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4K: Business as usual, con the consumers

While researching a story on 4K, UHDTV, I came across a statement from “Digital Europe”. With a mission to “to foster, on behalf of our members, a business, policy and regulatory environment in Europe that best realises our vision.” This organisation states that “they represent all of the major TV manufacturers and as such, is in a unique perspective to comment on how the nascent UHD market will develop.”

This is their proposed baseline for 4K displays:

  • Native Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Colorimetry: ITU-R BT.709
  • Color Bit depth: 8 Bit
  • Frame Rate: 24p/25p/30p/50p/60p
  • Audio: PCM 2.0 Stereo

In other words, just a larger HD panel. Use the existing manufacturing plant, and add nothing except more pixels. It completely ignores the work of NHK and others.

8-bit, pah? Everyone who has contributed to research in this area talks of 10-bit as a minimum to avoid visible banding or posterization. And no increase in color gamut.

This just exposes the CE manufacturers as charlatans. They failed to foist 3D onto the public, so they want to sell 4K. Hang the quality, yet anyone who buys 4K is looking for a premium product. They will want true to life color reproduction and wider dynamic range.

For the CE marketer, 4K is an easy sell. It’s 4K instead of only 1080. The fact that one is picture width and the other is height is just an annoying detail, one number is 4 x the other, that all that matters.

Anyone ponying up thousands for a 4K screen with that spec is going to be very disappointed. It’s an insult to the scientists at NHK that they can ignore all their research in pursuit of a quick buck.

Just as the public response to 3D sets was less that enthusiastic, the CE guys deserve the same reception with 4K if they are going to run with that spec. As the movie guys understand, better quality means higher bit depth for HDR, and wider gamut for stunning color reproduction. If you are looking for quality, I would head for the nearest movie theatre.