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Are 4K Displays for You?

(April 2015) posted on Thu Apr 23, 2015

Stay competitive with ultra-high definition screens.

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By Beth Osborne

In the world of dynamic signage, stagnation is never going to be a problem. Neither screen manufacturers, content creators, nor other industry providers simply rest on what’s in the marketplace now. Screens get larger. Bezels get smaller. Content becomes sharper. In an attempt for brands to stand out, we use dynamic signage to set them apart. But what happens when everybody has 50-inch screens with crisp imagery? The stakes get higher, and this competition for your attention breeds the next big thing.

So, what is the next big thing? How will dynamic signage evolve? Hands down, the trend everyone is talking about is 4K. This technology premiered in 2013 at the Las Vegas airport with an 84-inch LG wayfinding station, seemingly a good fit for a trial because everything’s bigger and brighter in Vegas. Since then, screen manufacturers and software providers have been in a rush to roll out new products and get buy-in from industry experts that it’s viable at scale. So after some thorough research, the following attempts to answer three questions: How does it work? Where does it work? And is it worth it?

What is 4K and How Does It Work?
4K monitors are quite different from their HD predecessors. They have four times the pixels (4000), and the description of their resolution refers to a horizontal measure of pixels. Previously, resolution was described in terms of vertical. Simply put, there are four times as many pixels both horizontally and vertically as HD screens. The aspect ratio is different as well at 17:9 as opposed to 16:9. The color depth has also been enhanced. It has 10-bit color depth (HD has 8).

What does that mean? It means a 4K monitor has 1024 combinations per color (red, blue, and green), trumping HD’s 256. Thus the total color possibilities equal 1,080,045,576 – more than one billion! Looking at the range of color combinations, 4K significantly expands the options with much richer greens than HD. And all these additional pixels translate to the ability to make images larger without pixilating them.

These new, powerful, image-inspiring screens are amazing, but how do they work with other hardware and software?