YouTube video tries to show you the difference between 4K and HD, totally fails

So, I’m slowly warming up to 4K. It certainly helps that DIRECTV actually has 4K content now and so there is something I can do with my 4K television rather than just watch HD on it. But to be truthful I’m still not 100% sure that people are going to jump on to 4K the same way they jumped on to HD. After all, the difference just isn’t that big to an average person with an average size TV.

So, there’s this fellow from Britain who wants to tell you that everything you’ve been told about 4K is wrong. The problem is that he manages to make the opposite point. He admits that he can’t tell much difference between 4K and HD even on a 65″ TV. Then he tells you it isn’t really about resolution, it’s all about high dynamic range. I’ve talked about HDR before, and I agree that it’s really the big difference between SD and HD, and it’s also the difference between HD and 4K, at least if the 4K video is made properly. It’s the quality of the brights being bright and the darks being dark, all at the same time. In fact with HDR, the brights are brighter and the darks darker, but the real point is that people so far don’t seem to care. HD is both bright enough and dark enough for most people.

So in this video, which I’ll link to here:

the narrator points a video camera at the same TV and records both 4K and HD content, then gives you a split screen. This totally fails. You can’t tell any difference other than one is different in color, and if you didn’t know anything about what he was trying to say, you’d probably agree that the HD one looks happy and the 4K one looks brown and miserable.

So look folks, there is a true difference between HD and properly prepared 4K, but this video isn’t going to show it to you and you won’t be able to see it on your computer’s monitor anyway because (1) it’s not 4K and (2) it doesn’t have HDR. (My apologies to the 6 people in the world to whom this does not apply because you have 4K HDR monitors.)

In order to really see the difference and have it be meaningful, you would need a properly calibrated 4K HDR TV and a video source that directly shows you 4K on one side and HD on the other, with the appropriate dynamic range. You can’t point a video camera at a TV and then put the result through YouTube’s typically destructive compression and then play it in a window on your monitor. That obviously doesn’t work.

I feel bad the guy is being slain in the comments because if you watch the video he admits that there are major flaws to his protocols, but this is the best he was able to do. I give him credit for trying, I really do. It’s just that right now, if you really want to see what 4K can do, there is no chart that can tell you, there is no YouTube video that can tell you. You need to see it for yourself. Period.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.