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Do you have a 4K TV? How about an 8K TV? Maybe you’re still using a 1080p TV. Maybe you don’t even know what you have or what you should have.

If any of those apply to you, this is the blog post for you.

What is resolution?

It is important to start with understanding what resolution is.

Every TV screen is composed of numerous pixels, which are tiny squares that can display a specific color. Because each pixel is so small, you normally won’t notice each one unless you are very close to your TV. The more pixels the screen has, the higher its resolution. A higher resolution will allow the TV to display more detail, which means movies and TV shows will look better.

Each pixel is assigned values that determine the brightness of its red, green, and blue subpixels, which form that pixel’s color and light, or more precisely, its hue and luminance.

For more information on resolution, check out this article from CNET.

What does HD, 4K, and 8K mean?

Now that you know more about resolution and pixels, let’s get our heads around High Definition (HD) first. The most important thing to know about Full HD screens is that they have a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Next comes 4K, also known as Ultra High-Definition Television, Ultra HD, UHDTV, or just UHD.

4K is steadily replacing HD as the TV tech of choice and it’s what you’ll find on pretty much every top-of-the-range TV range — at least it was until 8K started to get in on the act.

4K doubles HD’s pixel stats to 3,840 x 2,160, offering four times as many pixels in total. 8K Ultra HD ups the numbers once again to 7,680 x 4,320, giving you four times as many pixels as 4K.

Why does any of this matter? More pixels mean a higher resolution on your TV screen and usually result in a higher resolution — meaning a better, clearer picture with much more detail.

Take a close look at your TV. Try to find a single pixel — not the individual red, green, and blue lights; those are subpixels, which means you’re too close. If you’re looking at a 4K screen, imagine four pixels taking up the space of that single pixel. If you’re looking at a 1080p screen, picture a grid of 16 pixels, four by four, within that single pixel. That’s 8K. It’s much sharper than 4K and much, much sharper than 1080p.

Other factors

There are two other factors that will determine what the right resolution is for you. Those are the resolution your provider is broadcasting in and for streaming options your network speed.  

We will start with the broadcasting resolution. Unfortunately, you have no control over this factor. Cable broadcasting from Spectrum and Xfinity is unable to support 4K or 8K through a coax connection, but they do offer streaming of 4K content. Satellite TV, such as DirectTV, can broadcast in 4K. Streaming options like Hulu and YouTube TV offer 4K resolution but for an add-on fee.

The streaming options are going to be the first to have 8K resolution available. The factor for streaming of all resolutions is your network speed and the best way to explain this is if you ever used dial-up or DSL and remember how frustrating it was compared to the options today. The higher the resolution the more data there is to be transferred and at a faster rate. Don’t forget to factor in all the other devices using your network besides the TV. At a minimum, you should have a plan that can provide you with 200 Mbps.

Is now the time to buy an 8K TV?

Based on the information available at this time, I don’t feel now is the time to buy an 8K. Save yourself from paying for something you cannot use at this time.