So, what does "Ultra HD" mean exactly?
3. Okay, so if that's "Ultra HD," what's "4K"? Is that some other format I need to worry about?
Right now, the terms 4K and Ultra HD are essentially used interchangeably. 4K is one type of UHD defined by a 2160p resolution (the minimum threshold for
UHD) , and it's quickly becoming the first widespread UHD standard. Another UHD standard—8K UHD, which has a 4320p resolution (7680 by 4320 pixels)—
is out there, but no one uses it yet. It's the same as how both 720p and 1080p formats are considered "high definition" even though one has a much higher
resolution than the other (marketing folks sometimes call 1080p "full HD").
Sceptre 4K TV
4320p, huh. Wow. That's really impressive. Just
remind me, what does the “p” in 1080p, 2160p and 4320p stand for
again? I'm asking for a friend who
doesn't understand technology as well as I do.
Progressive scan. In most everyday uses, “p” can just be thought of as referring to the number of horizontal lines of pixels a display has. So a 2160p display
(4K) has twice as many horizontal lines as a 1080p display (HD). It happens to have twice as many vertical lines, too (3840 vs. 1920), for a total of 4 times as
many pixels. 4K images are composed of nearly 8.3 million pixels. Compare that to the just over 2 million found in a 1080p image, the full HD resolution
produced by Blu-rays.
Okay, so 4K has a lot more pixels than HD. But
is it really that much better?
4K images are composed of nearly 8.3 million pixels. Compare that to the just over 2 million
found in a 1080p image, the full HD resolution produced by Blu-Rays. It's nine times as many
pixels as a 720p HD broadcast. That's like the difference between an 8-megapixel camera and
a 2-megapixel camera.
Can I even see all those pixels?
It depends. The extra pixels make 4K images look great in the store when you're standing close to the TV. But if you expect to sit on your couch 8 feet away
from your TV, you'll need a 55-inch TV or bigger to see the improvement. And the farther from the TV you sit, the bigger the TV you need in order for 4K to
make a difference. The smaller your TV and the farther you sit from it, the less distinguishable individual pixels become. So 4K mostly benefits viewers who
sit close to large TVs. But the Ultra HD standard is about more than just a lot of pixels. The video specs also call for a larger color space, which should make
everything look better even if you can't see all of the pixels.
That's all well and good, but it's not like there's
anything to watch on 4K, right? house of
cards 4k, Youtube 4k.
other original Netflix programs in 2014, House of Cards will be
shot and offered in
Will my Blu-rays at least work on a UHD
All of your existing HD content, including Blu-rays, will work on an Ultra HD TV. They'll be
scaled up to fill the screen, though, so they won't look as good as true 4K content. The current
generation of Blu-ray discs supports resolutions up to 1080p. But the Blu-ray Disc Association
has expressed an interest in developing 4K-compatable Blu-rays down the road. New video
compression formats will allow broadcasters and Web services to stream bulky 4K video files
more easily. The International Telecommunications Union recently introduced the H.265 (or
HEVC—High Efficiency Video Codec) standard as a successor to the H.264 standard widely
used to deliver video via Broadcast, Blu-ray, and Web. H.265 promises to deliver quality
comparable to that of H.264, despite using half the bandwidth. In addition, Google has
developed its own competing bandwidth-lite format, VP9, which the company will use to
stream 4K videos on YouTube. It, too, promises equivalent quality at half the bandwidth of
| 9. I'd
probably need to buy a bunch of new hardware and stuff to go
along with an Ultra HD
Eventually, yes. Most TV peripherals use HDMI, but only the two most recent version of HDMI
(1.4 and 2.0) support 4K resolution. And only HDMI 2.0 can handle a 4K signal at 60 frames per
second (All Sceptre 4K U series TVs support HDMI 2.0). HDMI 1.4 is limited to handling a 4K
signal at 30 frames per second.
More frames are important, right?
More frames per second means less blur. What limited 4K content there is today tends to be
available only at 30 FPS, but this will surely change down the line as more content becomes
available. If you're going to make an investment in a 4K TV, you might as well go all the way.
HDMI 2.0 was unveiled in September and is still being introduced to the market (not even all
4K TVs have them standard yet). But because HDMI 2.0 is backward-compatible with all
previous generations, a new UHD TV with HDMI 2.0 will still be able to "talk" to your old tech.
It even uses compatible cables.
This 4K stuff sounds interesting and all, but I'll
never be able to afford one, will I?
Well, the new 4K sets are very expensive right now, but they are rapidly becoming more affordable. We @ Sceptre, for example, recently unveiled a less
than $500 50 inch 4K TV. Remember, HDTVs were prohibitively expensive not so long ago, but their prices have come down. At this point, it's hard to find a
new TV that isn't HD.
I guess I'll have to start thinking about
getting a 4K TV—if not this year, then later. But for now I
should plan to deal with my plain ol' HDTV?
If you recently purchased a new HDTV, don't worry. It's a great living-room addition with lots of available content! Everyone will be talking about 4K, but
you can sit tight while the sets become cheaper, quality improves, and content becomes more readily available. That HDTV you just bought has several
years of life left in it before you'll want to move on.
| 13 .
What exactly is "future proofing," and HDMI 1.4 vs
Most HDTVs today use the HDMI 1.4 standard to process video and audio signals between a source, such as a Blu-ray player, and your TV. HDMI 1.4
doesn't support the security requirements that the studios require for the delivery of 4K. On top of this, since 4K Ultra HD TVs have four times as many
pixels as Full HD 1080p TVs, additional capacity is required to process any video and audio signals between the source and TV. As a result, the newest
HDMI 2.0 standard was recently introduced into the market. HDMI 2.0 allows 4K Ultra HD content to be processed at up to 60 frames per second, instead
of a maximum of 30 frames per second for HDMI 1.4. Additionally, a new technical standard was simultaneously initiated for digital copyright protection
that might be used to encode future 4K Ultra HD video streams, discs, or broadcasts. HDCP, or High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection, was developed
to prevent copying digital audio and video content as it travels across connections. The newest 4K Ultra HD TV models will be compatible with HDMI 2.0
and HDCP 2.2, though you may still see older models offering HDMI 1.4 or an earlier version of HDCP copy protection. With that said, it would be wise to
start out with a TV that has the latest technology in order to "future proof" your TV for future technology. “Future proofing” and these new technologies
are all reasons why 4K Ultra HD is a good choice today. Manufacturers are making the shift to this new resolution standard, and it seems this new
standard is here to stay. There is something to be said about the peace of mind that comes with owning a TV that will not only functionally last the test of
time, but remain technologically relevant going forward.