It was not too long ago when people go crazy over Full HD televisions that promised to bring a different level of clarity to our viewing experience.
Flaunting 1080p resolution, it did not take too much time before people started scraping old cathode ray tube TV’s and bought a flat screen Full HD 1080p TV.
However, since the only constant thing in this world is change, the dominance of Full HD TV is coming to an end.
There is no one else to blame for this but the increasing popularity of 4K TVs. What is 4K resolution and why are TVs with this feature selling like hotcakes? This article is packed with all the things you need to know about 4K TVs and HDR.
What is 4K Resolution?
By now, you must be already aware that the clarity of the image you’re seeing on your screen, no matter how small or huge it is, depends mainly on its resolution.
This number indicates how many pixels or “colored dots” make up your screen. The higher the number, the more vivid the display will be. Case in point, the Full HD 1080p TV has 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.
We were very contented with Full HD TVs until 4K HDR TVs were released on the market. Also known as UHD or Ultra HD TVs, it offers a resolution four times better compared to regular HD TV.
In fact, it has 3,840 x 2,160 pixels which are significantly higher compared to that of a 1080p model. It follows that between Full HD and UHD, the latter is expected to have more defined and detailed display compared to the former.
Frequently Asked Question Regarding 4K TVs
We are sure that the information above is quite too much to process especially by individuals who are not tech-savvy. To make things clearer, here are some frequently asked questions about 4K TVs and our take on each one of them:
1. Is 4K different from Ultra HD?
We might need to play with some words on this one, but to cut the chase, 4k and Ultra HD are referring to the same specification of a television.
However, technically, they are two different terms. Ultra High Definition or UHD refers to a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. On the other hand, 4K is simply a term to reiterate that Ultra HD TVs has four times the number of pixels as the regular 1080p Full HD TV.
2. Am I Getting Better Quality with 4K TV?
The answer is a big YES! 4k UHD TVs are known to be more superior compared to the Full HD OLED TV or even QLED TVs.
Thanks to its amazing color depth and black levels, 4K TVs picture quality is simply stunning. In addition, you get to play 4k videos, 4k movies, and 4K content without distorting the quality.
3. Can I Play any Video Format from Different Sources?
The generic answer is yes, you can. However, you cannot expect the same picture quality and peak brightness.
Only contents that came from native 4K sources will be viewed in 4K resolution. Sources with 1080p resolution or less will be viewed as it is unless your TV has an excellent upscaling capability.
Upscaling is a feature of TV that allows it to play lesser resolution sources and make it appear as if it was a UHD content.
4. What are Native 4K Resolution Sources?
To be honest, there are limited native 4K sources but they are growing really fast due to demand.
As of now, the most popular sources of 4K contents are 4k streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon through Fire TV. Amazon prime videos offer a wide selection of 4K movies and TV series for you to choose from. You may also access 4K content through 4K Bluray Players and Apple TV.
5. Can I Stream 4K Contents with Regular Internet Connection?
For sure yes, but depends on the internet speeds on your location, to able to stream 4K contents you need to have at least 14 Mbps connection speeds.
If your connection falls short below this limit, the picture quality will slide back to Full HD regardless if you’re viewing Apple TV 4K videos. On the other hand, this will not be a factor if you are using UHD Bluray Player as this device does not rely on the internet speed.
6. What are the ports included in a 4K TV?
The ports of 4K OLED TV are not too different compared to that of a regular 1080p. HDMI 2.0a port is always there but may vary in quantity from one model to another. It is a must to use HDMI port when using your Ultra HD Bluray Player to view the contents in 4K displays.
7. Is it possible to create your own 4K Videos?
For sure yes, it is possible. Considering how advanced the technologies are now, and will be, you can record a 4K video using your mobile phone. Examples of which are iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8, LG V30, and many more.
Also, some camcorders and digital cameras are 4K video capable. Just prepare your credit card for mobile devices with this feature may come with a hefty price tag.
8. Is 4K TV good for large rooms?
Yes and no. Since 4K TVs come in large sizes with billions of pixels packed in the screen, it is perfect for a relatively huge room. The downside, however, is that you have to be closer to the television to see the difference of 4K TV. The moment you move several feet away, the details of the image starts to fade until the difference of 4K and 1080p becomes undetectable.
Table Comparison of 4K UHD vs HDR
To better understand how powerful 4K TVs are compared to the regular 1080 Full HD TVs, we have prepared a tabular summary for you below:
|Feature||4K Ultra HD TV||1080p Full HD|
|Picture Quality||3840 x 2160||1920 x 1080|
|Sources of Content||Not much for now but grows exponentially due to increasing demand||Almost unlimited|
|Sizes Available||40 inches to over 100 inches (imagine that??)||32 to 55 inches only|
|Price||Relatively expensive||Relatively affordable|
4K UHD vs HDR
If you think having a 4K TV is already the best viewing experience you will ever get, think again. The wonders of technology don’t end there. Have you heard about HDR TV? Yes, you have seen nothing yet. Wait until you discover how 4K HDR TVs will rock your world.
So what exactly is HDR? If you have seen an HDR logo in your TV box, it means that your TV has High Dynamic Range capability. This allows the TV to offer the highest level of color contrast and thus displaying a realistic image.
Compared to just Ultra High Definition, High Dynamic Range is a huge leap.
Contrast is a very important aspect in determining whether a TV is good or not. It is best explained by how bright the whites are and how dark the blacks were.
The bigger the contrast, the more realistic the displays will be. Standard dynamic range TVs regularly runs with 300 to 500 nits (cd/m2) while that of an HDR goes way over thousands. That is definitely a remarkable difference.
But I have already purchased a 4K TV. Does this mean I already have HDR capabilities? Sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is no. Not all 4K TVs have the capacity to play HDR contents. Unless it is specified, regular 4K TVs may just run in SDR or standard digital range.
Is 4K HDR TV enough to view HDR Content?
Absolutely not. If you want to enjoy true HDR contents, you also need to have an HDR capable player for both movies and games.
Xbox One S and Sony’s PS4 Pro are just among the first consoles which offer HDR compatibility. Microsoft won’t allow being left behind and promises that their soon to be released Project Scorpio Console will be HDR compatible as well.
HDR in Gaming
You may want HDR quality displays for your favorite movie but in a gamer’s perspective, HDR in gaming is bad ass. Therefore a 4K HDR TV is a must for gamers. As mentioned, there are a number of consoles that offer HDR content for a top-notch gaming experience.
- Xbox One X/S
Microsoft gained a little edge when they initiated the addition of HDR compatibility to Xbox One X and S.Connected via HDMI 2.0a, it supports not only 4K but HDR10 as well.
Unfortunately, Dolby Vision is not yet part of the partnership. The best part of all is that Microsoft decided to put a built in Bluray drive in this gaming console.
- Play Station 4 Pro
Play station 4 Pro is another gaming console that supports the HDR and 4K format. Even with the old version of PS4 HDR was already available.However, it was only on the Pro version where the 4K Ultra HD capability was added.
Home theater fanatics may find it a bummer knowing that unlike Xbox One S, PS4 Pro does not have a built-in Bluray drive.
When it comes to movies and TV series, there is only a handful of available HDR contents. Even Amazon and Netflix are just starting to add more HDR contents.
However, with the use of 2 major HDR players namely Dolby Vision and HDR 10, viewing HDR will be within reach.
Dolby Vision HDR is a proprietary HDR Video format developed by Dolby Surround used not only for home theater but for commercial purposes as well.
Dolby Vision’s competitor, HDR10, performs almost the same until the release of HDR10+. Compared to its predecessor, HDR10+ runs a dynamic metadata that offers better image quality and peak brightness.
Regardless of the source, both HDR10 and Dolby vision elevates your HDR viewing experience.
Aside from Dolby Vision and HDR10, another player is entering the HDR arena. Hybrid Log Gamma or HLG is an HRD format spearheaded by NHK and BBC.
They function almost similarly. The only difference is that Hybrid Log Gamma does not run using metadata. This functionality could either be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how the manufacturer will use it.
Is your TV really HDR capable?
A simple print on the box saying it’s an HDR capable TV is not enough. To avoid misleading the customers, UHD Alliance composed of multiple TV manufacturing companies was created to establish standards for HDR Video capable TVs.
According to UHD alliance, the following criteria must for a TV to be an HDR TV:
- Not less than 3840×2160 resolution
- Built with 10-bit color depth ( should have 1,024 shades of primary colors )
- Capable of contrasts higher than 1,000 nits for LED TVs and 540 nits for OLED TVs
Once a product pass through the UHD Alliance meticulous evaluation, it will be certified with an Ultra HD Premium label.
HDR Bluray Players Are Sprouting Like Mushrooms
To gain access to more contents aside from the usual HDR providers, HDR Bluray players are also available in the market. These are top of the line products that promise the much coveted true 4K HDR experience.
Though there is only a slew of products available in the market right not since this technology is still in the infancy stage, their number is growing faster than expected.
So start stacking your Bluray discs and get the popcorn ready coz your movie experience will be a great one.
The Future of Television
With the advent of more technological advancement, 4K TVs and HDR capabilities are the best that we have so far. However, you need to brace yourselves because we have seen nothing yet.
Believe it or not, 8K TV is already in the works and may come out in a matter of 2 to 4 years. Just imagine how stunning the display would be. Not to cut the popularity of 8K TVs short long before it was released, the possibility of having 16K TVs is not impossible after all.
HDR looks like your usual three-letter word but in fact, it is more complex than what you can expect.
I know that that most of the topics mentioned in this article are new to you. But isn’t it exciting to know that the TVs that we are enjoying right now have a lot of rooms for improvement.
Sure, 4K and HDR formats are significant improvements. But with the inception of 8K and 16K technologies, the best is yet to come and we can do nothing but sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.