Ultra HD Versus 4K

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Terry Coffey - Draper Inc - Ultra HD versus 4K. What’s a person to do? If you have customers—or are a customer—confused by all the 4K talk, we (Draper) have developed a white paper that might help.


One of the most confusing aspects of AV for end users is the jargon—especially as it relates to resolution. If you are shopping for a projector and screen setup, you have come across terms like SD, HD, 720p, 180p, 2160p, 4K, 8K, and Ultra HD.

What do all these numbers mean? And is 4K better? Are they all basically talking about the same thing, or different things?

Well, yes.

Confused? No need to be.

What’s What?
Technically, 4K and 8K are Ultra-High Definition resolutions. However, Ultra HD as a term can also be used to reference a specific size that is just a bit smaller than 4K.

To understand, we need to go back to the beginning, to the building blocks of the projected image. These building blocks are called “pixels.” Pixels are “picture elements” from which a digital image is made. So when we talk about image resolution, what we’re really talking about is how many of these little building blocks there are in our picture.

The more building blocks, or pixels, you have, the better quality image you get.

Building a Bigger—and Better—Picture
So, why do more pixels=better image? And just how many more pixels does it take to make a better picture?

Let’s take for example the difference between a Standard Definition (SD) image—that’s 720 pixels wide by 576 high. Multiply the height by the width and there are 414,720 pixels. That’s quite a lot. But take the next step up to High Definition (HD)—1280 pixels wide and 720 high—and you get 921,600 pixels. That’s more than twice the pixel count of SD.

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