4K TV is definitely on the way, it’s just taking some time to arrive

by on September 24, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – September 24, 2014

The 2014 IFA Technology Show might go down in history as the crucial moment in which the history of 4K content and technology became more firmly written than ever, even if there are still some lingering questions about how all those extra pixels that come with Ultra HD will be managed by users and entertainment industry players.

Nonetheless, the prospect of Ultra HD content became a lot more concrete in Berlin at the beginning of September.

For starters, Amazon went public with its already announced streaming instant video in Ultra HD services, which will be debuting in just a couple weeks in October to HEVC enabled UHD TVs from several different brands.

And in a follow-up to Amazon’s announcement, a number of new 4K TVs by several brands have all been released or will soon be released with the ability to play 4K content that has been compressed in the HEVC codec used by the company and others.

Netflix already has a live 4K movie and show library but its offerings are still small and the Amazon announcement is a wonderful boost to the entertainment options available to those who are now buying 4K TVs at steadily decreasing prices.

Furthermore at IFA, there were also several new commitments by major Europeans VOD (video on demand) sellers to start presenting their own Ultra HD movie and TV show streams. Companies such as Maxdome of Germany, Pan-Europe, and Italian broadcasting company CHILI have all at least claimed that they will be coming out with more 4K fare for audiences in the coming months.

Even better still, there was the announcement by the Blu-Ray Disc association that it would be coming out with 4K capable Blu-Ray DVDs as of spring 2015 and Sony also bolstered the content landscape with its promise of an upcoming Privilege Movies 4K selection that will be included for free to buyers of any 2014 edition Ultra HD TV from the company that also comes with the Sony Media Player 4K 500GB hard drive unit. The Sony movie selection will consist of 10 titles from the company’s Sony Pictures collection of native 4K films.

The bandwidth side of things for 4K content still remains a bit murky however. While Netflix and Amazon 4K services mandate a minimum of 15 Mbps for internet connections that receive their content, accessing truly perfect 4K video via transmission of any kind would more ideally be done with something more in the order of 50 to 70Mbps even with HEVC compression of the UHD content being used.

So far, only the upcoming 4K Blu-Ray discs will be offering that kind of media player to TV transmission bandwidth and many viewers might simply prefer to watch an upgraded Full HD movie instead of a lower quality 4K video that’s being sent over a 15 to 20 Mbps web connection.

Netflix, Amazon and ISPs worldwide will still have to work on this issue.

Finally, we come to Dolby and its partnerships with various 4K TV makers in remaking the color landscape of modern 4K TVs. The company argues that the Rec 709 format that comes from HTVs and is still being used in the newer and much more advanced Ultra HD TVs coming out is already outdated and doesn’t really allow the real color display capacities of the latest TVs to shine. Instead of the 8 bit color used by RGB channels today, Dolby wants to see the capabilities of modern film cameras used to widen color gamuts and deliver a much broader dynamic range of 10,000nits, which is far more than the 500 to 1000nits currently used by most TVs, even 4K sets.

In total, 4K content and the technologies that surround it are finally garnering enough attention to really have a very bright future ahead of them… Ultra HD is definitely not “dead tech walking”.

Dolby wants to See the next generation of 4K TVs expand their color capacities drastically.

Dolby wants to See the next generation of 4K TVs expand their color capacities drastically.

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