While high definition has been around for some time, we are starting to hear a lot of buzz about “4K Ultra High Definition.” Manufacturers at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) unveiled plans for 4K Ultra HD product lines, including Vizio, who announced that its first consumer lineup of 4K Ultra HDTVs will start at just under $1000. And this week, at Mobile World Congress, Sony introduced an Android smartphone with the technology.
So, what exactly is 4K Ultra HD, and what are the benefits compared to the display technology you’re using now? Analyst Patrick Moorhead thinks mobile devices could be the primary driver for this technology, but today, you’re more likely to hear it while shopping for your next television or computer monitor.
What is 4K Ultra HD?
There are a ton of acronyms and terminology making the rounds, so let’s simplify. You will see and hear the following terms used interchangeably.
Ultra High Definition = UHD = 4K Ultra HD = 4K
For all intents and purposes, these are referring to the same technology. 4K Ultra HD is characterized by a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels (the tiny dots that make up an image). This is four times the resolution of full HD, 1920×1080 pixels.
Why does it matter?
4K Ultra HD offers richer color, dynamic upscaling, and maximum contrast. It is, in other words, the next step in state-of-the-art display technology. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your 1080p HDTV is obsolete yet, but it may be on its way there.
We can expect to see 4K Ultra HDTVs replace the TVs that are currently in our homes when major players – like Sony, Samsung, and LG – refresh their lineups this summer. While UHD content is limited today, we will begin to see a shift in that direction. Streaming services, like Netflix, have already announced that they will offer UHD content this year. And TVs are not the only electronics playing in the UHD space. Sony offered a first look at their new 4K Handycam®, as well as a 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector during CES, and Dell recently unveiled its line of 4K Ultra HD Monitors.
The bottom line is that 4K Ultra HD is exciting. It’s a leap forward in display technology, and personally, I’m glad to see the bar raised.