Why 4K Video is Awesome, And Why You Can’t Watch It Yet

So you know that expensive 1080p HDTV that you bought not too long ago?  It’s already outdated.  A lot of us thought that video resolution probably couldn’t get much better than an uncompressed 1080p signal coming from a good source like a BluRay player, but Moore’s Law reminds you that you should feel pretty silly for thinking so.

A really cool bit of news that went unnoticed in the past few weeks is that YouTube added support for 4K video.  Which you’ll understand how ridiculous this is (in a good way) once you realize what’s going on there.  Just take a look at the chart below.



1o80p supports 1920×1080 pixels of actual resolution, while 4K supports 4096×3072.  There’s not even a mass market TV that supports that yet.  However, there is a camera called the RED that’s being used a lot more for TV and movies that’s shooting in 4K.  Up until recently, if you wanted to see the full effect of what it could do without buying one for yourself for around $10K, you had to go to a digital projection theater. Movies like The Lovely Bones and Green Zone were shot with the RED, and even the BluRay of those movies will fail to show you the kind of resolution the camera can get out of it.

Now, back to YouTube’s support of 4K.  Currently, you have to be running a pretty top notch machine to be able to really see it.  I’m on a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with a top resolution of 1680 by 1050, which means I can’t see it.  Not only because the resolution on my monitor can’t match 4K, but my fairly speedy iMac can’t even handle the bits that are in the video.  I can “play” the video, but it’s more or less a slideshow.

If you want to try it on your side, load up this page on YouTube and give it a shot.  While very few are going to be able to see the difference, it’s awesome to see YouTube and Google giving the tech some support.

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One response to “Why 4K Video is Awesome, And Why You Can’t Watch It Yet

  • Chad

    4k is certainly impressive, but I wonder if it’s necessary at all outside of movie theaters. I already have trouble noticing a difference between 720p and 1080p on any screen below 42″.

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