As you may know, many displays or monitors nowadays, including TVs, home projectors, computer monitors and gaming monitors, boast about having 4K UHD (Ultra HD); however, what exactly is 4K UHD, and how is it different from the Full HD we were used to seeing in the past?
What is Full HD?
Full HD, 2K (QHD) and 4K (UHD) all denote the resolution of a monitor, and resolution is defined by the number of pixels a display has in a width x height format. Full HD means that a monitor has 1920 pixels horizontally across the screen and 1080 pixels vertically, or 1920×1080, and that’s why it’s sometimes also shortened to 1080p. If you want to enjoy Full HD content, it’s not enough to just have a Full HD TV or projector. You’ll also need cables that support Full HD to transmit the signals coming from a Full HD Blu-ray player playing a Full HD Blu-ray disc in order to get real Full HD images.
What is 2K QHD?
2K displays are those whose width falls in the 2,000-pixel range. More often than not, you’ll find 2K monitors with a display resolution of 2560×1440, that’s why it’s often shortened to 1440p. However, this resolution is officially considered Quad HD (QHD). As such, many monitors claim their resolution as 2K QHD.
What is 4K UHD?
So-called 4K UHD are used to describe displays or content whose width reaches the 4,000-pixel range. However, unlike Full HD, 4K UHD resolutions have some differences for different professional fields, and there are a variety of width x height specs. Take displays commonly seen in households for example, 3840×2160 and 4096×2160 are two of the most prevalent 4K UHD specs. Yet, in recent years, 3840×2160 have gradually become the mainstream, and only few products still have a resolution of 4096×2160.
If you want to enjoy 4K content in its fullest, in addition to having 4K monitors, you’ll also need to make sure that all the peripherals also have 4K capabilities. For instance, whether your HDMI connectors are HDMI 2.0 and whether your media player and content support 4K. All these are things you need to take into consideration when purchasing a 4K monitor.
Full HD vs 2K vs 4K, are there significant differences?
If we think about this question from a scientific perspective, the answer is yes. Humans have a horizontal field of view of roughly 100 degrees, with up to 60 pixels in each degree of the arc. In other words, humans can perceive a maximum of 6000 pixels horizontally.
With Full HD, its 1920 horizontal pixels translates to approximately 32 degrees on the arc, which is far less than half of the 100 degrees humans can see. However, with 4K HUD, the number of horizontal pixels quadruples that of Full HD, so even when the sizes of the displays are the same, the sheer number of pixels enable viewers to sit closer to the screen and cover a larger portion of their field of view without compromising the image quality, hence giving the viewers a more vivid and vicarious viewing experience.