Resolution…1080p, 4k, 720p, 576i, HD, Ultra HD, SUHD – what does it all mean and why is everyone focussing on it so heavily?
Resolution is basically the number of pixels your TV or projector produces. The theory basically is the more pixels, the more control over the image, the more colour variations that can be shown, the greater the detail.
That is the idea and that is what we are all told, but is it the case?
Is it really a major importance or more a marketing tool to influence us to purchase a product (or feel we have to do so) if it is not up to the highest resolution specification today?
At the moment everyone is talking about 4K…you “must” have a 4K TV or 4K Projector. Do you really need it right now? The answer is not simple and there are many factors to consider.
In our industry, we have a saying :”Content is King”. This has been seen time and time again if there is a lack of content the technology does not advance. It is all good for hardware manufacturers to go out and make a better machine but if the content is not around to take advantage of it, well it is pretty much useless.
Luckily we are seeing more 4K content come out, but right now it is expensive and not on mass. Others in the past did the same (HD-DVD, LaserDisc as examples). Only time will tell…
So you want to “future-proof” your purchase? Well, this is a hard one as in reality no-one really knows what is coming or how successful what is coming will be. There is no way to fully future-proof yourself.
Take for example the masses of 4K TVs that came to market before the HDCP 2.2 standard was created (basically, this is a standard of delivery method for 4K). The problem is, the 4K content from the movie houses that is coming out with the HDCP 2.2 Codec on board will result in many of these TVs not being able to play the content in 4K.
Also, it is not a software upgrade to alter this, it is hardware you will require (so much for early adoption and future proofing).
The point is as best as we try to future proof people when purchasing, no-one really knows what is going to happen.
My suggestion is unless something is definitely coming out in the next 6 months, it is not something to really worry about. There is always “something” coming out, there needs to be to push people to upgrade, but only you can make that choice as to whether it is deal-breaking or not right now. Many new technologies that are written about never even make it to market…
The thing is, if you are always chasing the “something” that is coming out, you will never make a purchase…
In reality, resolution is only one part of what makes an image look good. Let’s look at all the elements that make the image look good. Some are common for projectors and TVs, some are more relevant to one or the other.
So there are so many factors that add up to producing a great image. So why is just one factor deemed to be so important? Is it that it is just easier to sell on one aspect? Is it more an emotional purchase to feel that you are not “missing” out?
Furthermore, when considering a projector your Projection Screen also has a high influence on the picture image. No point in going for a great projector then pairing it with a cheap screen…the screen will only throw back as good an image as it is able to do so.
A great article to read which talks about resolution and its’ importance has been written by CNET and is worth a read.
Overall as well there is one massive factor – quality. You often find in many products that are cheapest are also the most specified, has the most features etc. How can that be?
How can the more expensive item supposedly do less, produce lower specifications but charge more?
Well often it is an old and tested formula, basically the cheaper you are the more you try to jam in to make the product more appealing. However, in order to achieve this, the quality of those components are very low. So you get lots of features, but how well do they work?
Everyone wants the miracle purchase at the lowest price with the best performance…well sorry, it just does not happen. You pay for what you get.
It is also true that as you start to spend more money the jumps in performance decrease but it is like squeezing an Orange, as you start you get a flood of juice but you have to work harder and harder to get some of the tastiest and best bits towards the end of the squeeze. Quality costs more to create.
No different for getting improvements in technology…sometimes called the law of diminishing returns, where you pay a lot to get smaller and smaller improvements.
The overall conclusion is to not run on specifications alone and beware the marketing hype. Use your eyes to make your decision, take some time looking at the image to ensure you are comfortable with it and ask your retailer to show you the quality of the image on what you will be watching mostly, whether it is standard free to air TV, Blu Rays or actually just 4K content.