Should you buy a 4K or a 1080P television?

High definition (1080p) or 4K (2160p)? 4K has approximately 4 times the resolution of a 1080p TV. TV screens are made of small dots or pixels. These pixels are so small that when you stand some distance away they merge to form a picture. HDTV’s have 1,920 pixels across the screen and 1,080 down the screen so the picture is made up of 2,073,600 pixels. 4K (or Ultra HD) has 3,840 pixels across the screen and 2,160 pixels down the screen giving a total of 8,337,600 pixels. That is almost 4 times more pixels hence the name 4K. The end result is that 4K TV’s provide a more detailed picture and you can get much closer to them before seeing any of the individual pixels.

Although most broadcast TV content is 1080p, 4K TV’s will to a lesser or greater extent up convert the 1080p signal to 4k resolution. Of course you are starting with only 1,920 x 1,080 pixels to be converted to 3,840 x 2,160 pixels but most 4K TV’s do a reasonable job of up converting to 4 times the resolution. Of course for a 4K display to be at its best 4k source material is ideal. Many streaming services including Netflix, Vudu, Amazon, You Tube and Sony’s Ultra plus others have some 4K content. Direct TV and Dish both offer 4K so does Xfinity and the list is growing steadily. Also 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are now available and 4K Blu-ray disks are available in stores like Best Buy and online.

So should your next TV be a 4K model? It’s important to know that more pixels do not necessarily mean a better picture. Other factors like color and contrast are more important than resolution. And both the screen size and viewing distance should be considered as the smaller the screen and/or the greater the distance mean that the higher resolution will be less noticeable. Given that 4K screens are now coming down in price and are now fairly close to 1080p TV’s, and that you will probably keep your TV for 5 to 10 years or more, and that 4K content is more and more available. We would suggest that a 4K TV would be your best choice at this time. Especially for any screen over 40”. You will immediately enjoy the up-converted higher resolution image and have some level of future proofing as 4K sources become ubiquitous.

Look out for future posts about TV color and contrast, Curved screens and other TV topics from ITA, your independent Technology Advisors, or contact us at For more info see our web site at

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