4K TVs: Where's the Content

Continued from: The Future of Television is 4k & Beyond


These TVs are great for bragging rights, but what about content? While you may be able muster some level of upscaling for HD programming to 4K UHD, the real power of these screens depends on content that is created and distributed in 4K UHD.

Sony announced the first consumer media player for 4k UHD content, the FMP-X1, which is scheduled for release this summer.  While it will include 10 movies and some video shorts to start, the full service won't launch until the fall. The bundle includes the classics Taxi Driver and The Bridge on the River Kwai as well as  more recent releases, including Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles, The Karate Kid (2010), Salt, That's My Boy, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Other Guys and Total Recall (2012). When the full paid service launches in the fall it will include 4,000 titles form Sony and other distributors. This brings Sony into the online video distribution business taking-it up against Netflix, Hulu, Apple and Amazon Prime.

Red Digital Cinema Camera Company announced a 4k video player with consumer pricing. The REDRAY 4K Cinema Player will presumably play-back your 4K home movies and other content with a list price of $1,750.00.

Another option includes upscaling 1080p Blu-ray players with 4K upscaling, such as the player announced by Samsung, the, BD-F7500. Unfortunately, scaling an image 400% is not likely to even come close to the quality of content created and mastered for 4K.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy)
While it's quite alright to convert movies shot on film to 4K, movies and shows shot on digital are lagging behind.  One of the first features shot and distributed on 4K video is "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (2012). One mind-blowing fact is that many digital cinema projectors you see in movie theaters are at DCI 2K resolution, meaning the new 4K UHD home theater screens have higher resolution.  Keep in mind that resolution is only part of the story, and movie theaters are moving to DCI 4K resolution. Believe it or not there are only about 17,000 theater screens world-wide that can currently project 4k content.  A related issue is that so many films are now shot and projected in 3D, because combining 3D with 4K means a whole lot more data than most theaters can project.

Broadcasters, cable and satellite services may not be able to handle the high data-rate required to distribute 4K, unless they compress the signal to the point of degrading the quality – and if that happens, what's the point?  While in theory, on-demand and video download services should be able to distribute this content, don't expect realtime streaming, even with decent broadband speed.  It will be interesting to see what mechanisms are developed to distribute this content.  Will it be rented from Redbox on a portable hard drive?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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