Everyone is talking about 4K TVs, but what are they?

We’ve put together a simple guide for 4K and Ultra HD TVs (UHD) to demystify the whole reddish thing.

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A 4K TV has FOUR TIMES the number of pixels compared to a regular Full HD TVPhoto credit: LG

What does 4K mean?

4K refers to the number of pixels on your television screen – or “picture resolution”.

The pixels are the tiny dots of color that make up the picture you see on your television.

A pixel image is one where the pixels are really obvious because there aren’t many.

However, images with many pixels – like a 4K movie – generally look sharper and clearer.

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Investing in a 4K TV is a good idea now as the price has come down significantlyPhoto credit: LG

A real 4K screen is 4096 x 2160 pixels. This means that your TV screen has a diameter of 3840 pixels and a vertical diameter of 2160 pixels. That is a total of around 8.3 million pixels on the display.

4K got its name because it has four times as many pixels as a standard Full HD television.

Full HD screens (or 1080p screens) are 1920 pixels in diameter and 1080 pixels upwards – around two million pixels in total.

So 4K just means that your TV has a lot more pixels on the screen than a more traditional Full HD display.

Is there a difference between 4K and Ultra HD?

Ultra HD or UHD is basically the same as 4K.

If you buy a UHD TV from a store, you can easily watch 4K content on it.

But there is a slight difference.

Almost every TV you will ever buy has an aspect ratio of 16: 9. That is, for every 16 pixels horizontally there are 9 vertically.

The impressive 4K LG G7 Signature costs around £ 7,000, but you can buy other 4K TVs for just a few hundred pounds

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The impressive 4K LG G7 Signature costs around £ 7,000, but you can buy other 4K TVs for just a few hundred poundsPhoto credit: LG

True 4K footage doesn’t quite fit into this ratio, so you won’t often find 4096 x 2160-pixel televisions.

To do justice to the 16: 9 ratio, most 4K TVs have 3840 x 2160 pixels instead.

If it doesn’t make sense, grab a calculator and divide 2160 by 9. Then multiply it by 16 and you get 3840. That’s the aspect ratio that does its magic!

So if you see an Ultra HD TV it just means that it is a 4K image with a little less vertical pixels.

Do I need a 4K TV to watch 4K videos?

Type of.

If you try to watch a 4K video on a non-4K TV, the video will still play – but not in 4K quality.

In order to watch 4K video in 4K quality, you need to go for a 4K TV.

When you watch standard or HD footage on a 4K TV, it doesn’t magically turn into 4K quality.

Some TVs promise “4K upscaling” that allows you to convert your standard or HD footage to near 4K quality.

It does this by using software to guess what colors would fill in the extra blank pixels that are missing from HD footage and then filling them in.

This creates an effect similar to 4K, but it’s not true 4K.

Where can I find 4K TV shows and movies?

There used to be a real shortage of 4K content, but that’s an old story.

These days, you can find tons of great 4K TV shows and movies on Netflix and Amazon Video.

You can also find high quality 4K videos on YouTube to watch.

And if you have a 4K Blu-ray player (or an Xbox One), you can also buy 4K discs to play on your TV.

4K screens have a larger number of pixels and can therefore display a sharper and clearer picture

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4K screens have a larger number of pixels and can therefore display a sharper and clearer picturePhoto credit: LG

Is 4K worth the money?

4K TVs aren’t that expensive anymore, so you’ll have a hard time finding a decent TV that isn’t 4K.

In general, we recommend investing in a 4K TV now as they are cheap enough and there is plenty of 4K content available online.

You can even pack in very inexpensive 4K TVs for a few hundred pounds.

Getting a slightly dated Full HD TV in 2018 is a bad move in terms of future security – although you could get a bargain, especially if you’re looking for a TV for your guest room.

If you’re looking to spend a little more, consider investing in a 4K OLED TV.

OLED screens are generally better than traditional LED-backlit LCD displays.

First of all, they are much more energy efficient. That’s because you don’t pay to power a huge backlight that draws a lot of energy.

The sun’s TV test unit

The Sun uses a Panasonic 65HZ1000 to test PS5 and Xbox games, new streaming apps and devices, and new types of content:

  • Panasonic 65HZ1000 TV
  • OLED screen
  • HDR
  • Dolby Vision / HDR10 +
  • Dolby Vision IQ
  • 4K / HD

Panasonic 65HZ1000 at Richer Sounds – buy here

But the lack of backlighting also means that OLED screens can be much thinner.

The big advantage of OLED is the improvement in image quality.

You never really see real black on a normal television because there is a backlight.

On OLED screens, individual pixels can be turned off completely or dimmed significantly so that you can see much more accurate blacks in dark television or movie scenes.

In general, this means that OLED screens offer more choices of lights, darks, and colors overall.

You can get great OLED TVs from LG and Panasonic, or a similarly high quality QLED screen from Samsung.

We tested 4K OLED with the shockingly good Panasonic 65HZ1000.

It’s a crisp display that really brings out the depth of black in a dark scene.

In fact, it’s so good that you watch movies you’ve already seen to get the new visual detail.

If you have more money to spend, 4K OLED is definitely the way to go.

The bad news is that you’ll typically be paying north of £ 1,000 for OLED, although that price will go down quickly.

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