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It’s basically official: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will be hitting the shelves by Christmas

by on August 7, 2015

Stephan Jukic – August 07, 2015

We’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of 4K Blu-ray discs and compatible players since the first news about these developments began to swirl around the web. Now, all of you who’ve been hoping for a 4K Blu-ray disc upgrade so you can really appreciate and show off the native 4K content capacities of your Ultra HD TV, can almost rest easy.

Why? Because it almost definitively seems that Christmas of this brave new year 2015 will be the time at which these much hoped for discs finally hit the store shelves.

According to the Blu-ray Disc Association’s Global Promotions Committee chairman, Victor Matsuda, the much vaunted 4K Blu-ray discs will be available to consumers as of the holiday season of 2015, and they will come together with a whole array of related new technologies and associated features. Not only will these discs support 4K UHD resolution, they will also offer supports for multiple layers of HDR contrast (High Dynamic Range) and what the BDA is calling their new “digital bridge” feature technology.

4K Blu-ray discs will be a great content option for people whose internet connections are too slow for streaming 4K content

4K Blu-ray discs will be a great content option for people whose internet connections are too slow for streaming 4K content

Digital Bridge is basically this new physical media’s way of offering a type of digital video convenience that is normally only found in streaming services. According to Matsuda, speaking during an interview, the digital bridge will offer users copy and export functions that make storage and transfer of content to authorized media devices at a bit-for-bit level much easier than ever. While the question of which devices will be considered “authorized” hasn’t been clarified yet, he technology is definitely an interesting new attempt at digital content flexibility. Furthermore, there is also no clarity on what licensing terms allow for transcoding content into different formats for playback on specific devices.

Presumably, this new copy and export technology involves moving content in Blu-ray discs to external devices like tablets and smartphones.

Another major issue is that of the expected market for 4K Blu-ray discs. While 4K TVs are definitely becoming much more common and popular among consumers, the differences between 4K UHD and Full HD are more subtle than the difference between HD over conventional DVD was about a decade ago. This is partly why next generation video technologies like HDR and superior color aare also being touted as part of the 4K media package in multiple content delivery formats (not just 4K Blu-ray).

However, for that growing body of users which does happen to have a 4K TV, the expected difference in quality between streamed 4K from a source like Netflix and the native 4K sent to a TV directly via HDMI 2.0 cables from a 4K Blu-ray player will almost certainly be notable, just as the superiority of Blu-ray HD is over conventional streamed HD video.

For UHD TV owners with large 60+ inch 4K screens in their homes, the new 4K resolution of these Blu-ray discs will almost certainly be an obvious improvement though.

Finally, one of the most particularly appealing aspects of the new discs and all the ultra HD content they’re expected to bring lies in the fact that users with poor internet connectivity can soon access top quality 4K content despite not being able to access streaming services like Netflix, Ultraflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video’s 4K programming. All of these UHD streaming OTT providers require an internet bandwidth speed of at least 20 Mbps for their movies and shows. 4K Blu-ray will completely circumvent this requirement.

We’ll just have to wait until the new year to really get a better picture of how things pan out with 4K Blu-ray.

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