18 January 2013
CES 1 – Ultra HD
So CES has come and gone for another year. Lots of companies showing technology, but little of it new or novel. This year, the main headlines around TV have centered around Ultra HD, with TV manufacturers falling over themselves to show the latest and greatest.
Ultra HD is a term which is currently applied to 2 different resolutions. In a typical consumer electronic move, they appear to be set to confuse the customers before the products even reach mass market. Some of the manufacturers were claiming that their TV sets for Ultra HD could be purchased, with prices currently in the tens of thousands (dollars). No doubt that will drop with time, but is there the demand?
Ultra HD has 2 forms, 4k and 8k, which correspond to 4 times Full HD and 8 times Full HD respectively. (Full HD being 1080p content, another example of the many definitions of HD which were presented to the end customer). The improved resolution of Ultra HD requires larger and larger TV sets to see the difference in the improved resolution of the content, and larger TV sets require you to sit further away from them to get the benefit. There are other benefits, such as the ability to see more detail when close to the TV, but then it’s impossible to see the whole picture. TV manufacturers are also giving alternative uses for the Ultra HD screens, such as showing 4 HD pictures at the same time, which does not seem to be a mass market use case!
Ultra HD is being sold as the next driver of TV sales, just as 3D was over the last few years. TV manufacturers were including 3D in the specifications of their new sets, but this was no longer a main feature, just a “must have”. The growth of 3D content for consumption on TV sets appears to have stalled and is mainly focused on Hollywood movies. Little to no new drama is being filmed in 3D. However, the news for Ultra HD isn’t so bad. Some productions today already film in 4k, so some content will be there. Additionally the majority of digital cinema projectors also use 4k today.
Obviously there is a long way to go before Ultra HD TV’s are common in our houses. One of the main issues is content delivery. There is no next generation Blu-Ray physical disc mechanism being touted to cope with the 4x bigger content. Delivery of Ultra HD via the internet will put a massive strain on an already congested market. So we are left with cable, satellite and broadcast solutions. In all cases, compromises have to be made, in terms of reducing existing services to make space for Ultra HD.
Of course, as movies are an important use case, Motive’s TV Anytime Anywhere technology could be used to deliver Ultra HD content over the existing network without the need to compromise existing services.
Dr Glenn Craib
Vice President Products & Services