CEA releases report on status of 4K Ultra HD

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has released a new report — “Ultra High-Definition: State of the Industry” — an analysis that provides a snapshot of the emerging market for 4K video products from studio to home.

“Ultra HD promises to be the next big video product driving change in content, cameras, security, retailing, displays and even audio. It will drive growth across the entire consumer technology ecosystem,” said the CEA, which is promoting the new high-resolution TV technology.

The 4K TV began to be promoted after the market failure of 3DTV, which was embraced by the CEA and manufacturers in an effort to stop the declining sales of standard HD television receivers. Efforts at next-generation compression and decompression chips (also known as HEVC) for 4K home TV sets are advancing at companies like Broadcom and Qualcomm, although they are not yet commercially available. They are critical to receiving “Ultra HD” video — with its massive bandwidth — in the home.

Ultra HD is the U.S. industry trade name for 4K (and higher) technology, which — with more than 8 million pixels of resolution — is four times the resolution of today’s HD displays. The minimum resolution for displays in stores using the brand name Ultra HD is set at 3840 x 2160 pixels.

The CEA report cites the upscaling of high-definition resolution content and a trend toward more affordable pricing as two of the most important factors affecting the 4K market in these early days. Ultra HD displays can upscale HD video to Ultra HD resolution using video processing to fill in the extra resolution.

Original 4K content is another vital aspect of Ultra HD adoption, the CEA said. Producing Ultra HD content involves natively capturing images in 4K resolution and digitally scanning archived analog film. CEA’s study finds there is an increasing trend toward 4K production, thanks in part to the development of 4K-level professional cameras and post-production tools.

To make Ultra HD home releases, studios need 4K masters and digital intermediates, whether scanned from 35mm film or shot in digital 4K. The film industry, the CEA said, is well positioned to re-release many films in true Ultra HD resolution and to produce native content.

The CEA projects shipments of Ultra HD sets to reach 57,000 units — and revenue of roughly $314 million — by the end of this year. It forecasts Ultra HD shipments will surpass the 1 million-unit mark in 2015.

"Ultra High-Definition: State of the Industry" was designed and formulated by CEA Market Research. The complete report is available for free to CEA member companies. Non-members may purchase the study for $499 in the CEA Store.