Upgrading products and infrastructure requires a big R&D investment at a time when many broadcast manufacturers are tightening their belts. Moving to 4K means risking this spend to create products which may have little market in the next few years. What about competing and complementary technologies such as high dynamic range, faster frame rates and 8K? Avoiding 4K means risking being left behind. So what is the right decision?
The answer to this is driven by a combination of technology and consumer demand. On a positive side for technology, we now (belatedly) have all the necessary consumer and professional interconnect standards for 4K60, along with H.265 compression technology. On a negative side the viewing distance required to resolve 4K means that for some the viewer benefit is questionable.
However, this is not how consumers see things. The key propellant for 4K is that the consumer message is very simple and is already being widely marketed. Everyone understands that higher resolution means better quality. For example, high-end smartphones all feature 4K resolution cameras and this is clearly driving sales.
When compared to the brief 3D 'revolution', there is no downside to 4K. For 3D, the depth effect is not perfect, requires glasses and can give you a headache to watch. In contrast, there is no downside to 4K and no one could claim an inferior viewing experience.
For these reasons, OmniTek believe that 4K represents an important opportunity that all broadcast equipment manufacturers should embrace. To this end, we have been working hard for the last two years putting together a range of technologies to enable equipment designers to get products to market rapidly.
The Ultra 4K Toolbox is a complete solution for 4K test and measurement. At IBC2014 we are announcing full support for SD/HD/3G/6G and now 12G SDI, in addition to DisplayPort and HDMI. The product features a full motion generator, analyser and standards convertor for all I/O. For example we can convert between quad 3GB in quadrants and 12G SDI or DisplayPort 1.2 at 4K60. A major worry for design engineers for the new SDI standards is signal integrity. Ultra supports full eye and jitter analysis for these new standards along with jitter insertion to test receiver robustness and compliance with the SMPTE recommendations.
In addition to our T&M products, OmniTek offer a range of FPGA IP cores, reference designs and a bespoke design consultancy service. The majority of our business in this area is in 4K adoption and we have already designed a number of 4K products.