A lot of new products and solutions highlight “4K” and “8K” as a key selling point, but what exactly does that mean—and how does it relate to an end user?

THE NUMBERS

Both 4K and 8K are classified as Ultra HD resolutions. The numbers in the beginning of the names “4K” and “8K” refer to the horizontal pixel count in thousands. 8K has twice as many horizontal and vertical pixels as 4K—so how does that translate to the overall picture? The total pixel count in a 4K is 8 million pixels, or one-fourth of an 8K screen, which has a stunning 33 million pixels. The image below shows a comparison between the pixel counts between 1080P, 4K and 8K.

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If you were to display a 4K resolution on an 8K resolution screen pixel by pixel without adjusting the aspect, it would take up one-fourth of the display because it has one-fourth of the total pixels. Another way to think about this difference is that if you zoomed in 2x on an 8K screen, you would still be viewing a 4K resolution.

THE VIEWING EXPERIENCE

As a result of the higher pixel count, 8K allows for sharper, more vivid images with extremely well-blended pixels when compared to 4K. Viewers are able to see more details in a clearer picture—however, the human eye may not be able to distinguish between the two resolutions from a certain distance away. The distance at which the average person can distinguish a difference depends on how large the display is. The graph below illustrates how certain viewing distances make the resolutions indistinguishable from one another, while others make the jump to a higher resolution worth it for the viewing experience.

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Image source: https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/by-size/size-to-distance-relationship

8K is ideal for crisp, high-resolution images needed for close use solutions, such as computer monitors, virtual reality, and touch screen applications—but may not be right for everyone’s viewing habits. In many cases, 4K and 8K may appear the same to the human eye!

CONTENT

Purchasing and installing a 4K or 8K TV does not necessarily mean that every show, movie, or video that you watch on it will be shown in that resolution. In order to see 4k or 8k resolution on your TV, you must also have cables, a player and content that all support and deliver that resolution to your 4k or 8k display.

Content created in 4K is widely available and has been growing steadily since its release on televisions in 2013. A wide selection of 4K content is available on Netflix as well as YouTube, and can even be experienced in many movie theaters across the country. Content in 8K is not nearly as available as there have not been many videos filmed at this resolution yet, mainly due to cost and availability. An 8K display can typically still present 1080P and 4K content full screen if the aspect ratio is the same; if not, there may be the classic black bars on the screen edges.

TECHNICAL COMPARISONS

In addition to these comparisons, below are a few more technical comparisons and notes between the two Ultra HD resolutions:

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Keep in mind that your setup is only as strong as the weakest link. To support 4K or 8K resolution viewing, you must also have 4K/8K compatible devices and cables.

This article was originally published here.