Just as we’re getting used to the term 4K, there the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has decided to rebrand all new 4K Home Cinema displays as “Ultra High Definition” or “Ultra HD”.
The CEA’s board of industry experts voted unanimously to change the name and all subsequent branding to “Ultra High-Definition”, buy which will now be on all displays that meet new stringent minimum specifications.
The CEA was created in 2012 as a way to inform and educate consumers on the new screen technology, and decide on a way forward for the new tech.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, said the new technology is a “natural” step forward for consumers as it provides “outstanding levels of picture quality”.
The main objective for the group is to agree on a minimum spec for displays to be labeled as “Ultra HD”. They have decided for a screen to quality it must have at least 8 million pixels at a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 in a 16:9 aspect.
Products will require at least one digital input capable of carrying and presenting native 4K format video from this input at full 3,840 X 2,160 resolution without relying solely upon up-scaling. So if you don’t see the label, you’ll know it won’t meet the new minimum standards.
The requirements were the result of extensive consumer research conducted by CEA’s market research group. The research found that the term “Ultra-HD” was the best performer in terms of helping consumers understand the technology compared to current 1080p HDTVs.
CEA Ultra HD Working Group chairman Gary Yacoubian said: “We discussed and debated two important steps, the name and recommended attributes, in a forum that allowed a variety of key stakeholders, manufacturers, retailers, broadcasters and Hollywood professionals to lend their voices.
“TVs remain highly sought after and were the second most frequently mentioned device on consumer wish lists this holiday season, behind only tablets,” he added.
“There has never been a greater time to be a consumer of televisions and displays. You can select from a wide array of choices offering outstanding high-definition picture quality, an amazing 3D experience, and interconnectivity within and outside of the home. And now we are proud to present Ultra HD for those consumers who want tomorrow’s next-generation of displays and televisions, today.”
While Avatar is still the top grossing film in history it hasn’t propelled 3D & 3D TVs to the level many had expected – so major TV manufacturers have begun to set their sights on Ultra High Definition TVs, and this should mean 3D will finally realise its potential for home cinema users.
Mito Securities analyst Keita Wakabayashi reckons 3D hasn’t caught on as much as some would have hoped because: “TV makers weren’t able to use 3D to boost the prices of their sets, so it has just become a drag on profits.”
The lack of success of 3D isn’t down to the TV manufacturers, as 3D today is at a affordable price point and the technology has come along way in short space of time, but it’s the lack of bespoke 3D content that’s to blame for its lack of success in the home.
For the average home user with a 47-inch screen, sat 10 feet away, they would struggle to tell the difference between a 1080p HD screen and a Ultra HD screen, but crucially when viewing 3D content, the new resolution will to be able produce two 1080p pictures for each eye, which will make a significant difference to the illusion of 3D, eye-strain and significantly improved the glasses.
There are, of course, pros and cons for Ultra High Definition TVs, but it seems as if this new technology has already begun to overshadow 3D in recent months.
Almost all of the major manufacturers have begun to shift their focus to Ultra High Definition with Sony and LG showing of 84-inch TVs at this year’s CEDIA, and many of them will be in consumers homes by the end of the year. More recently, Toshiba, LG and Panasonic have begun showing off prototypes in Japan that will likely be full-blown products by the time the Consumer Electronics Show comes around next year in Las Vegas.
Panasonic so far has shown of a massive 152-inch plasma, which is a world first for an Ultra HD screen. So far most of the Ultra HD TVs that have been publicly shown have been 84-inch LED-based LCD systems.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ultra HD TVs have no place at the moment. Most TVs today are 1080p, but spend comparatively little time actually outputting 1080p content.
This is mainly because our time is spent watching cable, satellite or basic streaming (such as Netflix or Amazon). That’s all medium-high definition at resolutions of 1080i or 720p. Then our TVs upscale that video to 1080p, and if they do it well, the results are great.
For the first crop of Ultra HD TVs to succeed they need to be fantastic at upscaling or they’ll be probably be failures with home cinema enthusiasts and early adopters. Several of the manufacturers at CEATEC seem to have recognise this, and are touting their products’ video processing prowess as key factor to their early success.
The most important reason Ultra HD TVs will be more significant than 3D is because they will have a greater potential to impact upon image quality. 3D isn’t out of the picture by any means, but it will take Ultra HD TVs for 3D to truly realise its potential.