Japan Test Broadcasting 4K Ultra High Def TV Programming

by on June 28, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – June 28th, 2014

Seeing as how they’re often the world leaders in trying out new consumer technologies, it should come as no surprise that a public/private consortium in Japan is already starting test broadcasts of satellite TV programs in 4K resolution. This is coming as part of an ongoing investment by major TV manufacturers such as Sony and Sharp in spreading the 4K format into mass popularity via sales of their 4K display models.

Of course, though these test broadcasts are only viewable in full resolution to owners of UHD TVs, they are being rolled out countrywide with the partial backing of the Federal Government in Tokyo, which wants the Japanese economy, the third largest on Earth, to remain competitive in terms of consumer technology during the coming years.

According to Yoko Kamikawa, the vice minister of the Internal Affairs and Communication Ministry, “We will continue working towards a full-fledged 4K broadcast and 8k test broadcasting” by 2016 according to her.

The Public broadcaster NHK, run in cooperation with the Japanese government, has already invested in developing not just well established 4K technology but also a substantially developed 8K broadcast capacity infrastructure. 8K, being far ahead of even 4K in terms of advancement and still far from widespread use, has a whopping 16 times the resolution of conventional 1080p HD, which itself shows 4 times less pixels than 4K Ultra HD.

These investments bring Japan to the very forefront of innovation in 4K broadcasting. Companies such as Netflix in the USA and the government run BBC in the United Kingdom are both working on developing wider selections of streamed or broadcast 4K content in their respective countries but neither of these efforts have the same backing and scope as the Japanese test programming project.

Other countries are also keeping their eyes on this ultra-high resolution display technology, given the varied uses it could have that go beyond just entertainment. Some of these include medical imaging applications and interactive education programs.

According to Katsuaki Watanbe, chairman of the business group which is leading the Japanese 4K test, “Various countries are accelerating trials and the launch of new services using (Ultra-High Definition) technologies”

He and his consortium, as well as the Japanese government hope to stay competitive in this cutting edge display technology environment.

Nevertheless, many private broadcasters and content creators still have their anxieties about investing in 4K. The huge investments in bandwidth expansion and actually getting 4K capable display technologies in the form of TVs display monitors and projectors represent large hurdles to quick widespread 4K adoption. Then there is also the problem of still scare 4K content, something which is only slowly being developed worldwide.

However, TV manufacturers are heavily invested in the idea of getting 4K out the door on a broad scale. Their profit margins for sales of regular HD TVs are extremely thin and constantly being undercut as prices keep dropping and man large brands such as Sony and LG are depending on growing 4K TV sales to make up for these losses.

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