There has been an awful lot of hype surrounding Ultra HD 4K in recent months, but many people are confused about this technology. Not surprising, when most of us are still trying to get our heads around Widescreen 1080p Full HD TV’s.
In order to fully understand Ultra HD 4K we have listed the main points that differentiate between HD TV’s and Ultra HD 4K TV’s.
What is the difference between Ultra HD and 4K?
As a consumer you do not need to worry about the difference, and when you go to purchase, you can use either term, they mean the same thing. Manufacturers use either term or both to describe Ultra HD and 4K TV’s and here is why.
4K began its life in cinemas, with directors such as George Lucas experimenting with digital formats as a replacement for expensive cinematic film. Lucas shot ‘Attack of the Clones’ in a complete digital format of 1080p. It worked well for future Blu-ray sales, but critics panned the cinematic release, stating that the 1080p could not cope with the giant cinematic screens. Those sitting in the front rows could actually see the pixel structure.
It was decided that a higher resolution was required and two resolutions were formed, 2K and 4K.
4K refers to a 4096 x 2160 pixel resolution and is double the resolution of 2K (2048 x 1080). The 4 refers to the horizontal measurement, the latter the vertical.
With the emergence of Ultra HD we now have four main resolution grades:
- standard definition (480p/540p)
- high definition (720p)
- full high definition (1080i/p)
- ultra-high definition (2160p)
Typically we watch televisions with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The professionals use a much wider ratio so our pixel resolution ends up being 3840 x 2160. This is double the measurements of the 1920 x 1080 standard (1080p, AKA Full HD) that most of us use today. It’s also four times the pixel resolution which is why TV manufacturers say their Ultra HD 4K TV’s are four times the resolution of a standard TV.
Why do we use the term Ultra HD 4K?
Innovative technology is hard enough to understand as it is. So with this in mind, in 2013, a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) group decided that in an effort to keep things simple, the official name for the new resolution should be Ultra HD.
However, certain manufacturers such as Sony, are insisting on keeping the name 4K. So for many manufacturers, in order to encompass all consumers, they use an combination of the two – hence Ultra HD 4K.
What is the benefit of Ultra HD?
The obvious benefit of an Ultra HD 4K TV is the higher resolution. An Ultra HD packs a massive 8 million pixels into exactly the same space that a standard 1080p TV fits in a mere 2 million pixels. Not just that, but when you are watching content made specifically for 4K, the pixels are four times smaller.
If you have a larger screen, the extra amount of pixels have an even bigger impact on the larger display.
Ultra HD TV’s also have a greater colour depth and wider colour scale than full high definition televisions.
More isn’t necessarily better. On a large screen if you sit really close the picture quality is diminished. You cannot really see the individual pixels so you really have to sit back and relax.
Experts are generally in agreement that to get the full benefit of an Ultra HD TV you should not opt for a screen size under 55-inches.
Who are manufacturing Ultra HD TVs now?
Major players in consumer electronics are getting involved in television manufacture, such as Sony, LG, Samsung and Panasonic.