4K UHD TV vs. 1080p HDTV; Should You Buy the Upgrade?

2 Million Pixels vs. 8 Million pixels

By , Editor

4K UHD resolution TVs are set to hit the mainstream this year as prices plummet. All manufacturers will be making them much more affordable. So what's the difference and what do you need to know in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to upgrade or stick with good ole 1080p HD as your stock resolution.

The difference between these two technologies in practical terms is simply a differential in overall pixel count with HD 1080p resolution containing just over 2 million pixels. UHD 4K 4320p or similar resolution displays contain over 8 million pixels – therefore the moniker 4K. Each pixel will be much smaller and may be termed a micro-pixel.

A very good incoming broadcast television signal these days has a 1080p HD signal resolution. A good HD cable signal is normally 720p. That's about the highest we see from BluRay players or from the best broadcast HD signals. And you know it looks fantastic – especially when matched with a 1080p resolution display.

#1 Consideration

Upconversion of 1080p or 720p Signals to 4K

While 3D was one of the reasons for the first production of the 4K resolution, we believe the most important consideration for you the consumer is the upscaling of 1080p and standard def signals to the native resolution of the panel. As we saw with Sony's awe-inspiring X950B series, if the TV has a great local dimming backlight system (LED) and an exceptional 4K processing engine, you can get a fantastic 4K-like picture even with 1080p and 720p content. This is especially true with the dearth of 4K content that was released last year. There are promises of more coming through YouTube, Netflix, and Sony Studios, but so far there has been little.

I'm glad that processing is important again. It's a much overlooked quality feature in TVs, but it is critically important to your picture enjoyment.

Samsung UN65JS9500
Samsung UN65JS9500 4K SUHD with new Nanocrystal film technology employed and chamfered bezel

#2 Consideration

Price Matters

Vizio introduced a very cost effective 4K UHD TV recently with the P-series models. Pricing is compelling even if you do not plan on watching a 4K signal. For example the Vizio P552ui-B2 is priced just above a 1080p HD models at just $999 and just $1298 for the 65” version. While Vizio's video processing engine is overamped, the pricing is too interesting not to consider the upgrade. At the other end of the spectrum the top Samsung and Sony models can reach into the $7000s. At that point, even though the picture quality is astounding even when up scaling a 1080p signal, it's definitely not a value play.

Sony XBR-65X900C
The Sony 4K UHD XBR-65X900C with it's excellent processing engine for up-scaling normal HD and standard def

#3 Consideration

Appearance (curved TVs anyone?)

From a design perspective, most all 4K UHD TVs will be receiving the top of the line aesthetic packages, while 1080p HD TVs will be somewhat left in the dust in this regard. However, it's not as if a super thin bezel framing and 2” deep TV is bad looking. So, from a design perspective only those that want the best looking and most avaunt-guard TV such as the new curved UHD TVs will need to consider appearance as a buying factor.

#4 Consideration

Features: 3D; Operating Systems; Remotes

Would manufacturers of TVs leave you high and dry to attempt to force you to buy an UHD 4K TV in order to get a better operating system, voice controlled remote control search function, and 3D compatibility with lots of free glasses? You bet they will. The feature sets on 4K UHD TVs are destined to get stronger while HD 1080p TVs features are relegated. This much was obvious at the CES show. But they cant cut too much or the discount brands will swoop in and take market share.

#5 Consideration

TV Sizes

Would TV manufacturers stop producing 1080p HD TVs in the larger sizes in order to compel consumers to purchase 4K UHD TVs? Yes, they will if they can. There are only a few major suppliers of LCD panels, so if they have the opportunity, they might stop making the very large 1080p HD TVs altogether.







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Vizio 32" 1080p TV
Now $239
with Smart TV!
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Sony 55" 4K TV
with 120Hz Refresh
Now $1200!
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TCL 48" TV
with 1080 resolution and Roku TV Now $329! from Amazon
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Samsung 49" TV
4K with Smart TVNow $879! from Amazon
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LG 60" TV
4K, Quantum Dot, Web OS3.0
Now $1297!
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