Refresh rate is one of the more confusing aspects of TV technology, and TV makers don’t do much to explain it. In fact, they often double it.
Refresh rate is a number that specifies how many times per second the image on your TV changes. With most TVs it’s 60, though it’s rare you’ll ever see a TV with that number listed. Instead, manufacturers use different technologies, such as the soap opera effect and black frame insertion, to claim a higher number. Sometimes those claims are justified, sometimes they aren’t.
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Higher refresh rate claims with numbers like 120, 240, and higher are common, but not always accurate. In fact, no matter what number you see listed with a 4K TV, no 4K TV has a native panel refresh rate higher than 120Hz. As we’ll explain, though, a number higher than 120Hz doesn’t necessarily mean the claim is false.
Here’s the basics:
- Refresh rate is the number time times per second (written in hertz, or Hz) a TV refreshes its image.
- Movies are almost always filmed 24 frames per second, or 24Hz. Live TV shows at 30 or 60.
- Most TVs refresh at 60, some higher-end models at 120. Some older 1080p LCD TVs refreshed at 240Hz.
- The point of a higher refresh rate is to reduce the motion blur inherent in all current TV technologies.
- Motion blur is the softening of the image when an object, or the entire screen, is in motion.
- TV manufacturers use multiple technologies in addition to refresh rate to come up with an “effective refresh rate.”
- Effective refresh rate means the TV refreshes its image at a lower rate, but might appear to have similar motion resolution as a TV with an actual higher refresh rate.
1. What does “4K” mean, what does “Ultra HD” mean, and what are the differences between the two?
Quite simply 4K is used to refer to a resolution which amounts to about four times the pixel count of Full HD resolution. Full HD is measured at 1920 x 1080 pixels and for most consumer purposes, 4K UHD resolution is set at 3840 x 2160 pixels, which is roughly 4 times as many pixels as FHD (Full HD). They’re also colloquially called 2160p and 1080p resolutions respectively. There is also a less common 4K resolution called DCI 4K, rarely found in 4K TVs but common in 4K home theater projectors and some 4K video cameras. This is set at 4096 x 2160 pixels and offers roughly half a million pixels more than 4K UHD.
As for ultra HD, it has a more flexible meaning. Right now it’s practically synonymous with 4K UHD TV displays and other 4K consumer products but when other resolutions like 6Kand 8K become more common, they could also be called ultra HD.
2. Why are 4K screens/displays preferred over 1080P
what are the advantages and why is this technology worth it? How does this ultra-high definition technology change the user experience for the better on various devices (TVs, computer monitors, phones and cameras)?
4K resolution isn’t actually easy to distinguish from normal FHD on smaller display devices of less than 45 inches across (diagonally) unless you get really close up to the screen but aside from this 4K definitely brings with it a much better level of sharpness on all larger screens and even on smaller screens, the sharpness and smoothness of digital video looks far superior when viewed close up. Aside from these obvious benefits, 4K display devices come with the best peripheral display technologies these days and 4K recording devices are obviously better because their 2160p video output is more future-proof for being displayed on larger screens (which are becoming more popular among consumers).
3. What are the current 4K screen technologies available to consumers (e.g., HDR, OLED, AMOLED, Quantum Dot [QD], UHD, etc.)? Please describe the differences between these technologies mentioned and list any others that I failed to mention.
The most important 4K display technologies (mainly for 4K TVs) currently available are HDR and OLED. Quantum Dots and other brand-specific technologies mostly revolve around enhancing 4K resolution or HDR in any case. OLED is its own distinct display technology for display design and it is also found in non-4K screens.
4. Where can consumers currently get/watch 4K content (e.g., streaming sites, 4K UHD Blu-ray players, etc.)? Why isn’t broadcast TV in 4K yet, and when is this coming?
The best and most easily accessible sources of 4K content for anyone anywhere in the world are 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. You’ll need a 4K Blu-ray player to play them but if you get one, you can watch any of the dozens of 4K movies now coming to Blu-ray on your 4K TV even if you have no other source of 4K content or the right internet connectivity to access streaming media apps. After 4K Blu-ray, the most easily accessible content in 4K is the stuff available from streaming internet services like Vudu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and others and apps for all of these are found on most 4K TVs right out of the box. However you’ll needs at least 20Mbps of connectivity to your home in order to stream 4K video from said apps.