What is 4K?

If you watch and or listen to tech news, you may have came across a recent buzzword of “4K”. You may be wondering what it’s all about and how it may benefit you. This article aims to shed some light on the matter and allow you to understand what it is, when you may see it and how much it costs.

So to put it simply 4K is the step up from HD. A Full-HD display is always at a fixed resolution of 1920 x 1080. Now there’s nothing “wrong” with this resolution exactly, it’s the pixel density that is lacking slightly. Think about a 22″ LCD computer display at 1920 x 1080 compared to a 63″ LCD television also at 1920 x 1080. The pixels just wont be as densely packed and in our day in age we like our displays to be as sharp as physically possible. Of course 4K may not be that big of a deal to some, let’s say you’ve got a 25ft living room and the television is a 42″ LCD and it’s literally on the other side of the room. Pixel density really doesn’t matter when we’re dealing with these kind of distances.

On the other hand however, you definitely would notice the difference in a 1080p video and a 4K video, the difference is night and day. You may have noticed how much more well defined and true-to-life everything was when you upgraded from a non-HD display to a HD display, it’s the same kind of difference but on a bigger scale (literally). For example if you go to your local electronics store and look at a 63″ display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a 32″ display next to it with the same resolution, you’ll notice how much sharper the image looks on the 32″ display. So basically 4K will allow us to have an insanely large display but with the image quality that is virtually indistinguishable from that of a smaller, lower resolution display.

The term 4K is actually quite generic, it’s like when people say when a screen is “HD”. Is it 720p? 1080i?

4K is split into several resolutions, they all have different standards and they are as follows:

  1. 4K Ultra High Definition Television

The resolution of this format is 3840 x 2160, the aspect ratio is 1.78:1 and the pixel count is 8,294,400.

  1. Digital Cinema Initiatives 4K (Native Resolution)

The resolution of this format is 4096 x 2160, the aspect ratio is 1.90:1 and the pixel count is 8,847,360.

  1. DCI 4K (CinemaScope cropped)

The resolution of this format is 4096 x 1714, the aspect ratio is 2.39:1 and the pixel count is 7,020,544.

  1. DCI 4K (Flat Cropped)

The resolution of this format is 3996 x 2160, the aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and the pixel count is 8,631,360.

  1. Academy 4K (storage format)

The resolution of this format is 3656 x 2664, the aspect ratio is 1.37:1 and the pixel count is 9,739,584.

  1. Full Aperture 4K (storage format)

The resolution of this format is 4096 x 3112, the aspect ratio is 1.32:1 and the pixel count is 12,764,752.

That’s a lot of pixels!

So bottom line is pretty much none of these are really of any of your concern, the only one you’ll likely come across is the 1st one which is the standard resolution of a 4K LCD television, the aspect ratio looks kind of goofy but works out as near enough 16:9 aspect ratio.

All of the other resolutions are pretty much the standard 4K resolutions that some of the new digital cameras natively record at.

The Conclusion: Do You Need 4K?

You do! And you don’t! Sorry, I can’t assume an answer as it’s YOUR preference and likely your money that may be spent on 4K technology. I would however strongly advise against 4K tech. For the time being that is. If only because it’s expensive. Like REALLY expensive and 1080p should work just fine until the prices of 4K displays are reduced by a substantial amount.

Also take into account that if you wanted to use a 4K display for the likes of gaming, you’re going to need some serious graphics horsepower to be pushing that amount of pixels and at a decent frame rate. Needless to say however, I’m sure I speak for gamers around the globe when I say that 4K gaming is going to be “pretty freaking sweet”.

4K screens will definitely become mainstream within the near future, and this kind of resolution coupled with OLED will make for some pretty gorgeous displays within the next few years.

So tell me. Will you go 4K soon? Or are you perfectly content rocking Full-HD?