4K will be here soon. What do you know about it–and what do you need to know?
Most people know that 4K has a higher resolution than HD. But resolution is only one part of what makes 4K such an impressive technology. We’re publishing a series on 4K, clearing up some confusion about this technology so that you can understand what your AV products need in order to work with 4K video.
Part One: More Pixels
The resolution of the display is the number of pixels it contains. Historically, we referred to displays by their vertical resolutions (e.g. 480p, 1080p). With 4K that is changing, since 4K refers to the horizontal resolution of a display instead. 4K displays have horizontal resolutions of roughly 4000 pixels.
The actual resolution of 4K screens varies. There are two main standards:
- Ultra High Definition 4K (UHD-4K)
- 3840 x 2160
- 16:9 Aspect Ratio
- Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI-4K)
- 4096 x 2160
- 19:10 Aspect Ratio
Both fall under the umbrella term 4K. The Consumer Electronics Association uses a slightly different set of characteristics for their definition of UHD. CEA UHD displays:
- must have an aspect ratio of at least 16:9 (1.78)
- must have at least 1 input that can carry native video with a minimum resolution of 3840 x 2160
- include 4K and 8K displays. (We’ve written before about the vagueness of the terms UHD and 4K — there’s still overlap, and there are still a few competing definitions in use.)
Screens with more pixels can display more discrete pieces of information. They are often capable of providing a better image because of this, with better definition of on-screen objects and smoother gradients. But resolution on its own is not enough to guarantee the highest quality picture.
For the highest-quality video, you don’t just need more pixels–you need better pixels. That’s what we’ll be talking about next week: color, contrast, brightness and the other qualities of the very best pixels.