4K – a word I’m sure you may have heard a lot around these days. There’s a certain buzz going on regarding same, a hype if you will. You might wonder, what’s so special about it. Its just a video resolution after all. For the more interested just more pixels from the now common HD (High Definition) or 1080p/i.
What is 4K though? What makes it so desirable that what was once only used for cinema is now also a consumer designated product? With more than 8 million pixels on the screen, it basically means clear and crisp picture. It refers to the two Ultra HD resolutions today – 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels. The 3840 x 2160 better known as Ultra HD or UHD and 4,096 x 2,160 resolution is on cinema screens which is called as Cinema 4K
To understand it better, let’s take a step back to the time when Standard Definition (SD); at the time of normal SD the maximum resolution was 480p (640 x 480) as it was 480 lines high. It did a decent job of working on CRT TVs. HD on the other hand introduced 1080p (1920 x 1080), resulting in drastic improvement in the picture quality because of more pixels, when seen on large TV sets, such as today that brings you to a whole new world of visual entertainment. 4K takes you further into the realm of truly astounding visual quality.
The only time when you’ll be truly able to notice the difference is when you’re consuming 4K media through the TV or sitting really close to it. Sitting too close might sound rather childish, but the point here is, the ability to see the picture up close without deteriorating its quality. To be able to see that crisp and sharp picture up close can be termed as one of the most intoxicating feelings.
To further enhance the point, if you’ve used HD enabled TVs, you may have noticed that the media you’re consuming was SD, you start seeing tiny grains on the TV. Those tiny grains were nothing but pixels. Due to less resolution, the pixels are lesser and hence the deterioration in quality. 4K with precisely, 8,294,400 pixels, gives you the ability to enjoy crisp and sharp the quality up close with no deterioration in quality.
4K is one of the most popular and bestselling resolution now on the consumer end. Most of the Smart TVs and others come either with UHD or 4K tag, signalling that they’re well and capable of handling it. While 4K is obviously the present and future, it’s the programming that needs to catch up to fully utilize its potential.
Right now, services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer UHD content. Netflix leads the fray with its shows such as The Defenders, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, The Blacklist all available to be enjoyed on 4K. Having experienced the same myself, I can only say it’s stunning. The content is there, but its limited for now. But what about broadcast TV? Right now, it’s not so popular with normal broadcast as every 4K frame contains four times the information of HD, making it bulkier in the process.
Streaming 4K content requires a bandwidth of at least 25 Mbps which is more than what the average speed for most people. 4K is the future and its adoption is gaining traction, but it will be some time before it truly is as common place as normal HD content available widespread now.
Fun fact, 8K ups the ante further. It is double the pixel height and width with approximately 32 million pixels. And before you get any ideas regarding purchasing the same, 8K is primarily for the exhibition market, basically movie theatres. So unless you feel like opening a theatre, it’d be wise to adopt 4K first to truly enjoy the home entertainment you desire.