Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Everything we know about Ultra HD Blu-ray, the sharpest way to watch at home (eng)

In the year 2000, we began ditching our VHS tapes for DVDs. In 2006, Blu-ray brought high-definition video to flat-screen TVs everywhere. Now we’re about to take another step forward with the arrival of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players.  That’s right: Come holiday time, there’s going to be a whole new format to embrace – and it’s going to be awesome.
Though there will be no format war to stunt its growth (remember the whole Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD debacle?), Ultra HD Blu-ray adoption will still be slow. Even was more people buy TVs that support the higher resolution, Ultra HD Blu-ray will appeal to a relatively small audience – at least at first. But for anyone who wants the best possible picture and sound quality they can get, the arrival of this new format is exciting. And the best news is: It’s a pretty significant leap forward from 1080p HD.
Of course, with new technology like this comes a whole bunch of conditions and caveats. Will you need a new disc player? Will they be backward compatible? Will you need new cables, a new receiver, or any other new equipment? We grilled the Blu-ray disc association and have all the information you’ll need below, in plain English.

What’s so great about Ultra HD Blu-ray?

It’s true that streaming movies and TV shows from services like Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu is the future of TV, but until the Internet gets a serious bandwidth upgrade (don’t worry, Google’s working on it!) discs will always kill streaming when it comes to picture quality. Ever notice 1080p Blu-rays still look better than Netflix’s fancy Ultra HD streaming video? The reason they do comes down to one very simple, but important factor: bitrate.

Netflix Ultra HD

Simply put, the more data you can deliver, the better the picture and sound quality is going to be, and Ultra HD Blu-ray is poised to deliver some seriously big-time data. So much, in fact, that not only will Ultra HD Blu-ray discs offer four times the resolution of 1080p HD, they’ll be able to deliver two new features only recently introduced to TVs: High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG). The result will be an at-home experience that matches or beats what you get at the cinema, with more colors than ever, incredible contrast, and uncompromised sound quality.
To be fair, Netflix, Amazon are both planning on delivering streaming 4K content with HDR in the near future, and this will improve the look of those videos, but because of current Internet bandwidth restrictions, these streams will be heavily compressed, and that means more artifacts – or, noise —  in the picture. You can see it especially well in dimly lit scenes, usually as big blocky anomalies.
If you want to enjoy Ultra-HD Blu-ray discs, you’ll need to buy a new Blu-ray disc player.
In addition, Ultra HD Blu-ray has the capability of delivering video at up to 60 frames per second (fps). Such a quick framerate is ideal for content that requires fast-moving cameras, like sports. Of course, as most movies are produced at 24fps, it remains to be seen how meaningful higher framerates will be in the near term.
Simply put: Ultra HD Blu-ray is going to offer significantly better picture and sound quality than any other format available, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Will I need a new Blu-ray player for Ultra HD Blu-ray discs?

If you want to enjoy Ultra-HD Blu-ray discs, you’ll need to buy a new Blu-ray disc player. We expect major manufacturers like Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony to announce new players later this year, possibly at the IFA electronics show this September in Berlin. The players are then expected to be available for purchase by the holidays at the end of the year.
These new players will be expensive when first introduced. For reference, the first Blu-ray players ran about $1,000 when they arrived in 2006, but now you can get a decent Blu-ray player with built-in Wi-Fi and streaming apps for about $100.

What kind of 4K UHD TV will work with Ultra HD Blu-ray?

Any and all 4K UHD TV will work with Ultra HD Blu-ray, including older models with HDMI 1.4 inputs. When connected to a TV via HDMI, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player is able to determine what that TV is capable of and act accordingly.
The catch is, the benefits to owners of older (even as recent as some of last year’s models) 4K UHD TVs will be limited to UHD resolution and that noise-free picture we talked about earlier.  In order to get the HDR and WCG features we mentioned earlier, the TV has to be capable of producing the added colors and processing and producing High Dynamic Range content. With the exception of some Sony and Panasonic models from 2014, only the newest premium 2015 TVs are capable of this.

Samsung JS9500 UHD TV

Samsung JS9500 UHD TV

Adding complexity to this issue is the fact that many HDR systems require HDMI version 2.0a (there are exceptions – Dolby’s version of HDR doesn’t require HDMI 2.0a) and, at the time of this writing, there isn’t a single TV on the market that supports HDMI 2.0a … yet. That will change by the time Ultra HD Blu-ray makes its way to consumers, as manufacturers offer firmware updates or other update solutions to an extremely limited number of TVs. Really, it won’t be until spring of 2016 that a wider array of 4K UHD TVs with both HDR and WCG support will be made available.

Will Ultra HD Blu-ray players be backward compatible?

Yes. Ultra HD-Blu-ray players will play Blu-ray discs, DVDs, SACDs, DVD-Audio, and Redbook CDs. Both standard 1080p Blu-ray discs and DVDs will be up-converted to UHD resolution for playback on 4K UHD TVs.
In addition, Ultra HD Blu-ray players will downscale Ultra HD Blu-ray discs to work on 1080p HD TVs, so if you want to get a little ahead of the curve and purchase a new player and the latest discs, even before you get a 4K UHD TV, that’s just fine.

Will I need any other new equipment?

The more data, the better the picture and sound quality, and Ultra HD Blu-ray is poised to deliver big-time data.
That depends on your system. The good news is you won’t need any new HDMI cables. As for your A/V receiver? Think of it along the same lines as a 4K UHD TV. Older receivers with HDMI 1.4 will be able to support the higher resolution, but not HDR or WCG. If  your receiver supports HDMI 2.0, there’s a chance it could be updated to support HDMI 2.0a later on when it’s needed. However, depending on how HDCP (High Definition Copy Protection) 2.2 gets implemented by movie studios, you may need to consider a brand new A/V receiver if you want one to remain the hub of your home theater for the long term.

Will Ultra HD Blu-ray support digital transfers?

Yes. Just as UltraViolet has done for standard Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will support digital copies, allowing users to access content  “across the range of in-home mobile devices,”  according to the Blu-ray Disc Association.

Tech specs

For you tech heads, here’s some interesting data:
Ultra HD Blu-ray will use primarily double-layer 66GB discs (though 100GB triple-layer discs are part of the spec) and will be capable of delivering up to 108Mbps of data. To put this in perspective, consider that Netflix’s 4K Ultra HD streams are delivered at about 16Mbps and represent an average of 14GB of total data for two hours of entertainment.
Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will be encoded using the relatively new HEVC (also known as H.265) codec. The Blu-ray disc association says encoding and disc authoring tools are currently being used experimentally by technicians in Hollywood.

The Lego Movie

Ultra HD Blu-ray will support several different types of HDR metadata, including those proposed by Dolby, Philips, and Technicolor. However, only the open HDR standard supported by the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) is a requirement for Ultra HD Blu-ray authoring. The rest will be up to individual content creators, and require TV compatibility with a specific type of HDR Metadata. Vizio’s Reference Series TVs, for instance, will support Dolby’s vision of HDR in addition to the SMPTE standard.
So there you have it: Everything we know about Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players so far. As we learn more from manufacturers and movie studios, we’ll be sure to update this article. In the meantime, you might want to start saving your pennies if you want a slice of the next biggest thing to hit home theater.

sursa: digitaltrends.com