What is 4K, and how does it work? You may have heard the term 4K when exploring home theatre options, screen displays, and TV formats. But what is 4K and how does it work?

4K is an up-and-coming video technology that promises a better quality picture when you’re watching movies or TV shows. In other words, 4K means a clearer picture. It’s more pixels (8,294,400 to be exact) on the screen at once that creates images that are crisper and capable of showing more details than standard HD. 

The term ‘4K’ refers to the resolution of an electronic display. Specifically, it refers to the fact that there are roughly 4,000 pixels on the horizontal side of the display, which gives 4K four times as high a resolution as 1080p (i.e. what we call traditional ‘Full HD’ or ‘Full High Definition’ screens). And that’s why 4K is often called “Ultra HD” or “UHD.” The reason for calling it as 4K is because the images are around 4,000 pixels wide. And before you ask, yes, the industry named 1080 resolution after image height but named 4K after image width. 

Q: What is the resolution of 4K?

A: 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 1920×1080 resolution. 4K screens have about 8 million pixels, which is around four times what your current 1080p set can display. A full HD 1080p image is 1080 rows high and 1920 columns wide. A 4K image approximately doubles the numbers in both directions, yielding approximately four times as many pixels total. To put it another way, you could fit every pixel from your 1080p set onto one-quarter of a 4K screen.

Q: But is it really much better than 1080p?

A: Of course, it is! For a long time, 1080p was the industry standard resolution for online videos. So, when someone mentioned HD, they meant videos that were 1920 x 1080 pixels. But while 1080p content was considered “high definition,” 4K is considered “ultra-high definition,” and contains more pixels, conveys higher bit depth, higher frame rate, and a wider color gamut. This means finer details and a clearer image: so the more information that your video has (in this case 4K has four times, or more, the number of pixels than 1080p), the more opportunities you have to work on your video in post-production without losing the integrity of the original quality.

Q: Do all those extra pixels matter?

A: They matter very much. More pixels means more information. More information means sharper pictures. Sharper pictures are more engaging. More engaging content is more fun. Hence, it would be better if you could sit closer and enjoy the content in 4K because the ability to get up close to the screen without the image breaking down is one of the most intoxicating things about 4K. Sitting closer allows the same sized screen to fill more of your visual field, which yields greater immersion. The up-close factor is one of the reasons 4K computer monitors have become one of the technology’s fastest-growing sectors. 4K monitors remain pin-sharp even when you’re just a foot or two from the screen, as you are when you’re sitting at your desk.

Q: How 4K enhances the experience in a Home Theatre?

A: When the home theatre setup is installed on 4K, the visual experience would be enhancing into another level of visual experience, that founds in cinema halls. The 4K images or visuals offers four times the resolution of Full HD, pulling you right into the heart of the action with unprecedented clarity. It would help you to experience fabulously rich cinematic colors, smooth motion, and spectacular contrast. And it would be lower costs of setting up a home theatre with projection screens, than the televisions, in terms of maintenance and operating costs.

Q: Difference between Ultra HD and 4K.

A: Technically, “Ultra High Definition” is actually a derivation of the 4K digital cinema standard. However while your local multiplex shows images in native 4096 x 2160 4K resolution, the new Ultra HD consumer format has a slightly lower resolution of 3840 x 2160. This is one reason why some brands prefer not to use the 4K label at all, sticking with Ultra HD or UHD instead. However, the numerical shorthand looks likely to stick.

Q: So what can I watch in 4K?

A: Your best UHD options right now come from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Netflix is leading the 4K streaming waters with most of its original shows being available in 4K, alongside select films. The selection might be more limited than the amount of HD content, but it’s increasing day by day. Amazon has also gotten into the 4K UHD streaming game by offering some of its highest-rated shows in Ultra HD.

Both streaming services say even more content is on its way and expects the roll-out to ramp up once more TV watchers make the jump to the higher-resolution standard.

Q: So, what next?

A: The future of 4K consists mostly of improving what’s already there, rather than further increasing the spatial resolution, since there’s a near consensus that there isn’t much of a point in 8K. Instead, it becomes more common, the next steps by the industry would be mostly including additional frame rates, better color representation, and wider color spaces. From movies to sports or even video games, we can help your favorite experiences come to life with a custom-designed media room or home theatre. 

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