Now the standard in display technology, 4K screens are increasingly touted as something you need to get the most out of a visual experience. Though there can be some undeniable advantages to embracing this technology, it can also be a tradeoff for some users and uses. To elucidate the commonly misunderstood aspects of this technology, we want to investigate exactly what 4K means, and how much it matters for your next upgrade.
What Does 4k Mean?
In simple terms, 4K is the shorthand used to refer to a specific resolution or the number of pixels that make up a screen. This number is 3,840 pixels horizontally, and 2,160 pixels vertically. The 4K refers to the nearly 4,000 horizontal pixels. 4K is also called Ultra High-definition, or UHD.
As a standard, 4K replaces older systems of 720p (1280 x 720 pixels), and 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels), referred to as HD and Full HD respectively. In terms of total pixel count, 720p offers 920,000, 1080p has just over 2 million, and 4K boasts more than 8 million. With more pixels, more detail can be placed within the same space, as explained by TVFindr.com.
This means that the higher the resolution, the sharper images can appear, provided the media can output at that same quality. Running an old VHS tape on a new 4K screen isn’t going to make a difference, for example, because VHS doesn’t store information at high resolutions. Thanks to more detail, higher resolutions also imply much more storage space costs and higher bandwidth requirements.
4K for the User
Whether or not it’s worth investing in a 4K display is an easier question to ask today than it was in years past, thanks to 4K screens slowly replacing 1080p as standard, at least in TVs. In the world of television, as long as you’re just viewing regular content, a 4K screen should be within the typical price range, so going for potentially higher quality is a no-brainer. If you don’t have a good internet connection, you might not be able to find 4K media for it, but increasing internet speeds in the future should alleviate this problem eventually.
Things get more complicated if you’re looking to game on a 4K screen. Whether looking at a monitor or a television set for PC or console gaming respectively, you’re going to run into some issues. As we’ve explored at ValiantCEO.com, PC gaming requires a graphics card, and this card can be expensive. The more pixels you push, the worse a game is going to run, to the point where only costly rigs can keep up with 4K demands.
In TVs, the concerns are more about display latency or the amount of time it takes a screen to respond. 4K displays tend to have longer response times, which can be an issue. If you like the eSports titles like those displayed at Win.gg, then response time is going to be killer in most. While not applicable in Pokemon, this absolutely will be an issue in a game like Overwatch, so keep it in mind.
Finally, we have to talk about 4K screens in phones. These tend to be premium and costly devices, but the simple takeaway is that many pixels in such a small display aren’t worth the cost of admission. If the phone has other features you want, then by all means, but the detail on screens as small as what mobiles feature isn’t worth the price otherwise.
Make no mistake, there will eventually be a point where the cost of production drops enough that 4K is as low as we can go for most devices. Until that point, however, it can be worth considering carefully if the resolution is really worth it for your next upgrade.