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Scramble to 4K means industry is long-term loser

7 March 2014
Scramble to 4K means industry is long-term loser

The staggered introduction of Ultra HD 4K production, distribution and display equipment risks fragmenting the market, adding unnecessary cost and yet again ending any chance of fielding a single, worldwide television standard. The issue is causing concern among many manufacturers.

“It feels to us that there’s quite a scramble to create some kind of 4K service in terms of delivery,” said Nick Wright (pictured), CTO and co-founder of broadcast graphics systems vendor Pixel Power.

“Because CE manufacturers can make cheap 4K displays and consumer grade cameras and optics, the momentum is gathering. But the needs of the wider industry are not necessarily represented by that sentiment; there’s an element of the tail wagging the dog. If the industry doesn’t make a big enough step between whatever comes next and the HD we have now, consumers won’t see a compelling difference and won’t buy.”

Wright also believes there’s a significant threat that if standardisation lags behind the first 4K products then “the entire industry ends up paying for the fragmentation that results for a very long time – just like the 720p/1080i split all over again.”

He stressed: “We do think that 4K has the potential to be very disruptive if it’s not analysed properly. The danger is that people become fixated on the screen resolution at the expense of other important ideas. Nobody knows what 4K is yet: the standards aren’t agreed; we don’t know what people are going to adopt; we don’t know about the codecs, frame rate or audio. Are we missing an opportunity here to have a single, worldwide television standard again as this would be a major driver to reduce costs and perhaps more importantly reduce any confusion that could impact on consumer take up.”

By Adrian Pennington

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