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4k, Ultra HD, and your internet connection

Posted on June 1, 2020

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You’ve probably heard the term 4K and you may have heard of Ultra HD, but what exactly are they and what do they have to do with your Internet connection? Let’s start with the basics: standard TV resolution in the United States is about 480p—and if we’ve already lost you, hold on! 480p means that in each frame you are seeing, there are 480 tiny squares of color (pixels!) from top to bottom, and usually either 704 or 720 pixels across the screen. (The “p” in 480p doesn’t stand for pixels, though, but don’t worry about that right now.)

If that still doesn’t make sense, think of it this way: if you had only a single pixel making up your picture, it would be a single frame made up of a single color—not very interesting. 480 pixels looks fine on a standard TV, as long as it’s not too big. Once the screen is too big, the picture will look pixelated (meaning you can see each of those individual dots).

When HDTV came along, 1080p was introduced. 1080p means that each frame is 1080 pixels tall x 1920 pixels wide, for a total of a little over 2 million pixels per frame. This allows for far greater detail in each frame, since the colors can be so much more precise.

Enter 4K television. 4K is generally 2160 pixels tall x 4096 pixels wide. (The number 4096 is where 4K gets its name.) At 4K, the picture is amazingly clear even on increasingly large TV screens or computer monitors. (TVs and monitors have to be 4K ready—a TV that only allows for HD can receive a 4K broadcast but does not have the ability to display the 4K resolution, in the same way that standard TVs were not able to show HD channels.)

4K is beautiful to look at—a stunning picture and a far superior experience to standard TV. That said, 4K signals also require far more robust Internet speeds to avoid issues like buffering. For example, if you want to stream Blue Planet II on Netflix—which is now available in 4K—you’ll want to have the Internet speed you need to make it a smooth streaming experience.

What’s next? Ultra HD, which is the equivalent of 8K resolution. Beyond that, who knows?! With so many options available just remember your friends at SCTC have the connection you need to stream and view content at the quality you want!