Full HD vs 4K: what differences are there?

Until the 10th of July, UEFA Euro-cup will be the predominant media event on papers, online media and, above all, television.

Precisely, and despite other screens, like tablets, mobile phones or laptops, television is still the preferred media to enjoy sports competitions, in our own homes, at a friend’s or at public places like pubs and bars. And the bigger the screen,the better.

Generally, TV screens are categorised by the diagonal size of the screen, associating a larger size with a better quality of the device. But there are other parameters relevant in the quality of the screen, besides its diagonal inches.

Screen resolution

One of the characteristics of a television device, besides its size, is the screen resolution. Through history, this resolution has been increasing, coming from 365 lines of the analog TV, to the 576p of the SD (Standard Definition) resolution, later to the 720p of the HD (High Definition) and to the 1080p of the Full HD.

The reason we talk about 576p, 720p or 1080p is because, to define the resolution of a TV screen, traditionally only the number of vertical lines is given. Being the “p” indicator that the image is being generated progressively. If we use a 16:9 aspect ratio, the total resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels for HD or 1920 x 1080 pixels Full HD. 576p DVD 16:9 format, would be 1024 x 576 pixels.

In any case, as the size of TV screens increases, if we keep the constant number of pixels in them, at the end the individual pixels will shown. Also, the more pixels has a digital image, more clarity and detail it will have.

As a consequence, a few years ago was the next big step in resolution to exceed Full HD, giving way to UHD (Ultra High Definition). To simplify, we can say UHD is equivalent to 4K, although on practice, it is a comparison to manage carefully. While UHD is 3840 x 2160 pixels. 4K may get 4096 or 3996 pixels of horizontal resolution.

In any case, for the problem we are discussing, we won’t differentiate 4K from UHD when talking about definition above Full HD. To make things more complicated, UHD is also 8K, which is 4320p vertical lines and 7680 horizontal pixels, but right now we may not have to worry about these screens, since we don’t have any yet.

Is 4K worth it?

If we found ourselves buying a brand new television screen for the UEFA Euro-cup, 4K is not really an argument. It seems there won’t be many opportunities to watch the soccer games in UHD definition in our geography with the only exception of some satellite services.

Anyway, if we plan to buy a brand new TV screen, even though there may not be many 4K content ready yet, it’s interesting to think about getting a UHD model, so our entertainment system won’t get left behind in the future.

The advantages of 4K screens are, in the first place, the quality of the image, specially in the definition domain, The more pixels the screen has, more detail on the image we could paint on them. Also, for bigger screens above 40˝ diagonal, having more pixels is good news when avoiding the size of them getting noticed to the naked eye.

4K screens, also work great with traditional content non 4K. Through the image processor, UHD screens scale content below 4K resolution to make them use all the available pixels on the screen.

The more pixels on UHD screens, make possible bigger screen without the sacrifice of the image quality. I mean, we could have a 65˝ TV screen, and individual pixels won’t get noticed on the image.

We can’t lose the sight of that, in the medium term, 4K content will be normal, and it’s always better scale Full HD to 4K than the other way around.

4K yes, but, OLED, LCD, HDR?

About which one of the 4K TV screens technology is better, the truth is we enter in the is-not-easy-to-choose-OLED-or-LCD territory. Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages. Not to mention HDR (High Dynamic Range), the newest addition to the video and graphics technologies.

It will depend on the budget, or on our priorities and television and cinematographic tastes. Movie fans will choose high end TV screens, while the rest of users will be ok with normal specification devices.

4K is starting to appear in the scene, provided that the limitation on the budget won’t be a much of a deal in the UHD prices.

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