs, and home entertainment options available through streaming services like Netflix, it’s becoming more and more likely that staying at home will be the primary method for consumers to watch movies over going to the theater.

The same holds true for sporting events. Why pay hundreds of dollars and go through hours of hassle to take a family to a sporting event when 4K (and higher) TVs give you a better viewing experience from home? Some love the experience of a sporting event and no amount of resolution will ever persuade them otherwise.  However, for many, enjoying sports, close up and in beautiful definition is changing the way we engage with sports.  Many may eventually be able to see a golf ball on TV for once.

As the technology catches up and the issues of storage and broadband are addressed we will see the expansion of 4K resolution match and exceed those of HDTVs. What was once a technology used by an exceptional handful only 3 years ago will become commonplace. And the humble TV, which is not seen as being as technologically advanced as some of the other consumer gadgets available, will be poised to disrupt industries ranging from movies to live sports forever.

Not bad for something we call a boob-tube!