Freevideoworkshop provides digital video explainer articles, tutorials and video guides for beginners.

TV, Video Basics

What is a 4K HDTV? Do You Need One?

Do you need 4K HDTV

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:31 am

A 4K HDTV has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. That would provide about 8 million active pixels.

A 4K HDTV has 4 times the resolution of a 1080p Full HDTV. 1080p HDTV has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. That’s about 2 million pixels.

A 4K HDTV is also called Ultra HD TV (UHD TV). This is because 4K has two standards.

One is the cinema industry-standard (DCI) with a resolution of 4096 x 2160. The other is the consumer standard referred to as UHD 4K.

Can You Watch 4K on a 1080p HDTV?

Yes, you can watch a 4K video on a 1080p HDTV. However, you’ll not get to enjoy 4K resolution. Your video will be downscaled to 1080p.

So, if you’re planning to watch a 4K video, you must have a 4K HDTV to enjoy its superior resolution.

Does 4K HDTV Require a Special HDMI Cable?

Chances are you’re currently using HDMI 1.4 cable with your 1080p TV. In most instances, you don’t have to buy a special cable to watch a 4K video on a 4K TV.

HDMI 1.4 can support 4K video up to 30Hz. If you want to watch a 4K video at 60Hz, you would need to use an HDMI 2.0 cable.

By the way, 4K video at 60Hz doesn’t really improve picture quality. It just has a higher refresh rate. A higher refresh rate is useful to reduce motion blur in fast motion video as in video games and sports events.

Read Do I Need Special HDMI for 4K TV? to find out more.


If you would like to watch 4K HDR content, you would need an HDMI 2.0a cable.

Do You Need a 4K TV?

It depends on your needs. If you’re just watching cable TV, you could do well with your 1080p TV. 4K TV broadcasts are rather limited, available mostly from Dish Network, DirecTV, and Comcast and during special sporting events like the Olympics.

But then you get to watch 4K video through video streaming services like Netflix, iTunes, Hulu and Amazon Prime. For this you must have a High-Speed Broadband Internet connection.

Free Video Workshop - Beginner's Guide to Digital Video