What is 4K? | CNET

4K is an up-and-coming video technology that gives you a better-quality picture when you’re watching movies or tv shows, but how does 4K work and what does it mean for you? The term 4K refers to the resolution of an electronic display, a display could be the screen on your TV, your iPad, or your laptop, and resolution means how many pixels there are in that display.

Pixels are the dots that make up on screen images and the more pixels there are, the sharper and more realistic images look. When we can see individual pixels it may just look blocky and less lifelike, so we usually prefer displays with a higher resolution. And 4K also known as ultra-high definition is a very high resolution indeed. In terms of tech products you can buy like TVs, 4K normally refers to a resolution that has 3,840 pixels along the horizontal path of the display, and 2,160 pixels vertically. The name 4k comes from the fact that there are roughly 4,000 pixels on that horizontal side, which gives 4K approximately four times as high a resolution. That’s 1080 P, which is what we normally mean today when we describe something as full HD. What does 4K mean for you? [MUSIC] Higher resolution doesn’t necessarily mean a better viewing experience. You also have to factor in screen size and viewing distance. Because there is only so much detail the human eye can perceive at a given distance, you will get more from a 4K display the larger the screen is. And the closer you are. So if you want a regular sized tv for your living room and your sofa is say ten feet away from it. The extra detail you could perceive with 4K might not be worth paying loads extra for. To get the benefits of 4K you also need for whatever you’re watching to have been sent to your tv in 4K quality and for now this is quite rare [MUSIC] Netflix has made some of its shows available in 4K, but it will be some time before most broadcast television is transmitted this way. Aside from your TV at home, 4K can take other forms. Movies have been shown, in a slightly different version of 4K, in cinemas for some time. And there are even phones that can record videos in a resolution high enough to qualify as 4K. But where you see the term just remember that it’s shorthand for the number of pixels that a product can display or record and you will be able to make sense of 4K wherever it arises.

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