September 22, 2017

The New Standard In High Definition

Understanding 4K and HDR

by Venoth Nair


If you’re in the market for a new display which I hope is a nice big one, then you might be visually bombarded by the plethora of options available. This is while being drowned in terminologies for all the different kinds of features and technologies employed by these sets to achieve the perfect image. It’s easy to be confused into believing that something maybe right for your needs when in essence it’s not exactly what your system calls for.


Before pulling out your wallet and signing on the dotted line, its best to actually do a little bit of research to ensure that when you do take the plunge, you’re left satisfied for many years to come. To do this, you need to first make sense of all the tech jargon used these days to describe all the different features available with today’s televisions


First up let’s look at resolution with the two obvious options being 4K and 1080p or Full HD as it’s more commonly known. Resolution is basically the amount of coloured dots crammed into a fixed area to help create a picture. So the more dots there are the sharper and more detailed the picture will be. As it may be pretty obvious a 4k resolution TV is essentially double the resolution of a full HD system. This number is double as the 4K actually denotes the horizontal number which is 3840 pixels as opposed to its vertical number which is 2160 pixels. This is in contrast to full HD where the 1080 number is from the vertical plane with the horizontal at a larger 1920 pixels. Makes sense now doesn’t it.


4K Scale
This simple scale gives a sense of perspective to how all the different resolutions compare to each other

This marked increase in detail is fantastic as images take on a more lifelike look and feel. There is also a smoother transition during movement which take away the usual blurring which you find when using a regular resolution TV. A concern however about this is the amount of data that’s needed to achieve the high resolution image, when if not handled efficiently, could lead to severe degradation in image performance. Also when moving to the 4K arena it’s important to know that compatibility of connected equipment is also a key factor as some equipment may not work optimally with it due to format related issues.


Panasonic DMP-UB900
Panasonic DMP- UB900 Bluray Player. The manufacturer deems HDR important enough to ensure that its top player will soon be updated via software to include this key feature in the 4K format

The most basic principle when it comes to how a TV displays an image is through the colour Gamut. The human eye can perceive an almost infinite amount of colours while a television on the other hand is limited in the range of colour that it can reproduce. This range limitation is defined by the colour gamut. Think of this as a spectrum of colours the TV can faithfully display while those which are out of the capability spectrum are either not rendered or not true to life. As development of  TV progresses the range within each colour gamut gets wider and wider.


This is where another technology comes in, and that’s HDR. HDR is the abbreviation of High Dynamic Range which in layman speak, translates to having a wider range of brightness, colour and contrast. With HDR, the colour Gamut becomes broader as colours are presented more accurately. How this is achieved is through the implementation of a higher range of brightness and colour detail which gives colours more depth. The end results is an image that is more true to life and has greater detail both in extreme brightness as well as dark scenes. HDR is a system that is not resolution dependant as the feature is even available in some full HD TV’s. If you’re someone who takes pride in your Blu-ray collection and want to take your time before stepping into the 4K world, then investing in a full HD TV with HDR is definitely the right way to go. The image gains through HDR can be quite dramatic as the image is more natural with finer details in gradation and pictures which are richer in colour.

JVC’s DLA-Z1 is a high end example of a killer combo of 4K resolution armed with HDR

Again like 4K based TV’s, HDR TV’s can only produce their magic when its fed HDR content so make sure that if you’re getting yourself a telly with HDR that your source material is also with HDR. Then you are really experiencing the real deal when it comes to the best picture quality currently available.