When looking at devices with displays, such as laptops, monitors or televisions, the acronyms for all the different display options can be daunting. With questions around HDR vs 4K, what UHD means, and if HDR is better than 4K, there are a lot of aspects to consider.
We’ll explain all the terminology before diving into all the factors you need to consider when looking at the available products. Our goal is to help you make the right choices to end up with products that do what you need them to do, exceeding your expectations.
Overview of Display Options
The main question when it comes to technology is LCD or LED. Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology is an affordable option that offers comfort advantages for users who spend long periods staring at the screen. These advantages make this technology ideal for office applications. However, LCD technology cannot deliver high-quality images.
The alternative is Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology which offers better colour generation, brightness and contrast. LED technology also allows thinner construction, which helps for very large displays.
In simple terms, the resolution of a screen is the number of individual dots that make up the displayed image. In the language of displays, manufacturers use the term “pixels” to refer to these dots. For any given display size, the more pixels you have, the better the quality of the image. Conversely, two different display sizes with the exact resolution – the same number of pixels – will not have the same image quality. This is because the larger display will have the pixels further apart, reducing the image quality.
High Definition (HD) refers to displays capable of displaying images with at least 1280 by 720 pixels resolution.
Full High Definition (FHD) refers to displays capable of displaying images with at least 1920 by 1080 pixels resolution.
Quad High Definition (QHD) refers to displays capable of displaying images with at least 2560 by 1440 pixels resolution. Its name comes from the fact it offers 4 times as many pixels as standard HD.
Ultra-High Definition (UHD) refers to displays capable of displaying images with at least 3840 by 2160 pixels resolution. This is 4 times the total number of pixels available in FHD.
4K is the term used for UHD displays that can display images with a resolution between 3840 by 2160 pixels up to 4096 by 3112 pixels.
The term 8K display is used for resolutions over 4096 by 3112 pixels and up to 7680 by 4320 pixels.
Displays come in a whole range of shapes and sizes. The critical criteria for choosing a screen are the size, measured diagonally across the screen from corner to corner, and the aspect ratio. The latter is simply the ratio of the screen’s width to its height.
You’ll want to have the biggest screen your budget and space will allow for gaming. Also, the optimum aspect ratio will depend on what you’re viewing. There’s no point in having an ultra-widescreen if the game you’re playing won’t fill the whole display. Also, there are now curved screen options, creating the illusion of a multi-dimensional picture and reducing distortion effects at the far edges of the image.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging is a standard that delivers improved contrast, colours and clarity over standard displays. It works by defining more possible colours between black and white. This increases the number of different tones to create an image that viewers perceive as brighter, more vibrant, and more detailed. There are 6 different flavours of HDR available: HDR10, HDR10+, Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), Dolby Vision, Dolby Vision IQ and Technicolor.
From the viewer’s perspective, there is little difference between these flavours. As long as the display meets the HDR standard, this guarantees enhanced image quality.
Response time is a factor that is important for gaming and high-quality moving pictures. The faster the response time, the less likely you’ll experience blurring fast-changing images or missing important events because the screen was too slow.
Comparison of 4K, UHD and HDR
It’s important to note that the terms 4K and UHD both refer to display resolution and are essentially the same thing. Conversely, HDR refers to how a device creates the image in colours and brightness. When choosing a display, these are two separate decisions. The first is the resolution you need, driven by what types of images you view and how large a screen you want. The second is considering the enhanced image quality offered by HDR.
So it’s essential to recognise that it’s not a case of looking at UHD vs HDR. Questions like “what is UHD?” and “what is HDR?” are related to separate display features.
Pros and Cons of UHD and HDR
When it comes to the display resolution, 4K UHD displays can offer a sharper, crisper image over lower resolution displays such as HD and FHD. However, the type of images you display will affect this quality. For example, watching a television programme broadcast in high definition on a 4K UHD display will not be visibly better than using the same size FHD display. However, watching content produced in 4K on a UHD display will allow you to appreciate the improved quality.
The resolution offered by 4K UHD also allows manufacturers to make displays physically larger without losing image quality. For example, a 4K UHD can be twice as wide and twice as tall as an FHD display but have the same image quality because it has the same pixel spacing. As a result, you can have 4 times the screen area without compromising image quality. This ability is driving the growth in home cinema systems.
HDR can display a broader range of colours. While traditional display standards use an 8-bit colour definition, HDR standard uses either a 10- or 12-bit colour definition, depending on the flavour of the standard used. Viewers experience a difference of 16.7 million colour choices with traditional standard and a possible 1.07 billion colour options with HDR. Even though these are huge numbers, the human eye can distinguish between the two.
HDR technology also allows images to be more vivid and realistic by making black colours blacker, tuning shadows to be softer or sharper, and increasing the contrast.
There is a downside to HDR. The additional expense is hard to justify if using an older computer that doesn’t support HDR content or if you’re using software that doesn’t render images using HDR. However, the latest games utilise this technology, and all quality graphics cards can handle HDR.
HP 4K, UHD and HDR Displays
If you are looking for a new display and have decided to have UHD with or without HDR, the following suggestions meet these requirements.
TheHP V28 (28”) 4K Monitor is an exceptional budget UHD monitor with a 3840 x 2160 resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. In addition, an Overdrive function delivers a 1 ms response time to eliminate motion blur and deliver crisp and fluid images that meet the needs of modern gameplay.
The display supports the AMD® FreeSync™ function to synchronise your computer’s GPU refresh rate, eliminating display stutter, input lag, and screen tearing.
TheHP Z32 31.5” 4K IPS UHD Monitor is a top-rated UHD monitor that offers incredible clarity with 3840 x 2160 resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate. It provides a 14 ms grey-to-grey response time with in-plane switching for unrivalled image quality.
TheHP X34 (34”) WQHD IPS HDR Gaming Monitor offers gamers the benefit of HDR with an impressive Ultra-Wide QHD display with 3440 x 1440 resolution. In addition, this monitor provides the ultimate immersive gaming display technology thanks to its 165 Hz refresh rate and a super-fast 1 ms response time.
This monitor is also Eyesafe® certified, meeting TÜV low blue light requirements and the Eyesafe standards for protecting eyes from harmful blue light without distorting colours. This feature actively reduces eyestrain issues associated with long periods of usage.
The HP U32 (31.5”) 4K HDR IPS USB-C Monitor delivers true-to-life colours with a VESA-certified HDR display that offers enhanced contrast and brightness. In addition, the 4K UHD, with its 3440 x 1440 resolution, incorporates an Overdrive function to deliver a 4 ms response time.
The HP Eye Ease facility uses an always-on blue light filter to maintain eye comfort without impacting the accuracy of the colour-calibrated 4K OLED display.
Choosing the best display can be challenging, especially if you have demanding gaming or multimedia requirements. In addition, you must understand the terminology and acronyms used in marketing materials to ensure you’re not comparing apples with pears when choosing between different high definition products.
We hope this article has helped demystify terms such as 4K, UHD, and HDR so that you’re empowered to find the best display within your budget. And now you know if asked whether HDR is better than 4K, the answer is they are two different aspects of a display that you can’t compare.
About the Author: Stephen Mash is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Stephen is a UK-based freelance technology writer with a background in cybersecurity and risk management.
Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers may change without notice. Price protection, price matching or price guarantees do not apply to Intra-day, Daily Deals or limited-time promotions. Quantity limits may apply to orders, including orders for discounted and promotional items. Despite our best efforts, a small number of items may contain pricing, typography, or photography errors. Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed. These terms apply only to products sold by HP.com; reseller offers may vary. Items sold by HP.com are not for immediate resale. Orders that do not comply with HP.com terms, conditions, and limitations may be cancelled. Contract and volume customers not eligible.
HP’s MSRP is subject to discount. HP’s MSRP price is shown as either a stand-alone price or as a strike-through price with a discounted or promotional price also listed. Discounted or promotional pricing is indicated by the presence of an additional higher MSRP strike-through price
The following applies to HP systems with Intel 6th Gen and other future-generation processors on systems shipping with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Pro systems downgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1: This version of Windows running with the processor or chipsets used in this system has limited support from Microsoft. For more information about Microsoft’s support, please see Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle
Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, Xeon Inside, and Intel Optane are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.
In-home warranty is available only on select customizable HP desktop PCs. Need for in-home service is determined by HP support representative. Customer may be required to run system self-test programs or correct reported faults by following advice given over phone. On-site services provided only if issue can't be corrected remotely. Service not available holidays and weekends.
Microsoft Windows 10: Not all features are available in all editions or versions of Windows 10. Systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware, drivers, software or BIOS update to take full advantage of Windows 10 functionality. Windows 10 is automatically updated, which is always enabled. ISP fees may apply and additional requirements may apply over time for updates. See http://www.microsoft.com.