In our previous blog ‘Everything you need to know about Pixels, Resolution and 4K’, we examined the types of resolutions available and what their differences are. Specifically, resolution relates to the number of distinct pixels visible on the screen. Standard High Definition (HD) has 1280 x 720 pixels (0.92mil), Full HD has 1920 x 1080 pixels (2.07mil), 4K UHD has 3840 x 2160 pixels (8.29mil) and 4K DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) has 4096 x 2160 pixels (8.85mil).
Now let’s delve into Native 4K vs. Upscaled / Enhanced 4K. Projector manufacturers use different kinds of proprietary technology to achieve their desired images.
Sony uses a 4K SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) System, which has three 0.61” panels that produce 3840 x 2160 pixels each. SXRD projectors use a vertically aligned nematic liquid crystal that changes state with lightning-fast speed. Each pixel is roughly 1/8 the size of the thickness of a human hair! This means Sony projectors can achieve the native 4K status, because they are capable of displaying the equivalent number of pixels on the screen at all times.
BenQ projectors use a DLP 4K UHD DMD chip, which comes in two sizes; 0.47” and 0.66”. DLP stands for Digital Light Processing, and is centred around a digital micromirror device (DMD), a technology created by Texas Instruments. The chip contains over two million micro-mirrors, each one about the size of a red blood cell. The smaller 0.47” chip takes a 1920 x 1080p image (Full HD), and shifts it horizontally and vertically in four directions clockwise 240 per second, which brings the total pixels on the screen to 8.3 million or 4K UHD. The larger 0.66” chip uses a 2716 x 1528p image and this is shifted diagonally back and forth 120 times a second, again achieving the 8.3 million pixels required for 4K UHD. BenQ refer to their image quality as True 4K.
JVC uses a 0.69” 4K D-ILA device. D-ILA stands for Direct-Drive Image Light Amplification, and JVC uses three of these devices, one for red, blue and green – the three colours to create a full colour palette. JVC models come with a Native 4k DCI resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (8.85mil). They also use 8K/e-shiftX (TM) proprietary technology, which takes any input source and upscales it to reproduce 8K-quality image resolution – boasting a very high number of pixels – over 35 million to be precise!
Epson uses their own 3LCD system design, comprising 3 lcd chips, one for each primary colour. In addition, their projectors use 4K Enhancement technology (4Ke), which shifts each pixel diagonally at a super-fast rate to double Full HD (2 x 1920 x 1080) resolution, making the total pixels at around 4.18 million. Their new laser models take it a step further and quadruple the Full HD image (4 x 1920 x 1080), totalling 8.3 million pixels or 4K UHD. All of this takes place at a minimum 120Hz frame rate, which means the image is refreshed up to 120 times per second.
So, there you have it! Four different projector manufacturers and four different ways they have employed technology to create the digital magic you see on the big screen. In the early days of 4K technology, there was an obvious difference between a native and an enhanced 4K image. Now with serious improvements in the variety of technologies available, the gap is not quite as significant. There is still a valid point that Native 4K chipsets are considered the higher quality option, but this quality comes at a premium price. Non-native 4K projectors can achieve a very impressive picture quality, and depending on the model and other features, can be far more affordable than a native 4K projector. Come see our display showroom where we can demonstrate these different technologies in action, and experience the big screen magic for yourself!