The Rumors Pan Out: 4K BLU-RAY Discs Coming to Customers In Spring of 2015
by Stephan Jukic – September 5th, 2014
Since 4K emerged on the consumer market a couple of years ago, the vast majority of the content that filled out all of those beautifully clear display screens has been coming either from the web or as part of the preloaded content that comes with media boxes which attach to some 4K TVs.
Apparently though, this is finally going to change as of the spring of next year. Instead of relying on web based content offerings streamed to TVs from sources like Netflix, Amazon and Sony (who owns lots of pre-upscaled 4K movies and shows thanks to Sony Studios), you’ll finally be able to get your hands on hard media with 4K content in the form of Ultra HD Blue-Ray discs.
According to revelations made this week at IFA 2014 in Berlin, Germany, the Blue-Ray Disc Association made the announcement that the creation of a 4K blue-Ray disc is almost ready and according to reporting by Cnet, the organization will have their new disc technology ready for licensing by the late spring or early summer of 2015.
The planned release may seem a bit distant in the future but this is likely the case because the Blue-Ray Association and its partners want to give the market for 4K TVs to flesh out even more before sending out the 4K content in disc format.
Due to the growing popularity of 4K content and UHD TVs, the movie and TV industries have oth been quietly ramping up the percentage of their new productions which they shoot in Ulta HD at a minimum of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. Sony in particular, which owns its own large film production studios, has been busy on this front given that the company is also the world leader in sales of 4K TVs.
However, even with these efforts going on, there are still relatively very few 4K offerings on the table, and of those that do exist, the vast majority are only available via streaming media formats or on play boxes that connect to 4K TVs and upload their content via HDMI cables.
A further problem even with these limited content options lies in the fact that many 4K TVs are owned by people who have internet connections with inadequate power, since 4K streams need at least 20 Mbps.
And further still, there is the problem that many 4K TVs from lesser brands lack both HDMI 2.0 capacity and the capacity to decode the HEVC (H.265) video compression used in virtually all streaming 4K media. Thus, on these TVs, even the streams available from Netflix and Amazon are unavailable and the preloaded content of many media players can only be watched via HDMI 1.4 connections, meaning that it’s much choppier because it plays at only 30 frames per second instead of the 60 fps that HDMI 2.0 allows.
This is where the value of 4K Blue-Ray comes into the picture. Companies like Sony, Samsung and many other lesser known ventures have all been steadily building up their collections of older videos from as far back as the days of chemical film reels and remastering them for full digitization to 4K video.
Oddly, many of the old movie reels from the 90’s and before actually contain far more detail than could ever be shown on any projectors from those days, and are thus perfect for 4K digitization given that their visual quality is on par with 8K resolution and actually has to be downsized to 4K before it can be streamed or delivered to consumers.
This is where Blue-Ray 4K is going to really be a useful tool for the promoters of 4K TV. It will be a quick effective and easy to use method of delivering 4K video directly to homes without the hassles of needing a really fast internet connection or regional access to Netflix or Amazon streams. Furthermore, the discs themselves transmit data to their host TVs at a wonderfully smooth 60 frames per second since they have been compressed with HEVC encoding.
Since all newer model 4K TVs are now being built or upgraded with HEVC compatibility, this shouldn’t be a problem.
It looks like plastic discs are once again going to play a part in the future of home entertainment media.
Story by 4k.com