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If you’re shopping for a new TV, you’ll quickly encounter a bewildering maze of information. For someone who doesn’t spend all their time reading the latest news from the world of televisions, it can get confusing.
One of the most important things to consider is your new TV’s resolution. Should you buy 4K or one of the many alternatives? In this article, we explain how 4K resolution compares to 2K resolution, 8K resolution, and more.
What Is 8K Resolution?
Any display that is 8,000 pixels wide is called 8K. You will also see the format called 8K UHD, Full UHD, and FUHD.
8K displays are 7680×4320 pixels for a total of 33.2 megapixels. It has twice the linear resolution of 4K, four times that of 1080p, and six times that of 720p displays.
No consumer TVs offer 8K resolution, and that’s unlikely to change for a few years. Despite some concept designs at expos like CES, experts predict it will not arrive in TVs until 2023 at the earliest.
We are, however, slowly starting to see 8K video cameras creep into Hollywood Studios. 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the first movie to be shot using an 8K camera.
One of the only TV networks in the world with 8K potential is Japan’s public broadcaster NHK. It offers one 8K channel. The network plans to broadcast the 2020 Olympics in 8K.
A sub-version of 8K resolution is called 8K Fulldome. It has a resolution of 8192×8192 (67.1 megapixels) and is only seen in fulldome theaters (such as planetariums).
Note: If you have a high-end digital camera, it probably exceeds 8K—for photos. It could have more than 50 megapixels.
What Is 5K Resolution?
The most common 5K configuration is 5120×2880 pixels. That’s a 33.3 percent upgrade over 4K, meaning it shares the same relationship as 720p and 1080p.
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see 5K become commonplace on consumer televisions. The tech world appears to have settled on 4K for the next few years before 8K is viable enough for a widespread rollout.
But 5K resolution displays undoubtedly have a role to play. The ability to natively display 4K content while leaving some of the screen free is perfect for video editors. They can work on 4K video while keeping menus and toolbars open; they will not be forced to downscale their previews.
What Is 4K Resolution?
Right now, if you’re in the market for a top-of-the-range TV, the chances are that you’ll end up with a 4K model. Experts predict that at least half of U.S. homes will have a 4K TV by 2020.
4K refers to any screen resolution with roughly 4,000 horizontal pixels; thus several iterations of 4K resolution exist. They are not all the same.
For example, 4K resolution in the world of cinema uses 4096×2160 pixels (8,847,360 total) with an aspect ratio of 256:135. It is called DCI 4K.
In TV sets, the most common 4K resolution is 3840×2160. It uses 8,294,400 pixels in total and has a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Officially, 4K resolution is called UHDTV1 or 4K UHDTV. As you may know, UHD resolution stands for Ultra-High Definition resolution. Ultra-High Definition and 4K resolution are interchangeable terms. You may also see 4K referred to as 2160p.
More services and devices are starting to offer 4K. They include Netflix, Xbox One (S and X), PlayStation 4 Pro, and Prime Video. All matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup were broadcast in 4K. There are some great 4K videos on YouTube that you should check out.
What Is 2K Resolution?
2K resolution screens never really became a “thing.” Officially, 2K resolution is a cinema term and refers to 2048×1080 pixel displays. Most projectors in movie theaters provide 2K displays.
Sometimes, 1080p screens are described as 2K resolution. Almost all literature on the topic agrees that this is not correct. Over time, however, it could become of those situations whereby usage of term dictates its meaning, especially as 1080p slips further back into the history books.
What Is 1440p Resolution?
You won’t find any 1440p resolution TVs; no networks or studios have ever created content in the format, thus rendering it pointless. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a standard format in other devices.
There is more than one 1440p resolution. It includes 3120x1440p, 2960x1440p, 2880x1440p, 2560x1440p, and most recently, 5120x1440p.
You will find 1440p in lots of smartphones (including recent Samsung and LG models) and gaming monitors. According to Steam, slightly less than five percent of its users are gaming on a 1440p screen.
There is significant debate over whether 1080p or 1440p is better for gamers. The general consensus appears to be that if your hardware can handle it, a 1440p screen will offer notable improvements without worrying about 4K compatibility.
What Is 1080p Resolution?
Also known as Full HD (FHD), 1080p screens have a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. The format has a ratio of 16:9 and offers 2.1 megapixels.
The “p” in 1080p stands for progressive scan. In simple terms, it means frames are drawn in sequence on the screen. The opposite is interlaced video in which odd and even lines are drawn alternately. It was common in analog TVs.
1080p resolution is half of 4K resolution. It has four times fewer pixels. The resolution is 33.3 percent higher than 720p displays.
Today, it’s tough to find a modern TV that doesn’t support 1080p input via HDMI cable. Most computer screens can also support the resolution. It has been available on Netflix since 2013.
Learn More About Televisions
The five screen resolutions we’ve discussed are the ones you are most likely to come across in your day-to-day lives.
Just be aware that the list is not exhaustive; there are so many variations that it is impossible to cover them all in one article. And remember, you can let us know about your experiences with the different resolutions in the comments section.