What is the difference between the definition and the resolution of a screen?

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Judit Llordés
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It often happens that we mix the terms "definition" and "resolution". They must be distinct, even if complementary. What is the difference between the definition and the resolution of a screen?

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The definition is ...

… The number of pixels on the screen. It is calculated in pixels by multiplying a horizontal pixel line with a vertical pixel line. For example, a Full HD panel is 1920 x 1080 pixels or 2,207,360 pixels, a 4K / UHD panel has 8.294.400 pixels since its definition is 3840 x 2160 pixels.

The resolution is ...

… The relationship between the screen definition and its size (we will take the screen surface). Determines the number of pixels per unit area. We will express the definition in pixels and the size expressed in inches or inches (2,54 cm). DPI (dots per inch) or PPP (dots per inch) is often used.

To put it simply, more DPI means better reproduction quality. For example, take a tablet and a smartphone. For the same definition, the resolution will be lower for the tablet (the surface is larger).

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TVs sold in supermarkets with the 4K logo have a definition of 3840 x 2160 dots, hence the ultra HD or (UHD) name and logo associated with the device description.

If the vertical definition is identical to the theatrical version, the horizontal definition is less than 256 pixels. This band of 256 missing pixels will need to be compensated for by production image cropping or black bands on the screen.

The definition of 3840 x 2160 points is exactly the double vertical and horizontal generation of Full HD (1920 x 1080 points), for convenience and to avoid having to invest in more complex industrial tools. For the remaining 256 pixels and chose not to stick to the original 4K definition (that of cinema).

  • Cinema in 4K is 4096 x 2160 = 8,847,360 pixels
  • 4K HUD is 3840 x 2160 = 8,294,400 pixels

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Further Reading:

  • What is a 4K TV?
  • QLED: what is it and how does it work?
  • QHD vs. 4K: Which is Best for Your TV or Monitor?
  • Smartphone Screen Resolutions Explained: WQHD, QHD, 2K, 4K And UHD
  • OLED TV: what you need to know

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