Posts with tag 4k
An extension of Blu-ray makes it all happen
4K televisions (or Ultra HD, if that’s your thing) are amazing, with picture quality that often goes far beyond anything you can even remotely hope to find on now standard 1080p sets. The big problem, however, is that up until now, there just hasn’t been much to actually watch with these new, expensive, beautiful televisions. Netflix has helped fill the gap with a small library of shows streaming in 4K, but the selection is next to nil and support is limited to only select, Netflix sanctioned smart televisions. That’s all about the change however as The Blu-ray Disc Association has just announced at CES that they’re working on a new version of the existing Blu-ray technology that will bring 4K movies to your next home theater system, in convenient disc format.
The new discs, which will be branded as Ultra HD Blu-ray and will essentially be Blu-rays manufactured with a new process that allows up to 33GB per layer (up from 25GB), meaning that a single disc will allow for as much as 99GB. This is absolutely necessary given that 4K movies require an obscene amount of available space, way more than the average 1080p Blu-ray movie.
Manufacturer Panasonic is proving the concept with a prototype Ultra HD player, seen above. Sure enough, it works as you’d expect – this is just your average Blu-ray player with the added bonus of beautiful 4K video playback. According to Engadget, the new Ultra HD Blu-ray specification – which has yet to be finalized – will likely call for HVEC encoding, a next-generation encoder that allows for incredibly highly compressed file without losing quality.
These new Ultra HD Blu-rays are expected to hit market by the end of 2015, however a delay into early 2016 is still possible. While all this technology is cool and it’s fantastic that 4K will finally have an opportunity to invade the average living room, the real question is whether or not Americans are ready to invest in a next generation optical disc format. It seems like just yesterday that the industry tried to get us to ditch our old and busted DVDs for high definition Blu-rays. Can that same strategy be successful only a couple of years later?
webOS lives on... again
Last year LG resurrected Palm’s ill-fated webOS smartphone platform, reimagining it as a next-generation Smart TV platform with little in the way of any sort of competition when it comes to usability and design. It was just June that LG announced that they’ve sold 1 million television sets running webOS, and now the company is back with seven – yes, count them, seven – new models running an upgraded version of LG’s webOS platform, which the company is calling webOS 2.0, all in various sizes. Oh, and some of them are even curved.
But unlike last year’s webOS Smart TVs, which featured essentially mostly conventional 1080p LCD panels, this year LG is making a bold move by heavily pushing the next generation 4K OLED technology. OLED panels have several improvements over traditional LCDs, including blacker blacks, deeper and richer colors, and better energy efficiency.
OLEDs aren’t necessarily anything new – they’ve been a staple of numerous CES’s past, at this point – but LG’s new webOS 2.0 OLED Smart TVs promise to be among the first relatively affordable OLED sets. 4K panels, of course, offer a much higher resolution than 1080p displays resulting in a much sharper, more detailed picture.
LG hasn’t said anything in the way of pricing or availability of any of their 4K OLED Smart TVs, however expect to learn more in the weeks and months ahead.
Not yet fallen
Deadline has officially confirmed today that Netflix has renewed their top rated episodic drama, “House of Cards”, starring Kevin Spacey as a scheming Washington insider, for a third season in 2015. While Season 2 has yet to even officially launch on the instant streaming site, Netflix is making it no secret that the political drama – which has been nominated for awards a’plenty – will be coming back for more even after you’ve clicked the play button on that last episode this month.
House of Cards Season 2 launches worldwide on Netflix on Valentines Day, February 14th. So if you had no plans, maybe it’s never too early to start preparing for Season 3 by marathoning the heck out of Season 2… in 4K, no less?
Better colors, full backwards compatibility
If there’s one thing that bothers me about home media, it’s the color banding you’ll notice if you look realllyyy close at that favorite movie of yours on your television. The cause of this minor annoyance is that today, many televisions, projectors, and forms of media show content with just 8-bits of color – enough to give a beautiful, clear picture from far away, but little enough to notice some weird banding up close that’s caused by an inadequate supply of colors. While manufacturers have been working to develop screens and pictures with 12 and beyond bits of color, which would solve the issue, there have been little to no talk about improving the specifications of all of our favorite home media format – Blu-Ray – to deal with the issue.
Well, until now. A relatively unknown company called Folded Space has just announced a new encoding specification compatible with Blu-Ray discs that would deliver content with 12-bits of color, all while maintaining compatibility with all existing players and keeping file sizes the same. Of course, this is all fine and dandy, but now the company needs to convince content providers that this is worthwhile in an industry that has been notoriously slow to react; now years following the advent of consumer ready 4K screens, Blu-Rays are still delivered in a relatively puny 1080p image with no solution on the horizon any time soon.
The end game
It’s Friday. The liveblogs are ending; the major announcements wrapped up, the wacky finds fewer and further between. CES 2014 has finally come to an end, and this was our second year covering the event, finding the most important, most influential, or just plain most crazy announcements of the week. It was also our biggest year covering the event, with thousands of readers visiting the site to check out the best of what CES has to offer.
It was a pretty crazy week. Let’s revisit it. Click through after the break to read more.
A cheap way to experience 4K
Polaroid may not be best known for manufacturing televisions, but they certainly do so – and like competitor Vizio, they do so cheaply. Enter Polaroid’s new 50-inch 4K TV, Polaroid’s first ultra high definition set, that’ll run you just $999 – literally thousands of dollars less than most of the other 4K TVs that have launched at CES are expected to run for.
The Verge says that Polaroid’s new set definitely has the resolution, but it doesn’t necessarily have the “pop” – color wise, things are pretty dim here with not the best viewing angles and some of what they’re calling “strobing.” Polaroid’s new 4K TV will launch later this year. For those of you excited to get your hands on a new, inexpensive 4K TV.
House of 4K
Turns out 2014 might very well truly be the year of the 4K TV, as Netflix today confirmed what we were all already expecting – the company will begin shooting, producing, and streaming all future original, Netflix produced shows in 4K, up from the company’s current standard of 1080p.
Netflix has been testing 4K streaming support for quite some time now, so it’s really no surprise that the fruits of those efforts will begin to show this year. In fact, Netflix’s upcoming second season of House of Cards will be available in 4K streaming on “supported devices” later this Spring.
4K TVs, along with Smart TVs, are definitely a big story at CES 2014 this year. LG has announced a new lineup of webOS-based Smart TVs yesterday while other manufacturers, such as Vizio, will also soon begin offering a lineup of affordable 4K TVs.
Remember when 3D was a thing?
Hey guys, remember when 3D televisions were to be the future of the home theater? Yeah, apparently Vizio doesn’t either. At CES 2014 today, Vizio effectively killed their entire lineup of 3D televisions, failing to introduce even one new TV with those familiar depth creating glasses.
Instead, the company focused on what everyone seems to be most excited about in this market – 4K support. Vizio announced that they would begin releasing televisions with the new resolution with the same excellent picture that we all have become accustomed to from Vizio, and at their famous bargain basement prices. Vizio has always been the best in the market when it comes to value and bang for the buck, and it looks as though that trend is very much continuing in 2014.
Of course, if you’ve got a premium sized wallet then Vizio has a premium priced television for you. Introducing the Vizio “Reference Series”, a new lineup of 4K TVs with best in class picture and functionality. Vizio is introducing “HDR” functionality in this lineup, which the company says “creates a contrast range with true-to-life intensity, more accurately reproducing the nuances of the picture and revealing fine details found in real scenes.”
As for 4K video playback, all new televisions will support 4K video decoding internally using the new HVEC codec, which is able to deliver video with massive resolutions yet managed to retain fairly sane file sizes – this h.264, but for the 4K era video era. Content delivery is one of the biggest issues the television industry has yet to overcome, and it looks like Vizio is trying to lead the effort to solve that problem once and for all.
Source: The Verge
Your TV isn't so smart, but your next could be
Last year during CES I made a bold claim; I said that 2013 would be the year of the 4K TV – the year that the industry’s next big leap in resolution would begin to go mainstream. Now, you could make the argument for me being both right and wrong in my prediction. 4K TVs have become mainstream in the sense that people are going into Best Buy and purchasing them, however, adaptation is extremely low and native content is still virtually nonexistent. Fast forward one year from that statement and I’m wondering whether I had the wrong idea. Perhaps the future of televisions has less to do with resolution and more to do with intelligence. Maybe instead of looking for widespread adoption of 4K televisions, it’s time we start looking for the introduction of something far more difficult to achieve. Will 2014 be the year of the Smart TV at last?
Read on after the break to find out.
1080p is so last year
We predicted that 2013 would be the year of the 4K TV, and boy does it look like we were right. If you’re looking for evidence of that, you need not look any further than Acer’s Liquid S2, a just announced smartphone that packs a 4K video camera insight of a 6″ smartphone running Android.
The Liquid S2 comes with a 6″ 1080p IPS display, a beefy Snapdragon 800 processor, 13 MP camera, LED flash, and a 2MP front facing camera (that also just so happens to shoot in 1080p, keeping up with the Liquid S2’s insane video recording functionality.) Acer’s also announced a suite of “improvements” to Android, including a new Camera application that allows for better burst shots, separate focus and exposure settings, and a new mode that lets you take a photo right from the home screen without the need to even open a camera application.
The Liquid S2 also comes with a whopping 2GB of RAM, an impressive 3,300 mAh camera, and – surprise – 4G LTE support for those of you who have made the leap to the best of all the cellular networks. No word yet on pricing or availability beyond an “October” release date in the UK, so stay tuned for more.
If you really, really like Netflix
Did you buy one of those new 4K TVs only to discover absolutely no one is offering any type of motion video in 4K right now? In that case, we’ve got good news for you: Netflix will be offering 4K streaming “within a year or two.” Their own original series, House of Cards, was shot mostly in 4K, so when they offer 4K streaming you will have something to watch.
There’s a problem, however, and that comes from various Internet infrastructures in the United States. Streaming 4K video is a huge strain on most average broadband connections in much the same way streaming video games is; you would need something like high-end cable or a fibre line in order to make use of a 4K video stream.
Netflix has said that over in European countries, a technology they developed called Open Connect has been deployed to many European ISPs. Essentially, Open Connect lets Netflix stream their shows without having to set up a special content delivery network; instead using the ISP as their backbone. If they can duplicate that over here in the United States, 4K video streaming might actually become feasible.
Source: The Verge
A busy time for all the CPU makers
First up, the Snapdragon 800. It features a new quad-core CPU architecture with speeds up to 2.3GHz and will be made using a 28nm process. The memory performance is also greatly enhanced, adding support for DDR3 memory. As if that wasn’t enough, the Snapdragon 800 also features a brand new GPU with support for 4k video at 30FPS and 2k video at 60FPS, which makes it perfect if you’re going to use this with your new 4k television. Finally, if you like having movie theater experiences at home, this SoC has support for Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound.
Also on the table is the Snapdragon 600. Consider it more of a vastly improved Snapdragon S4, with clock speeds up to 1.9GHz, a new GPU and DDR3 support. This lower-end Snapdragon will be pitted against the new Tegra4 and Intel’s Clover Trail platform.
The Snapdragon 800 will begin shipping by the middle of this year, and the Snapdragon 600 will begin shipping in Q2’2013.