What does UHD mean? What is the difference between UHD and 4K?

UHD and 4K have become synonymous with ultra-high resolution television, with manufacturers even referring to the two as interchangeable terms. However, there are a few distinct differences between these two high-resolution options that A/V enthusiasts and standard consumers may benefit from knowing. Do you know the difference between UHD and 4K? Do you even know the answer to "what is UHD?"

You've come to the right place if you're scratching your head. At DEXON Systems, we're determined to make the A/V world more accessible, so we've compiled this complete guide to UHD vs. 4K.

In this article, we discuss the meaning of UHD resolution and briefly explain 4K resolution. We'll also explain the critical differences between the two and why it's essential for consumers to choose, with a guide to the cost and availability of UHD and 4K content across streaming platforms.

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What is UHD resolution?

UHD stands for ultra-high definition resolution. This is the next stage up from HD and offers consumers high-quality pictures and a more immersive viewing experience. UHD is the official name for a display resolution of 3840x2160p and is four times the resolution of HD, which is currently 1920x1080p.

You may recognize UHD from TV adverts. This is because many modern television sets now come with UHD capabilities, allowing you to stream and consume content in super high resolution.


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UHD also has a different aspect ratio than things like 4K and HD, with most units currently at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

So why is UHD sometimes referred to as 4K? Well, there's a mixture of reasons. One of the primary reasons that UHD is sometimes referred to as 4K is for marketing purposes. Most of the time, consumers snatch what they think are 4K UHD televisions because they largely resemble each other. Still, customers don't realize that the two refer to different digital industries.

The second reason UHD is rolled into the 4K category is simplicity. It's much easier for advertisers and manufacturers to simply state that goods are 4K compatible rather than divulging the complexities of UHD vs. 4K. While this may seem strange, the two share the exact resolution for the display market, so it makes sense.


What does 4K mean?

Now that you know what UHD is let's discuss the meaning of 4K. Putting it simply, 4K refers to a television with 4,000 pixels on a horizontal display basis. The current resolution for 4K for the consumer market that you're likely to use is 3480x2160p. However, the movie projection industry uses 4096x2160p.

The K in 4K simply stands for Kilo, meaning a thousand.

We tend to see 4K thrown about most days in modern media as it's used to describe super high-quality displays and compatible devices like gaming consoles. Streaming services also refer to 4K as many platforms offer 4K experiences to their customers.

What is the difference between UHD resolution and 4K?

So what is the difference, and why do we use these terms interchangeably? In terms of difference, there's not much separating UHD and 4K. The reason that these terms differ purely depends on the market.

4K and UHD refer to different resolutions for the verticle market. For the display market, which includes your standard desktops, televisions, and video walls, UHD and 4K have the exact resolution of 3840x2160p. However, 4K refers to an entirely different resolution for the digital cinema market, currently at 4096x2160. This is 256 pixels wider than UHD options for this market.

Digital cinema has to differentiate between these options due to the differences in projectors. 4K in digital cinema needs to suit Flat and Scope aspect ratios that are 1.85:1 and 2.39:1. This is because Flat and Scope Aspect ratios have different pixel resolutions. Flat has a resolution of 3996x2160, and Scope has a resolution of 4096x1716.


What should you choose: UHD or 4K? How much does it matter to a consumer?

Simply put, it won't matter to the consumer, and here's why. Firstly, for the digital market, both UHD and 4K resolutions are the same, so you won't have a different experience if you choose a 4K TV over a UHD TV or vice versa. The critical difference between the two resolutions only applies to the cinema industry. It's best to leave it to the directors and producers to worry about the difference between UHD and 4K.

What will matter to the consumer is the availability of content. Major streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu supply content in 4K, but there may be a limit to what you can consume in 4K. That doesn't mean you can't watch other content in lower resolutions; it just means you won't have a 4K experience at all times.


What do you watch more: UHD or 4K?

You will consume the same amount of UHD and 4K content for the digital market, as they refer to the same thing. In terms of content availability, this is where it gets a little more tricky. Despite a significant percentage of consumers in the U.S alone having a 4K compatible television, not all streaming or satellite TV options yet support 4K.

This is due to various factors, including pricing and data usage. To stream content in 4K, users require superfast broadband, which takes up considerable bandwidth. Not all users can access this, so the content may be limited.

For some streaming platforms, you might also have to pay a premium price to view this in 4K. For example, on their premium plan, Netflix charges consumers an additional cost to gain access to UHD or 4K content. Here are some of the platforms and devices that currently support 4K and UHD streaming:

  • YouTube
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO
  • Netflix
  • Ultra-HD Blu-ray


How much do UHD and 4K cost?

The cost of a UHD or 4K television will depend on things like the brand choice, the size of the television, and the cost of other technology that you'll need to have to ensure you can stream 4K or UHD content. This includes having a UHD-compatible HDMI cable and the proper WiFi connection for fast broadband.

Additionally, you might have to pay for additional services like premium subscription plans to gain access to 4K content. You can find UHD 4K televisions for a few hundred forint or dollars, which are typically smaller screens such as 50" or lower and from lesser known brands.

Some of the more expensive 4K TVs can set you back thousands depending on the size, specifications, and additional perks like integration with digital assistants like Google Assist.

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Final thoughts

In conclusion, the only considerable difference between UHD and 4K is the market difference, so unless you're regularly directing films, you can take comfort knowing that you're investing in high-quality, whether you choose a UHD or 4K TV. If you're looking for technology compatible with 4K or UHD that can help elevate your video wall project, look no further than DEXON.


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We offer a range of video wall processors and controllers compatible with 4K UHD, so you can deliver a high-quality immersive experience to your audience. Check out our product family today to take your project to the next level, or contact us now for more information.

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