Buying a TV used to be a straightforward process because TVs mainly had the same features and qualities. It’s not so easy today as there are many factors to consider, including screen size, resolution, functionality, connectivity, etc.
Although the qualities of a good TV have changed over time, a high pixel count has been the key feature TVs are judged by in the last decade. In the past, colored TVs were ranked over monochrome TVs, then HD, then 720p, 2K, and now 4K.
So, are higher-resolution screens innately better than their lower-res counterparts? What’s the truth behind this? We’re first going to tell you everything you need to know about 2K and 4K TVs, and then we’ll make a comparison to help you figure out which is better for your viewing pleasure.
What is Resolution?
To understand the difference between 2k and 4k TVs, you first have to understand the concept of resolution.
Resolution refers to the quantity of information shown on a screen. This is different from screen size, which refers to the physical proportions of the screen. The resolution of a screen indicates how many pixels it can display.
TV images are made up of dots, and these dots are called pixels. The more pixels a screen has, the fuller and more detailed its images will be. Pixels are ordered in rows and columns, and this is how they’re identified.
This means that a screen with a 3840 x 2160 displays 3840 pixels per row and 2160 pixels per column.
Types of Resolutions
As you probably know by now, there are different resolution types; it is not just 2K and 4K. The other types are;
- HD: 1280 x 720
- Full HD: 1920 x 1080
- 2K: 2560 x 1440 (Usual Monitor resolution); 2048 x 1080 (official cinema resolution)
- 4K: 3840 x 2160
- 8K: 7680 x 4320
- 10K: 10240 x 4320
Standard DCI 2K resolution is defined as 2048 x 1080 pixels by the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a partnership of motion picture companies that produces digital cinema standards. However, most screens you’ll come across are 2560 x 1440.
2K can refer to either of these. Either numbering 2.2 million or 3.6 million pixels.
If you thought 3 million pixels was plenty, a 4K TV packs in 3,840 horizontal pixels paired with 2,160 vertical pixels for a total of around 8.3 million pixels.
The “K” in 4K does not have the same technical significance as the “p” in 1080p; instead, it stands for thousands. It represents (almost) 4,000 horizontal pixels.
2k vs 4k
The main difference between 2k and 4K TVs is their resolution dimensions. But in what other ways do they differ?
On a 4K TV, you’ll notice substantially greater details thanks to roughly twice the number of pixels. The 4K TV offers a significant edge over the 2K TV in terms of resolution.
However, this difference is only apparent if the screen is big enough to show it. If the pixels are packed tightly together in a small screen, 4k and 2k will appear identical.
Screen Size and Distance
A 4K screen can display double the number of pixels as a 2K screen, but it all depends on how big your screen is and where you’re seated.
A small screen won’t show much of the difference. For instance, it’s similar to how a tall and short person might appear the same height when sitting in a car. Small screens don’t offer 4K leg room to showcase its better image quality.
The difference is also quite difficult to detect from a distance. How close you need to sit to the TV will depend mainly on how good your eyesight is.
A screen size of at least 42 inches is required to enjoy 4K without sitting too close to it. That being said, 4K TVs are better suited to big screens. If you prefer small screen TVs, you’re better off with a 2K TV.
4K TVs also have a color advantage due to their higher pixel count. They can produce considerably more vibrant colors compared to 2K TVs, as well as deeper shadows. This makes 4K TVs ideal for watching colorful content like animations and gaming.
Additionally, if you want more features like HDR, 4K is ideal.
2K TVs are still more accessible and widely used than 4K TVs. As a result, it’s easier to find content intended for 2K screens.
The implication is that since most viewing content is not yet in 4K, you won’t be missing all that much with a 2K TV.
However, it’s worth noting that even 2k content looks better on a 4K TV as the TV upscales the quality.
Additionally, if you’re a gamer, it’s worth noting that several modern gaming consoles, such as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, feature a lot of 4K content.
Refresh rate is a feature that won’t matter much if you’re watching movies. However, if you plan on using your TV for activities such as gaming, this is important. The refresh rate is essentially how fast your TV responds to command.
2K TVs have fewer pixels, and so they can quickly refresh their images at a much higher rate than 4K TVs can.
Reaching 6ohz is relatively easy for a 2K TV, and many of them can go even higher because it’s just easier for them to run with their lower pixel count.
4K TVs have over 8.3 million pixels, and so they require considerate power to refresh fast. 4K TVs typically have lower refresh rates than 2K TVs.
4K screens can still spot high refresh rates; they’re just typically much more expensive. If you’re interested in these, you can read our review of the best 4K 144hz monitors.
2K TVs have been around for a long time and can be found almost anywhere. 4K TVs, on the other hand, are new and quickly growing in popularity. Around 31% of TV homes in the United States used 4K TV as of 2018 – Statista.
That number is steadily growing as 4K TVs become more available and diversified. 4K TVs have evolved from a luxury item to a more standard home gadget since they first became commercially accessible in the early 2010s. However, while 2K TVs are still easy to get, they’re gradually phased out.
Naturally, a 4K TV will cost more. A 2K television will cost much less than a 4K television. For example, most Amazon’s 2K TVs are under $300, but many of the 4K TVs cost $500, $1000, or more.
Our final verdict for the TV with the best resolution is…. It depends. 4K TVs have better image quality, but they also cost considerably more, and they’re not noticeable on small screens.
So, our advice is, before you make a choice, consider the quality of your eyesight, the size of the screen, and the distance you sit from it while watching.
If you’ve decided which resolution best suits your needs, the next problem is which of the dozens of 2K and 4K TVs is the best for me? We’ve solved that problem with one great product for each of these two resolution types.
2k TV Recommendation
Our recommendation for a 2K TV is the TCL 32-inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV – 32S327, 2019 Model.
This smart TV is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can carry out many activities, such as changing channels with just your voice. The TV has a 6ohz refresh rate meaning it has virtually eliminated motion blur.
For image quality, this TV excels. It offers excellent detail, contrast, and color. It also has over 5,000 streaming channels on the Roku TV app.
Size: 32 inches
Smart TV: Roku
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB, HDMI
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
4K TV Recommendation
Our recommendation for a 4K TV is the TCL 55-inch 6-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR QLED Roku Smart TV – 55R635, 2021 Model.
The 6-Series is bright, colorful, and vivid, with no signs of haloing or light bleeding. It has THX Certified Game Mode for 1440p/120Hz gaming, and it has a built-in cable management system. This TV is an improvement over its predecessor, the TCL 6 Series/R625 2020.
The Quantum dot technology contributes to better brightness and a broader color volume for HDR content. The AiPQ Engine excellently upscales HD content, maintaining its 4k quality.
The 6-Series also has a full array local dimming feature and boasts a VA screen with an excellent contrast ratio that’s independently adjusted over up to 240 localized zones for great results between light and dark images.
The TV comes with the Roku smart platform, which is simple to use and offers many apps to choose from. Because of its outstanding peak brightness and proper reflection management, the TV is a solid choice for usage in a well-lit area.
Size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
Panel Type: QLED
Smart TV: Roku
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, HDMI, USB
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
2K and 4K are superior to every other lower resolution. They’re also more practical than higher resolution Screens.
For example, 8K TVs are still being worked on, so 4K TVs are sure to remain relevant for at least a few years.
While you deliberate on what TV you want, look at some of the best TV stands.