4K Technology Education

Metra Home Theater Group has stressed the importance of being educated on 4K technology and explained last year how it was going to impact Custom Integrators, Installers and Home Technology Professionals. Some people were uncertain it would be adopted quickly by consumers, since initial sources for 4K video content were limited. Others felt 4K would be like the 3D TV fad, and may not catch on at all. Then there were those who thought that the high price tag combined with limited content would make mainstream 4K adoption something that happens far into the future, if adopted at all.

Fast forward to Q3 of 2016 and the adoption of 4K by the consumer is now faster than the adoption to HD, as stated in this article by the Consumer Technology Association. Just about every TV over 50 inches and almost half of all TV sets sold are 4K Ultra HDs. While price tags on certain brands or models can still be pricey, they’ve come down quite a bit and consumers can buy a 43” 4K TV for as low as $299. Watching 4K content has also been made easier, with many newly released movies in 4K, along with instant streaming for all of Netflix’s original series and a sizeable selection of content from Amazon Video.

The adoption of 4K technology is no longer coming — it’s here. Which gives even more reason to be educated on all aspects of it.

This surge of consumers wanting the latest robust 4K technology in their homes is requiring CIs to take a crash course in 4K and possibly re-evaluate the manufacturers or vendors from which they purchase home theater or commercial AV products. Accessories and cables that previously “got the job done” may not deliver full 4K resolution or worse — they may not work at all on high tech systems. Trusting the quality of products and claims made on packaging labels has also become an issue in the AV industry.

So how can you avoid potential issues when installing new 4K technology? Start by educating yourself to understand the entire 4K range and specs. Then, we recommend that you consider these three things when choosing a manufacturer to provide reliable 4K home theater accessories and products; certification, technical support and proof of quality.


Certification is the most reliable way to determine if the manufacturer can back up claims labeled on accessory packaging. It means that a 3rd party has tested the cables or accessories and consistently verified the manufacturer’s claims for bandwidth and signal. By choosing certified products, you won’t have the wait until you’ve installed the product to verify that it works as claimed.

Why this is important: Most electronics and cables past four meters on the market will not support 18 Gpbs bandwidth. Longer cable runs compress the 4K signal down to 10 Gbps. However, it may not be evident on the packaging and can still be called “4K” by the manufacturer. Look at the packing to see if the manufacturer certifies their cables and if this certification is continuous. Continuous certification is just as important as certification itself, because it keeps the quality of the product up to the level that meets the 4K standards.

Not having the right products in a 4K run can cost the installer time and money. Because all products in the run need to have the correct technology to support 4K, the signal gets downgraded to the lowest spec in the run and in most cases causes failures. Certification is the best way to avoid this frustration and deliver the system and end result desired by the customer.

Technical Support

When dealing with 4K installation problems or questions, it’s important to be able to talk to a tech support department that is readily available and has experience in the field. In addition, partnering with a company that invests in staying ahead of new technology with research and development pays off. By testing new displays and sources when they first hit the market, a manufacturer can pinpoint potential compatibility problems and provide quick solutions.

Why this is important: Quality technical support from knowledgeable techs that have real world experience on installations means your issue will be solved faster. If you’re working on an install and get stuck, you’ll be dead in the water if your manufacturer has a generic “send a support ticket and we’ll get back to you” response from their tech department. Some companies that sell products in mass at cheap prices may not provide any technical support at all. If you can’t diagnose the issue, this can leave you in a difficult situation or require you to wait and reorder products halfway through a project.

Proof of Quality

Quality isn’t something you can determine by reading what a manufacturer says about their own products. Proof of quality is proven by a track record of loyal customers, good product reviews, winning industry awards and by seeing what others in the industry are trusting to put in their toolbox for big projects.

Why this is important: Proof of quality isn’t something a manufacturer can fake, it has to be earned. It may take more time initially to research quality-proven vendors and manufacturers, however that investment in time will pay off. By sending installers into the field with the right tools and accessories, you’re eliminating the headache and delays that come with diagnosing picture failures or having to reorder different cables and accessories. If using the wrong cable means you can’t finish a project for an additional 5 days, your project is less profitable and your customer most likely isn’t happy. Take the time to research proven, quality products to use in your projects.

Editor’s Note: Metra Home Theater Group strives to be the company that CIs turn to when they need education on debuting technology. We work hard to provide ongoing resources and educational articles to our subscribers. Our annual Lunch ‘N’ Learn event held in our CEDIA booth continues to grow each year, where we bring in Jeff Boccaccio from DPL Labs to discuss the latest technology issues in the industry. We believe in the importance of certification and have been a DPL member since the inception of HDMI. Our award winning Technical Service is run by a former CI with over 40 years of experience in the field. In addition, our sales team is continuously educated on the specs of the new products and the applications provided by them.

If you would like to discuss 4K questions, dealers can contact us on this or any technical issue and speak directly with one of our technicians at 1-866-839-9187. Not a customer? Apply to become a Metra dealer today.