What is Ultra HD Technology and How Does It Work?

Samsung's 85-inch Ultra HDTV

[Photo Credit: Economic Times, India]

“4KTV” and “UltraHDTV” (UHDTV) are two terms that have been announced at International CES. Tech lovers may possess some understanding of what this type of technology is all about, but few have explained some information surrounding the technology that the average consumer needs to know or understand.

Ultra HDTVs have a pixel density of at least 8 million pixels, or “8 megapixels.” If you own a smartphone, you have heard the word “megapixels” numerous times. The word “megapixels” is used when tech announcers refer to smartphone cameras; usually, they will say, the smartphone comes with an “8-megapixel” camera. When they use the word “megapixel,” they are referring to millions of pixels (“mega” is Greek for “large” or “many”). My Samsung Galaxy S3 has an “8-megapixel” camera, meaning that it has 8 million pixels.  What few consumers know about UltraHD technology is that it does not refer to something new that we have not had before, but rather, a feature that already exists in our smartphones. Any smartphone that has 8 megapixels or more (10, 12, 13, etc.) has an UltraHD camera. The iPhone 4S also has an 8-megapixel, rear-facing camera. This is something that you should take from this article: smartphones already have UltraHD cameras; hence, the technology is already familiar to us. It is no different from Internet TV, another concept that is familiar to consumers. Internet has been around for thirty years this year, but TV manufacturers are just considering its benefit for televisions now. While both UltraHDTV (or 4KTV) and Internet TV are new, they are not innovative; we must learn the difference between these terms.

Why do we need 4KTV or Ultra HDTV? According to some studies, having increased quality in television viewing leads to a stress-reduced and relaxed society; the more of a picture the individual can see (details), the less stress a person will have as he or she watches a television program. If the individual is less stressed, he or she will watch a program longer than if the content shows less detail and the television has fewer megapixels than it should.

4KTV or UltraHDTV is one step beyond 3D television. Today, there are many HDTVs in homes that contain 3D technology and require the use of 3D glasses when viewing the screen. 3D movies allow you to see the images jump off the screen into the space in front of you; you can reach out and almost touch the images as they run across the screen. 4KTV continues this same idea but provides further detail. You may be able to see the buttons on Santa Claus’s work uniform or the cufflinks on Santa’s shirt sleeve in a children’s Christmas movie.

Some tech experts argue that UltraHDTV will change the world; at the moment, however, it will only transform that segment of the world population that can afford such a television. At the moment, Panasonic, LG, and Samsung have emerged with their UltraHDTVs at International CES. A typical UltraHDTV from LG Electronics will cost $10,000-$12,000 (minimum), while an 85-inch Samsung UltraHDTV could cost as much as $20,000 or more. Vizio has its own new collection of UltraHDTVs, ranging in size from 30 inches to 70 inches.