Talking tech since 2003

4K resolution televisions – also known as “Ultra-High Definition” televisions – are all the rage these days, offering consumers ridiculously high pixel density displays in the living room. With the cost of these next-generation displays quickly shrinking – Chinese brand TCL has promised to deliver a 50″ 4K television for under $1000 by this Christmas, and Seiki is close with their $1,100 50″ 4K TV – the industry now faces the next major hurdle in their transition from the 1080p standard to 4k – programming.

Sony and Panasonic are hoping that they’ll be the ones to solve this problem with their new next-generation physical media, a project which they jointly announced today. The format would essentially become the defacto successor to Blu-Ray, assuming there’s no nasty format war this time around, and will be capable of holding up to 300GB of data – more than enough to deliver your average movie and some extras in 4k resolution. The benefits would be obvious – no massive movie files to download, a beautiful upgrade in picture quality (Blu-Rays, which output in 1080p, tend to get a bit blurry on large displays – an issue that 4k would not have), and a medium for industry professionals to use to quickly and easily move around large amounts of data.

Of course, at this point in time the lingering question has to be whether or not the industry, and consumers in specific, will be at all interested in investing in yet another physical medium. We live in an always connected, always online, all digital world – and we expect our media to integrate seamlessly into that world. Streaming video has become a household norm – I’d be willing to bet anyone that they can’t name a single person who hasn’t at one point in their lives watched a movie online from either iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix. Of course, the issue with streaming – and what Sony and Panasonic would be wise to focus on with their new project – would be the insanely large file size of a 4k video. It’s hard enough finding a connection to stream 1080p video in some parts of the world, and the vast majority of today’s connections certainly wouldn’t be up to streaming 300GB worth of video at any even remotely playable rate.

Sony and Panasonic hope to have the new media ready and on the market by 2015, which means you should be hearing a lot more about this new project in the months aheads – but at this rate, I’d say there’s no imminent danger to that Blu-Ray collection of yours just yet.


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