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Migrating 4K from Home Cinema to TV Screens

Video Appliances

4k needs more work

With both NAB and IBC behind us, the future appears to be 4K (Ultra HD to those TV purists) and all that remains is for screens to hit the shops to be snapped up by enthusiastic viewers in time for Christmas, as far as the screen manufacturers are concerned! The festive period relies on hype and manufactures are hoping that resolution alone will drive 4K into living rooms.

This is pure techno hype and while there was enthusiasm for 4K at IBC, the cynics had their day and amplified the mutterings heard at NAB to ask awkward questions concerning the suitability of the format to really improve broadcast quality.

The consensus is the format needs to be more than just quadrupling spatial resolution if it is to wrestle linear TV away from HD, a format that most broadcasters are still rolling out to viewers, some of whom were taken for a ride with the consumer experiment with 3D.

So if it’s not linear TV that is going to spearhead the introduction of 4K, where will the format gain traction initially? As with 3D, the answer lies with movies, where the cinematic feel relies on high resolution story telling at comparatively low frame rates. This requirement matches current 4K technology well, and gives the format a valuable market from which to grow, namely home cinema. No surprise that Netflix and YouTube recognize the potential of 4K VOD to further erode the dominance of linear broadcast.

While the standards bodies are desperately trying to control the enthusiasm of manufacturers to get consumers to dig deep into their pockets and buy another screen that could well be outdated by the time Ultra HD becomes mainstream, home cinema is a realistic start for 4K. Check out the Harmonic white paper on Delivering Quality Ultra HD if you can’t wait for my next blog where we’ll discuss whether the latest incarnation of HDMI (2.0) really delivers all that broadcasters were expecting.

– Ian Trow, Sr. Director, Emerging Technology & Strategy, Harmonic