One of the biggest trends already coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show — and it hasn’t actually started yet! — is a higher definition of TV screen called “Ultra HD”. Regular HD is apparently already passé, so TV manufacturers are now working with the equivalent of the Mac retina display in terms of pixel density, which is offering considerably higher resolution and far crisper screens.
But what does it mean? What defines an Ultra HD television screen?
Let’s back up a bit first. When we talk about HD or “high definition” television, turns out that there are three possible resolutions we’re talking about: 1080p, 1080i or 720p. These refer to the number of horizontal lines on the screen: 1080 means that if you took a magnifying lens and inspected it closely, you’d see 1,080 lines, counting from top to bottom.
720 therefore is a lower resolution image, with only 2/3 of the lines. The result, it’s not quite as crisp, and on a bigger screen, it looks more pixilated and out of focus.
Regular non-HD television? That’s at a really low density of 480, which means that going from a regular signal to an HD signal over doubles the amount of information on screen. (in fact, an HD signal is 1080 vertical x 1920 horizontal, and the original TV signals are 480 vertical x 640 horizontal. You can see why jumping from standard def to HD is a big deal.
Now, however, TV manufacturers are jumping to the next level, and Ultra HD is 2160 vertical x 3840 horizontal, an increase of over 4x in terms of the total pixels on screen. This is also known as 3840p if you’re keeping track.
That’s a lot more information to have on screen so it’s really going to be best for larger screens, 60-inch and above, but when seen on an 80-inch up to a 110-inch screen, the result really is stunning. It’s like the difference between a photograph printed in a newspaper and a photograph printed on very high end photographic equipment.
So that’s the scoop. If you’re on the cutting edge and have the money to buy the very best gear on the market, then pay attention to Ultra HD. It’s the next big thing. Now we’ll just need to get the content at that level of resolution too, but stay tuned for that…