What exactly is Ultra High Definition?
Everything you need to know about 4K / UHD
First and foremost, let’s simplify the terminology. You will see the terms ‘ultra high definition, UHD, 4K’ flying around. They are essentially the same thing. Much like we saw with the previous generation of broadcasting, High Definition was abreviated to HD, also commonly referred to as 1080p, which again, meant exactly the same thing. Some brands tend to side with one term for marketing purposes but you can rest assured that there is no difference at a basic level between something advertised as 4K and something advertised as UHD at anything but the most technical level.
So lets define 4K. The name relates to the number of pixels on your screen. Simply put, more pixels means more potential for image quality and detail. When your TV says it is fully HD, it means there is 1080 pixels vertically. Similarly 720p referred to 720 pixels vertically and standard definition was roughly 480 pixels. With 4K it translates to 2160 pixels vertically. So whilst it is twice the number as 4k, when you scale that up to the full screen it’s essentially 4 times the number of pixels. Check out the graphic below which illustrates this concept.
What does 4K mean for you and me?
Looking at the end result, 4K means you will get a sharper, more vivid picture. This picture will pack much more detail, especially when you look at it up close. It also means that larger screens will appear greatly sharper than their HD counterparts as the effects of stretching the picture onto a big screen are minimised for the human eye. Some who have viewed good quality 4K would describe it as looking through a window rather than looking at a TV. The colours, the depth of image is all rather breathtaking.
At this point in time 4K is still in its infancy. The technology is developing well but keep in mind that nearly all content produced on TV up to this date is either Standard Definition or High Definition material. This basically means we have a means to watch it but we don’t have a great deal of things to watch yet. That is not to say you can’t benefit from a 4K screen in 2016, sources are becoming available and your current programming can benefit from 4K as we’ll outline next.
Making the picture better
The key word here is upscaling. When a High Definition picture is displayed on a 4K screen, it will ultimately be shown the resolution of 4K. This is where the inner workings of your TV will interpret the signal whether that is a Blu-Ray or a TV broadcast and it will upscale that source to the resolution of the screen. This process is hugely variable across the price points of 4K TV’s which is why, whilst you can purchase 4K TV’s for relatively little these days, it won’t perform the same as a high end set. Generally speaking as you work your way up the pricing ladder of TV’s, they will be more powerful and be able to get better detail from the source and translate that to an upscaled 4K image. So that said, with the right TV, even the 9pm movie broadcast will look better than before.
What 4K is there today?
There is a race going on between broadcasters to produce native 4K material. Native 4K is typically recently produced and shot with 4K in mind. These sources provide the life like pictures that amazes young and old alike. Both BT & Sky have released limited channels in 4K, whilst Netflix and Amazon have been rather proactive in their creation of 4K available for streaming. Keep in mind that if you upgrade your Netflix account to include their 4K programming, you will need to ensure your internet connection is fast enough to keep up with all the data being transferred. Lastly we have the disk content. With SD we had DVD, with HD we had Blu Ray. 4K has UHD Blu Ray disks. These disks will require both an ultra HD player and a 4K TV. For those that want the absolute pinnacle of picture & sound quality from their sources, Kaleidescape is the ultimate and you can read more about it here.
Bang & Olufsen and 4K
Bang & Olufsen quickly adopted 4K in their TV range. We now carry TV’s in three different styles, ranging in sizes from 40 inches to a huge 85 inch TV, all with 4K screens. One of the things we pride ourselves on doing better than others is what we mentioned earlier, getting the best out of your picture. That is why they are a great option, not only for the 4K content that is gradually coming to market, but also for the HD broadcasts currently available.
What 4K is there today?
Below are the TV’s Bang & Olufsen offer which are ready to go with 4K.
BeoVision Horizon – Sizes 40 & 48″
BeoVision 14 – Sizes 40 & 55″
BeoVision Avant – Sizes 55, 75 & 85″