Buying A TV? Don’t Know Your 4K From Your HD? Read This

If you have never seen it, Michael McIntyre does a hilarious sketch where he talks about HD TVs and HD ready TV’s. But what are HD and HD ready? What is 4k? Do I need 4k? And for the love of Pete why are curved screens a thing? If you don’t know your aspect ratio from your refresh rate this article is for you.


Johnny Nash may have been able to see clearly once the rain had gone but in the modern world, we are able to see clearly now the resolution has gone up. But what is resolution? If you are not a tech head it probably means very little to you. In order to explain it, you need to know just a little bit about how TV’s work.

Your TV screen is made up of lots of tiny little dots. These are called pixels and can be one of three colours: Red, green and blue. These colours combine to make up the picture. If you get up real close to your screen you can see these individual pixels. When it comes to pixels, smaller is better and more of them is better. The smaller the pixels, the clearer the image. A screen with a higher resolution has more pixels.

So HD, HD Ready and 4k?

Okay, I get why this is so confusing. Before the advent of HD television sets most TV’s had a fairly low resolution. This meant that even sat on your sofa staring at a small screen you would quite often see pixels. High definition changed the game upping the pixels to between 1-2 million. This had a dramatic effect on image quality. But what is the difference between HD ready and HD?

This is a common question. HD ready means that if you plug in a device which transmits HD images it will work in HD. However, if you were playing standard definition content it would not upscale it. HD TV’s also tended to have lower resolution.

As for 4k that is the current generation. The resolution is significantly higher than high definition. Ranging anywhere between 4 and 12 million pixels. Obviously, this leads to a sharper picture although the leap is not as noticeable as the jump from standard definition to high definition.

Aspect ratio

This isn’t as befuddling as you would think. It is just a ratio between the width and the height of a TV. The most common aspect ratio is 16:9 – This is sometimes referred to as widescreen because a lot of older TV’s were 4:3, almost square. This is why if you watch an old TV show sometimes it will have a black border or look stretched on your TV.

Refresh rate

TV’s work by flashing still images in very quick succession to give the illusion of movement. A bit like a hi-tech version of those flipbooks you made as kids. The quicker those images flash the better the picture quality. Commonly this will be 60hz or 120hz – this basically means that the image flashes up 60 or 120 times per second. Higher is better!

The future

If you have a 4k TV set in your house and you approach it you probably aren’t going to be able to see the pixels unless you get pretty damn close. Even on large TV’s the sheer amount of pixels means they are very small. The future does hold 8K tvs. These have already been developed but at the moment the technology is so new that it is remarkably expensive, however, given a few years, it will be standard in most TV sets. At that point, pixels will be almost imperceptible giving a stunning picture.

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