Can hotel TVs go 4K?

4k tv


4k tv
Some HD and 4K TVs have curved screens to increase picture quality and the viable viewing angle. This model is not available for hospitality purchase. // Photo by Samsung

4K TVs, which can offer twice the pixel density of an HD model, may have drawn buzz at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, but the new format faces challenges in cost and infrastructure before it can enter the hotel guestroom. 

“It’s really about the cost,” said Jennifer Green, director of guestroom technology at Hyatt Hotels Corporation. “This is a big capital expense for hotels, and unless there’s a major market reason why you need to do it, you’re going to wait until your current TVs reach end-of-life.”

While hotels want to provide a quality experience for their guests, it is unclear how much the TV experience drives guests to select a hotel, Green said. Hotels tend to focus on the quality of guest care and overall amenities of which TVs are only a part, and while it is important that hotels avoid being behind the curve of what guests see at home, there is only a clear incentive to invest in higher-end televisions before end-of-life if they act as a clear differentiator. 

Jonas Tanenbaum, VP of hospitality at Samsung, said that migration of 4K TVs into hotels will be influenced by consumer interest. 

“While we do not yet have 4K products for hotels, I expect that at some point in the future that will change, and the timing of that will be based on the rate of adoption of 4K panels by consumers,” Tanenbaum said. “As consumer adoption of the new technology picks up, it has a trickle-down effect on the products that are available for hotels.”

Currently, adoption of both 4K and HD TVs in hotels has been slowed, partly by a lack of content, said Anthony Fonzo, national account manager, Phillips Hospitality TV

“HD is still coming into the hospitality space,” said Fonzo. “The total number of hotel rooms in the U.S. that have HD channels right now is not even at 55 percent. When you look at how many channels offering HD content hotels have, you’re still looking at 10 to 12, while at home people probably have 50 to 100 HD channels on a normal HD package.” 

Even as content providers begin to offer HD, and later, 4K, content to hotels, bandwidth will remain an issue, Fonzo said. 

“A 4K signal is estimated to take about 15MB / sec, but there are hotels that have 100MB / sec for the whole hotel,” Fonzo said. “So for a hotel with 100 rooms, that might not be possible.”

This article is the first in a three-part series on 4K TVs and hotels. Stay tuned to for parts two and three next week.