In general, a number followed by the K defines the number of horizontal lines that run across the screen to create a picture. In theory, a 1080p television could be considered 2K, since it has nearly 2,000 horizontal lines (1,920, to be exact). A 4K TV, with its 4,096 horizontal lines, therefore, delivers more than twice the resolution. To make matters worse, there are other Ks to worry about.
Consumers who have shopped for TVs lately have undoubtedly been asked what version of high definition they’re after. The vast majority of televisions today come with a 1080p resolution. Recently, however, an increasing number of televisions have hit store shelves that deliver 4K resolution. The K in that equation may mystify some consumers. After all, it’s a relatively new entrant and without context it means nothing.
Apple’s (AAPL) 27-inch iMac, for example, has offered 5K resolution with 5,120 horizontal lines, since last year. (Last week, the company announced its entire 27-inch iMac line would offer 5K resolution.) Meanwhile, 8K is starting to surface as an emerging technology that could, well into the future, become the new standard.
5K is largely locked to one panel size at the moment (27 inches), meaning this resolution will largely remain a monitor/all-in-one desktop PC specification. Some TV vendors are already working on 8K TVs, but these aren’t really ready for the market and the market is not really ready for these TVs.”
“For TVs, the next evolution is 4K because we are still at the early part of the adoption curve,” says IDC analyst Linn Huang. “I suppose if we are thinking about a very long-term view, I would assume that 8K would be the next destination.