4K OK ? – The Debate on UHDTV Consumer Adoption

 
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The debate is still being fought on whether 4K UHD TV will be the prevalent television monitor in every household or will it share the same fate as 3D TV ( Read: With ESPN out, is 3-D TV dead? via CNN ).

Since the official introduction at CES 2013, companies such as Sony has taken a “push” to market strategy for getting consumer to adopt the Higher Res TV technology. These companies are doing a great job in creating awareness of the product; however, it will be up to consumers to decide whether there will be a 4K UHD TV in every home.

What is UltraHD TV ?

If you are not familiar with 4K TV, it has recently officially been named UltraHD (UHDTV). 4K UHD Televisions need a minimum resolution of 3840 pixels × 2160 pixels (8.3 megapixels, aspect ratio 16:9) and is one of the two resolutions of ultra high definition television, the other is 8K UHD with a resolution of 7680 pixels × 4320 pixels (33.2 megapixels).

4K UHD has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of the 1080p HDTV format, with four times as many pixels overall. ( Source: Wikipedia )

 

Barriers to Adoption 

What are the current major issues that critics believe will keep UHDTV from mass consumer adoption?

1. The Human Eye

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There are limits to what the human eye can perceive. Critics argue that consumers would not bother buying a UHDTV because they would not be able to see the high-resolution difference between HDTV and UHDTV since the average person’s eyes is unable to resolve individual pixels enhancement unless they are sitting relatively close to the UHDTV – approximately 5 feet or less.

However, the full benefit of UHDTV high resolution images can be seen at a farther distance as the TV moves away from 50 inch to larger UHD TV sizes.

2. Unit Prices

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Prices are steadily dropping as manufactures are ramping up their production at scale but average prices are still not under the $1000 range which makes it hard to swallow for the average household consumer.

3. Lack of Content

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In the last few months, there has been significant roll out of 4K content and/or commitment to launch more 4K content by providers but available 4K content is still scarce for the time being.

Good reads Netflix Chief Product Officer: expect 4K streaming within a year or two via The Verge and  Sony Gears Up for 4K Ultra HD Internet Movie Service  via Variety.com.

For consumers to be able to watch 4K content through Broadcast TV, it will require an industry overhaul in broadcasting and broadband infrastructure and equipment to accommodate the larger bandwidth requirement of 4K. This change may take several years to accomplish.

“It’s still too early to say if I’m bullish or not about 4K,” Chuck Pagano of ESPN. ( Source:  ESPN CTO:  It’s Too Early to Make Big Bets on 4K TV via broadcastingcable.com )

Gigabyte or higher home broadband internet connection is required to make 4K content transport viable through the internet, which is currently lacking in most major cities.

Download services like Sony’s new Media Player box might tie the industry over while infrastructure and equipments are being upgraded by the industry to distribute 4K content.

 

Recent Events in 4K UHDTV Industry

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has laid out a timetable for the switch to 4K-resolution and 8k-resolution broadcasts via Advance-television.com.

Sony and the BBC are to trial 4K TV broadcasts at The Wimbledon Championships later this summer via Techradar.com.

Japan planning world’s first 4K/Ultra HD live broadcast for the 2014 World Cup via digitaltrends.com.

 

The 4K UHDTV Debate Continues

The industry is currently unsure whether the average household consumers will accept UHDTV – although the future of 4K looks bright. If prices do drop for TV purchases and the entire television ecosystem is catered towards 4K, we believe that there would definitely be a UHDTV in almost every household. The question becomes what needs to be changed first? The infrastructure for distributing 4K content or consumer actually having UHDTV first? Who is the one that will be willing to take the risk? This becomes the chicken or the egg conundrum.

Video compression technology advancement will definitely help in leading the charge to consumer UHDTV adoption by allowing content distributors to offer 4K content at a lower bandwidth. When and if 4K content does become the standard video content quality in the industry, there will be a definite continued industry-wide effort for a better video compression technology to manage 4K content – this is where TRUDEF™ video compression will take center stage.

 

Would you buy a 4K UHDTV? If not, why not? What would stop you from buying a 4K UHDTV? Monitor Size? Price?  Not excited enough about higher resolution images?

 

Additional Readings

A highly mentioned article by Geoffrey Morrison (Home entertainment industry writer) –Why 4K TVs are still stupid via CNET

 

TRUDEF™ BLOG – http://trudefblog.us

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TMMI is a technology company headquartered in the US, specializing in video image management and compression. Founded in 1990, the company is dedicated to improving bandwidth utilization and video image quality. TMMI develops digital video compression technology that provides end-to-end workflow and distribution solutions for cinema, sports, mobile, streaming media, cable, medical imaging, security, defense, space exploration and education. TRUDEF™ fractal technology offers users enhanced image quality, reduced bandwidth utilization and digital media storage requirements.

 

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  • Cam

    Thought provoking subject matter. This is a very important discussion in home entertainment that the consumer is just starting to get their heads around. At present, to my understanding…there is no CODEC that can support the onslaught of demand that is coming in the very near future. The key, will be to explain/demonstrate/present a superior form of compression (perhaps TRUDEF?) to the MPEG LA oligarchy. The 320 or so companies, will not be happy that there there is a better compression out there that they do not control….so rather than fight an uphill battle (and all their money), they will NEED to form and agreement with TMMI. H-265 is inferior to what this company is stating….but then again BETA was better that VHS, but Sony refused to allow the other players use their tech.