4K Resolution: What is it?

When you watch a Blu-Ray or an HD television program, you’re probably watching it in the current higher definition resolution standard, known widely as HD Resolution (in 1080p, 1080i, or 720p). HD Resolution has completely revolutionized the way we are able to enjoy our movies and television at home, replacing the 480i standard resolution (480x640 pixels). If you’ve watched a Blu-Ray, you’ve probably noticed that those images are much clearer, crisper, and more life-like than images displayed by the traditional DVD.

Well, we’re here to tell you that our movie and TV-watching experience is only going to get better. A new level of resolution (either 3840x2160 or 4096x2160 pixels), colloquially called 4K resolution, is coming to private residences. The number of pixels that can be displayed on a 4K television (officially known as an Ultra HD TV) is 4x greater than the HD resolution we currently use. This means that you can sit closer to a bigger screen without having to suffer through watching a pixelated image. In fact, this resolution is especially valuable to people who like watching large screens, such as those provided by a projector; most movie theaters will actually project their movies in 4K resolution by 2015.

Illustration demonstrating difference in pixels in various resolutions

If you saw “Avatar 3D” in theaters you’ve already seen how impressive 4K resolution can be. Actually, 4K TVs can even improve the quality of 3D movies, reducing or eliminating the need for those funky 3D glasses. It is important to note that as of right now there isn’t any kind of media that is sold in 4K resolution from a disc or TV transmission. However, 4K displays can upscale HD video to 4K using video processing to fill in the extra resolution. Eventually, this process will no longer be necessary, because there is an increasing trend toward 4K production, thanks in part to the development of 4K-level professional cameras and post-production tools.

Still from Avatar

The Consumer Electronics Association predicts that 4K resolution “promises to be the next big video product driving change in content, cameras, security, retailing, displays and even audio. It will drive growth across the entire consumer technology ecosystem.” We want you to be ahead of that curve.


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