By the TV Answer Man staff.

TV Answer Man, I watched the MLB games on Apple TV+ on Friday and I would swear that they were in 4K. The picture looked that good! But I know they are supposed to be in 1080p HD. Can you explain why the 1080p picture looks just as good or even better than 4K? — Marshall, Amarillo, Texas. 

Since Apple TV+ began streaming MLB games last season, many fans have said they believe the broadcast is in 4K. The picture is much more vivid and detailed than your average baseball broadcast so it’s not hard to come to that belief. But the games are in 1080p HD, not 4K. Here are four reasons why it might seem like they are in 4K:

1. Human Visual Perception

One of the fundamental aspects to consider when comparing different resolutions is human visual perception. The human eye has certain limitations in perceiving minute details, especially when viewing content from a typical viewing distance. While 4K resolution offers four times the number of pixels compared to 1080p, the benefits are not always noticeable unless viewed on extremely large screens or viewed from a very close distance. For most standard-sized televisions and regular viewing distances, the difference becomes less discernible.

2. Content Quality and Production
The quality of the content itself plays a significant role in how it appears on the screen. While 4K resolution excels in showcasing the fine details of high-quality content, the majority of media available today, including television shows, movies, and online streaming platforms, are still primarily produced and distributed in 1080p. This means that even with a 4K display, the source content’s resolution limits the overall visual improvement one can experience.

3. Viewing Devices and Screen Sizes
Another critical factor to consider is the device on which the content is being viewed and the size of the screen. For smaller screens, such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops, the difference between 1080p and 4K is hardly noticeable to the naked eye. On larger screens, such as televisions, the benefits of 4K resolution become more apparent, but still, the viewing distance plays a vital role. If the viewing distance is not optimal, the visual advantages of 4K may not be fully appreciated.

4. Bandwidth and Streaming Limitations
The rise of streaming services and online content consumption has led to an increased demand for higher resolutions. However, many users still face limitations in terms of Internet bandwidth and streaming capabilities. Streaming 4K content requires a stable and high-speed Internet connection, which is not always available or affordable for everyone. In such cases, 1080p HD content provides a more accessible and reliable option without compromising significantly on visual quality.

While 4K resolution undoubtedly offers a superior level of detail and clarity, the notion that 1080p HD looks almost as good as 4K is not without merit. Considering human visual perception, content quality, viewing devices, streaming limitations, and cost factors, it becomes clear that 1080p HD can still provide an impressive viewing experience. Unless viewing conditions are ideal, the differences between 1080p and 4K resolutions may not be as pronounced as one might expect.

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