With the newer Ultra HD screens that are included on the top-end TVs, many consumers have been excited about this leap in technology. Many have already adopted the technology and others might be planning to get a UHD TV when they go to shop for their next television or when they see the content being more readily available.
With the excitement over these TVs, many manufacturers started releasing models with the 4k resolution and there was a great variation in the viewing experience between some of these TVs. The problem is that there is only one standard that has to be met for a TV to be considered Ultra HD. That is that the screen has to have a 2160p or better resolution.
While this increase in screen resolution can make for better picture and it will allow the user to watch UHD content, there is a lot more that goes into providing the user with a high-quality picture. With that being the case, some manufacturers could offer the UHD resolution, but skimp on other aspects that are necessary for a good viewing experience. Technically, the TV would be an Ultra HD model, but the viewing experience would not be that much better than many of the models that you would find in the Full HD range.
With many in the industry recognizing that this could hurt the credibility of this new technology, they decided to do something about it. To address this situation, a group of TV manufacturers, content producers and tech companies came together to form a set of standards that would ensure a high-quality viewing experience for Ultra HD TVs. This group is called the UHD Alliance and they have developed a set of standards for what they call Ultra HD Premium.
For potential TV buyers, this means that they can look for a TV with the UHD Premium label and know that they are getting a set that not only has 4k resolution, but also that it meets a range of other minimum standards for picture quality.
Ultra HD Premium specifications
The first and most obvious standard for UHD premium is the resolution. For a TV to qualify for the label, it must have a minimum resolution of at least 3840 x 2160. This is the base minimum for any TV to call itself 4k or UHD.
Next is the contrast ratio. For a TV to qualify, it must be able to reach certain levels of brightness and it must have certain black levels. In this case, there are actually two standards to account for the two types of screens that are available (OLED and LCD with LED backlighting). For TVs with LED backlighting, the screen must be able to reach a minimum peak brightness of 1000 nits and have a black level that does not exceed 0.05 nits. For an OLED screen, it must be able to reach a peak brightness of at least 540 nits and have a black level that does not exceed 0.0005 nits.
After the contrast ratio, you have to talk about colour depth. A TV with the Ultra HD Premium label must be able to process 10-bit colour, which is an upgrade from most TVs and content sources that only work on 8-bit colour. With 8-bit processing, you have about 16 million colours. With the upgrade to 10-bit, you have more than a billion. This improves picture quality by enhancing colour depth.
In addition to that, the TV must have a wider colour gamut. The qualification for the UHD Premium label requires that a TV have the ability to display at least 90% of the colours in the P3 space. This means more colours and colours that are richer and more vibrant.
High Dynamic Range
Some of these standards also have to do with what is called high dynamic range. In a basic sense, HDR is a standard for TVs that sets guidelines for the colour gamut and the contrast. Part of the goal of the UHD Premium program was to set more defined standards for HDR capable TVs and HDR content.
As a TV shopper, you may wonder whether or not these new standards should affect your purchasing decisions. The first thing you need to know is that a TV with the UHD Premium label is going to be a top end TV and it will be a great way to know that you are buying a 4k TV that offers more than just the upgrade in resolution. However, you also need to know that taking full advantage of the TV will require access to UHD and HDR content. At the present, that means having a UHD Blu-ray player or streaming from a few of the internet sources that offer content in these qualities.
Another point that needs to be addressed is that not every manufacturer is a part of the UHD Alliance. A TV maker that is not a member could still meet or exceed these standards, but the TV would not have the label. So not having the UHD Premium label is not necessarily a black mark for a UHD TV that is made by a non-member company. Additionally, if you already have a 4K TV, it may actually meet, or come close to these standards. It just did not get the label because it was released before the ‘premium’ label existed.
Beyond that, you will also have to consider the fact that there can be some variation between models that make the grade for UHD Premium. First, you have the two different contrast ratio standards. Further, all of these standards are just minimums. With some models, the manufacturer may just work to meet the minimum and with others, they might go out of their way to surpass them.
For the most part, a UHD TV from a major manufacturer is going to be pretty impressive. This will be true whether it has the label or not. However, the label does provide the buyer with something that they can easily identify as meeting high standards for performance in several ways. This could be helpful in the shopping process and many will see it as something to consider when they go looking to purchase an Ultra HD TV.