George Michael. File photo: AP

London - IT seems like only yesterday that we were encouraged to trade in our old box tellies for the next big thing – flatscreens.

Then you were really behind the times unless you upgraded to high definition and TVs that could show 3D images.

Now even that high technology is old hat – thanks to the arrival of the 4K picture.

The ultra-high quality definition is four times as sharp as standard quality high definition and is close to that seen only in an Imax cinema.

But those wishing to enjoy the new technology at home need plenty of room for the 84inch screen – and plenty of cash.

Sony has brought out a model which is more than 7ft wide and costs £25,000.

Only Harrods currently sells the television. George Michael has reportedly bought three and a Middle Eastern prince has ordered six.

The giant screen can convert ordinary television into 3D and comes with five pairs of glasses for viewing the pin-sharp images.

Even without 3D, the ultra-high definition images are 16 times sharper than those on a normal television. Experts say the television’s picture is so technologically advanced that few broadcasters can yet take advantage of its full potential.

The television could also help solve family arguments – the screen is so large it can be split, allowing viewers to watch a film while also checking the football scores, for example.

It also has voice-activated and motion controls, putting an end to fruitless searches for the remote.

Those preferring something a little more discreet might wish to wait for the 65in version or even the slightly smaller 55in, which will be in the shops this summer. Paul Gyles, of Sony UK, said: ‘We are always trying to push the boundaries and when you see 4K for the first time you instantly get it.’

Prices are expected to drop sharply during this year, with other Japanese manufacturers developing their own 4K products.

LG already sells an 84in model in the UK with a slightly cheaper price tag of £22,000.

The emergence of 4K comes as the BBC is preparing to film its next meerkat natural history programme using the technology. The series, being made by the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol, will show how animals go through the same basic life stages as humans.

Mike Gunton, of the NHU, said: ‘There’s a new reality which those images give. I think it makes the images more engaging. You feel you can almost touch them and get into the heads of the animals.’

Always ahead when it comes to technology, Japanese officials announced yesterday that they would launch the first 4K channel next year to coincide with the football World Cup in Brazil. - Daily Mail