It seems like technology is emerging faster than we can keep up with. In the audiovisual world, this is definitely the case, as the quality of the video is ever-increasing, but do we really need to throw out our old televisions, just to get the best quality? Or can we keep our 1080p screen and still play 4k videos on it, without losing quality?
4k video looks better on a 1080p screen, better than 1080p videos do. This is due to the amount of pixels that each type of video and screen has. The more pixels in a video and the more pixels available in a screen, the clearer a video will look, making 4k video have the best quality on a 4k screen.
Throughout this article, you will learn all about the differences between 1080p and 4k. You will also learn why 4k video looks superior on a 1080p screen, but why you should switch to a 4k screen. We will also provide the ten best 4k screens you can buy right now.
What Is the Difference Between 1080p and 4K?
Before we continue, let’s make sure the difference between 1080p and 4k is known.
1080p first appeared in 2007. It is the next step up after 720p resolution screens. It is also known as “full HD, or full high definition.” It consists of 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 pixels vertically. The picture aspect ratio for 1080p is usually 16:9, meaning the image has a width of 16 units and a height of 9 units.
The “p” in 1080p stands for progressive scan, not pixels, as sometimes thought. Progressive scan is the way that an image is projected onto the screen in sequential order from top to bottom. Sometimes referred to as 2k, 1080p offers a resolution of 2.1 million megapixels.
4k emerged as an option in 2012. It is also known as “Ultra High Definition.” It consists of 3840 pixels horizontally and 2160 pixels vertically. The picture aspect ratio for 4k is usually about 16:9, the same as 1080p.
4k offers a resolution of 8 million megapixels.
The main difference between the two, in the most non-technical sense, is that 4k offers a sharper image than 1080p. 4k also offers a better contrast ratio than 1080p, meaning that there is a larger difference between the brightest color, white, and the darkest color, black.
Why Does 4k Video Look Better on a 1080p Screen?
When you watch a 1080p video and a 4k video on a 1080p screen, you’ll notice that the 4k video is much clearer and has a far greater contrast ratio. But why is that?
Well, this can be explained with something called chroma subsampling. Chroma subsampling is the process of compressing data.
Ideally, each and every pixel should have its own Y, Cb, and Cr value. Y is the luma value. It tells us how bright the pixel should be. Cb and Cr are the chroma values. They tell us what color the pixel is. If each pixel had its own Y, Cb, and Cr value, it would be referred to as 4:4:4. It would provide the best image quality.
However, to save data, and since our eyes are more sensitive to brightness than color, as long as the Y, the luma value is kept intact, the Cb and Cr values can be shared with their three neighboring pixels. 75% of the Cb and Cr values are, therefore, discarded. Thus, there will be 50% less data. This is referred to as 4:2:0.
As 4k has four times the amount of pixels as 1080p, not only will there be four times more Y or luma values, but there will be four times more Cb and Cr values, making for a clearer, sharper, and more vivid image.
Why You Should Ultimately Switch to a 4k Screen
If you currently have a 1080p screen and are thinking about making a move to a 4k screen, here are five reasons to switch:
- 4k just looks better on a 4k screen. 8 million pixels, 4 times the amount as a 1080p screen, makes for a better image.
- Streaming services now offer 4k. Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney +, Vudu, and Youtube now offer 4k videos.
- Cable and satellite now offer 4k. DIRECTV, DISH, and Xfinity offer 4k content.
- Game consoles now offer 4k. Consoles like Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One S are compatible with 4k screens.
- 4k will be around for a long time. 4k video is fairly new, and it will be around for a while.
- 4k is becoming more inexpensive. With the emergence of 8k screens, 4k screen prices are dropping.
The Ten Best 4k Screens You Can Buy Right Now
Best 4k Televisions
- TCL 43 Inch (109.22 cm) 4k LED TV. This smart television supports Roku TV and works with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control.
- SAMSUNG 4k UHD TV. This television has Alexa built right into it. You also have the option of purchasing the TV with three different soundbars. You can also buy this television in 43 inches (109.22 cm), 50 inches (127 cm), 55 inches (139.7 cm), 65 inches (165.1 cm), 75 inches (190.5 cm), and 85 inches (215.9 cm).
- Sony 55 Inches (139.7 cm) 4k Ultra HD LED TV. This television offers MOTIONFLOW XR240, which allows for seamless movement, even with the most fast-paced images.
- LG 55 Inches (139.7 cm) Ultra HD Smart LED NanoCell TV. This television has Nano Color, which makes for a clearer image and more vibrant colors. It also offers local dimming and has built-in Airplay 2, so you can cast right from your Apple iPhone.
- Toshiba 43 Inches (109.22 cm) Smart 4k UHD TV. Not only can you use Alexa with this television, but it also is integrated with Fire TV, so you can watch live TV as well as stream content.
Best 4k Monitors
- Samsung 31.5 Inches (80.01 cm) 4k Desktop Monitor. This computer monitor has the capability to be used on a desk or mounted on a wall. It has a 3-year business warranty.
- LG 24 Inches (60.96 cm) 4k UHD Monitor. Perfect for gamers, this monitor has game mode and offers FreeSync. This monitor also has a black stabilizer, which brightens up your darkest images so you can see them clearer.
- Philips 4k Monitor. Low-blue mode makes this monitor very easy on the eyes. You can also purchase it in varying sizes: 22 inches (55.88 cm), 24 inches (60.96 cm), 27 inches (68.58 cm), and 32 inches (81.28 cm).
- AOC Super-Curved 4k UHD Monitor. This monitor is curved to match the curvature of your eyes, allowing for a better experience.
- Asus 28 Inches (71.12 cm) 4k Monitor. This monitor is also perfect for gamers, as it has Exclusive Game Plus and Game Visual settings.
The main difference between 1080p and 4k is that 4k has a clearer image. We know this due to chroma subsampling, or color data compression. 4k video, therefore, looks better on a 1080p screen than a 1080p video would look. However, if you want the best quality with a 4k video, you should use a 4k screen.
4k is a thing of the future and will be around for a long time. Streaming services, cable, and satellite all now offer 4k video options. You can also now buy gaming consoles with 4k capability. And of course, 4k televisions and computer monitors are cheaper to buy than ever. So, pick yours up today and join the future!
My Current Video Editing Setup and Favorite Products
Apple MacBook Air M1 512GB Ram (Waiting for the new 16in pro)
LG 27MK400H-B Full HD Monitor with FreeSync 27″ (I literally have 4 of these)
Razer Holiday Bundle Cynosa Chroma Gaming Keyboard, Abyssus Gaming Mouse, Goliathus Chroma Mousepad
KTRIO Large Gaming Mouse Pad with Stitched Edges
Panasonic LUMIX G7 Digital Camera – Great Entry Camera for Shooting and Streaming
Neewer Ring Light Kit — A Must Have
Emart Green Screen Backdrop with Stand Kit – Affordable and Lots of Uses!
Elgato Stream Deck Mini – I only need the 6 keys
- Dgit: 4K vs. 1080p – 5 reasons to go 4k and 5 reasons to keep the old HD
- HighSpeedInternet.com: Your Guide to 4K Streaming, Devices, and Channels
- Crutchfield: What is chroma subsampling?
- TheDailyNote: Why Does 4K Look Better on 1080p Monitors
- Wikipedia: Chroma Subsampling
- Wikipedia: Contrast ratio
- Wikipedia: 4K resolution
- Wikipedia: 1080p
- Wikipedia: Aspect ratio (image)
- Wikipedia: Progressive scan
- Reddit: ELI5: How can a 4K video look clearer on a 1080p display even though there aren’t as many pixels on the 1080p display to show more detail in the 4K video?
- ExperienceUHD: Is 4K Better Than 1080P?
- Wondershare: 4K VS 1080P: Why 4K is Better than 1080P
- Lifewire: What is Progressive Scan Video?