Ultra High Definition, or 4K, is most commonly associated with resolution, but it is more complex than that.

Beyond 4K – Part 2: Not all 4K is the same!

Michael Salerno | PureLink

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Ultra High Definition, or 4K, is most commonly associated with resolution, but it is more complex than that. The importance of resolution depends on to what it refers. Signal/content resolution, based on factors such as optimal flow and throughput, plays a big role in image quality. Display resolution, however, merely lists a display’s horizontal and vertical pixels - more important is their density and delineation. But, from the viewer’s perspective what does that really mean? Beyond the complex array of specs out there (color gamut, refresh rate, compression, black levels, lumens, display type, etc.), how does the human eye perceive imagery? Furthermore, how does that perception affect the products and services available, and ultimately purchased, in the marketplace?

All 4K content, whether from Blu-ray discs, streaming services, or cable boxes, contains an enormous amount of data. In order to deliver that content, whatever form that takes, some form of compression must be utilized. Given that, users of commercial and residential A/V hardware must consider the manufacturers’ current specifications “arms race”, and take into account just two factors. First, who is the end user, and what is their application? In certain situations, such as medical imaging and data visualization, or even ultra-high end residential screening rooms, the client needs the very best, most accurate and pristine image quality.  However, in other less critical applications, such as digital signage and video conferencing, the cost of achieving ultimate performance is much more prohibitive, and usually unnecessary.  Bandwidth, after all, has costs. Additionally, the vast majority of source content available worldwide doesn’t even offer 4:4:4 color to begin with. Which begs the question…would the client perceive any difference between 4:2:2 and 4:2:0 compressed content? Would they even care? Most would be surprised.

End users need to be wary of getting caught up in the hype, there are costs involved in implementing A/V systems with pipes and displays robust enough for 4K/60 4:4:4 content, and in setting up a viewing environment with the requisite distance, screen size, ambient light, etc. required to even see it properly. On top of all that, the compelling cost savings and price-to-performance ratios of video-over-IP systems have been unfairly affected by this specifications arms race, causing end users who would have derived tremendous value from such systems to re-consider based on theoretical technical specs that will, in practice, never add value to their applications.

Regardless of the technical requirements, you don’t have to be an expert on pixel width and height or chroma sub-sampling ratios, to know when the movie or sporting event you are viewing looks as crisp and clear as being there in person. Our reputation has been built on consistently delivering that “window on the world” for our customers every day, going “Beyond 4K.” So, just as all 4K offerings are not the same, all of the companies producing the equipment necessary to deliver that 4K experience are not the same as well. PureLink offers state-of-the-art in A/V products and services for all types of infrastructures and levels of criticality. However, first and foremost, we focus on truth, breaking through the noise to deliver real value that goes way Beyond 4K.

 
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of HomeToys

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