4K: Everyone desires it and no one knows why. It really is the hottest tech buzzword of the last few years, and it is a technology that's rewriting the rulebook when it comes to the best image quality.
It affects not just the world of 4K TV and cinema, but also cameras and image capture, smartphones and tablets, computer monitors and Pc games - virtually anything that displays photos or records video.
4K TV sets are now available from most of the major TV producers, but they're merely the tip of a really cool technological iceberg. There is lots to delve into with the new technology - we'll cover what OLED, High-Dynamic Range and Quantum Dot are in a minute - but prior to we get ahead of ourselves let's make sure we all realize the fundamentals. What the heck is 4K and why should you care?
What is 4K?
In a nutshell, 4K means a clearer image. It's a lot more pixels (8,294,400 to be precise) on the screen which creates photos that are crisper and capable of showing a lot more detail than standard HD.
What is the resolution of 4K?
4K resolution, at least the way most TVs define it, is 3840 x 2160 or 2160p. To put that in perspective, a full HD 1080p image is only a 1920x1080 resolution. 4K screens have about 8 million pixels, which is around 4 times what your current 1080p set can display.
Why is it called 4K?
Simply because the photos are around 4,000 pixels wide. And before you ask, yes, the industry named 1080 resolution right after image height but named 4K following image width. For additional head scratching, you also may hear this resolution referred to as 2160p. Welcome to the future. It's confusing right here.
Do all these extra pixels matter?
They matter very much. More pixels implies more details. Much more details means sharper pictures. Sharper photos are a lot more engaging. Much more engaging content material is much more fun. And enjoyable... well entertaining is the point, isn't it?
So I'll see a huge difference?
That's exactly where it gets sticky. We're talking about a comparable jump in resolution like the one from SD (480 lines high) to HD (1080 lines high). And 4K screens are noticeably sharper than 1080p screens but the jump is less apparent. Because of these factors, you might not really feel quite the same thrill you did when you upgraded your old CRT to a flat screen.
When most people went from a 480 to a 1080p set, there was an excellent chance they had been making a large jump in TV size as well. In terms of wow aspect, display size is much more effective than any resolution jump could ever hope to be. Last time around most people got huge jumps to both screen size and resolution. But this time screen sizes are staying about the same, with the most well-known models falling in the 40 inch to 70 inch range.
Most importantly, though, you will only be able to see the resolution difference on a 4K set if you are 1) watching 4K content through it and 2) you happen to be sitting close enough.
Sitting close enough?
Yup. Bear in mind when Apple made a large fuss about "retina" displays a couple of iPhones back? "Retina" refers to screens that have enough resolution that at a regular viewing distance your eye cannot make out individual pixels. Get far enough away from a 1080p set and, hey presto, It's a retina display! Much more importantly, at that same distance, your eyeballs will not be able to squeeze a lot more detail out of a 4K image than a 1080p screen. If you're at "retina distance" from your 1080p set now and do not plan on moving your couch closer, upgrading to 4K might not make a huge difference to your experience.
So I must sit closer?
Oh my yes. The capability to get up close to the screen without the image breaking down is one of the most intoxicating things about 4K. Sitting closer permits the identically sized screen to fill much more of your visual field, which yields greater immersion. The up-close factor is one of the reasons 4K computer monitors have turned out to be one of the technology's fastest expanding sectors. 4K monitors stay pin-sharp even when you are just a foot or two from the screen, as you are when you are sitting at your desk.
Difference between Ultra HD and 4K
Technically, "Ultra High Definition" is actually a derivation of the 4K digital cinema standard. Nonetheless, while your local multiplex shows pictures in native 4096 x 2160 4K resolution, the new Ultra HD customer format has a slightly reduced resolution of 3840 X 2160.
|Click to view this in UHD|
Why should I care about 4K Ultra HD?
There are several factors why 4K should make you rethink your next TV purchase (actually, there are eleven and you can study about them right here), not all of them right away obvious.
Photographers who routinely view their work on an HD TV are seeing but a fraction of the detail inherent in their pictures when they view them at 2160p.
A 4K display reveals a lot more nuance and detail – the distinction can be astonishing. Although 3D has proved to be a faddish diversion, 4K comes without caveats. Its larger resolution pictures are simply better.
The greater pixel density of a 4K panel also allow you get much closer without the grid-like structure of the image itself becoming visible –this indicates you can comfortably watch a lot larger screen from the identical seating position as your present Full HD panel. Currently, all obtainable 4K Ultra HD TVs are in excess of 50-inches.
You also mentioned, "and up." Can UHD also designate greater resolutions than 4K?
Yes. This is the slightly confusing element. An 8K display would also be UHD.
What is this 8K you speak of?
It is the subsequent resolution standard up from 4K. Basically, it doubles the pixel height and width again to yield approximately 32 million pixels. It's a regular pixel party.
That sounds awesome. Should I just get one of those?
Absolutely not. The 8K screen is mainly for the exhibition industry (aka film theaters). To make that many pixels matter, you need to be feeding a genuinely gigantic screen and sitting right in front of it. In addition, you can't purchase an 8K screen today without having it custom built, which would cost around seven gazillion dollars. And there is no commercially accessible 8K content. You'd have to get movies straight from distributors the same way theaters do. You do not want this unless you are Jerry Bruckheimer. (If you are Jerry Bruckheimer, however, give me a holler. I know a guy.)
My friend told me about 4K OLED. What is that?
More acronyms! Isn't this enjoyable? OLED - organic light emitting diodes - have been about for some time, but creating big screens using this technology has proven to be prohibitively costly, one thing which has so far prevented OLED television from being a mainstream proposition.
It's a genuine shame since OLED technology can be beautiful, providing vibrant colors, deep blacks, and bright whites. But never give up hope just yet. A number of companies (most prominently LG) are laboring away to bring OLED to 4K televisions. We lately took a look at LG's new 4K OLED sets, but while they are gorgeous, pricing remains sky high. Hopefully, that will alter quickly, though. "I think the value and yield rate will be greater right away and the cost will be down," Mr. K I Kwon, president of LG Electronics UK, told TechRadar lately. We hope his predictions hold and we aren't ruling out OLED as a big player in the next generation of televisions.
I've heard Netflix is going to commence streaming in something called HDR. What is that?
HDR, UHD, OLED ... there is no shortage of acronyms in home entertainment.
HDR, or high dynamic range, is a notion borrowed from digital imaging which combines three images - one with regular lighting, one with underexposure and one with overexposure - to give more contrast to an image or video. Netflix was the first content provider to release HDR video in 2015.
You won't necessarily need a UHD screen to get it, but to actually see a difference in picture quality you'll want to step up to the higher resolution.
Quantum Dot sounds like theoretical physics
It does indeed. But as opposed to some problems in theoretical physics, the remedy is currently right here. Quantum Dot displays (QD for short) are simply LED panels with a thin film of nanocrystals in between the backlight and the display. Companies like LG and Sony claim that this increases color depth by about 30% without having to add extra pixels or implementing a wacky algorithm to digitally manipulate the display.
|88" Class - LED - Curved - 2160p - Smart - 3D - 4K Ultra HD TV|
Ultra-Expensive but Ultra-Cool
What sort of cables will I need for 4K?
The two standard cables you happen to be most likely to use are either a regular HDMI or if you're connecting a Pc to an Ultra HD monitor, DisplayPort.
HDMI cables now come in four flavors: high speed with ethernet high speed without ethernet normal speed with ethernet and normal speed without having ethernet. Regular speed cables are capable of 1080i but are not capable of managing the bandwidth of 4K. High-speed cables can do something bigger than 1080. Now, as long as you're making use of the same class of cable, there is no distinguishable difference in terms of performance between one manufacturer's set of cables and another's.
The speed of your connection will rely on the varieties of connectors, which consists of HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2. and HDMI 2.0a. HDMI 1.4 connectors have a 3820x2160-resolution at 30 frames per second while HDMI 2. is the latest spec and can output video at Ultra HD resolution at 60 frames per second. HDMI 2.0a is capable of HDR, which is limited to a particular variety of televisions from each manufacturer.
The other kind of cable you can use is DisplayPort. DisplayPort carries the 4K image and audio signal from most high-finish graphics cards to monitors without any noticeable artifacts or delays.
So must I have a 4K set now or should I wait?
It depends. If you want the absolute best TV you can get right now and do not mind paying a premium for it, it is a 4K set. If you are getting it from one of the leading tech companies, you're going to get a great product that is reasonably future-proofed. As we stated just before, the sets appear great. Nevertheless, don't count on watching all of your video content in 4K for another year or two. And make sure any set you acquire has HDMI 2. ports (the first wave of 4K TVs employed the previous HDMI 1.4 normal).
On the other hand, if you're value sensitive or want to wait until the content material side of the equation is a bit more solved, it totally makes sense to wait. You're really not missing out on much at the moment. There are extraordinary values to be found in generously-sized 1080p sets right now. And 4K sets are only going to get more affordable.