Much of the focus on UltraHD to-date has been on resolution. Even the nomenclature – 4K – is a focus on resolution. I’ve seen dozens are articles written in the popular press that – in attempting to convey UltraHD attributes to the layperson – describe UltraHD in terms of Full HD (ie 1080P). These articles often focus on the characteristic that UltraHD is roughly four times the resolution of Full HD – hence 4K. While factual – this misses one of the real opportunities for UltraHD. I believe the success of UHD will be decided by much more than just “more” resolution.
It is first worth pointing out that a move to higher pixel density screens isn’t happening solely in the TV category. Across all screens, technology is migrating to higher pixel density screens. Mobile phones, tablets, computers and of course TVs are all moving to higher high resolution screens. This was a large – though under-reported – story coming out of the 2013 CES – where we saw many of the first mobile phones and tablets to have full HD screens.
High pixel-density screens allow us ultimately to cram more ‘stuff’ onto a screen without the user losing clarity of view. I think the best example is with something like Microsoft Excel. Imagine Microsoft Excel running on two screens – both the same size. One is a traditional Full HD screen. The other an UltraHD screen. While on the HD screen you might be able to comfortably view say columns A to P – on the ultraHD screen you might be able to comfortably view columns A to X in a single view. Because of the higher pixel density, you can more clearly see more information on the same size screen.
We typically think of higher resolution giving us a better picture image of the same content we are viewing on a lower resolution screen. But higher pixel density screens can actually give us not just better but more. And therein lies one of the real opportunities for UltraHD.