Now that 4K (UHD Blu-ray) is here, what exactly is the difference in resolution?
First, let’s talk about what UHD is.
We have had HD (High Definition, Blu-ray) for a long time. It’s 1920 x 1080, or 1,920 pixels wide by 1,080 pixels high (Aspect Ratio 16:9). That comes out to 2,073,600 pixels on the HDTV screen. It was a wonderful upgrade from our old TVs (NTSC) that were the equivalent of 486x440 resolution (Aspect Ratio, 4:3), with the equivalent of 213,840 pixels.
I waited years before I purchased a UHD TV (Sony 75”), and I also purchased an OPPO UDP-205 UHD player. (Note that you need an HDMI 2.0 cable to connect a UHD player to a UHD-TV). UHD has a resolution of 3840x2160, or 8,284,400 pixels. That is four times as many pixels as HD. There is an additional format that is used at the theater, 4096x2160. This is a few lines wider than UHD.
The number of UHD movies released each month is now on a steady incline.
At first, I bought just a few of them, but now, there seems to be more and more that I want. The titles are good, including classics like “Die Hard” (1988), and current films, like “Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom”.
So, let’s take a look at how much improvement there is with UHD movies over HD.
I purchased one of the most classic films of all time, “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957). It is available on Amazon for about $20 in UHD format. The HD version disc is included.
I played the HD version on my HDTV and photographed Alec Guinness closeup. Here is the shot (there are some extraneous reflections on the screen due to light coming from a window in the room):
Now, here is the HD version, viewed on my UHD-TV:
Notice that the UHD-TV has scaled the HD image to 4K. It is a bit sharper than as viewed on my HDTV, and it obviously has smaller pixels.
But, if we take a look at the UHD version, viewed on my UHD-TV, you can see that it is definitely sharper.
This is a worst-case situation, as it was 1957, and CinemaScope lenses were basically a lens with a glass prism on the front. Current 4K video (the technique that commercial movies now use), shot on a modern camera, is much sharper.
The UHD movies that I have at this point include the above “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957), “Die Hard” (1988), “Predator” (1987), “Jurassic Park” (First Four Movies), and “Prometheus” (2012).
For UHD movies in the future, I would like to see all of the “Star Wars” films, all of the Indiana Jones films (e.g., “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – 1981), the first two of the “Alien” films, “Ben Hur” (1959), “The Ten Commandments” (1956), “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956), all of the Errol Flynn films, all of the Humphrey Bogart films, all of the Edward G. Robinson films, all of the James Cagney films, all of the Universal Studios monster films and sequels of the 1930’s and 1940’s (Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy, Invisible Man), all of the Vincent Price horror films of the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s, all of the horror films produced by Hammer Films, all of “The Godfather” films, all of the “Dirty Harry” films, the first three “Planet of the Apes” films, all of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, some of the best John Wayne films, such as “The Sons of Katie Elder” (1965), “Jaws” (1975), “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), “The Great Escape” (1963), “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), “Where Eagles Dare” (1969), “Nevada Smith” (1966), “The Guns of Navarone” (1961), “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (1959), “Amadeus“ (1984), Schindler’s List” (1993), and others that I can’t think of right now. I am sure you have your own list.
So, as to the question I put as the title of this article, the answer, as far as I am concerned, is, “Yes”. UHD TVs are now priced at what HDTVs were a few years ago, with kitchen-sized UHD TVs at just a few hundred dollars, and 82” UHD TVs for your home theater room, at about $3,200. The image quality on QLED UHD TVs is spectacular!
Although 4K TV channels number just a few, they should catch up to the release of UHD movies on disc within a couple of years. However, even if it takes longer, you can enjoy the UHD movie discs and take 4K home movies of your vacations and celebrations at home, such as birthday parties. You can purchase a dedicated 4K video camera or use one of the new snapshot cameras that also take 4K videos.
You will need a video editor to assemble your 4K movie clips. There are many 4K video editors out there, in a wide price range. These include Cyberlink PowerDirector 13 Ultra, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Final Cut Pro X, Sony Vegas Pro 13, and Aiseesoft Video Converter Ultimate.