Once upon a time I personally wasn't all that bothered about stuff related to resolution, color quality, or anything else of that nature, normally associated with TVs and computers. If it looked good and didn’t strain my eyes, that was good enough for me. And do you know what? I think that’s really how the vast majority of people feel. Yes, some computer and tech enthusiasts will care about getting the absolute most out of what they have available and try to create the most immersive experience possible, but others just want something that works and gets the job done.
Yet as I’ve gotten a little older, and gained an appreciation for how things work, I’ve also joined the enthusiasts camp. This became very apparent as I got more into computer gaming and having my own custom-built gaming PC. I started to wonder if there was more out there than just a standard computer monitor (I’d been using a 24” 1080p LCD) and quickly started to go down the rabbit hole of higher end gaming monitors and even HDTVs to use as a display. For a while, I had settled on a 32” 1080p TV that actually did quite well (it had a low response time, which made it quite suitable), producing nice colors and decent sharpness. Then, after a year or so with it, I experimented with a 29” ultra-wide monitor (which boasts a more cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio – something film enthusiasts would appreciate due to it not requiring letter-boxing on HD film) and found it quite good. However, the world wasn’t quite ready for the ultra-wide experience, and so I went back to using a 32” 120 Hz Vizio.
At any rate, recently I came across a deal that was too good to pass up on: A 50” 120 Hz 4K Vizio screen that, while you might think was far too big to use as a monitor, was amazing. The sheer size of it made it super immersive for PC gaming while sitting back with a controller, and even looking at it up close was great. It had nice color representation, could handle 3840x2160 at 60 Hz (fantastic!), and could even do 1080p at 120 Hz (very smooth!). I loved it and would have kept it had it not been for a 2 inch or so small crack that, once seen could not be unseen. Yet, after some trials and errors and returns I finally came across a fantastic, brand-new model Philips 4K 120 Hz screen that I absolutely love.
So, what does any of this have to do with movies, film, TV, and gaming? For starters, people have been saying for a while that “1080p is dead.” Frankly, this just isn’t the case. Steam’s own user-data shows us that the average PC gamer using the online distribution service runs their display at either 1920x1080 or 1366x768 (a common laptop resolution). Others use in-between settings like 1600x900 (smaller PC monitors) or maybe a 1920x1200 (a common 16:10 resolution). So, those using 1440p or 4K are in an extreme minority, mainly because of the higher hardware requirements of driving that many pixels. And, when it comes to TV and film, here in the U.S., at least most TV stations are broadcasting in 1080i or even down at 720p (the “minimum” resolution for High Definition), and we are still years away from widespread 4K broadcasting.
Think about it: 4K is six times the data of 720p and four times 1080p, so this requires a lot more bandwidth to bring to the end-user. While certainly possible over higher speed internet connections, cable and satellite are a ways away from having the infrastructure in place. Furthermore, all those stations that recently picked up high quality 1080p cameras would then need to upgrade to 4K (or even 8K!) cameras for video production, and that’s a tremendous cost. Thankfully, services like Netflix and Hulu do offer 4K content that looks amazing when viewed on a 4K display, and YouTube and Twitch of course offer the ability to upload and encode videos at 4K 60 FPS and even beyond!
While ultra-HD may still be in its infancy for TV and film, for computer usage it’s actually extremely useful. A larger 4K display will be able to show four times the information of a traditional 1080p. For example, a 50” 4K display would be able to show the same content and clarity as having four 1080p displays at one time, which is great for productivity and reading. And, of course, for playing computer games, if you have a high end graphics card you’ll be able to render at 4K and enjoy seeing a much greater clarity to the images in the game. Those that say that 4K isn’t all it’s cracked up to be probably haven’t seen it up close, because once they did, they likely would want to run out and get one.
32” 1080p TV that would make a fine monitor over HDMI for under $200 USD. You could also get a 27” 1080p 144 Hz gaming monitor also for around that price point. And, when it comes to TVs, since you sit farther away from a TV than a computer screen, you could get a great 50” TV at 1080p for a very reasonable price.
So, when it comes time for you to upgrade, please don’t give in completely to all the marketing hype! Instead, think about your needs as a consumer. You may be perfectly happy with a larger 1080p TV in your living or bedroom, or you may be quite happy with a “smaller” 1080p as a PC monitor. After all, 1080p is much easier on your system to drive than 1440p or 4K, so that means cranking up the settings without having your PC break a major sweat. But, if you do a lot of work on your computer and want super clear text and lots on screen at once, or you really want to push your PC gaming experience to the limit, go for 4K if you have the money to spare!
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic. Stay tuned for more crafty content coming your way! This installment of Jessica's Journey was written by Jessica “Allahweh” Brown from GamingGoddess.Net.