back to article Google gearing up for 4K video frenzy at CES

Google is gearing up to push its 4K VP9 video codec into the mainstream through YouTube and hardware partners. The company has confirmed reports that at next week's CES conference in Las Vegas it will showcase the streaming video platform with multiple hardware vendors as part of an effort to bring the high-definition format …


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  1. Havin_it

    AMD not on the list?

    I'd have bet on Intel being the refusenik. Changed days...

  2. miknik

    Is 4k the resolution...?

    Or the cost (in bitcoin) of a display which supports it?

  3. mIRCat

    Pi on their face?

    Will my RPi support it? That's what I want to know.

    Until it does I'll ARM myself with a pint.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Pi on their face?

      Support... sure why not? Having the computational grunt to make it usable... maybe not.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Want uptake?

    Make it the only supported codec on youtube

  5. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Photography is often better in black and white

    I wonder if video may be better in low res.

    There does seem to be a law of bandwidth that suggests the higher the bandwidth available the less effort goes into filling it usefully. Its called impedance miss-match in electronics.

    I remember a friend going on about how the dust could be seen rising from the sofa when a character sat down in the first HD film they'd seen. "Which character?" resulted in a "Don't know."

    Shakespeare wrote well because his output device took an effort to use - we seem to be in the creative equivalent of cycling downhill in low gear pedalling like fury covering great distances but adding nothing to the end result.

    1. jnffarrell1

      Re: Photography is often better in black and white

      Suggest you consult John Ford or Ansel Adams

  6. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Welcome 4k

    Finally can look forward to seeing laptops and monitors that have vertical resolution that is as good as, or better than, a 2001-era CRT...

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Welcome 4k

      Nah, laptops will still be 1366 x 768 unless you drop ~$3000.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Looking forward to it

    Firstly, it's wrong to say VP8 / WebM hasn't been successful. While it has failed to dominate, its existence probably played a large part in keeping h264 royalty free. That alone, given the sheer volume of videos on YouTube, may have justified the purchase price, legal team and continued development. It was a sea change in the industry and we have since seen companies like Cisco pledging to keep codecs free. I don't know what codecs Google uses for the native YouTube apps or Hangouts / WebRTC but it wouldn't surprise me if VP8 figures prominently there.

    VP8 came to the market too late to dominate - h264 was already supported by most hardware. The playing field is much more open for 4k, so if Google can get it into hardware early enough, then they have every chance of making it one of the standards. To be really successful they'll need not just the hardware but also the content so YouTube exclusives of 4k content may also be required. That might actually be the next real battle with Apple: assuming 4k content (and playback devices) come on stream quick enough, people may well buy the first devices available. Amazon is already trialling exclusive 4k content in the US.

  8. jnffarrell1

    4x is coming this year to a screen you can afford

    Twenty one inch desktop monitors, 13" laptop monitors and many other touch and touch less screens will support 4x this year. Whether devices have the hardware to decode it twice as fast as the existing standards is up to them. From my perspective, I'd rather stream 4x to a laptop I share with my girl than to a 55" TV.

    1. g e

      Re: 4x is coming this year to a screen you can afford

      13" at 4k resolution?

      I can't think of many more pointless things. A 32" monitor on your desk instead of 2 or three 1080p ones, though, yes, full steam ahead please!

  9. jnffarrell1

    Perspective from Target Shooting

    Google was sighting in its rifle with VP8. After observing the pattern of holes, Google adjusted its sights for VP9 and squeezed off a much tighter pattern.

    Pre Prototypes and paper targets are cheap. Particularly if you use reloaded ammunition.

    1. g e

      Re: Perspective from Target Shooting

      Yep, I suspect VP8 was testing the defences and calling out the behaviour of the other 'interested parties'.

      Now their hands have been shown Google should hopefully do a mopping up with VP9 by comparison. Everyone forgets that Google usually plays a much longer game than other co's so a strange move now may well be a litmus test for a larger move in the future which has 'learned' from today.

  10. IGnatius T Foobar

    What will the MPEG crime cartel do?

    This is all wonderful, but we have yet to see the VERY PREDICTABLE response from the MPEG crime cartel. They will inevitably conduct a "search" for elements of VP9 that supposedly violate their patents, and do everything they can to encumber VP9.

    Let's be very clear here: software patents are evil, and people who support them are horrible.

    1. sleepy

      Re: What will the MPEG crime cartel do?

      Google themselves are leading owner of software patents, on which their entire business is based. Google has done some wonderful things, but they operate double standards on patents. Unless Google will indemnify others from patent suits over VP9, they shouldn't press for it to be a standard; it will be a members-club setup just like mpeg.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: What will the MPEG crime cartel do?

      "Let's be very clear here: software patents are evil, and people who support them are horrible."

      Let's be very clear here. You live an inordinately pampered life and have no idea what you're talking about. People who sell vulnerable young women as slaves are evil. By contrast software patents, even if you disagree with them, can only be described as bad/wrong.

  11. Tom 35 Silver badge


    For a TV of normal size 4k is over kill. It's just the next attempt to get everyone to buy a new TV again.

    1080p/i cable TV and streaming video tends to be compressed to hell now, so I can't see getting much better with 4k (and I expect the cable companies would use the extra compression to add more channels not go 4k).

    Add that there is no BluRay disc format with enough bandwidth to give you proper quality and 4k TV can join 3D TV and "Smart" TV.

    But a 27-30" 4k monitor for my desktop would be nice.

    1. David 164 Bronze badge

      Re: 4k

      Of cause it an attempt to get everyone buy a new TV again.

      An we are only getting this big push on 4K TVs because Smart TVs failed to take off and before that 3D screens failed to take off. 4K is the last roll of the dice for the television industry as 8K is no where near ready and anything above that is a 10 years away at least.

      I believe we wouldn't be talking about 4K Televisions if the above two technologies had been commercially successful.

      1. the-it-slayer

        Re: 4k

        "Smart TVs failed to take off" - That's because TV manufacturers cannot write software. Especially with effective and intuitive UI elements. I played with my parent's new Panasonic 50" Smart TV. Jesus christ. Navigating with the normal remote is a struggle, but then try using the touch-sensitive remote they provide. It's so bloomin' sensitive! And there's no logic to what content is where. Just loads of boxes on a screen with labels.

        "3D screens failed to take off" - There's never been much of a market for 3D. Only sport/movies have adopted the tech. Mainstream TV (like the Beeb/ITV) will never touch it because of the cost. Especially when their expenditure is being squeezed all the time. I love 3D, but it's a pain for glasses users too.

        Mobile TV (via tablets/phones) are the way forward. Once TV makers have figured out that being able to push TV channels via the TV itself wirelessly to mobile devices (to take on Sky's Multiroom/houses with slow internet connections), then people will have a desire to upgrade. 4K will be only relevant to 40"+ TVs.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      1080p/i cable TV and streaming video tends to be compressed to hell now

      Works OK for me on Netflix and Blinkbox. And a better compression for regular HD can't be a bad thing.

      Plus, HD is still the domain of downloaded rather than streaming video anyway, for the enthusiast who spends $1000s on their TV and AV kit. And you can bet proper 4k players/discs will be out shortly.

      "But a 27-30" 4k monitor for my desktop would be nice."

      Um, you've been able to buy such a monitor for at least two years. The fact it didn't have a stupid "4K" sticker on it is irrelevant.

  12. Randall Shimizu

    This seems like Google's big push for Google TV.

  13. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    I'm all for it

    I think 4K is mind-bogglingly stupid, but a raft of 4K sets at the high end should push down the price of any TV I am interested in buying, some years from now when the one set I have now dies.

    Currently the wife and I hardly ever watch any of the HD channels we get. Why? They're listed after the SD ones in the online guide, and we never bother scrolling down that far. It turns out that when there is something worth watching on television, the narrative, dialog, characterization, acting, and direction are exactly the same regardless of the video resolution.

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