Technologist Tuesday: 4K to Stay

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Smartphones were around for a while before Apple brought us the iPhone.  What then happened to the smartphone industry? It exploded.  Apple’s product became insanely popular and the competition began to mold new products around this newly energized Smartphone market.

When we look to the current market of Televisions, we see so many different kinds of TVs.  Most choices are easy to filter through:  LED vs. Plasma, Do I need built-in Wi-Fi for web apps? How big should I get…etc.  What about 4K? Should I buy a television with a 4K resolution? For some, the price tag of a 4K TV will quickly answer that question. Others may simply be asking why should they spend the money on a TV with a resolution that broadcasting companies haven’t yet embraced.

Here’s a quick 4K (Ultra HD) review: when a 4K camcorder has recorded video and you watch it on your new Ultra HD TV, the resolution is 4 times higher than a 1080P television. You have to see it. The quality is amazing. The Abt demonstrations we have showing you 4K qualities will leave you in a frozen gaze. When programming that wasn’t recorded with 4K cameras plays on your 4K TV, it will look better than a 1080P TV.  How much? When you’re close to the screen (8-10ft) you’ll notice it. What about content?

Where can you get new 4K programming to watch on your new 4K TV?  This is the only caveat besides premium prices.  There isn’t an amazing amount of content yet.  If you’re purchasing the Sony brand 4K TV’s, you’re in luck.  They offer the FMP-X1 server that comes with ten 4K films preloaded.  It will also talk to the Sony Video Unlimited 4K download service to continue to provide you new 4K content.  Other options are scarce.  You will start to see Blu-ray product on the shelf advertising “Mastered in 4K.”  Unfortunately Blu-ray players can’t play 4K resolutions.  Movies that were shot with 4K cameras are then downgraded to 1080P thus creating a Blu-ray that is “Mastered in 4K.”  So don’t expect to see your full quality 4K through a Blu-ray…yet

Ah yes…the yet.  I love the yet.  Big yet fan.  The Ultra HD future is definitely information you should use before making your decision.  If you’re turned off by the fact that content availability is in it’s infant stages, I get it.  However, You’re not going to own your new TV for 1 year and then go buy a new one.  We all hope your new TV purchase lasts you years to come.  Late Next year, Apple is rumored to put out a series of 4K “iTVs.”  That rumor is pretty solid and most of us Apple fans are counting on it.  This is important for a few reasons.  Primarily that it will no doubt stimulate the 4K transitions as well as competition.

An Apple iTV will most likely resemble some variation of their Thunderbolt display.  They will be aesthetically unique compared to the current TV market.  The most exiting part about this rumored new product will be its interface.  How you navigate through your TV will be revolutionized.  The Bose Videowave TV has already shown us a unique method that a company can better control your TV’s inputs and provide you a slick interface to do so.   The best part of it all will be video distribution.  I would anticipate that through it’s internal menu system, you’ll have the ability to easily tap in and stream 4K content.  Other brands will of course rival the TV and the competition will heat up.  That’s good for everyone.  It will mean better prices, more features and quicker acceptance of 4K programming.

Even if that doesn’t happen and Apple doesn’t join the 4K race, We’re all in for a transition to 4K anyway.  Unlike 3D programming, 4K is about quality.  Historically, when new resolutions arrive, the TV manufactures accepted. Expect Broadcast companies to be slow making these changes. How much 1080P is being broadcasted right now? Not much. But today, we’re all starting to shift our attention from broadcast companies. Streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube & Hulu will work hard to flip that 4K switch as early as next year.  New methods of encoding along side high speed Internet will enable 4K flows faster than you think.

The Technologist

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