We live in an era where the entertainment industry has truly outdone itself – and especially home entertainment. New amazing TV series have revolutionized what a Friday night in looks like – shout out to Netflix for transforming the online video streaming field – and home gaming has never been more appealing. Yet these types of entertainment rely heavily on visuals and display. So, what is the best way to go in order to make the most out of watching a movie or playing your favorite video game? HD, UHD and 4K all compete for the same market – and we are setting the record straight.
The Reign of High Definition
According to Tom’s Hardware, the Standard Definition resolution was 640×480. That was once upon a time though, as things have progressed immensely since then – but if you have been around for quite a bit you might still remember those numbers. Today, High Definition or HD has become the new standard. This means either 1280×720 pixels (also known as 720p) or 1920×1080 pixels (also known as 1080p or sometimes as Full HD to distinguish it from the 720p). Resolution as a concept has to do with how many pixels your screen can fit measured in length x width, and it is widely considered one of the most important features of a monitor or screen. In a nutshell, the more pixels your monitor can accommodate within its length and width, the more detailed the image you get and the more lifelike your experience will be.
HD is very common across gaming – even in niche markets like online casinos. Online gamblers often prefer HD for live casino games such as those provided by Betway online in order to enhance the streaming experience. Slightly older gaming consoles like PS3 and Xbox 360 boasted that they offered HD to users, but newer models have switched to 4K gaming. However, consoles like PS4 and PS4 Pro still opted for HD for their Blu-ray drivers – which sounded like a wise decision at the time. And let’s not forget that PlayStation remastered some beloved titles in HD in order for PS3 fans to be able to play their favorite PS2 classics – including the God of War series. But HD is far from over in gaming – Nintendo has opted for HD resolution for its Switch device, which can support 1280x720p and can rise to 1080p while docked and through HDMI.
Is 4K Worth the Hype?
Even though gaming has moved on a bit, HD is still the most popular choice for TV monitors, like many models under 30 inches provided by LG. While 1080p has wildly surpassed 720p, the latter has not vanished completely. Interestingly, ABC, ESPN, Fox and any channels affiliated with them still opt to broadcast in 720p. So, what’s the big deal with 4K? 4K boasts an impressive 3840×2160 in typical monitor resolution – and at first glance it looks like it should look a whole lot better than HD. It should also be noted that 4K is often confused with UHD (short for Ultra High Definition). While UHD consists not only of 4K resolution but also of HDR (High Dynamic Range) and 8K, the two terms are often used interchangeably in practice. Yet this small detail makes all the difference in the world – and shows why gamers and anyone looking to pick a great entertainment monitor should not be mesmerized by resolution only, but pay attention to other aspects like contrast and color.
This should come hardly as news for any tech-savvy fan who knows a thing or two about tech specifications, especially as we move towards the 4K revolution – already gaming consoles like Xbox One X support it. But for so many people out there, the landscape just seems confusing – which is why it is important to read reviews of the gaming console or TV monitor you intend to buy. If a device is marketed as supporting 4K, it is well worth examining whether the manufacturer means just the 4K resolution or they also provide better contrast like HDR or an expanded color palette. Because if it is just the former, then your new monitor might not look all that different than your old one. It is also important to check out the frame rate or refresh rate, as it can make or break your viewer experience. The refresh rate essentially refers to how quickly the image on your monitor changes – and the faster it updates, the smoother the display. For comparison, cinemas typically run at 24Hz, TVs and PCs will usually go for an average of 60Hz, while gaming monitors can go even higher, with 144Hz considered an acceptable threshold. Refresh rates are especially important in gaming as they allow the display to update and follow rapid changes in gameplay.
So which resolution should you go for? That is a trick question. Consider what you will be using the monitor most for, and then make sure that you make the correct choice across all aspects, including resolution, color gamut, contrast and refresh rate.