First, if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, it is by far one of the best series ever and this first season is one of the best of the series. Watch it, you will not be disappointed, even if you aren’t into medieval fantasy.
While the camera they used to film this season was recording at 1080 resolution, resolution in and of itself is only a small portion of the viewing experience and one of the least noticeable factors when deciding between a regular 1080P Blu-Ray and a 4K UHD Blu-Ray. The reason they used the 1080 resolution camera was because, at the time(over seven years ago), 4K cameras were fairly new. So the crew went with the best camera at the time they new how to shoot with, because raw pixel count has very little to do with picture quality.
Things this 4K UHD version will get you over the standard Blu-Ray option;
1. HDR – far more important than raw pixel count for picture quality purposes and this version supports not only the 10bit HDR10 but also the 12bit Dolby Vision. The extra Color and Brightness depth from this can allow your TV to produce over 68billion more colors to express the picture with, creating a more realistic and vibrant viewing experience.
2. Dolby Atmos – Most people see this as for people with more speakers, but it’s not. Dolby Atmos can not only control more speakers, but it can make any amount of speakers sound better. It treats sound in a totally different way than previous iterations and allows your speaker system to create a much fuller and accurate sound stage.
3. More resolution = better contrast – Contrast is rated at a pixel to pixel ratio. Therefore, even if a picture is an upscaled version of a 1080 resolution picture, 4K means you have 4 pixels for every one pixel at 1080. That means that you will have better contrast and therefore better defined lines from light and dark objects and smoother gradients of blacks – grays(eliminating some of the blotchyness you might otherwise see within dark scenes).
4. Higher bitrate – This will fall in line with some of the advantages with HDR but even for those without it. The higher bitrate of this version over the standard Blu-Ray will allow for a more accurate picture to what was recorded and intended by studio. All video is compressed from its original format(recorded from the camera) to fit onto whatever media it is intended to be distributed on. The amount of compression depends on the limitations of the media. That compression not only effects color depth, but individual pixel brightness settings and the definition of the picture itself. (think low quality JPG vs RAW)
There is a lot of confusion between what all these technologies are and what the real difference between formats are. Hopefully this clears some of it up and gets everyone a little bit past the 1080 vs 4k way of thinking.