Super Hi-Vision Television Format Approved
August 27, 2012

Ultra HDTVs Receive Approval From UN Regulatory Body

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The UN agency responsible for overseeing international information and communication technology standards has approved a new television format that has 16-times the resolution of current high-definition televisions (HDTVs), various media outlets reported late last week.

Jay Alabaster of IDG News, citing "Japanese sources" (one from public broadcasting station NHK, developers of the technology, and another from the  Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications), said that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had sanctioned Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV), which allows for resolutions of up to 7680 by 4320.

That resolution would be about the same as a 32 megapixel photo, according to BBC News. The TV would also have a frame refresh rate of 120Hz (more than twice that of most current HD broadcasts) and would be capable of displaying a wider array of colors, while three cameras developed to go with it are currently capable of capturing 60 frames per second.

"Japan has been pushing for international approval of the new format, which was designed and developed by NHK," Alabaster said. "It is hoped that international adoption will give the country an advantage as television progresses to the next generation. NHK has stated that it hopes to begin widespread trial broadcasts of the format, which it calls Super Hi-Vision, by 2020."

The technology was demonstrated in the UK during this summer's London Olympics, the BBC said. IDG News also noted that there is a smaller, 3840 by 2160 pixel version of the technology in the works, and that the two sets were being identified as 8k and 4k, respectively, based on approximate horizontal pixel counts.

"NHK and Japanese electronics makers are still working on their implementation of the format, tackling issues such as the high-speed compression needed to send it over the air, the vast storage requirements, and technical issues with developing advanced cameras," Alabaster said. "The resolution is so fine that cameraman using equipment with HD screens can only see 1/16 of what they are filming."

He added that LG announced that it was set to release an 84-inch, 4k television "soon" at an estimated cost of $22,000, and that Panasonic and Sharp have also demoed large-screen UHDTV sets. Likewise, Dvice's Michael Trei reported on Friday that Sony was expected to release a $30,000, 80-inch 4k TV in time for the holiday season. However, experts told the BBC that very few people can expect to see them sitting under the Christmas tree this year.

"I suspect that we won't see this become available to consumers below $10,000 until 2025," Paul O'Donovan, principal analyst with Gartner, said. "Those will be in sizes 55 inches and above. You will still get a benefit at that size because it offers a greater color depth and contrast as well as a sharper picture.

"But when the screens are even larger you get a sense of being there - it's like looking through a window," he added. "Beyond better looking TV programs they will also appeal to photographers. Many people have cameras with lots of megapixels and this gives them a way to see their pictures back at the same resolution they took them in."