Widgets Magazine

Streaming 4K

This past week I was honored to moderate a panel at Streaming Media East. The annual event was held at New York’s Hilton Midtown. It is a conference with a trade show floor for vendors as well as sessions talking about production work flow, infrastructure, and the future of streaming media. My particular panel was on streaming 4K.
The panel featured Justin Kennington from Crestron, Malissa Dillman of Kramer, and Thomas Edwards from Fox Networks. Like most panels I have been a part of, the group gathered for a number of conference calls before our time together. This allows us to work through the program format, the outline, and learn a bit from each other. To sort of cut to the chase, during the first meeting we all came to the same conclusion; you aren’t going to be streaming 4K resolution anytime soon. The requirements from a network standpoint are too great and the average speed in the U.S. is too low. What most providers are doing now is a form of download-to-immediate-playback system that allows it to appear that you are “streaming” the 4K signal.
During the introduction of the panel we tackled the subject of what it means to be “4K”. The CEA, Consumer Electronics Association, has encouraged its members to use the term UHD/4K. UHD, or Ultra High Definition, is the term given to that resolution that is almost, but not quite, 4K. Technically it is 3840 x 2160. So, almost 4K but not really. We also got into color ratio, compression loss, and the fact that Japanese and Korean television engineers are already broadcasting 8K over the air.
The piece that really intrigued me, though, was the discussion on HDR, High Dynamic Range. HDR was one of the new buzzwords at this year’s CES show. Imagine a technology that gave you greater color depth, clarity, brighter white spectrums, and a darker black spectrum. In short, it is a better picture overall without fussing with this whole resolution thing. In fact, the HDR sets that were being shown at CES were all traditional HD displays.
This leads me to a question and a bit of a prediction. Due to the restrictions we are running up against in the traditional infrastructure of homes and corporate systems, wouldn’t it be more valuable to our end clients to be focusing our attention on the delivery of a quality HDR system rather than be so concerned with who has the most pixels, i.e. highest resolution? Isn’t the bottom line really the best picture quality possible? The prediction comes in the form of what we may very well see at InfoComm this year. Yes, we will see UHD/4K and even 8K displays. The ones I think that will really get the most buzz are the ones that deliver the HDR pictures. These will have dealers and designers asking how to achieve this quality.
That’s all for this week. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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