Ultra HDTV displays four times more video resolution than today’s full 1080 HDTV, which means that its picture clarity comes from a screen resolution of 3,840 horizontal by 2,160 vertical pixels—a total of about eight million pixels. That’s quadruple the two million pixels in today’s 1920x1080 resolution. Ultra HD display screens will have an aspect ratio of at least 16x9 (width to height). According to the new CEA guidelines, products using the Ultra HD label must have at least one digital input able to carry and present native 4K format video without relying solely on up-conversion.
Ultra HD has an optimal viewing angle of about 100 degrees. However, the transition still needs some tweaks. For example, the current Blu-ray disc specification does not support Ultra HD, although it is widely expected that new equipment will emerge to encompass the format.
Similarly, technologists are examining whether Ultra HD will “scale down” to display as immersively on screens of 45-inches or smaller. Initially, Ultra HD’s greatest impact can be seen on the largest home screens.
When the International Telecommunications Union
(ITU) adopted its Ultra HD TV standard in August 2012, it endorsed a two-step process that starts with the 4K (eight million pixels) and eventually moves up to 8K, the equivalent of 32 million pixels (7,680 x 4,320 image system). An 8K display was on display at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré praised the Ultra HDTV technology as “an earthshaking development in the world of television.”
David Wood, chairman of the ITU working group that developed the Ultra HD plan, said, “This is the dawn of a new age for television that will bring unprecedented levels of realism and viewer enjoyment. It’s a historic moment. Some years will pass before we see these systems in our homes, but come they will.”
John Taylor, the LG Electronics vice president who chairs CEA’s Ultra HD Working Group committee on communications, notes that “8K is still down the road. We’ll deal with 8K in the future when those products are ready for market.”
Ultra HD is already making waves around the world. Four Korean broadcasters have announced plans to begin test broadcasts of Ultra HDTV, using reception equipment from LG Electronics and Samsung. In Japan, NHK, which has developed several 4K production and transmission products, has indicated it might go directly to 8K Ultra HDTV to avoid an extra transition step from 4K to 8K—although it has not yet offered a timetable for any such transition.
Related: Ultra High-Def TV: Super-Sizing An Immersive Experience