4K TV has been around for a few years, but it’s still the gold standard for TV and video quality. Also known as Ultra HD, a 4K TV offers you the best of all worlds—from top-quality resolution to smart features for instant video streaming.
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Why you’ll want 4K
To answer the question ‘Why 4K’, the first thing we need to do is talk about pixels. Pixels make up the ‘4’ part of 4K TV, and the term comes from the fact that there are approximately 4000 horizontal pixels available on a 4K TV. In comparison, a regular HD TV has only about 2000 horizontal pixels.
Why are pixels so important? The more pixels you have, the more clear, precise, and vivid your display will be when you’re watching movies, TV shows, or gaming.
The resolution of a 4K TV is 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, and that adds up to more than 8 million pixels total. When you do the math, it’s easy to see that 4K TVs give you four times the detail of current high-definition televisions.
What is 4K Ultra HD?
When shopping for a new 4K set, you’ll likely notice the terms 4K, UHD, Ultra HD, or the all-encompassing “4K Ultra HD” being used. The terms are all interchangeable. While UHD has become the official term for this format, people had been using the term 4K for so long that the name stuck.
What’s better? 4K Ultra HD, OLED or QLED?
With 4K TV Ultra HD explained, the next step to buying a 4K TV is defining the TV type you’d like to buy. One of the easiest ways to narrow down your options is to choose the best type of backlight for you.
When choosing a 4K TV you have several options including LED, OLED, QLED, QLED with Mini-LED, Nanocell, Full Array, and Micro-LED.
What is 4K OLED TV?
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode TV. These diodes are similar to the LEDs that produce the backlight in an LED TV, but OLED diodes are entirely self-illuminating. That means they can light up your display without requiring an additional backlight and they can turn on and completely off. Because OLED TVs don’t use a backlight they can be ultra-thin, they have brilliant colour and contrast, and there is very little bleed through or blurring of colour as the diode can turn full off. Because the diode can turn off, they are also the only TVs that can achieve true black.
When it comes to your TV, OLED and 4K are a team. 4K supplies the screen resolution via the number of pixels, and it works with OLED technology supplying the light and the colour.
What is 4K QLED TV?
QLED TVs are LED TVs, so they use a backlight as the light source. The difference between a standard LED and a QLED TV is that a QLED TV has a layer of nanoparticles called quantum dots. These quantum dots enhance the TV’s colour and brightness. 4K QLED TVs are more popular than ever, and you’ll find this type of TV available from brands like Samsung, TCL, and LG.
What is a 4K Mini-LED TV?
A Mini-LED TV is an LED TV too, but the diodes are only about a fifth the size of a standard LED. Because of the smaller size, more Mini-LEDs can be packed into a display and they are distributed across more than one hundred dimming zones. When paired with quantum dots, a 4K Mini-LED QLED TV can produce a picture with ultra-bright colours, amazing contrast, and almost true black. People love Mini-LED TVs because they can produce almost the same deep, dark blacks and rich colours as an OLED, but they are a more budget-friendly option than OLED.
What is 4K MicroLED?
A MicroLED is even smaller than a Mini-LED. They are only 0.002 inches across, so they are approximately the size of a single pixel. Because of that, they can do something LED and even Mini-LED can’t do; function as a single pixel. MicoLEDs are bunched together in clusters of red, blue, and green, and each pixel can light up in any colour, can acheice any level of brightness, or can switch off completley.
This technology is turning heads because a 4K MicroLED TV can achieve an almost true black, and that makes it almost as perfect as OLED. MicroLED TVs aren’t part of the mainstream for 4K or even 8K yet, but 2022 could be the year we begin to see them popping up in homes everywhere.
You can learn more about MicroLED Technology from this article.
Nanocell & Full Array technology
You may also see 4K TVs associated with Full Array technology and Nanocell technology. You can read about them in-depth in What is Full Array TV technology and What is Nanocell TV technology on the Best Buy blog.
How big should a new 4K TV be?
While 4K TVs do come in a wide range of sizes, most people agree that with 4K, the image is most impressive for screens larger than 40 inches. Since 4K is all about colour and detail, it’s reasonable to think none of those things can be fully appreciated on a very small set.
A good starting size for a new 4K TV is a 40” set that can fit easily into a living room or family room.
4K TVs are available in the 50 inch range too, and many have smart capabilities already built-in. A 55-inch 4K TV is one of the most common sizes selected by Canadians for their living room. You’ll get a beautiful display that’s the perfect size for family viewing, and you can opt for smart functions like Wi-Fi and streaming TV.
If you want to go really big, there is plenty of 4K TVs available in the 60-69 inch, 70-79 inch, 80 inches and over category. LG, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Philips and VIZIO all make TVs that will absolutely fill your field of vision with razor-sharp, realistic video, TV series, gaming, or whatever kind of content you’re into.
You can read more about how to choose a TV in our blog article “How to choose the right TV.“
4K Content is now mainstream
4K content is now the norm, not the exception. Most Canadian streaming services include 4K content as an in-home option for cable subscribers. Netflix and Disney+ are leading the way in 4K Ultra HD programming, but you can also find a huge amount of 4K content on YouTube for free.
How 4K upscaling works
Many 4K TVs also offer upscaling, so your new 4K TV will be able to upscale HD content so it’s as close to 4K resolution as possible. That means that, no matter what you’re watching, everything will look better on your new TV. You can read about how upscaling works in this blog article.
You can also enjoy a better image from your current collection of Blu-ray disks thanks to Blu-ray upscaling—where the TV or a 4K upscaling Blu-ray player has a built-in microchip that converts an existing HD image to a 4K image. This allows you to watch non-4K content on 4K devices, making the video quality of those older formats a lot more enjoyable.
4K Blu-Ray players
One of the best ways to appreciate 4K video is with a made-in-4K movie, and to do that, you’ll definitely want a 4K Blu-ray player. 4K Blu-ray players from Sony, Samsung, LG, and others offer up to much greater colour expression than conventional Blu-ray players, and no lag for a smoother picture for fast-moving scenes in high-action movies, or when it comes to sports.
Of course, standard Blu-ray discs can still be used with these new players, and it will upscale the content to near-UHD quality.
The available true Ultra HD or 4K content is steadily growing as well. You’ll now find a variety of movies available in Ultra 4K Blu-Ray format, playable on the new 4K Blu-Ray players. These movies will provide the best possible 4K home viewing experience. Most new releases are available in 4K, with many more on the horizon.
4K Video Cameras
4K video cameras are another way to create and enjoy 4K content today. Many manufacturers offer home video cameras that record in 4K, and most smartphones have this option was well. The GoPro camera line is 4K or 5k capable, and Sony makes several camcorders that will allow you to make home videos with more detail and lasting quality than ever before; videos that can be watched on a big 4K TV screen right in the comfort of your home.
4K for Computer Monitors
This technology isn’t just limited to TVs. Once you capture that amazing 4K footage on your new camcorder, you’ll want to edit the final video in 4K as well. 4K monitors are growing in popularity. They provide all the same sharpness, detail and colour richness that a 4K TV does, but in a smaller format for desktop computers.
A 4K computer monitor will also enable gaming to go to the next level for blur-free action scenes, mega-fast response rates and a crystal-clear picture that looks natural. Of course, for those who work in front of a computer all day, a 4K monitor can vastly improve your workspace and make staring into a screen a more pleasant experience.
ASUS, BenQ, Philips, Samsung, HP and LG are just a few of the brand names that can provide an amazing 4K computer monitor for your home.
Complete your new home theatre with high definition home audio
No movie is complete without great audio, so you’ll want to have your sound match your picture quality. To experience the benefits of new features like Dolby Atmos and DTS-X Surround you’ll need to bring home a soundbar or one of the latest home theatre audio systems.
Get a new 4K TV now and experience the best viewing experience for many years to come. For more on 4K TV read Learning new TV Tech: All about 4K from the Best Buy blog.
What about 8K TV?
You don’t have to worry. A 4K TV is still going to be a wise choice for at least the next 6-10 years. 8K TV is a new but still-emerging technology that’s going to take some time to get its feet on the ground.
So what is 8K TV, what sets it apart from 4K, and should you get one yet if the content is in the near future? Check out all the 8K basics in this helpful article and see what’s available in 8K right now.
You can choose an 8K TV today at Best Buy (and read this review of what it’s like having one in your house), but you won’t find a lot of real content being made in 8K resolution just yet.
Take the next step
Your new 4K TV will be one of your favourite purchases. Check out Best Buy’s selection of 4K TVs here.