What is a 4K TV?

By | February 1, 2017

www.avgguytech.com

 

This is the biggest TV sale time of the year

The weeks between new years and the Super Bowl (The Big Game) are the most popular times to buy a new TV.  So with the game coming up this weekend maybe you are still on the fence about buying one of the new 4K TVs but don’t really understand what they are or why they are better.  Well, let’s look beyond the advertising hype and see what you can get for your dollar.

What does 4K mean anyways?

 

 

When it comes to high definition TVs there are a couple of different levels.  Standard Def is considered 420 pixels, High Def is 1280×720 pixels, Full HD is 1920×1080 pixels and the new UltraHD (4K) is 3840×2160 pixels.  So what does this mean in plain English?  Basically, there are only so many pixels you can fit on a screen surface, and the number of those pixels is the resolution.  The first number counts the number of pixels vertically and the second number is the horizontal.

 

 

These pixel densities are agreed upon by the TV manufacturers and the standards bodies.  So one TV maker claiming 4K should have the same pixel density as any other.

The aspect ratio is always 16:9 for a HD TV.  This is better known as letterbox.

The more pixels you can put on a screen the clearer and sharper the image can be rendered.  A pixel is able to change colors, and the changing of these colors generates the picture and then the refreshing of that picture creates the movement.

What else should I look for?

The refresh rate is what give the screen it’s sharpness.  The faster the screen refreshes the image the sharper and clearer the screen looks, to a point.  Blu-ray and over the air HDTV is at 60mhz refresh.  For most viewing situations, 60Hz refresh is all you need.  (A Hertz is the number of times something cycles in a second.)

120Hz refresh is usually fast enough to reduce motion blur on things on screen moving quickly, like sports or video games.  Anything faster makes the scene look too smooth.  It can be unsettling.  For TVs that claim faster than 120Hz refresh, it is actually the TV that is providing the smoothing, by guessing the right colors to fill in the gaps in the picture that is being feed to it at 60mhz.

LCD vs LED

 

You will see two types of TVs for the most part (I am not going to cover OLED, in this article) LCD and LED.  While both are an LCD panel the difference comes in how that panel is lit.  From an article at Digital Trends

 

 

Both types of TV make use of a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel to control where light is displayed on your screen. These panels are typically composed of two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them, so when an electric current passes through the liquid, it causes the crystals to align so that light can (or can’t) pass through. Think of each crystal as a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking it out.

Now, since both LED and LCD TVs use LCD technology, you’re probably wondering what the difference is. The answer? Backlighting. Ordinary LCD TVs use cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) to provide backlighting, whereas LED TV’s use an array of smaller, more efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the screen

The biggest advantage of a LED is the size.  Since the light source is physically smaller it makes the panel shallower and lighter.  This allows for more mounting options and make a larger TV lighter.  You can still find standard LCD panels but they are being phased out for the LED backlit models for size and electrical efficiency.

So what you buy?

I apply the same logic to buying TVs as you do to buying a computer.  Figure out what your budget is, and find the best TV in that range.  Then stop shopping.  Something newer and better will always be just around the corner.  You will wait forever trying to get the most for your dollar.  Just figure out the space you have to put a TV, find the best available model in that size and buy it.

Bottom Line

There is not a lot of content for 4K TVs and the new 8K standard is beginning to roll out, so you can get a great picture and the most value from sticking with a 1080 FullHD panel for now.  If you want to future proof yourself in your next purchase go ahead and find a 4K TV.  You will end up with a smaller panel for your money, but you will be ready to take advantage of new 4K content as it rolls out.

 

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