And as we talk of 4K, Japanese public broadcaster NHK tried out an 8K test service during the Rio Olympics. Called Super Hi Vision, 8K is 7680 x 4320 pixels resolution
Ultra High-Definition, or 4K, has been making steady inroads into our lives. I still vividly remember my first brush with a 4K screen about four years back.
My first reaction was that the picture inside seemed sharper and clearer than the real life outside it. Even now 4K screens evoke the same sense of awe in me, thanks to their resolution which is almost four times that of Full HD screens.
Then, a 4K television would have cost you more than your annual pay package, now one of these screens, a fairly large one too, could be yours for as low as R40,000 if you are not that brand-conscious.
By the end of the year, I anticipate that more of these televisions, especially those from the bigger brands, will be priced around the R1,000-per-inch mark, which would give you a 40-inch screen at around R40,000.
However, every time we talked about 4K before, there used to be the customary disclaimer that content is still some time away.
That is no longer the case. Over the past couple of months, I have tested a few of these televisions across multiple brands and price-points.
The one thing that is common to all 4K televisions now is the fact that they give you access to at least YouTube. And YouTube, being the world’s largest video platform that it is, is a repository of a wide range of 4K content at the moment.
Even if you don’t get 4K content, most of these televisions are smart enough to find the highest resolution video and upscale it for better viewing on these giant screens. On the flipside, it is a pain to watch anything that is less that Full HD on these screens.
This access to content could trigger a move away from traditional broadcast sources, even though most DTH services in India now offer at least one 4K channel.
Both the LG and Sony televisions I reviewed had the NetFlix app integrated natively, a dream for binge-watchers like me. Of course, it had YouTube and access to any other video app on the Google Play store.
Le Eco, which entered India with smartphones, has a different play with its Super3 series of televisions. These TVs come with a separate Live sections that gives you access to popular Indian channels, but streamed over the Internet.
With this TV, which reminded me a bit of the IP TV concept that failed a couple of years back, users have the option of paying an annual fee for this content and just switching off their cable or DTH.
You can rest assured that a lot more players will start offering high-definition content online and woo this segment over the coming months.
On the content-creation side, high-end smartphones to DSLRs now come with 4K shooting capabilities. While adoption is happening across the board, Nikon India managing director Kazuo Ninomiya says this will be gradual as people who are processing these videos are still struggling with it.
“The processing is very heavy,” he adds. But the capability to process content created by high-end DSLRs and newer concepts like Nikon’s Key Mission 360-degree 4K camera might become more common once the next generation of processors hit the market early next year.
The ability to process and play 4K could be pretty much stand with generation and also lead to a drop in prices of such computers. All this suggests that the ecosystem is finally in place when it comes to Ultra HD content-creation and consumption.
By next year, we can expect 4K to become common on everything, from laptops to mid-range televisions—and maybe even high-end smartphones, though this resolution doesn’t make much sense in a really small screen.
And as we talk of 4K, Japanese public broadcaster NHK tried out an 8K test service during the Rio Olympics. Called Super Hi Vision, 8K is 7,680 x 4,320 pixels resolution, that is four times sharper than regular 4K (4,096×2,160) and 16 times sharper than the regular 1,080p full HD resolution.
With 8K televisions already available in the market, NHK in planning a full scale rollout by 2018 so that everything is in place by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Super Hi vision also allows for 22.2 channel audio.
Hope you have a clear picture now of what the future holds.