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What is the difference between 2K & 4K Monitors?

A 2K display can transform a laptop or desktop computer. For one, it allows you to view Full HD media content at full screen. You will also find that the larger image resolution allows for easier multi-tasking (particularly if you only have one screen) and content creation. Applications like Adobe’s Creative Suite work better with larger screen resolutions, as you can work with larger file sizes at full screen.

What is 2K resolution?

2K resolution is one of multiple high-definition image resolution standards. Other high-definition resolutions include HD (720p), Full HD (1080p), Ultra High Definition (UHD), and 4K. The primary difference is that 2K resolution can refer to more than one image size. For this reason, 2K is generally accepted as an umbrella term. It is typically used when referring to the motion picture industry, as many films are projected at this standard.

Image resolutions that fall under the 2K umbrella include:

  • CinemaScope (2.39:1 aspect ratio)
  • DCI 2K native resolution (1.90:1)
  • DCI 2K cropped resolution (1.85:1)

These resolutions are defined by the Digital Cinema Initiatives, or DCI, a governing body comprised of major motion picture studios. Of the three 2K image resolutions, CinemaScope is the smallest, as it has the least amount of vertical pixels, while DCI 2K native resolution is the largest.

2K vs 4K resolution

Standard DCI 2K native resolution is 2,048 x 1,080 pixels. This results in a total pixel count of 2,211,840. In comparison, DCI 4K resolution is 4,096 x 2,160 pixels, resulting in a total pixel count of 8,847,360. With horizontal and vertical dimensions twice as large as 2K, a DCI 4K image has four times the total resolution of a 2K image.

In some cases, the terms UHD and 4K will be used interchangeably. The two resolutions are technically not the same, however. Ultra high definition refers to television while 4K refers to digital cinema projection. UHD resolution is 3840 x 2160, making it four times as large as Full HD (twice as tall and twice as wide), but smaller than DCI 4K.

2K vs 1080p

2K and 1080p resolution have the same number of vertical lines: 1,080. However, a 2K image is slightly wider than 1080p, making it the larger of the two resolutions. Whereas DCI 2K native resolution contains 2,048 pixels along the horizontal axis, 1080p has only 1,920 pixels. Thus, 1080p (or Full HD) is roughly six percent smaller than 2K in total area – 2,073,600 total pixels compared to 2,211,840 total pixels.


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