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What is 4K and Why Does It Matter?

 

Just when we finished upgrading our home theater screens, computer monitors, and other digital displays to be Full HD (1080p), it would appear that 4K resolution will soon overtake it, becoming the standard display resolution.

So why does it seem that every few years something new and better is replacing the equipment we just worked so hard to upgrade? Because that is the technological world we live in. I’m certainly not complaining, and you shouldn’t too because, “out with the old, in with the new” is sometimes needed to improve our lives and our experiences in the digital world. 4K is something we want to embrace because imagine being able to see something on the screen that looks so real you can practically touch it. 4K gets us closer to having this experience.

What is 4K Resolution?

4K resolution (known as 4K) is the amount of pixels across the horizontal side of an electronic display, which is roughly 4,000 pixels. This characterization is different from the previous 480i and 1080p vertical resolution used to describe the resolution of televisions, computer monitors, tablets, and other electronic displays. 4K has twice the resolution (horizontal and vertical) of 1080p, putting it at 3840 x 2160 (16:9 aspect ratio).

Why is it Called 4K and Not 2160p?

The term 4K was carried over to the consumer side from the cinema industry, where the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) 4K resolution standard is highly respected by the film and video industry. The DCI format has a resolution of 4096 x 2160, and the term 4K was traditionally reserved for the cinematic industry. But since the DCI format and the 4K standard for television, Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV), have the same 2160p vertical resolution, many manufacturers have decided to advertise their products as 4K, or UHD 4K, because it simply just sounds better than 2160p. The more pixels a display offers means better quality resolution you’ll get and 4K definitely delivers.

Why Does 4K Matter?

Technology is heading towards 4K and before we know it, 1080p will be a thing of the past. There are television shows and movies that are being filmed in 4K. Online video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube all offer 4K content, and the video game industry has also taken noticed and is making a push in the 4K realm. Even 4K Blu-ray movies and 4K Blu-ray players are also available. Shop at any electronic retail store (online included) and chances are you’ll find various options of 4K televisions, computer monitors, and other digital displays. 4K will definitely improve the quality of your home theater too, enriching your viewing experience and providing similar quality resolution you would find at the movie theaters.

Do I Need to Upgrade my HDMI Cables?

At the moment you won’t need to upgrade your HDMI cables but you might in the future. If you decide to upgrade your cables pay attention to the label and make sure it says something like “High Speed” since this means it will have the latest up-to-date features.

Do I Need to Upgrade My Speakers for 4K?

You will not have to upgrade your speakers just for 4K, but with better quality display resolution you might want to upgrade the quality of sound to get the full viewing experience. However, you will most likely have to upgrade your AV receiver if you use it to switch your video sources. Most older AV receiver models only allow to switch 1080p resolution and 3D signals.

Should I Start Upgrading to 4K?

Just because 4K technology is available it doesn’t mean you need to switch out your equipment or upgrade your home theater system just yet. You still have time before 4K completely takes over as the display resolution standard. Remember, not all television programming is being shot in 4K, which means if you purchase a 4K television today you’ll most likely be viewing most of your favorite shows in 1080p. Ultimately, it’s your decision when or if you want to upgrade to 4K. In the meantime, 1080p will do just fine.

If you need help finding audio and video products for your personal home theater, Home Controls provides free support to assist you with system designs and product advice. Call our toll-free number at 800-266-8765 (7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pacific, Monday – Friday).

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