Leading UK electrical retailer DSG Retail – owner of the Currys and PC World stores – has been officially censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over its use of a television advert stating that LG’s 4K TVs let you “watch your favourite Christmas movies in greater detail”.
The offending advert, which ran over the key pre-Christmas marketing period, received complaints from an unspecified number of viewers, leading to the ASA investigation. The main thrust of the complaints was that the advert implied native 4K sources were commonplace, when in fact they’re anything but. There are no broadcasters currently broadcasting 4K films, Ultra HD Blu-rays are still just an unfinished list of specifications, and 4K streaming is still in its infancy (and only available to people willing to subscribe to Netflix NFLX +0.76% and/or Amazon Prime).
The defence put up by Currys to the ASA investigators was that the LG 4K TVs referred to in the advert “would show an increased resolution compared to standard full HD (1920×1080)” due to the quality of the processing LG uses to remap (upscale) HD sources to the 3840×2160 pixels in 4K UHD TVs.
The ASA, though, refused to accept this argument on the grounds that it had not “seen evidence showing how ‘near to’ 4K quality that increase in resolution was, or that any increase in quality was, therefore, comparable with, and similar to, genuine 4K quality.”
The ASA ruling further concluded that: “Because there was such limited 4K content available in the UK, we understood that any improvement in quality in films or programmes watched over the Christmas period was unlikely to be achieved by the use of 4K technology specifically.”
LG’s Commercial Director of Consumer Electronics in the UK stated at a product launch event last week that he believes the upscaling in LG’s latest 4K TVs delivers ’95-96%’ of the experience with HD sources that you get with native 4K content. The ASA, though, clearly doesn’t agree – and to be honest, based on my experience of testing many 4K TVs over the past two years, neither do I. Yes, some 4K TVs do upscale HD more effectively than you might expect considering the process involves conjuring up more than six million new pixels of picture information, but at no point has any upscaled image I’ve seen got within a few per cent of rivalling the look of a good true 4K source.