Crystal clear images, sharp, crisp edges, and vibrant, balanced colours – we all want the best viewing experience for our home cinema and Netflix binge sessions. But with so many options, where do you begin? In this article, we’re going to help you to understand the difference in video resolutions, the part they play in picture quality, and which options are right for you.

Measuring pixels

Before we start, it’s important to understand what video resolution is. In visual tech terms, the resolution is the number of pixels (individual points of colour) contained within your display along the horizontal and vertical axis. For example, a resolution of 1920 x 1080 has 1920 horizontal pixels, and 1080 vertical.

So, how does this translate to quality? Well, in most cases, the higher the pixel number, the sharper, clearer, and more detailed your image will be. Other factors play their part too, like the physical size of your screen, but we’ll cover those a little bit later.

Standard definition (SD) and HD Ready

While the viewing experience for these two resolutions is quite different, you’re unlikely to be installing either of them in most modern living spaces. Standard definition, or SD, has 576 vertical pixels, and it’s the resolution that most non-HD television channels transmit. Unless stated otherwise, HD Ready translates to a 720-pixel display. With the price of Full HD and 4K displays dropping all the time, there are very few reasons to buy a screen with a resolution this low.

But, if you’re simply watching the news, you’re looking for a small display for your under-cabinet kitchen screen, or you’re installing something a little more niche like an IP rated bathroom set, then this resolution could still be for you.

Full High Definition (1080p)

The jump from the previous resolutions here is quite noticeable, but the increase in price is much less than you might think. Today, a large proportion of TVs come with built-in Freeview, and if you’re buying a High Definition set, it’ll probably come with Freeview HD as standard. This simply gives you access to a few extra channels, suited explicitly for 1080p displays, so you can make the most of your extra pixel power. Most DVDs are created in this resolution, and Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube all stream at this quality – it’s the most utilised resolution on the market today.

And it’s at this resolution that your screen size options start to expand. With anything smaller than 1080p, you’re limited to around a 32” screen before your picture begins to distort. With Full HD, you’ll get crystal clear images beyond 40”.

4K, 2160p or Ultra High Definition (UHD)

Double the size of Full HD, Ultra High Definition is one of the highest resolutions used for consumer products. It offers one of the best viewing experiences on the market and coupled with HDR (High Dynamic Range) colour technology, it’s nearly unrivalled. Like 1080p, UHD is supported by most of the major streaming sites, including Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube, and gives you the chance to enjoy Ultra HD Blu-ray in its full glory. Cable TV providers even offer 4K channels, so you experience your favourite sports, movies, and series in the highest televised quality possible.

If you’re going UHD, you’ll want to go big. Because of the sheer number of pixels on your display, any screens smaller than 40” are unIikely to see a noticeable difference from 1080p – unless you’re sitting inches from your TV. The pixel density here is massive, and the options can be, too.

8K

What can we say? It’s breathtaking. Imagine taking four 4K screens, strapping them together, and then squashing them down into a single display. It’s crisp, it’s clear, and it’s currently only used for a few select pieces of content. Now that it’s accessible, and 8K displays are starting to make their way into people’s high-end setups, providers are beginning to support it. We’re expecting 8K quality streams from Netflix and Amazon within the next 6-12 months, with others following shortly after.

There are other challenges with 8K, too. Streaming an image this big takes a lot of bandwidth, and you’ll want a good internet connection if you’re going to avoid the buffer wheel of doom. And with a mighty amount of pixels, you’ll probably want a screen bigger than 65” to get the best bang for your buck. If you can support it, then this is the ultimate home experience.

Which screen is right for you?

While we’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible, the video resolution world can be complicated. If you’re unsure of what you need, or you’d like a professional recommendation, then we’re here to help you.

Whether you’re creating a home cinema, building a binge-watching den, or you’re simply upgrading to something new, contact us today, and take the guesswork out of your viewing experience.

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