Big picture is a big part of our everyday experience, for over a decade we have been progressively pushing the boundaries of televisions and computer monitors to give us brighter, crisper, more clean picture. The move from SD (480p) to HD was an impressive increase in quality, first to 720p then to 1080p. The next step is an interesting one because it has been littered with industry terms: 4K, UHD, SUHD, Super UHD etc. Understand the difference between 4k and the rest and simplify your buying decision. Read on to get started.
4K Basics and the truth about resolution
So, how resolutions are typically measured? There are two numbers, the first is the number of horizontal lines of pixels, the second is the number of vertical lines of pixels. The higher those two numbers are, the higher the resolution and the sharper the image. Let’s look at the previous two standards
- 720p is a resolution of 1280 horizontal lines by 720 vertical lines
- 1080p is a resolution of 1920 horizontal lines 1080 vertical lines
4K resolution, along with UHD, Super UHD, and SUHD, currently all mean a horizontal resolution of approximately four thousand lines. But, the resolution of most “4K” displays is 3820×2160. This is known in broadcast as UHD-1. There IS a 4K specification that reaches 7680×4320 known as UHD-2, but currently there aren’t any consumer level displays that support that specification (UHD-2)
Deciphering UHD, SUHD and more
There’s one other 4K resolution out there: 4096×2160. The professional term for it is “DCI 4K” resolution and it’s used by the film and television industry to produce and master high resolution content. Because this resolution is typically termed “4K” due to it being twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of 2K video, many manufacturers are stepping away from identifying their displays as “4K” and instead using other names.
So that’s the big deal! A case of mistaken identity as brands are looking to help consumers decide which TV to buy. The downside: they’re starting to muddy the waters a bit more. So let’s break it down:
UHD is a term that many manufacturers were using to describe 4K TVs from 2014 through to now. UHD TVs are 4K, which means their resolution is 3840×2160.
- Samsung calls their standard 4K displays “UHD TV”
- LG calls their their standard 4K displays “4K Ultra HD TV”
- Sony calls their standard 4K displays “4K Ultra HD TV”
- Vizio calls their standard 4K displays “4K Ultra HD TV”
In an effort to differentiate themselves in the market, Samsung took the high end set of their 4K displays and designated them as SUHD. The hallmarks of these displays included Samsung’s implementation of Quantum Dot display tech, offering wider colour gamut and a richer visual experience. SUHD TVs, 4K HDR TVs, Super UHD TVs, and Ultra HD HDR TVs are all 4K, so they too have a resolution of 3840×2160.
Everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon too, so much so that LG has dubbed their higher end non-OLED 4K displays as “Super UHD”. Given that UHD means Ultra High Definition, Super Ultra High Definition feels like a title that would be given to a Street Fighter game from Capcom. Nonetheless it helps to designate displays that have enhanced colour technology. Going forward this technology includes High Dynamic Range as a feature (HDR).
- Samsung calls their higher end 4K displays “SUHD”
- LG calls their higher end 4K displays “Super UHD”
- Sony calls their higher end 4K displays “4K HDR”