We all know just how quickly technology can evolve and progress. It seems like yesterday when we dumped our chunky VHS tapes on charity shop doormats and picked our sides in the great Blu-Ray vs HD DVD war of the mid 2000’s. Blu-Ray brought HD images to our homes ten years ago, but now we’re seeing the UHD Blu-Ray format creeping onto store shelves. We’re going to delve deeper into the technology and give you a clearer idea of what it’s all about and what to expect.
So what is Ultra HD Blu-Ray and is it really worth it?
In a nutshell, it’s the technology that’s going to physically give us Ultra HD content in our homes. It will quadruple the amount of pixels currently found in a standard Blu-Ray disc and HD set up to (3840 × 2160), bringing us one step closer to cinema perfect resolution in the living room. They will not use region coding and will have a capacity of 66GB and 100GB of data on dual and triple layered discs. People have likened the format to looking through a window rather than looking at a TV screen.
OK, so what’s 4K then?
Ah yes, well this can be slightly confusing. 4K is the standard definition for digital cinema projectors in the UK, meaning when you sit down with your popcorn to watch the latest blockbuster your eyeballs are treated to 4K resolution of 4,096 x 2,160. Ultra HD has a slightly lower resolution at 3,840 x 2,160 mainly due to the 16:9 ratio TV, so you’re getting a slightly lower widescreen experience than at the cinema. But arguably the difference is negligible. Some brands will use the term Ultra HD, some will use 4K and some will probably use them both interchangeably. 4K TV’s have been around for a few years already so people already recognise and understand it. Plus, it looks and sounds a lot cooler! Say it with us: 4K. Four-kay. Feels good doesn’t it?
Can I get hold of Ultra HD Blu-Ray discs now?
You sure can. Amazon, Zavvi and lots of other media retailers are stocking discs and also offering pre-orders for films currently out on the big screen. At the moment they’re ranging between £20-£25 per film. Disney have just entered the UHD 4K world with pre-orders for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ available in the format.
What about all my Blu-Ray and DVD discs?
Fear not, as all players are expected to be backwards compatible and play your existing Blu-Ray and DVD discs. They’ll even upscale them to UHD resolution where possible. Don’t rush to the local car boot sale just yet!
Other than a player, what else will I need to enjoy 4K at home?
The other thing you’ll need is a 4K TV. It’s worth checking out the specs of a TV before you buy, as it’ll need HDMI 2.0 to play the UHD Blu-Ray standard (most 4K TVs do now carry this) However, as the tech was relatively new and the standard was constantly shifting, some 4K TVs released in 2013/2014 use HDMI 1.4 which delivers up to 30 frames per second. HDMI 2.0 outputs at 60 frames per second and will become the standard for new video content. It’s also worth looking out for TVs that utilise High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology. HDR (another acronym to learn…) offers a greater level of variance in contrast and colours, improving colour definition. For this, HMDI 2.0 ports will require a 2.0a firmware upgrade.
What can I watch in 4K right now?
As well as the discs we’ve already mentioned, some streaming services are already offering us some content in 4K. But of course, you’ll need a good internet connection to take advantage of it. The Netflix ‘premium’ service will set you back £8.99 a month and they recommend an internet connection of at least 25mbps. There’s now a number of shows available in UHD including ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘House of Cards’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Orange Is The New Black’, a few movies and documentaries with that list set to expand in the future. If you’ve got Amazon Prime, you can enjoy UHD content at no extra charge through the Amazon Video service.
There isn’t masses of content available right now, but as more and more video is being filmed in 4K you can be sure there will be plenty to come in the future. Good things come to those who wait!
Introducing the CXUHD…
We recently announced our foray into 4K with our first ever 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player, the CXUHD. Supporting playback of 4K UHD Blu-Ray discs and files, it’s fully capable of 3840 x 2160 resolution and HDR support, It’s perfect for eye watering visuals. Find the full details at our webpage here.
Excited for the 4K revolution? Or are you an early adopter of UHD? Make sure you share your thoughts and comments with us below.