Why UHD Is Way Better Than HDTV–Pt. 2

Ultra HD

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how resolution and HDR (High Dynamic Range) contribute to making Ultra HD TVs and projectors a huge leap over traditional HDTVs. Here are the other two things you need to know about UHD.



A new term you might hear when considering Ultra HD is “wide color gamut,” which refers to the significantly larger amount of colors a UHD set can produce compared to an older TV. Imagine the colors a TV can produce as a triangle, with the primary colors red, green, and blue making up the three points. Those three color points determine the number and accuracy of all the colors a TV can reproduce. New TVs produce an expanded triangle of colors, pushing the boundaries of the triangle further out at all three corners to encompass more of the colors the human eye can see. That means you’ll notice brighter, more vibrant colors than ever beforedeep crimson reds, vibrant greens, and cool, tropical blues that will pull you into the image.

Ultra HD
Bit Depth

The most technical area of the bunch, bit depth refers to the number of shades of color a TV can produce. TVs in the past used 8-bit color depth, which meant they could produce roughly 256 shades for each of the three primary colors256 shades each of blue, red, and green. Multiply those together and you arrive at the nearly 16.8 million colors a last-generation TV could produce.


Modern Ultra HD sets up the ante to 10 bits, and while a couple of bits might not seem like a lot, since bit rate is logarithmic, it’s actually a massive improvement. How massive? Modern sets can produce 1,024 shades per color, making for the ultimate Crayon box of more than 1 billion colors! That means not only a tremendously more lifelike image, but it also eliminates any color banding as colors transition from one shade to another.

Ultra HD TV

Individually, any one of these four improvements would be a big step beyond HDTV, but when employed together, these upgrades mean Ultra-high-defintion TVs produce the best, most lifelike images imaginable, making UHD TV a must buy for any true videophile!

—John Sciacca

Probably the most experienced writer on custom installation in the industry, John Sciacca is
co-owner of Custom Theater & Audio in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, & is known for his writing
for such publications as
 Residential Systems and Sound & Vision. Follow him on Twitter at

@SciaccaTweets and at johnsciacca.com.


1 Comment
  • John Bishhop

    The transfer of movie art to us down through the tech ages has always been via an encode-decode process. That’s a key element in RAYVA and all Architectural Cinema design rhetoric. From laser disc to DVD to Blu Ray to UHD, movie makers take their art and encode it for display on ‘TV’s at home’. RAYVA is a screening room at home, the world’s biggest magnifying glass for this content. That’s why screen surfaces like the cinema reference Snowmatte, and cinema reference projection tech of DLP 2K/4K & SXRD, are so critical to the experience outcome. The banding shown in the bit depth graphic really went away in the DVD to BRD transition. It’s handled well by the mastering labs these days using 8bit 4:2:0 color. Lawrence of Arabia is a great example. In LofA, scene after scene looks like ‘chroma ramp’ test patterns, a bit depth torture test. The banding is almost part of the art and it is there to the same degree on 8bit BRD & UHD alike.
    Regarding color gamut; we are indeed entering a new generation of potential but the artists creating movies still call the shots. Today we’re seeing cinema color in UHD content, aka P3, which is not a dramatic expansion beyond the blu ray standard, neither of which can match the best examples of film, like the later generations of the Technicolor process. That’s why seeing modern film, like Dunkirk is such a treat. It’s the original oil paint for the art of movies. The point is the UHD talk of Rec 2020 color and the giant triangle isn’t really as important today, and for some time to come, as TV sellers would imply. P3 color can be approached by conventional lamped high end projectors, and LED illuminated projectors virtually 100%. And Xenon lamped projectors are the tech of cinema, so the Mona Lisa is transported to your screen with these displays, it is not a reproduction. We should be thrilled with the opportunities given by our modern home cinema content. When Sleeping Beauty was released by Disney on their reference blu ray it was in the original scope format aspect ratio of 2.55:1, and the artist’s entire color plates were seen for the first time. In theatrical release it was shown in 2.20:1 in 70mm, or 2.35:1 in 35mm. Our theaters can deliver an experience in some ways better than that of the theatrical audiences. Not to get too carried away, but that is cool, and availability of all that 2.55:1 content from the 1st decade of CinemaScope is why my screen is in that format. Wider is always better, and truly cinematic. Cheers. John Bishop – Personal Cinema Architect.

    August 3, 2017 at 8:43 pm