4K vs 2K vs 1080p: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Resolution: 4K has the highest resolution (3840 x 2160), followed by 2K (2560 x 1440), and 1080p (1920 x 1080).
  2. Visual Quality: 4K offers exceptional detail, vivid colors, and enhanced contrast. 2K provides sharper images compared to 1080p. 1080p delivers good clarity and is widely available.
  3. Content Availability: 4K and 1080p content is increasingly accessible, while 2K content is primarily used for specific applications such as gaming and professional use.

What is 4K?

4K is a display resolution with approximately 4,000 pixels in the horizontal direction. More specifically, 4K resolution is defined as 3840 pixels × 2160 lines (8.3 megapixels) or 4096 pixels × 2160 lines (8.8 megapixels) in the digital cinema industry.

This resolution is much higher than the standard 1080p resolution and provides a sharper and more detailed image. 4K is commonly used in televisions, computer monitors, and digital cameras and is becoming increasingly popular as the technology becomes more affordable and accessible.

What is 2K?

2K refers to a display resolution with approximately 2,000 pixels in the horizontal direction. Specifically, 2K resolution is defined as 2048 pixels × 1080 lines (2.2 megapixels) in the digital cinema industry.

This resolution is higher than standard high-definition (HD), 1080p (1920 pixels × 1080 lines). 2K is commonly used in digital cinema, gaming monitors, and high-end smartphones. However, it is not as commonly used in televisions or mainstream computer monitors as in 4K or HD resolutions.

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What is 1080p?

1080p refers to a display resolution with 1,920 pixels in the horizontal direction and 1,080 pixels in the vertical direction, resulting in a total of 2,073,600 pixels. The “p” stands for progressive scan, meaning that all the image lines are displayed sequentially, resulting in a smoother and more detailed image than interlaced scanning.

1080p is a high-definition (HD) resolution commonly used in televisions, computer monitors, and other display devices. It has become a popular standard for HD video playback and streaming, and most modern devices and operating systems support it.

Difference Between 4K, 2K, and 1080p

  1. 4K has the highest resolution of the three, with approximately 4,000 pixels in the horizontal direction, while 2K has approximately 2,000 pixels, and 1080p has 1,920 pixels in the horizontal direction. The higher the resolution, the more detail and sharpness the image can display.
  2. Because 4K has more pixels per inch than 2K and 1080p, it has a higher pixel density, resulting in a more detailed and sharper image.
  3. Higher resolutions like 4K and 2K are better suited for larger display sizes, while 1080p works well for smaller displays. This is because the higher resolutions provide more detail and clarity, which is more noticeable on larger screens.
  4. 4K and 2K require more powerful hardware and software than 1080p, so all devices or applications may not support them. However, as technology advances, more devices become compatible with higher resolutions.
  5. 4K displays and equipment are more expensive than 2K and 1080p due to the higher resolution and newer technology. However, the cost of 4K is gradually decreasing, making it more accessible to consumers.
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Comparison Between 4K, 2K, and 1080p

Parameters of Comparison4K2K1080p
ResolutionApproximately 4,000 pixels in the horizontal directionApproximately 2,000 pixels in the horizontal direction1,920 pixels in the horizontal direction
Pixel densityHighModerateModerate
Display sizeBest for larger screensBest for moderate-sized screensBest for smaller screens
CompatibilityRequires more powerful hardware and softwareRequires moderate hardware and softwareCompatible with most devices and software
CostMore expensive than 2K and 1080pLess expensive than 4K, but more expensive than 1080pLeast expensive of the three
References
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/9302805/
  2. https://research.google/pubs/pub44278/

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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