Are you upgrading the video systems in your corporate boardroom, classroom, lecture hall or theater? If you’ve done any research, you may be grappling with the question: “Do I need to invest in 4K screens?”

4K Ultra-High Definition (4K UHD) has several benefits over regular HD LED screens. Some of them may surprise you. Before we talk about applications that can benefit from 4K, let’s look at the evolution of resolution and see how 4K came about.

The Evolution of Screen Resolution
We measure screen resolution in pixels, expressed as width x height. Traditional “standard” (not high) resolution, measures as 480 lines of horizontal resolution, or 720 x 480 pixels per inch. Standard resolution TV screens were rarely used in corporate applications, other than as TVs on rolling carts.

It wasn’t until the first HD (High Definition) flat screens came out, with a resolution of 1280 x 720, commonly called 720p, that we began to mount LED monitors in boardrooms and classroom applications.

Over the course of a few years, 720p gave way to 1080p, or 1980 x 1080 screens. Laptops and personal computers kept pace, and it was easy to send content from a laptop or desktop CPU straight to a display panel in a boardroom or lecture hall, typically by way of a matrix switcher.

If you’re looking at a screen right now in your conference room, and you haven’t had an audio visual upgrade in the past year, I’m willing to bet it’s a a 720p or 1080p screen.

What Is 4K?
A 4K screen has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. If you multiply the pixels per inch, you’ll see that a 1080p screen has about 2 million pixels. A 4K screen, on the other hand, has over 8 million pixels, or 4 times as many. Hence the name 4K, which is a lot catchier than 2160p, and lends itself to hashtags like #4K, #4KAlready and #4K+.

Do You Need 4K?
4K offers a crisper, clearer picture, along with faster frame rates, better contrast dynamics and extended colors. ISE 2015 gave us a sneak peek at 4K Blu-Rays, so even if there isn’t a lot of 4K content out there right now suitable for classrooms and boardrooms, it’s coming.

When you look at photos in 4K, you’ll see them as they’re meant to be seen, without a loss of quality. In short, if you want to bring a presentation to life, a 4K screen will enhance the viewing experience. But there’s more to consider than just picture quality in corporate and educational applications.

Display Sources That Are Not Quite 4K, But Greater Than 2K
As LED screens increased in resolution, the same thing happened with laptops, desktop computers and mobile devices. Apple introduced its Retina display, which translates to 2880 x 1800 pixels. Other laptops and mobile devices introduced resolutions higher than 1080p (HD), but not quite 4K UHD.

What happens when you take a device with a 2880 x 1800 resolution and try to send that image to a 1080p HD screen? Usually nothing good. The resolution changes, altering picture quality and even the way the content is display on the screen. It’s frustrating to the presenter, and it pulls the audience out of the moment, making them focus on the technology (or lack of) rather than the programming.

You’ll find a suitable solution by hanging a 4K screen anywhere you want to send content from sources like iPads, smartphones or laptops to a wall-mounted LED for a presentation or lecture. Eventually, we’ll reach a time when practically all content is in 4K, but that time isn’t here yet. You can future-proof your boardroom or classroom, while enhancing the technology experience for users right now, with a 4K upgrade.

Does this mean your HD screens are obsolete? If you haven’t experienced any problems, keep going. Budgets are tight, and it makes sense to make the most of your technology investment while keeping it as long as possible. But be aware that the day is coming when you’ll want to make the leap to 4K, or maybe even 5K, 8K or beyond.