As the age of 1080p HD begins to draw to an end, Ultra HD 4K resolution is taking its place as the high definition standard of choice. But, as with any new technology, it creates confusion - people often don't understand the benefits of adopting the new standards. What exactly is UHD 4K, and what is the difference between 1080p, Ultra HD, and 4K?
What is 4K and UHD?
The standard of 1080p (and 1080i, which is just a different way of presenting the same number of pixels) redefined image resolution for an incumbent generation of TVs, video games (in fact, some gaming CPUs can support UHD 4K HDTVs), and virtually any form of display that relies on pixels. Ultra HD and 4K continued to build upon this by increasing the maximum image resolution standard to about four times that of 1080p.
4K renders a resolution of eight million pixels: 4,000 lines of pixels wide and 2,000 lines of pixels high in layman's terms (specifically 4096 x 2160). 1080p, in comparison, could only render a maximum of two million pixels.
Ultra HD is a slightly lower resolution compared to 4K, at 3840 x 2160. For many consumers, the combined term UHD 4K will be the norm, because really, there's very little difference. Plus, brand labels would prefer to stick to the broader category of Ultra HD or UHD.
What's the Difference and Which is Better?
Do the math and it's simple. 4K has a better resolution than Ultra HD and is currently the highest standard. However, for general purposes, there's barely any noticeable difference. Shoppers should worry less about asking their salesperson "Is this 4K or just UHD?" and instead think more about what other features of HDTVs (like being smart TVs) can augment the UHD 4K experience.
Factors to Consider
UHD 4K may not be for everyone. For one thing, smaller screen sizes make the impressive resolution achieved by 4K useless, so the high resolution doesn't matter. For people who want the ultimate home theatre experience (and who also have room to spare for screen sizes upwards of 55 inches), Ultra HD 4K smart TVs are the ideal choice.
Cables, Cables, Cables
People often get confused by the types of cables available for use, what with the consumer market flooded by TVs of all resolutions and types. For Ultra HD 4K, shoppers can find a variety of cables, but the bottom-line is that they need HDMI cables. Brands may persuade shoppers to go for more expensive HDMI cabling that supports the 4K resolution of Ultra HD TVs, but to be clear, even the generic, more affordable HDMI cables work with them as well. Again, people who are after the ultimate home theatre experience might want to get better cables in order to maximise their viewing pleasure.
Compatibility to UHD 4K
Cables aren't the only things consumers need to match precisely to their UHD 4K TVs. The media played on these TVs also matters. People can't expect to stick the usual 1080p DVD into their Blu-ray players and get the full 4K resolution just because the TV can render it. The media itself needs to specifically support the resolutions that the TV can render. Otherwise, the image will remain in its highest setting (in this example, 1080p), and the TV will render it as such without maximizing its 4096 x 2160 setting.
Blu-ray usually supports higher resolutions, and gamers using next generation consoles can crank up their graphics settings to the maximum. Also, services like Netflix offer some of their selections at higher resolutions -- even up to 4K.
As mentioned above, Ultra HD 4K TVs are excellent for high-end gaming. Consumers also need to consider what other uses, aside from home theatre, they want to use with their HDTV. For instance, for designers who want the extra real estate that a larger screen provides, they need to ensure that they have the additional HDMI cables that connect their CPU to their TVs.
1080p HDTVs revolutionised televisions, but this technology is now giving way the even higher resolutions of Ultra HD and 4K. While these televisions might sound attractive, consumers should consider multiple factors before making a purchase through an online retailer, such as what they will be using their television for and what size they can afford. Often, the best TV is not always the one with the highest resolution, but the one that best fits a persons lifestyle.