Decoding the Modern Living Room is a series dedicated to helping you wade through the murky waters of modern entertainment technology. Cut through the marketing hype and focus on the details, technologies and equipment that matter most.
If you are in the market for a new TV or other entertainment device, you have no doubt discovered the market is in the middle of a massive transition. With 4K and HDR technology taking over your screen, Dolby Atmos changing how surround sound works, and HDMI specification changes happening behind the scenes to power it all, it’s easy to get confused.
To make it easier for you, we have built a small dictionary here for you to reference. We are going to break apart all the acronyms and new technologies to provide you a quick overview of what they are and how they work. Armed with knowledge, you should be able to make pretty quick work of your local Best Buy to snag the equipment you need without getting hoodwinked by fancy marketing terms and Jargon.
This is one of the biggest things that most of the world understands when it comes to television specs. Resolution is simply the measurement of how many pixels are on the screen. The more pixels you have, the sharper the image.
Over the years we’ve ended up with quite a lot different terms and standards for what resolutions are available for consumers and creators alike.
Annoyingly, the standards for creators and consumers are slightly different. Because this stuff wasn’t confusing enough as it is. But let’s go over the basic terms you are likely to run into when researching or buying TVs or content.
SD (Standard Definition or 480p)
This is the old standard that we used for decades. It was only given the standard definition or 480p moniker after high-resolution TVs arrived on the market.
HD (High Definition or 720p)
We are only two steps in and we already have our first point of confusion. While most of the world recognizes 1080p resolution as “high definition” these days, that’s technically untrue. A resolution of 1280×720, or 720p is consumer grade high-definition.
FHD (Full HD or 1080p)
The actual definition for a 1080p television is Full HD, not just “HD.” It uses a resolution of 1920×1080 and it’s the most common resolution used today.
4K UHD (Ultra High Definition, Ultra HD, 2160p)
The new hotness on the market is perhaps the most confusing term of them all. You see, technically 4K and UHD are two different terms that describe two different resolutions. This goes back to the discussion about consumer and creator standards.
The term 4K is actually a production standard that refers to a resolution of 4080×2160 while UHD is a resolution of 3840×2160. But both standards could be referred to as 2160p.
With a total pixel count that is four-times higher than Full HD, UHD resolution provides viewers with an image that is sharper than ever before.