Home Theater Review

 

Ultra HD (Ultra High-Definition)

UltraHD.jpgUltra HD is a moniker created by and agreed upon by the major display and CE manufactures pertaining to the next evolution in the consumer HD broadcast and video standards. In October 2012, the Consumer Electronics Association introduced the term "Ultra High-Definition" or "Ultra HD" and specified some core characteristics.  To earn the Ultra HD designation, a display device must: 1) have a resolution that consists of at least 3840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical pixels; 2) must have an aspect ration of at least 16:9; and 3) must have at least one digital input that can accept a native 4K-format video signal at the full 3840x2160 resolution.

The Consumer Electronics Association chose the name Ultra HD over the more commercial term 4K - in part because they felt that the term Ultra HD was easier for consumers to grasp, but also because Ultra HD encompasses more resolutions than 4K.  The commonly accepted definition of 4K is a video resolution of at least 4,000 horizontal pixels, whereas Ultra HD includes the slightly lower Quad Full HD resolution of 3840 horizontal pixels. Quad Full HD is so named because it is exactly four times the resolution of current 1080p sources (1920 x 1080 = 2,073,600; 3840 x 2160 = 8,294,400).

While the Ultra HD umbrella covers higher 4K resolutions, the early crop of Ultra HDTVs - such as LG's 84LM9600 and Sony's XBR-84X900 - stick with a Quad Full HD resolution.  This trend is likely to continue because QFHD scales proportionately from a 1080p source (2 x 1920 = 3860, 2 x 1080 = 2160) and perfectly suits the 16:9 aspect ration commonly used for broadcast HD content.

While Ultra HD does pack more pixels than today's HD standard it still has a lot in common with HD, which has caused it to come under some fire from enthusiasts as well as the press. Ultra HD will still use much of the same compression schemes (h.264/h.265) as our current HD standard as well as share the same color bit depth (8-bit) and color space (Rec. 709). In contrast, the Cinema 4K spec, as defined by Digital Cinema Initiatives, calls for increased performance in all three of these areas.

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