WHAT IS 4K?
Anyone looking into buying a new TV will come across the term 4K at some stage. How do you distinguish a good TV from a bad one?
What are the most important elements to consider? And what does 4K actually mean? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about 4K.
The first thing to consider when buying a 4K TV is: what will you primarily be using it for? For example, a home-cinema fan has different requirements for a TV than a gamer. Knowing this will help you figure out what TV matches your needs and will make picking the perfect TV a much easier task.
The image resolution
Image resolution, a number which indicates how many pixels a screen is composed of, is one of the most important distinguishing features of a good TV. In simple terms, a pixel is the smallest unit on a screen;. depending on the resolution, a screen can be composed of millions of pixels.. So, the more pixels a monitor can display, the sharper and clearer the image.
If you are considering switching from a Full HD TV to a 4K UHD TV, you will see a huge leap in image quality. As highlighted in the table below, a Full HD TV has 1920 horizontal and 1080 vertical pixels, resulting in a total pixel count of more than 2 million. A 4K UHD image, on the other hand, quadruples the number of pixels to more than 8 million. So, generally speaking, the image of a 4K TV is four times sharper than that of the Full HD version.
This means that details are crisp and clear, backgrounds seem less blurry and the entire viewing experience feels more authentic and life-like.
It is important to know that 4K only describes the number of pixels, but this is not necessarily an indication of the clarity of the image. The image resolution is only an important guideline that must be observed. In order to be able to judge the quality of an image, i.e. how colourful, rich and lively an image looks, it is also important to compare how much contrast the TV can play back. This is discussed in more detail in the last section but, generally speaking, a high image resolution is essential to experiencing a big screen-like feeling in the comfort of your own home.
4K LED or 4K OLED?
In addition to good resolution, it is also important to deal with the technology of the display, as it has a direct influence on the contrast of the image. Two different standards have prevailed: LED and OLED. The term "contrast" can be defined simply as the distance between the darkest and brightest hue. Both LED and OLED screens can produce high dynamic range (HDR) quality contrasts – meaning that the distance between the darkest and brightest hue is so large that even the smallest subtleties can be accurately displayed. However, not all HDR is the same, as the bandwidth of brightness may vary depending on the screen technology.
LED screens use a thin liquid crystal layer that is connected to another layer of millions of transistors. The transistors pass electrical voltage on to the liquid crystal layer, which changes the colour and creates an image. However, this liquid crystal layer is not able to produce light. The light comes from a separate LED lighting, which uses the liquid crystals to reproduce the image at the desired brightness. LED screens can produce very bright hues due to the strong LED lighting, but weaken when displaying dark contrasts.
OLED screens are a relatively new technology that has only been around since 2013. In contrast to a liquid crystal layer, a specially-developed substance is used instead, which can glow alone depending on the electrical voltage. The special feature of OLED screens lies in the display of dark hues, as it is possible to turn off each pixel completely to create an absolute black. On the other hand, LED screens can achieve a higher brightness.
So, which technology is better? The question cannot be answered easily, as the technologies have different contrasts and ultimately TV habits and preferences are important. OLED screens excel especially in the dark tones and are, therefore, excellently suited for darkened rooms. OLED screens can display blacks in a higher contrast than LEDs. So, if you like to turn off the lights to enjoy a movie, OLED screens may be the better option. However, among different OLED models there are some differences in quality and brightness. Panasonic's Master HDR OLED Professional Edition Displays are custom-made to achieve higher peak and average brightness than comparable OLED TVs. Thus, both absolutely dark and very bright nuances can be reproduced in detail.
The new HZW2000, for example, includes the latest technology as well as Dolby Vision IQ and Filmmaker Mode with intelligent ambient sensor, which automatically adjusts the image to the spatial lighting conditions, so that an optimal image is created in both completely dark and brightly lit rooms.
While OLED scores higher when it comes to dark shades, LED screens can achieve higher brightness through backlighting. This is advantageous if you want to watch TV at lunchtime when the window is open. TVs like the Panasonic HX940 also support Local Dimming Pro – an intelligent technology that locates dark and light nuances of a scene, creating darker blacks and better contrast than traditional LED displays.
Ultimately, both 4K LED and 4K OLED screens with HDR quality reflect excellent image resolution and precision over even the smallest intricacies. Beyond this, the best TV for you really depends on your personal taste.
4K versus 8K image resolution
Anyone who regularly watches technology news or reads through reports from the latest technology fairs will probably have heard of the new 8K standard that was recently released. Even today, it is already possible to buy an 8K monitor. The question arises as to whether it really makes sense to buy a 4K TV today or to choose an 8K model – but the answer is relatively simple: At the moment, 4K is gaining the most forward-looking screen resolution. If you buy a 4K TV now, you will be on the safe side for the next few years. The issue with buying an 8K TV is that there aren’t currently any series and movies that support 8K. Therefore, 8K TVs can only play 4K formats because nothing else is offered at the moment. PC players can only play games in 8K at a low frame rate, even with powerful graphics cards, as the computing power for games in 8K is enormous. Stunning images in 4K are available, for example, with the Panasonic TX-65HZ1000B.
4K and HDR
4K TVs are not all built the same and – of course, not all 4K TVs provide the same image quality. To enjoy the best image quality, a 4K TV should be able to play HDR. High Dynamic Range can display contrasts much better, making dark colours darker and brighter colours appear even brighter, essentially producing more colourful and vivid images. While normal Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) TVs only have a colour palette of 16 million colours, the HDR10 standard has more than a billion shades. This can be surpassed again with HDR10+. HDR10+ provides even more contrast shades and, unlike HDR10, can dynamically adjust the shades image by image. For film lovers, the TX-65HX940 or 65HX900 are just the thing: With a resolution of 4K UHD and HDR10+, these TVs will make the hearts of film lovers beat just that little bit faster.