What is the difference between native 4K & 4K UHD?

Lesezeit 3 Min.

4K resolution is a generic term referring to a horizontal pixel count of approximately 4,000 pixels. We say approximately because there are several different 4K resolutions which are currently common. In this infographic, we’ll try to explain the three key differences between 4K UHD and native 4K.

1. It’s a matter of pixels

4K glossary

Ultra-High Definition (UHD) systems have a resolution of 3840 x 2160/2176 pixels, which is four times the number of pixels and details compared to the previous HD standards. When referring to the UHD, the industry rounded up the horizontal pixel count to 4000 pixels and it became popularly known as 4K. However, (!), it is different from native 4K which denotes an even larger horizontal resolution of 4096 pixels!

2. Different use cases with different screen sizes

4K glossary

In consumer media, 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) is the dominant 4K standard, whereas the  cinema industry uses the DCI 4K or native 4K standard (4096 × 2160). Truth be known, buying a 4K TV versus a UHD TV will not make much of a difference to the average viewer, but in high-end environments, like movie theatres, the native 4K wider pixilation is important to cover the typical wider aspect ratio of movie screens with highest quality. 

3. Single-chip vs. three-chip DMD (Digital Micro mirror Device)

4K glossary

When you dive into the engineering details, the total amount of pixels produced by a native 4K imager chip is higher than for the 4K UHD chips. And, until recently*, the native 4K chip could only be used in a 3-chip setup. Which inevitably also impacts the size and cost of the projectors.

*We write “until recently,” though, because last year Barco released the world’s first native 4K single-chip DLP projector for its simulation customers! Check the F400-N4K.

Read more about 4K resolution