back to article 4K-ing hell! Will your shiny new Ultra HD TV actually display HD telly?

With just about every TV maker showing off 4K sets at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, and companies like Netflix promising to have content available in the format, it’s tempting to think that if you’re buying a new TV, 4K may be worth a look. Or, at least, worth hanging on for until it’s more sensibly …

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  2. pootle

    multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

    I dunno about other ISPs, but talktalk use multicast for all their 'extra' youview channels, so that bit of technology is already in the bag.

    My real issue is that from a perceptual point of view proper motion tracking and handling is far more important than more (than existing full HD) pixels. Even 50 or 60hz prgressive scan is still going to mean everything going blurry as soon as it moves, just like it does already, so 4k stuff is going to give a far bigger improvement to costume dramas than sportsy stuff

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

      Yes, there's some multicast, but not enough for the sort of wholesale switch away from terrestrial transmission that some tech-utopians believe will be coming along Real Soon Now. Wasn't it TalkTalk that gobbled up the old HomeChoice network, which was built primarily for delivering TV in the first place?

      Unless companies dig deep into their pockets, those outside major areas are going to be stuck with pretty poor service for a long time, multicast or not; for quite a few years, I would guess that the only practical way to deliver multiple channels of HD to people in those areas is going to be via broadcast, whether terrestrial or satellite, rather than IP.

      Some of the demos at recent IBC shows have used much higher frame rates; there have been some BBC demos with rates over 100Hz, and it does make a massive difference to how moving things look on screen. I didn't see the 2013 demos, but I was there in 2012 and it's pretty impressive. There's a little about that at http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2013/09/4k-crazy-at-ibc

      Of course, if anyone's to broadcast at those rates, they'll still run up against the problem that the HDMI 2.0 spec only covers 4K up to 60p, so we'd need another spec bump on that side. Which, I guess, is another good reason to wait before jumping in.

      1. qwarty

        Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

        DisplayPort v1.3 is due later this year - I understand this allows 4K at 120Hz over a cable so a good reason to wait for dust to settle with 4k monitors. Presumably HDMI 2.1 will allow for clearer motion in 4K - anyone know when this might be happening?

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

          Damn good question; HDMI 2.0 was only last September; and even now, there are sets shipping that have 4K screens and HDMI 1.4.

          I fear that at the cheap end of the market, we may well see lots of kit pumped out - like that 'bargain' Kogan set - that only has 1.4. But the less savvy punters will be smitten by the sales patter about 4k, and not realise that they won't be getting anything near the best quality for their money. They'll plug in a fancy new 4K BD player, or a network streamer, and it'll drop down the frame rate, and the colour depth, to match what the set is capable of, when for a little bit more they'd have been able to get the full package.

        2. MaximumJed

          Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

          Framerate is the main thing I want upgraded. 4K might look great up close but I'm not going to be able to put a larger screen in my current room, and can only see some difference from 720p to 1080p at the current distance. Seeing the Hobbit at 48fps was a much greater improvement in quality than I had expected.

      2. Richard 22

        Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

        I was told by somebody who knows these things that HDMI2.0 doubles the data rate over HDMI 1.4, and also introduces a YUV420 option, which halves the bitrate (at the expense of some colour depth I guess). So potentially 4k at 120Hz would be do-able with HDMI 2.0. Might be good for sporting events, where colour depth probably isn't that important.

        1. ralph058

          Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

          YUV420 does not affect the color depth, it affects the color spatial resolution. It operates on the (true) premise that the eye has 1/2 the spatial resolution in color discrimination than it does in the spatial resolution of luminance (Y).

          1. Vic

            Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

            It operates on the (true) premise that the eye has 1/2 the spatial resolution in color discrimination than it does in the spatial resolution of luminance

            The eye is far more complex than that...

            In the fovea (the bit of the eye that copes with what you're looking at directly), the retina is stocked almost entirely with cones. These give full-colour vision (luma and chroma are not separated in the eye) at very high resolution. Unfortunately, cones are slow to react to changes in light, and not particularly sensitive anyway[1].

            Outside of the fovea - which you might consider peripheral vision - the retina is primarily studded with rods. These are monochrome sensors, and are both faster and more sensitive than the cones. The resolution in the periphery is lower than in the fovea.

            The illusion of full-colour vision is actually a goodly amount of video processing occurring in your CNS[2].

            Vic.

            [1] This is why, if you try to look directly at a dim start at night, it will disappear. Look slightly to one side, and you will see it again.

            [2] This can be demonstrated by having someone bring a white card with a coloured dot on it into your view from the periphery. At first, the dot will appear grey or black, depending on how dark a colour it really is. As the card approaches the foveal vision, the colour will suddenly appear. It's quite dramatic. Then comes the really interesting bit - if you move the card back out of view along the same path as you brought it in on, it retains its colour. If you take it right out of view and bring it back in, it again retains its colour. It can take quite a few minutes to go back to the monochrome view.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

      I dunno about other ISPs, but talktalk use multicast for all their 'extra' youview channels, so that bit of technology is already in the bag.

      The multicasting built into BT's whole products went live a while back.

      "Now the telecommunications giant sees a way to get back the millions it costs to rent a channel and instead run the service over its own network. Such a public multicast service could lead to more channels being launched in that way, and White confirmed, "BT Wholesale will certainly resell the multicast capability.""

      I can't remember where it sits in the chain but I think it might be part of GEA rather than WB(M)C so is available to all FTTC providers but not all ADSL providers.

      Edit:Ah, here we are - looks like it's part of GEA.

    3. Steve Todd

      Re: multicast is already here, but 4k is not the answer you were looking for

      The reason that Youview goes all blurry is nothing to do with frame rate, it's down to bit rate. H.264 uses perceptual techniques to help reduce bit rates, and the lower the rate the more that it applies them. As it happens the eye is not good at detecting detail in moving subjects, so providing you don't cut the bit-rate too far this works well. You get the same effects watching football in HD on Sky. When the camera is still you can see every blade of grass, when it moves the pitch becomes a blurry sea of green.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But will there ever be anything worth watching?

    IMHO, for 98% of the channels I can receive at this point in time there clearly isn't.

    So why bother? Oh silly me, its for all those adverts for Betting/Bingo [1] sites, The end of the world is nigh Charities, Bogus Legal services and other stuff that the majority of people don't want.

    don't even get me started on the really crap ads you have to suffer on sky Sports. Once was enough thank you.

    [1] Why are all those Bingo sites advertised with really good looking females. Isn't bingo the preserve of the blue rinse brigade?

    1. Martin

      Re: But will there ever be anything worth watching?

      Indeed. 4K TV will be for people who admire the quality of their TV screens, not for people who actually want to watch TV.

      Just like top-end super-de-luxe hi-fi is the preserve of people who spend their time listening to how good it sounds, not the actual music.

      1. NogginTheNog

        Re: But will there ever be anything worth watching?

        "Just like top-end super-de-luxe hi-fi is the preserve of people who spend their time listening to how good it sounds, not the actual music."

        Great music will sound great on a crappy hi-fi, and utterly amazing on a top-end system. It's just that the more money you spend you get to the realms of diminishing returns. But if you ever heard a really good orchestral piece played on a really expensive hi-fi system - when you can almost feel like you're standing next to the conductor - you'll perhaps understand what some people strive to achieve.

        Crap music of course will just sound progressively worse on a decent system, sounding ever more artificial as the equipment strips bare the techniques used to "polish the turd".

        Similarly, give a cheap guitar to a great musician and it'll sound great! Give a top end Fender or Gibson to someone like me and, well you can work out the rest...

    2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: Isn't bingo the preserve of the blue rinse brigade?

      As I understand it, that hasn't been true since the 1980s.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Isn't bingo the preserve of the blue rinse brigade?

        Indeed; and I have never felt as utterly slow and out of my depth as the time I stumbled into a bingo night in a lesbian pub in Islington. I simply couldn't keep up.

    3. Robert Grant

      Re: But will there ever be anything worth watching?

      Makes it seem glamorous, I guess. Or, the advertising industry is just incredibly staid, e.g. putting out the same perfume advert every 3 months for every brand, and thus clearly doesn't have any good ideas outside of Guinness ads and those Orange ones where the star pitched the idea. Until they squeezed that to death as well.

      1. Fogcat

        Re: But will there ever be anything worth watching?

        Running up to Christmas that was a perfume ad, black and white, male with a chiselled jaw driving and open topped sports care and so on. It was so utterly full of cliches I was waiting for the end of the ad for the punchline seriously believing it to be one of those spoof ads that appears glamorous but is actually for soap powder.

        The those sneaky ad men fooled me - it was actually an ad for perfume!

    4. JDX Gold badge

      Re: But will there ever be anything worth watching?

      Boring argument. Films, TV drama shows and live sport all offer great content depending on your tastes. If you don't like any of those or the normal drivel, then maybe TV isn't for you.

      1. JLV Silver badge
        Meh

        >Films, TV drama shows and live sport all offer great content

        Perhaps, but mostly when they have been recorded in that format.

        Sports will be, as soon as it is available. But for the rest, you'll to wait for a while till the content catches up with the medium and you can kiss your old faves goodbye. Unless you are a true believer in upscaling, which I ain't. Or the director/producer were forward-looking enough to record in UHD and had the right equipment.

        4K? Definitely. _After_ the standards have settled, the prices have come down from small-car-level and when the things I like to watch are cheap and plentiful. 1080p in the meantime - 55+"s are dirt cheap by now.

        Great article!

      2. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: But will there ever be anything worth watching?

        TV drama is not good fodder for increased image clarity. You will just end up becoming far to intimate with the skin conditions of the actors. Not all films benefit from increased image clarity or increased screen size.

        As far as sports goes... it already sounds like they are being gravely compromised.

        That's not even getting into whether or not your home viewing setup is even capable of showcasing the extra screen resolution.

  4. Dom 1
    FAIL

    Nobody's mentioned.....

    that Nippon TV (widely regarded to be the standard for high quality - read: definition, not content) have already said that they are NOT going to be broadcasting any 4K. Instead, they are going straight to 8K.

    So all these 4K TV's being sold may be obsolete before they have even started!

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Nobody's mentioned.....

      Dunno; if I had a chance to replace 4 screens in a row with one screen of equivalent or better resolution I would jump to it, nevermind that this is called "TV" and not "computer monitor" ...

  5. Fuzz

    2K intermediate

    Where is this 4K content from?

    Most cinema is processed at 2K.

    4K just strikes me as a way to sell new TVs to idiots.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: 2K intermediate

      There are quite a few 4K cameras around now. Netflix is making content in 4k, as I mentioned in the article. And there will be stuff filmed at various forthcoming sporting events, too.

      1. Fuzz

        Re: 2K intermediate

        Look at the current UK box office top 10 according to imdb

        12 years a slave - shot on 35mm, 2K digital intermediate

        American Hustle - shot on 35mm, 4K intermediate

        The hobbit - shot on red, 2K intermediate

        Frozen - digital animation, 2K intermediate

        Last vegas - shot on digital, 2K intermediate

        The Railway Man - shot on digital, 2K intermediate

        Delivery Man - shot on 35mm, 2K intermediate

        Mandela - shot on 35mm

        Anchorman 2 - shot on digital, 2K intermediate

        Paranormal Activity - unknown

        So out of 10 films, only 1 uses a 4K process. My point is that this is totally different to when HD arrived. When 1080p came films were being shot and processed at that resolution so the benefits for new films was there. Now people are being sold 4K TVs and the content they are being sold is actually up-scaled 2K.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: 2K intermediate

      Where is this 4K content from?

      According to Wikipedia cinema projectors are already heading in the direction of 4K, so I'd be surprised if the camera & production parts weren't already 4K ready.

    3. Boothy

      Re: 2K intermediate

      @ Fuzz,

      Quote: Most cinema is processed at 2K.

      Yes, for now, but they are switching over to 4K, so at some point 2K will be depreciated. (How long this will take, is another question).

    4. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: 2K intermediate

      4K just strikes me as a way to sell new TVs to idiots.

      A lot of whom already sit too far from their screens to benefit from HD. And my own informal polling suggests very few people really care. I've come across a lot of people who say things like "I can't be bothered to go and find the HD version of that channel".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2K intermediate

        And there are plenty out there happily watching SD content on "HD ready" sets convinced they are already watching HD broadcasts...

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: 2K intermediate

        Some of us still watch the SD channel rather than the HD because..........

        Some wanker put a sodding great big on screen turd on the HD channel

        Channel 4 you are turds!

      3. JLV Silver badge

        >sit too far from their screens to benefit from HD

        Yeah, you know, that is not so totally true as you may think.

        I had a 1080p 32" that I was watching from 8-9' or so for years. Most of the time, if you are engrossed in a movie, you won't tell a 720p DVD from a Blu-Ray. You can, maybe, if you stop to think about it, but I probably won't.

        However... freeze frame on a scene involving a letter or a page of a book, held at arms length. Most of the time, you can't read the text from a DVD but you can do that just fine from a BluRay. Or watch Apocalypto, for example, one of the best early movies for HD.

        i.e. I may _not_ care most of the time, and I am most assuredly not a "connoisseur", in TVs or sound systems. But believing straight off the bat that regular HD doesn't make any difference because you can't physically see the difference with DVD is a bit of reverse-snobism, IMHO.

        Try it for yourself instead of just believing the theory. On 4K you are probably spot on.

        1. Fuzz
          Joke

          Re: >sit too far from their screens to benefit from HD

          "However... freeze frame on a scene involving a letter or a page of a book, held at arms length. Most of the time, you can't read the text from a DVD but you can do that just fine from a BluRay. Or watch Apocalypto, for example, one of the best early movies for HD."

          I generally prefer to watch all movies like this. I just pause them and then advance one frame at a time, that way I don't miss anything.

          1. david 12 Bronze badge

            Re: >sit too far from their screens to benefit from HD

            Sometimes I would like to be able to read the credits on the screen. Particularly the music credits. I don't know if the problem is the frame rate, or the resolution, but I look forward to the day when I can read text on screen, as we used to when watching film movies on analog TV.

            1. Vic

              Re: >sit too far from their screens to benefit from HD

              > I don't know if the problem is the frame rate, or the resolution

              Neither.

              For most people, it's simply the compression artefacts - text is all high-frequency information, and those values just get quantised out of the DCT.

              In the UK - I don't know if it happens elsewhere as well - they've developed this *really* annoying habit of shrinking the credits to about a quarter of the screen so they can shjow an advert for another programme. And voice over as well.

              Vic.

    5. Andy Mc

      Re: 2K intermediate

      Actually you'll find that most cinema productions that are digitally recorded with any kind of a budget are being shot in 4k these days, and as for the holdouts still using film, decent quality 35mm stock has small enough grain to justify scanning at 4k or higher (16mm less so). Pretty much all of the post-production suites in Soho are equipped for 4k and higher resolutions and film can be rescanned at higher resolutions than it was for the original releases to good effect, if a decent quality master is used. There's a move towards 4k for TV production too - the cost of 4k kit is plumetting.

      And I think you'll find it was 3D that was the recent way of selling new TVs to idiots.

      1. Frank Bough

        Re: 2K intermediate

        Hardly any post is done at 4K. Most films and a lot of TV is now shot at >>2k/HD, but onlining still usually happens at HD/2K.

        1. Andy Mc

          Re: 2K intermediate

          Indeed, but that's only because there's no consumer outlet for 4k except digital cinema right now so there's little point. Once there's a way to get that content to the home on onto people's shiny new 4k panels both the content and the post capability in 4k already exists. Hence the original comment about there being no 4k content not being entirely accurate.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2K intermediate

      I'd rather like to see the various video clips that I've recently recorded using the 4K video recording mode of my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 thank you very much. Now who's the idiot?

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Now who's the idiot?

        Is it the bloke with a phone the size of his head?

  6. PaulR79

    Channel use of 4k?

    When (hah) all broadcasts are 1080p with a smattering of 4k I'll consider a 4k set, no sooner. Until then I see little point in anything beyond 1080p with most HD channels only doing 720p or 1080i at best. As others Fuzz said above me it just seems like a way to try and sell more TVs to those that don't need them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Channel use of 4k?

      Was listening to the sales patter of a young John Lewis employee just before Christmas, selling a 4K TV to a middle aged couple. Think he did it to - yes, the demo they were showing was absolutely wonderful, but you just know that the majority of people seeing these sets will think that's what they are going to get when they take it home and watch Coronation Street.

      An aunt of mine was convinced (and wouldn't take no for an answer since the sales man had told her so) that her HD ready set was showing her HD content - this was back before the digital switchover and she was still watching on the analogue tuner...

      Ahh, I remember the days of trying to convince the in-laws that the film they where watching in letterboxed widescreen didn't have the top and bottom cut off by the BBC...

      1. PaulR79

        Re: Channel use of 4k?

        I have the responsibility for advising my family on all things technology related. Luckily they trust me and would take my word over a sales rep with £££ signs in his eyes. It does, however, mean that I have to stay up to date on things myself but that's ok as I do it anyway. I really don't know if people like your aunt are believing what they're told to justify the outlay. Nobody likes to be told they've been fleeced.

  7. Russ Pitcher
    Stop

    These are not the pixels you are looking for.

    Rather than trying to squeeze more and more pixels into limited bandwidth, wouldn't it be better to make the best use of the 1080p pixels we already have by increasing frame rates and colour depth and attempting to reduce or improve the overdone compression on existing channels? That way we can realise the full potential of FullHD which, if done correctly, should more than enough for most households.

    Or is it easier to market "MORE PIXELS!" than better quality...?

    1. Boothy

      Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

      Would be nice if they would define a reasonable minimum standard for HD, in order to be allowed to claim a channel is actually HD.

      I find it annoying I can watch one Sky HD channel, and it looks fine. Then switch to another supposed HD channel, and it have noticeable compression artefacts, pixelation, colour banding etc..

      Sorry but HD is more that just a higher resolution. If you're channel looks worse than your SD channel when there is a lot of movement, or other things happening on screen, IT IS NOT HD!

    2. Boothy

      Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

      Quote: "Or is it easier to market "MORE PIXELS!" than better quality...?"

      It's worked as a marketing gimmick for years for compact and mobile phone cameras, so why expect TVs to be any different?

      1. Cliff

        Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

        Try quantifying bitrate and encoding system in a manner as easy as 'More Pixels' - it's hard to explain to someone nontechnical (almost all 4k TV buyers will be nontechnical) why their current HD picture looks so bloody awful.

        Stand in front of an HDTV and look at the cringeworthy banding and mosquitoes on on-screen text. You can throw pixels at a shitty image and just end up with more pixel redundancy for a shitty image. Digital transmission has basically stopped me watching telly. Close-ups where large areas of face move hauntingly as if detached from the other features and other compression leftovers make it a ghastly experience.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

          Quantifying those extra things is, one might think, precisely the sort of thing that a labelling system might try to do. A "Fabulous HD" logo might encompass "Sharper pictures; true-to-life colour; smooth movement" and so-on, in a way that might make it a little easier for the less savvy consumer to grasp.

          Unfortunately, after the mess and confusion of "HD Ready" I don't personally have much confidence in that, and perhaps still less after seeing that the proposed DE baseline mentions only 8 bits of colour depth, when it's very likely that sources - including BD - will be offering more than that.

          After the frustrations many had with 5.1 on Freeview, I'm also a little worried about the specification for audio simply being 2.0 PCM.

          A quickly released labelling scheme could end up confusing things even more. But then, when it comes to labelling, I suppose there's a long and pretty dismal history of that sort of thing.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

          "Close-ups where large areas of face move hauntingly as if detached from the other features and other compression leftovers make it a ghastly experience."

          I thought it was just me. Every time I mention that, people ask me what I am talking about.

          What is the "technical term" for this effect?

          1. Cliff

            Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

            "I thought it was just me. Every time I mention that, people ask me what I am talking about.

            What is the "technical term" for this effect?"

            Fugly. As in "that's one fugly picture".

        3. Cryo

          Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

          "Try quantifying bitrate and encoding system in a manner as easy as 'More Pixels' - it's hard to explain to someone nontechnical (almost all 4k TV buyers will be nontechnical) why their current HD picture looks so bloody awful."

          For transmission quality, they could simply use the bitrate in megabits per second, such as 5 Meg, 10 Meg, etc, much like how the quality of downloadable music is advertised, in terms similar to what's used for broadband. Perhaps if someone wants to pay extra for their streaming video service to use a 30 Meg transmission, they can have that option.

          Of course, this isn't really all that useful to TV manufacturers, as it's related to transmission quality rather than display hardware. For them, telling people they get "FOUR TIMES THE PIXELS!" is what they're trying to market 4k on, whether or not people will ever see those pixels. Netflix might be planning on offering a 4K stream at 15 Mbps, but compressed Blu-Rays at 1080p already offer twice that amount of bandwidth. The increased resolution might provide a slightly sharper image, but that will only really be noticeable if you sit very close to a large screen. At typical television viewing distances you would need a massive wall-sized display to notice a significant difference, and that's not something everyone needs. The move to HD was a significant upgrade that provided a noticeable boost in quality on even average-sized screens, but 4k's potential benefits mostly just apply to the high end, making widespread adoption unlikely in the near-future.

      2. Lamont Cranston

        Re: "It's worked as a marketing gimmick for years..." @ Boothy

        I think TV is different. People buying digital cameras don't look past the Megapixel count, and this is probably true for phones (if they look at the camera specs at all) but, when it comes to TV, most people (in my experience) are quite happy with an HD Ready (720p) set and a DVD player hooked up over SCART.

        4K looks lovely, but I can see it having the same problem that Blu-ray does - the technology that it's replacing is already good enough for most people, and so there's no motivation to replace the existing kit (unless it breaks, and even then a like-for-like replacement will be easier on the wallet).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "It's worked as a marketing gimmick for years..." @ Boothy

          I am in the "dire" position of needing a new telly. The previous one expired.

          After months of research I am now convinced whatever I buy, it will be wrong. I rather like the Samsung 8505 plasma, mainly because it just has better colour rendition than the LCD/LED variety. But will it decode H.265? Will 4K down scale in any useful fashion, should I care?

          Questions, questions, questions. And the money is still in my pocket at this stage.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

      As an analogue person, there ain't no alternative to bandwidth. The effect of digitisation and compression/decompression + HDMI encoding/decoding in minimal bandwidth is to totally destroy the picture quality before it reaches the screen. I've yet to see a good moving digital picture even at 720. Why would anyone want 4K except as a static display screen?

      1. Steven Jones

        Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

        "HDMI encoding/decoding in minimal bandwidth"

        What one earth are you talking about? HDMI does not have bandwidth issues (provided the cable meets the required specification, in which case you'll probably get no picture at all or, less likely, some very obvious picture breakup and/or sparklies). It's a digital transmission system which passes through the full video frame data rate. It has absolutely whatsoever to do with the lossy compression and encoding of video data. All that decoding is done before it gets to the HDMI cable.

        Incidentally, for what it's worth, as you are an analogue person, analogue colour signal transmissions were also heavily compressed using PAL, Secam or NTSC due to the way colour was encoded into the video signal. It's one of the myths of analogue folk that somehow their preferred method of transmission somehow contains more information when, in practice it's the reverse. Just Try squeezing an HD analogue video stream into the bandwidth used by a digital HD stream...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

          "Incidentally, for what it's worth, as you are an analogue person, analogue colour signal transmissions were also heavily compressed using PAL, Secam or NTSC due to the way colour was encoded into the video signal. It's one of the myths of analogue folk that somehow their preferred method of transmission somehow contains more information when, in practice it's the reverse. Just Try squeezing an HD analogue video stream into the bandwidth used by a digital HD stream..."

          NTSC and PAL both work IIRC by emphasizing the luma quality over the chroma quality, and that's due to experiments that show we're more sensitive to luma detail than chroma detail. That's also why MPEG-based codecs also emphasize the luma over the chroma (thus YUV ratios like 4:2:2 and 4:2:0). To transmit 30 frames of raw 24-bit RGB video and 1 second og 16-bit 48kHz 2.0 Stereo audio, both uncompressed, requires, at a minimum, 249.6MB of storage and bandwidth. And that's PER SECOND. I would be curious to know, for the record, just how much digital information one could've crammed in the frequency allocations provided for one analog PAL or NTSC channel, to see whether or not it would've been enough to carry that much data at a time.

          As for the analog insistence of audiophiles, I believe the issue is not so much bandwidth as it is tonal idisyncracies. Some people DO have a very sensitive ear, I understand. Has anyone conducted a scientifically-significant study to see if audiophiles really can tell the difference between a good analog audio setup and a good digital one.

          1. Vic

            Re: These are not the pixels you are looking for.

            NTSC and PAL both work IIRC by emphasizing the luma quality over the chroma quality

            No, not really.

            Analogue TV puts the chroma oonto a separate sub-carrier, but that's more about history than technology - it needed to be backwards-compatible, so that if you lose the colour info, it reverts to monochrome.

            Digital TV, on the other hand, has always separated luma and chroma, and compressed them separately. This is because the human eye is *very* much more sensitive to luma noise than chroma noise, so you can dial down the chroma quality with little or no perceived image degradation. Try the same on the luma and it looks *terrible*..

            I would be curious to know, for the record, just how much digital information one could've crammed in the frequency allocations provided for one analog PAL or NTSC channel

            With the level of compression artefacts current punters generally deem acceptable[1], it's about digital channels to one analogue one. Which sounds great until you realise that they're not creating six times more content - they're just spreading it more thinly. When Dave is showing newer episodes of HIGNFY than BBC2, you know you're in trouble...

            Has anyone conducted a scientifically-significant study to see if audiophiles really can tell the difference between a good analog audio setup and a good digital one.

            Yes, many times. There is plenty of research in this area.

            Sadly, many audiophiles simply will not trust the results of a double-bllind test; they firmly believe they can hear differences which are demonstrably not there.

            Vic.

            [1] I have no idea why people are so tolerant; most broadcast digital TV looks just *awful*. But people lap it up as long as it has a big enough frame size.

            1. Vic

              Bah.

              > it's about digital channels to one analogue one

              That should, of course have read "it's about six digital channels to one analogue one"./

              One day, I'll learn to type...

              Vic.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I don't give a **** about the TVs

    What I want is some of that 4K monitor goodness.

    Bastards owe it to me after all the 1920×1080 shit they shoveled at us.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I don't give a **** about the TVs

      It's not hard to buy a hi-res monitor. iMac have them and you can buy the same basic monitor for your PC if you have the cash.

      1. phil dude
        Thumb Up

        Re: I don't give a **** about the TVs

        My nice HP 30' is quite nice (2560x1600) . I had a samsung in oxford last year 27" 2500x1550?

        Thing is I *already* need a DVI-D port to drive this at 60Hz (there is an undocumented 1280x800 mode that I found by accident for HDMI 1.4 and regular DVI...). My dinky 1920x1200@120Hz 3D monitor for molecule wobbling requires DVD-I x2 , HDMI 1.4 x2.

        So it would seem we can have high res or high speed, or whatever the cable will deliver... Surely a screen is sold with "$SPECS" can be mapped to whatever service by known $REQUIREMENTS? I would think decoder boxes are already quite prominent in the average household.

        I get the feeling the really difficult challenges have been solved and now there is haggling over how to market it..?

        P.

    2. Marcelo Rodrigues

      Re: I don't give a **** about the TVs

      Tell me about it. I could live with 1920, but 1080 is quite small. 1200 would be a world better.

      Of course, 2560 on my monitor is better, even so 4k.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't give a **** about the TVs

        1080? you do know that 1080 HD is 1920x1080?

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: I don't give a **** about the TVs

          Presumably not, and presumably that's why the marketing people reckon they can sell 2160p as 4K.

  9. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Broadcasters penny pinching

    The problem I have is with the broadcasters: They compress the hell out of the picture to be able to cram more channels in.

    The "big" channels, are OK. But as soon as you start to hit the lesser viewed channels, or the +1 channels, the bit rate (& hence quality) drops like a stone.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Broadcasters penny pinching

      Some of that is the broadcasters, but it's also down to the evils of capitalism ;-)

      Once spectrum became an "asset" or "resource" and was something that people had to pay for rights to, the end result was inevitable.

      Commercial broadcasters want to get as much cheap cheerful schlock in front of the eyeballs of the viewers as possible, and so they'll squeeze in extra channels, regardless of the shocking effect on picture quality.

      The BBC will want to justify their position by being seen to be broadly competitive, and so have their extra channels too.

      The PSB services have at least some technical constraints imposed upon them, but beyond that everything is up for grabs, sadly.

      And all this will be made worse by the intention to squeeze broadcasting into an ever smaller chunk of spectrum, so that the rest can be "monetised" more effectively; expect to see muxes switch to DVB-T2 and H.264 in future, even for SD, so that as the space shrinks, we can maintain roughly a similar level of service.

      And one of the sad things about this is that, frankly, a lot of people don't even care that much about picture quality; they're quite happy to watch 4:3 stuff zoomed in weird ways, for example, or have their TVs lined up with the most lurid colours imaginable. The conditions in which many people choose their TV don't exactly help them realise what they're missing out on, either.

    2. Pugwash69

      Re: Broadcasters penny pinching

      For example: The remastered Star Trek original series. They broadcast the episodes on one of the cheap channels with compression artifacts obliterating them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Broadcasters penny pinching

      It's nothing to do with the broadcasters, it is the transmission network.

      A TV company that wants a channel pays for it. Therefore to make as much money as possible the Freeview people cram in as much as possible.

  10. dogknees

    For me, none of this matters, it's a monitor and will go on the pc which does everything media related in my lounge.

  11. codejunky Silver badge

    But first

    Shouldnt we sort out the bandwidth limits? I watch my TV shows online with my superfast 3mb at best in a city. I cant get any better than that because there is no virgin nor any fibre in my area (again in a major city).

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: But first

      And that's why, even with multicast, which is only really going to make a difference with live TV, IP distribution will be a pipedream for huge areas of the country, for quite some time yet.

      You might get HEVC to squeeze UltraHD down to 11Mbps (which is the point at which Netflix will fall back to 1080), but even that is way more than a lot of people can get.

      And that's one reason why, for live stuff at least, there's still a need for broadcast services. Unless you're going to say to a large chunk of the population (including those, like you, in cities), "Sorry; you're never going to get 4K"

      1. Piro

        Re: But first

        3840x2160 @ 11Mbps? Say it isn't true! I don't care how good H.265 is supposed to be (and from early testing, I haven't seen anything that's dramatically better than x264, and x264 is so polished and versatile, that it really makes the best of those bits for human eyesight).

        11Mbps average is perfectly good for 1920x1080 x264 video at 23.976, 24, 25 or 30 fps, but even then, Blu-ray bitrates often average double that (also, many commercial encoders perform worse than x264). But OK even with H.265 (HEVC) for FOUR TIMES THE AREA?

        I don't think so!

        Digital Cinema itself (for presentation in cinemas) has bitrates far beyond this, but also uses a "dumb" scheme - JPEG-2000 independently encoded frames, at 250Mbps, up to 4096x2160.

        Two hundred and fifty megabits per second. 11Mbps seems like an appalling joke in comparison for 3840x2160 content! (I refuse to get sucked in by these stupid monikers for resolutions, let's just always type the resolution).

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: But first

          That's the switchover point, according to an interview with Netflix.

          The general aim will be 15.6Mbps, from memory, and 11Mbps is the point at which their adaptive streaming will fall back from UHD to standard HD, using HEVC (H.265). They'll also, where possible, be using HEVC for lower resolutions, to save on bandwidth, though it'll obviously take a while before there's a substantial chunk of kit out there able to decode it.

          The paper we linked to in the article really is well worth reading.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Next time you talk to Netflix

            Please ask them WTF is going on with their streaming rates!

            I live in the Bay Area in CA, have a 50Mbit/sec connection and Netflix tops out at ~6Mb/sec, the vast majority of the time it's around 2-4Mb/sec and on Friday and Saturday evenings it struggles to get about 1Mb/sec so them promoting that they're going to start 4K streaming is just a marketing joke!

            I've just started using Amazon instant video whenever possible as it will stream the same content as Netflix at 11-12Mb/sec whilst Netflix is buffering on me as it can't maintain >0.5Mb/sec.

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: But first

          It might. In most cases large areas of the screen don't change much (if at all) from frame to frame, they simply shift in one direction or another.

          So you can do a lot of frames with very little data, and by choosing the key frames very carefully you get quite astounding compression.

          You can't do the latter very well on a live stream though, as you can't predict when the director is going to cut away.

          1. James Hughes 1

            Re: But first

            H265 can get about twice the pixels in the same bitrate at best. The main difference is the variable macroblock sizes IIRC . H264 is 64x64 pixels, H265 can be much larger, with the associated improvement in compression when large areas are fairly constant. This plays in to the hand of higher resolution of course, where you have more pixels in the same image area.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But first

          "Digital Cinema itself (for presentation in cinemas) has bitrates far beyond this, but also uses a "dumb" scheme - JPEG-2000 independently encoded frames, at 250Mbps, up to 4096x2160."

          Really? That is an interesting factoid.

        4. Vic

          Re: But first

          > a "dumb" scheme - JPEG-2000 independently encoded frames

          It has a major advantage for something like a cinema - bit errors do not propagate between frames. That's important unless you can guarantee zero errors - and you can't.

          Cinemas aren't bandwidth-constrained, so this is the right choice for them. Broadcast TV is rather different, especially when you expect unicast IP delivery...

          Vic.

      2. Vic

        Re: But first

        > multicast, which is only really going to make a difference with live TV

        Internally, all the broadcasters carry their traffic as multicasts.

        It would be entirely possible for their output to go to customers as multicast - indeed, the company I now work for makes kit that does exactly that. Sadly, most punters cannot yet subscribe to multicast traffic, because most ISPs don't carry it.

        My pet idea is for broadcasters to ship traffic as multicast on a sort of NVOD-basis, which is buffered in the STB, and a unicast stream alongside to transmit the data between the start of the programme and the first chuink of multicast received. This would give the appearance of a VOD system, but with gratly reduced bandwidth.

        Never going to happen, though. Store all that valuable Intellectual Property on a hard disk? How very dare you[1]!

        Vic.

        [1] Yes, I know it happens already. But try talking to any of the copyright owners and watch the reaction...

  12. John 172

    Broadcasting Linear TV Should End

    Why is it that the old fashioned concept of broadcasting linear channels is being applied to the internet and being kept alive? Netflix have it right, a true on demand service with no adverts. It's a liberation not having adverts being forced down your throat all the time and having an on demand only service forces you to think a little and often the choice is to switch the TV off (or put the fireplace on since Netflix added that). If network bandwidth needs to increase for this to apply widely then so be it, let that happen!

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Broadcasting Linear TV Should End

      You can keep your Netflix - I like my advert/license fee funded background noise!

      No joke icon, as I'm serious. I tried Netflix, but didn't like it - TV should be a passive experience (never mind that I am one of the many people doomed to never have the audio/visual be in sync).

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Broadcasting Linear TV Should End

        Netflix can be as passive as you want it to be. Just start it up and it will keep itself going.

    2. MrXavia

      Re: Broadcasting Linear TV Should End

      I'll keep my license funded TV thanks, until services start providing DRM free downloads I will stick to Broadcast TV and Blu-Rays.

  13. This Side Up
    Stop

    "Ready" = NOT

    "an “HD Ready” TV isn't necessarily capable of receiving HD broadcasts."

    Isn't it about time this misleading description was banned by the ASA?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: "Ready" = NOT

      Technically, I'm sure that they would say it's not a misleading description.

      The HD Ready symbol has a clear definition, one which distinct from the HD TV symbol, and it has never been claimed by those who came up with the label that it meant anything other than being able to display from a different source.

      They are aided and abetted in that by the fact that a logo or symbol is usually treated quite differently to the actual words themselves.

      I think, in the UK at least, you could make a much better argument for the "HD TV" symbol being misleading, where it's applied to kit that doesn't have DVB-T2 and H.264, because it won't receive the UK HD broadcasts.

      I'm not excusing the massive confusion caused by the HD Ready symbol - just explaining that I'm pretty sure that, as far as the ASA would be concerned, the symbol itself has a clear meaning, which is explained on the website, and so is unlikely to actually be considered a misleading description.

      Of course, a lot may also depend on the context too; just putting the "HD Ready" logo in a corner of the ad is one thing, but saying something like "Watch Freeview programmes in high definition on this HD Ready TV" is a different matter entirely and would very probably be misleading, if it wasn't made clear additional equipment was necessary.

      Part of the problem, of course, is the poorly trained sales staff who didn't make things clear, too. And while the ASA can regulate ads, it has no power over the sticky labels granted to TV makers and printed on their boxes, or what salesmen say.

      To be absolutely clear, I do think the HD Ready/HD TV labelling turned out to be a monstrous balls up. I'm just not convinced you'd actually have any joy with the ASA.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: "Ready" = NOT

        You may be right about the ASA, but I'd like to think you'd see a different outcome if you went to court.

        It strikes me a clearly dishonest to say "cures cancer" on the label and then weasel out by saying that the curvy lines on your logo are merely a pattern designed to remind you of text and that it is explained clearly on your website that no medicinal properties are claimed for the product.

        Given the furore, it would appear that 99% of the population agree so I'd have no problem finding 12 like-minded ordinary folk for my jury.

  14. Blacklight
    Alert

    Uppengraden...

    What about kit that "upscales"? It's not entirely clear if they just upscale, or can actually handle 4K content too (and just relay it).

    I recently swapped out my Onkyo TX-SR609 for a TX-NR609 - basically the same model A/V, but with (and the reason I bought it) a shiny CAT5 port and DLNA etc, and also 4K upscaling. Most of the docs only say "upscaling", although one says "Upscaling and processing" - so it's not clear if it could actually cope with 4k content natively. They do say it will upscale to 4K2K (3840 x 2160) - so if it can output, I'd assume it could relay it?

    Still ,anyone who buys this beasty : http://www.costco.co.uk/view/product/uk_catalog/cos_1,cos_1.1,cos_1.1.7/142976

    will be a bit narked if it doesn't work, won't they? :)

  15. psychonaut

    jerky crappy crap

    i used to have a 32" 100Hz tv. it was awesome. picture was fab

    when i bought a new panasonic vierra 50 something inch a few years ago, i couldnt believe how jerky it was.

    the colour is great though.

    i though it was me at first, i couldnt read any scrolling text without "tracking" it with my eyes and i kept thinking that i just couldnt keep up with the action on the tele. it was like i was missing bits in a blur.

    sort that shit out first then lets talk about more pixels than i cant see properly anyway.

    or would you like a 3d screen sir? no? curved screen sir? no? no?

    just make what we have already work you dicks!

    just make a hd screen at 100hz or something. ffs.

    1. Blacklight

      Re: jerky crappy crap

      Check all your in-path devices.

      I had "sideways" jerk (particularly with horizontal panning) on some films - being played by a PS3. It had 24Hz enabled automatically (depending on content), my A/V receiver passes through 24 Hz and the TV is 24Hz capable.

      And the "capable" word was the problem - as I was blaming the telly. I had to enable "movie mode" on the TV to get 24Hz behaving, which has now eliminated the stutter. This differs from the 100Mhz "Trumotion" stuff, which makes everything slide around sickeningly :\

      The stupid thing is the TV was telling me it was a 24Hz signal, but it didn't deal with it "properly" until an option was enabled. Le sigh.

  16. Refugee from Windows
    Boffin

    Receiving equipment

    Alas the meatbag end of the system wouldn't notice any difference at this end. My peepers just about make standard HD not beyond.

    However with silly bandwidth required for possible transmissions, we could just go back to having 5 terrestrial channels again.

  17. pear

    Grumble?

    I'm all for high res content but for broadcast they really need to sort out the quality of "HD" before they start broadcasting 4k. I'm glad, at least, that pretty much everything BBC is now broadcast in 'HD' and it's not bad.

    Compare itv hd to NHK and you'll wonder why itv are allowed to call it "HD".

    As for content distribution the failure of Sony et al to produce an optical disc format will make it hard for it to take off.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It does look like another mis-labelling/mis-selling balls up coming down the line to flog sets to foolish punters before the standards have been established.

    Higher frame rates and colour depth have potential to make a difference to home viewers but those are the standards that are not yet locked down. All the evidence I've seen suggests that at normal viewing distances it's impossible to resolve the detail on an HD set (in most cases impossible to tell the difference between 720 and 1080) so the resolution is the least impactful of the changes UHDTV could offer.

    Ho hum.

    It's not exactly easy to watch HD at the moment. The EPGs are a mess - where a channel is available in both HD and SD there should be a single EPG entry with your box delivering the right resolution.

    And, as others have pointed out, a lot of HD broadcast looks terrible as the bitrate is just too low. HD can look fabulous but so much broadcast is so far below what the format is capable of it's a joke.

  19. John Sanders
    Megaphone

    Meh!

    Meh!

  20. NBCanuck

    HD Ready.....really??

    Will "HD Ready" for a TV turn to be what "Vista Capable" was for computers?

  21. Philip Lewis

    Excellent headline Mr Sub-editor

    Heading says it all

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great headline , worth an exclamation mark

    "4k-ing hell!" must be a Reg Classic.

  23. DougS Silver badge

    Here in the US

    Directv has announced they'll be doing 4K programming, and rumor is that they're already testing it.

    I doubt there will be all that much demand for it, other than PPV channels and the main HBO/Showtime type channels. The difference between SD (which was analog for most people) and HD was dramatic. The difference with 4K is minimal, if even noticeable at all, from normal viewing distances.

    I had a few friends buy HDTVs and I found they weren't even set up to properly view in HD - i.e., their receivers that had been configured for their SDTV were never reconfigured so they were still displaying SD, or they were tuning to the SD channel numbers not the HD channels. If someone had a 4K TV that was only using an HD source, I doubt I'd notice visually. There will probably be a lot of people bragging about their new 4K TV even if they never watch a single true 4K source on it...

  24. eldakka Silver badge

    15Mbps streaming over the internet?

    Hmm, I pay $60/month for 150GB month quota.

    hours/month = (quota (MB) / rate (MB/s))/ seconds in an hour

    = (150GB*1000) / (15Mbps/8) / 3600

    = 22.22 hours

    So I can get 22.22 hours of 4K TV for my $60/month.

    Of course, I ALREADY use up all my quota each month on SD TV shows and the odd 720p/1080p movie plus game downloads/patches.

    Yeah not gonna happen.

  25. system11

    So, buy a new TV on which my existing HD content will look ... awful? At a time where world & dog are finally embracing Blu-Ray?

    I despair with the TV manufacturing industry. 4k should be 4x1080, then you could scale without artifacts.

    1. Vic

      > I despair with the TV manufacturing industry. 4k should be 4x1080

      It is...

      The unit I was playing with at work the other week actually has 4 video feeds[1] - each one a 1080 feed. The 4 are quadranted to make the 4K display.

      Vic.

      [1] I believe this is fairly standard, but as I'm not really on the 4K project, I can't be sure...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is simple.

    Do not be an early adopter.

  27. Pugwash69

    Even now I don't think any of the Sky channels are 1080p. 720p at most? The BBC were putting good quality broadcasts out but didn't they lower the horizontal resolution?

    I'm not going to wait for broadcast sources. When I went 1080p I bought lots of blu-rays. I'll wait until there's media and equipment for 4k before I bother with the TV.

    1. TheFirstChoice

      Broadcast HD resolutions

      Broadcast HD in the UK is 1080i50 - though the BBC use some 'smart' systems to automatically switch between 50i and 25p (e.g. when they play out movies).

      I think 3D broadcasts (certainly the ones on the BBC HD channel as was or the BBC Red Button service more recently) are side by side 3D which meant chopping the horizontal resolution in half - two 960x1080 images next to each other.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Broadcast HD resolutions

        Yes, the BBC stuff was side by side; they did a fairly cunning simulcast a couple of christmasses ago of Streetdance 3D http://gonedigital.net/2012/01/02/more-3d-on-bbc-hd-streetdance/ where they used the side by side format for the main transmission, with a red button to change to 2D.

        That used the scaling capabilities of the interactive engine to scale the left hand side of the image up to full screen. Less bandwidth than you need to do it the other way - a full HD stream and a separate side-by-side stream for the 3D version - but the consequence is that the effective resolution is lower whether watching in 2D or 3D.

        Back when 4K was first talked about, one of the touted advantages of such a high resolution was that it would mean that there wouldn't be such a loss of quality when viewing 3D material. Of course, since then, 3D has become the red headed bastard that won't be inheriting the throne any time soon, and they'll have to think of another way to persuade us we really, really need it.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "As for the analog insistence of audiophiles, I believe the issue is not so much bandwidth as it is tonal idisyncracies. Some people DO have a very sensitive ear, I understand. Has anyone conducted a scientifically-significant study to see if audiophiles really can tell the difference between a good analog audio setup and a good digital one."

    Wireless world tests in the 1950/60s showed that the ears can detect a difference in arrival time of around 1uS. Phasing I guess. All digital audio is passed through analogue filtering before amplification. Any errors will be magnified. I very much doubt that the phasing can be retained in the reproductive system.

    HDMI content may be encrypted before the cable and decoded in the display system.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Are you serious?

      Phasing is always retained in a 2 (or more) channel system. Seriously, claiming it isn't is audiophoolishness of the highest order.

      However, compression will introduce some artefacts and by its nature, lossy compression discards some data. That's nothing to do with it being digital or not - vinyl is a form of audio compression that introduces its own artefacts and discards some data.

      Ask yourself one question - How was the audio master recording made?

      Everything commercially recorded in the last decade was recorded digitally, using a digital mixing console.

      Live sound in practically all but the smallest events uses a digital snake - that's a digital signal path from the microphone preamp to the line-level output to the amplifiers, and in many cases the amplifiers take that digital signal directly.

      Those of us who work in the live events industry find comments like the above quite laughable.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not worth even thinking about unless your TV is over 60 inches.

  30. Obvious Robert

    Wow... just wow

    Having read my way through lots of discussion mainly revolving around re whether it's a "HD Ready" style marketing mess and people saying they'll wait until specs are settled before getting one, I'm amazed at the lack of comments calling 4KTV out for the pile of money grabbing horse shit it so obviously is. Don't get me wrong, it's perfect for cinemas, but then most of us don't have a 30 foot screen in our living rooms.

    There are plenty of graphs and charts available on the internet which tell you how much detail the human eye is capable of perceiving for a given distance and screen size. I have a 42" TV. For 4K to make any difference whatsoever from 1080p, I'd have to be sat no more than 5 feet away from it. And that's not 'night & day' difference, that's just where the differences _start_ to become perceptible. For a 50" TV it's about 6.5ft and for a 60" it's less than 8ft. Go home and measure the distance from your viewing position to your screen and work it out for yourself. This is so obviously the realms of diminishing returns where the cost, logistics and headaches involved are just not worth it - all so the manufacturers can sell us another TV.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Wow... just wow

      One of those graphs is included in an earlier piece we linked to, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/19/tv_sizes_deconstructed/

      So far, most of the sizes of 4k panels being pumped out are excessive for a typical UK living room. Not to mention, quite simply vulgar.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Wow... just wow

      No, the money-grabbing horse excrement is the ludicrously expensive cables.

      My personal favourite are the 'special' mains cables going for multiple thousands of pounds that apparently make the power going into your amp 'cleaner' in some way.

      4K displays are at least a real thing with a genuine result, even if there's no actual source material available yet.

      1. Obvious Robert

        Re: Wow... just wow

        4K displays are at least a real thing with a genuine result, even if there's no actual source material available yet.

        Oh I'm not denying there's a genuine result, my point is that unless you're sitting less than those distances from your screen then it's literally impossible to tell the difference anyway! We may as well buy the magic power cables for all the benefit we'll actually get in everyday practical experience.

  31. toejam13

    UHD over the air

    I'm actually less excited about 2160p as I am about the next over the air standard. This side of the pond, we're still using H.262 for our HD transmissions. That usually means a single 720p or 1080i main channel with a couple of 480i subchannels sharing the 19Mbps stream.

    A switch from H.262 to H.265 along with a switch from 8VSB (19Mbps) to 16VSB (38Mbps) might finally mean the end of SD subchannels. I'd be quite pleased if everything was 720p or higher.

  32. ecofeco Silver badge

    I can't even affrord HD

    4K? You have to be kidding.

  33. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Sony and OTA

    "Some of the 4K sets that have shipped already have HDMI 1.4, though Sony for one is promising upgrades. Whether it will deliver is another matter."

    Yeah I'll believe it when I see it. My friend got a (early model) Sony DVD player, labels all over it stating that it is software updateable. Once he got some DVDs that would not play on it (due to software incompatibilities), he goes to ask Sony about the update. "What update? Just buy a new DVD player". It was software update*able* but Sony did not release a single update for it.

    As for 4K itself... I think it's pretty useless personally, it seems like this'd need quite the large screen for it to possibly make a difference. But, if people are interested in buying, they can go ahead.. That said, it seems logical if Netflix can get a 4K stream into 15mbps, that OTA it should be doable in ~15-20mbps. (I won't say 15mbps, necessarily, because an over the air broadcast should expect a much higher data error rate, and so have more error correction, compared to an internet stream.)

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