UHDTV, designed to deliver video with four times the resolution of current HDTV will be hyped, dissected and debated at the CES this week.
Third, UHDTV is the ultimate video toy for the “1 percent” of Americans. Call it Romneyvision, UHDTV will remain a plaything for the rich in the foreseeable future. Kumu Puri, senior executive with Accenture’s electronics and high-tech group, noted, “With an estimated $20,000 price tag, Ultra HDTV sets may be too expensive for mass-market consumption, especially when you consider that this ultra high-definition content is not yet commercially available.” Did she say “may be”?
She added that “market momentum will likely wait until consumers become more familiar with the technology, manufacturers reduce prices, and content providers embrace the format.”
But ultimately, here is one good reason why Ultra HDTV is a non-starter. UHDTV is an all-industry push. CE companies are looking for ways to secure margins for their flat-panel TVs. They desperately need so-called “value add” for their money-losing TV business.
They’ve tried Internet TV, 3-D and Google TV. The latest gimmick is UHDTV. Consumers don’t buy products out of compassion for overextended companies trying to save their businesses.
There is, however, one ray of hope. A great picture is hard to resist. Said Joseph Del Rio, associate product line director at Broadcom, “Ask any sales guy at Best Buy. When consumers come to a store and see the wall of pictures, the best picture always wins.” Resolution beats 3-D, and it beats smart TV.
Asked whether the U.S. cable industry is prepared for 4K x 2K content distribution, Del Rio responded: “Don’t underestimate the U.S. cable guys.” The cable industry is already getting ready for DOCSIS 3.0, IP packet protocol over cable, featuring channel bonding. The channel bonding, enabling multiple downstream and upstream channels to be used together at the same time by a single subscriber, can also dynamically change its rate, anywhere from 20 to 40 Megabits per second (Mbps). “This will allow cable guys to offer the high-bandwidth content on demand.”
But whether or not the cable industry is ready for UHDTV, Chris Day, vice president of marketing and business development, at Ambarella, Inc., predicted that 4K content materials may become first available on the Internet. Ambarella believes its upcoming chips are designed to “drive 4K into mainstream consumer market.”
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Cookie Jar, I love the "You gotta have something to do with all that computing power besides write terribly inefficient code." comment! I found myself agreeing with most of the comments about price vs acceptance. I would love higher resolution and higher bandwidth (from my cable) but currently cost is my limiting factor. Once the cost comes down then people will begin to move towards it. I still remember the first few days after switching from the old modem to cable modems; it seemed that the internet pages just blasted their way onto the monitor! Now I find myself fustrated with "how slow" the internet connection is, funny how quickly we adjust our metrics!
You could bypass the cable system and get over the air broadcasts. Just about every multiplex has their main channel in HD. If you have Verizon FiOS as an option, I believe they offer HD at no extra cost.
I use over the air and Internet TV exclusively. So HD is a staple diet for me, for any over the air broadcasts. No cost, other than buying the TV set, of course.
ATSC did it right in this respect. Receiving the HD stream was a mandate for all receivers, whether or not they were capable of actually displaying HD. This avoids having to waste bandwidth transmitting two copies of the same program.
IMO, to introduce UHDTV, a good approach would be to replace HD with UHD streams, taking up the same b/s as the HD stream (via H.265 compression). And then make that stream also available as SD-only, for some relatively short transitional period.
At the end of the transitional period, those who do not have a UHD-capable set would be able to buy a STB to convert UHD streams to HD or SD. This would then free up spectrum again, for more programs.
The end result would be the same number of channels available then as now.
I would point out that in many places, including my town, cable is the only decent way to get video content and HD costs lots extra. You can get 100 channels of SDTV, or you can triple the cost by adding a few channels of HD. I believe that most people still watch SDTV. It isn't because they can't tell the difference, it is because the difference isn't worth the cost.
Are there statistics showing HDTV owners watch mostly SDTV? That certainly isn't the case in my household. In fact, out of the 2 dozen or so shows scheduled on my DVR I can only think of one that is in standard definition, and that's because there is no HD equivilent.
More and more movies are being shot in 4K and more and more theaters have 4K projection equipment. So the content, at least as far as movies are concerned, is in the can already. 4K captured many events at the London Olympics. So the equipment and technology exists.
Even for amateur videographers, most DSLR image capturing hardware is quite capable of 4K video. It's just a matter of updating the processors in them. As we all know the price of processors keeps falling. You gotta have something to do with all that computing power besides write terribly inefficient code.
Apple's iPad certainly showed the feasibility of resolution greater than HD in a mass product. A lot of people jumped on that bandwagon.
The industry needs an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs to make the public gotta have one.
I loved reading this article. Very well written even though I don't entirely agree with it's premise. Like all technology price will come down. Upconversion will help the lack of content issue. And as you said, manufacturers need high end technology to improve their margins. 4K won't be for everyone but I think it will eventually be cheap enough to go mainstream for home theater enthusiasts.
"Ambarella, Inc., predicted that 4K content materials may become first available on the Internet"
Considering a lot of people still struggle to get sufficient bandwidth to stream video content online I think it's going to be a long time before the masses can deal with even 4K file downloads for home viewing. The first 4K movie for download was 160gb, would hate to see how big the first Ultra HDTV releases are going to be, but they'll sure be hogging your broadband for a fair few days, even on the fastest connections.
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