In the market there are different types of televisions, with the years there has been an evolution that has led to the appearance of new technologies and increasingly advanced products, making you forget all the old cathode ray tube TV, to leave space more flatter models and higher definition and in this article we will try to explain the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K and other standards.

Buying a television today with the knowledge that it is the one that perfectly meets our needs is a difficult task, just because there are so many standards and models, that making a decisive choice seems almost impossible.

For this reason, before explaining the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K, we will try to give some useful advice, a sort of guide to buying, which explains what features to evaluate before making a final decision.


Purchase of the TV, the characteristics to be evaluated

A first feature to be evaluated for the purchase of a new TV is the resolution, which somehow leads us to make a first mention on the difference between HD, Full HD and 4k, in fact an HD Ready screen has a resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels or 1366 × 768 pixels, the Full HD is equivalent to 1920 × 1080 pixels and in the end Ultra HD (also called 4K) is equivalent to 3840 × 2160 pixels.

The resolution 4K is undoubtedly one of the best but the televisions are quite expensive, plus, the content that allow you to enjoy this resolution are still few, so the choice should be directed at least to a Full HD.

Another difference to be evaluated is that between TV and Smart TV, unlike the first, Smart TVs can connect on the Internet and support the use of applications, if you are interested in this type of technology, you must verify that the product has the Wifi support.

Plasma TV, LCD, LED or OLED? A question that can be answered by making some considerations: plasma televisions are outdated, consume a lot of energy and heat up too much. The LCD and LEDs are very similar, LED TVs are LCDs that use LED instead of fluorescent lamps for backlighting.

The OLEDs consume less power than LED and ensure the deepest blacks but they are still very expensive, which is why the purchase of a LED TV is the best choice, if you want to focus on value for money.

If you want to have the experience of 3D, there are several televisions that support this technology but have a much higher cost, in this case we must assess whether it is better to buy a Blu-Ray player with 3D support.

Some companies are making several curved displays, a feature that does not really affect the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K, as we’ll see later.

This format allows viewers to live a more immersive experience and to fully enjoy all the format.

Two other evaluations to do regarding the number of inputs and standards support you : you must make sure that there are HDMI inputs, USB ports, optical audio outputs; for what concerns the supported standards you have to choose according to your needs but it is good to know that the acronym DVB-T indicates the digital terrestrial standard, the DVB-T2 indicated the support to the new generation digital, while the abbreviations DVB-S and DVB-S2 indicate televisions equipped with satellite tuner.

Important is the presence of the slot for reading the smart card, which is not always present on the cheaper models, in addition, it is also to take into account the refresh rate, the value that indicates the frequency of image updates on the screen that can be of 50Hz, 100Hz or 200Hz up to 400Hz, 800Hz or 1000Hz.

Finally, do not underestimate the energy consumption, especially if the TV remains on for many hours a day, to avoid having high bills, choose an energy class economy, ranging from class D which is the worst to class A +++, which is currently the best.

These are just some of the aspects to dwell on to buy a TV, but now we will focus on the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K, going to explain individually the various standards.

Difference between HD, Full HD and 4K and other standards compared


For SDTV we mean a standard definition television or conventional definition television, which offers a qualitative level of television image very similar to that of analog TV, now totally disused.

These television standards adopted lines of vertical resolution of images of 576 or 480 lines and a frequency of 25 or 30 images per second.

SDTVs also included other formats such as those with 576 or 480 pixels (digital scope) with vertical resolution images and frequency 25 or 30 images per second with progressive scan.

The SDTV was then surpassed by EDTV, that is, an advanced definition television with video formats with 576 or 480 lines or pixels and a frequency of 50 or 60 images per second with progressive scan.


HD means High Definition TeleVision, that is, the increase in the resolution of the video frame compared to SDTV, with an image full of more pixels and therefore bigger.

The HDTV can reach the resolution of 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 pixels, not all televisions are compatible with the HD format, for this reason, while buying a new product is good to verify that the abbreviation HD Ready is indicated.

The currently available HD formats are 720p, 1080i, 1080p, where the letter “p” indicates the real progressive resolution and the letter “i” indicates an information system to add horizontal lines and simulate better video quality.

The difference between HD, Full HD and 4K is more highlighted by aspects such as these related to progressive resolution and video quality.

The HD 720p format allows you to view a video quality of 1280 × 720 progressively, to ensure better image quality.

The HD 1080i format simulates the 1920 × 1080 resolution in an artificial fashion, while the HD 1080p format ensures the best video quality in real 1920 × 1080 resolution.

Full HD

Continuing to talk about the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K, we must dwell on Full HD, which in some ways can be understood as a sort of evolution of HD.

Some televisions have the “Full HD” stamp, to get this logo must have a matrix consisting of at least 1920 × 1080 pixels.

In addition, all Full HD signals that arrive at the display must be managed in full format without compressions or reductions.

The inputs must be able to accept signals in the following HD formats:

Analog Component

– 1280 x 720 @ 50 Hz and 60 Hz in progressive format “720p”

– 1920 x 1080 @ 50 Hz and 60 Hz in interlaced “1080i” format

Digital HDMI/DVI

– 1280 x 720 @ 50 Hz and 60 Hz in progressive format “720p”

– 1920 x 1080 @ 50 Hz and 60 Hz in interlaced “1080i” format

– 1920 x 1080 @ 24 Hz 50 Hz and 60 Hz in progressive format “1080p”

The Full HD screens must be able to handle 1920 × 1080 progressive signals at frequencies of 50 and 60 Hz, 24 Hz frequency addition, the format used by Blu-ray players and HD DVD.

4K and Ultra HD

Continuing to talk about the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K, we focus on that between 4K and Ultra HD, which in practice indicate almost the same thing.

The difference lies in the area in which they are used: with 4K we refer to digital cinema, while with Ultra HD to television.

They are two partially different standards that indicate the same thing, a frame format with a horizontal resolution of 4000 pixels, then four times the previous standard, or 2K for cinema and Full HD for television.

With 4K or Ultra HD you have a doubling of the height and width of the image, to offer an even more complete experience to the viewer.

4K images have a higher detail, four times the size of 2K, so a much better film quality.

The acronym Ultra HD was conceived by the CEA association which includes Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Philips and LG, to indicate monitors and TVs with a minimum resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.

Some manufacturers like Sony have decided to indicate the abbreviation of 4K instead of Ultra HD on the monitors and TV, although the resolution is still 3840 x 2160 pixels.

For this reason, between the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K, the abbreviations 4K and Ultra HD in the consumer environment have no difference and indicate the same thing, with the risk of creating confusion in the final consumer.

Continuing to talk about the difference between HD, Full HD and 4K, in Full HD format you have to have a maximum distance of three times the height of the screen in order to enjoy good quality and image details, while in the Ultra HD format you have to position the screen at a distance of 1.5 times the height of the screen.

As far as 4K cinema is concerned, this allows the use of chairs with a higher inclination, with a consequent increase in the visual field and for a more immersive audiovisual experience for the viewer.

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