back to article 4K catches fire with OTT streamers, while broadcasters burn

Like dentophobes with toothache, the broadcast elite seem grimly determined not to face up to the inevitable. A post International Broadcasting Convention conference about Ultra HD, organised by satellite operator SES, offered scant evidence that any of the big European broadcasters are in a mood to commit to 4K services. …

  1. dotdavid

    Hmm, not convinced UHD is anything but a niche field at the moment and for the foreseeable future. The OTT broadcasters can reasonably-easily add support for it, so they have, but the broadcasters would have to spend much more rolling it out - is it any wonder they're approaching it with caution?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Broadcasters will have to spend a huge amount of money - production and playout chains will need updating, as well a just cameras. Some of them won't even have finished their HD upgrades, let alone written off the costs of the equipment.

      Sure, some tech-heads will lament that people like the BBC aren't rushing to bring 4K to their brand new TV. But imagine the glee with which others would turn that into "BBC replaces almost new HD kit just to bring 4K pictures to homes of super rich execs."

      As I said in my last Breaking Fad, there are still standards to sort out, and I think it's much more realistic for broadcasters to be looking a little further down the line, for when those are ready, and IP-based production systems have replaced SDI.

      Even the OTT bunch are going to have a job on their hands getting 4K to anything more than a very small subset of their customers for a few years anyway. Sure, the TV makers want to flog us new sets and get as much volume out of their new panel factories as they can.

      But, as far as I'm concerned, the sensible thing is still to wait, for both consumers and broadcasters - especially the public service ones.

      1. Bob H

        I saw an amazing chart yesterday which showed the effect that dynamic range has on frequency response as function of increasing resolution. It was amazing actually that as you increase resolution, if you don't increase dynamic range to match you actually lose definition.

      2. PNGuinn

        @ NW - "4K catches fire ... broadcasters burn"

        BBC need to be careful they don't get saddled with another DAB.

        HOW many 4k tellies sold to willy wavers already with almost no content??

        At that rate give it a another 3 or 4 years and 4k will be old hat and the manufacturers will need 8k to send all those new now obsolete sets to landfill.

        Maybe I should have chosen a different Icon....

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon

    4k is tomorrows technology waiting for everything else to catch up to be able to use it properly.

    Give it a few years though (maybe 5) and there will probably be nothing else. Personally I would like these tech companies to stop playing who's got the biggest willy competition and sort out their UI's which seem to have been created by inmates of a mental asylum in eastern europe before the fall of communism

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      "There will be nothing else".

      That will scare Hollywood. 35mm film can be rescanned at 6K fairly easily. But all the stuff since about 1998, all that stuff that's been made on digital? That lovely wizzy 2K stuff? Old hat low res. In the bin with it, next to the missing episodes of Dr Who...

      1. Fuzz

        not just since 1998

        Loads of stuff made in the 80s is at its limit at 1080p. A lot of those films were made to look grainy by pushing the film. When you scan them at higher resolution you don't get more detail, just more grain. I think 4K is probably the limit for 1:1.85 content. You can get a bit more for 4:3 or scope.

        I think people will very quickly realise that they don't care. We've been watching 2k projection at cinemas for years and nobody is complaining.

        1. PiltdownMan

          Re: not just since 1998

          I up-voted you, but would like to add, that viewing 2k at the cinema is cool, until you see 4k. For me, at least, I now feel short changed when our local flea pit only plays my selection in 2k. Hey ho!

        2. fuzzie

          Re: not just since 1998

          I just can't wait for (yet another?) digital remaster of Monty Python's Life of Brian in UHD.

          It will really bring out the subtle layering of that grainy old film stock :)

      2. Bob H

        4k? What 4k?

        I was at another industry event about HDR and 4K yesterday, a respected industry professional with many years experienced in cinematography and film conversion stated that you'd be lucky to get 2.8k-3.2k out of a good quality print. Theory says that the molecules on a film can give you some huge numbers, but all the intermediates, copies and transfers mean that almost all existing film is less than 4k.

        Additionally another problem with 4k cinema vs domestic: cinema is 2.35:1 while domestic is 16:9, when you letterbox zoom a film you end up reducing the resolution, or if you crop it you loose picture. #fail

  3. Jim 59

    Hmmm. This article smells a bit adverty?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Content is everything

    We've got a 2007 vintage Samsung 720P. It's not great but it was a raffle prize so no complaints here. Given the current offerings on Aus TV I really don't have any justification to upgrade (other than the usual geek desire to own the latest kit).

    I did see a 4k set on display recently with some proper demo material and it was impressive. Just not impressive enough yet.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Content is everything

      I saw a 96" 4k TV in Harrods last week and it looked simply amazing, but the £17k price tag is a touch outside my budget.

    2. handle

      Re: Content is everything

      @Mahatma Coat did that "proper demo material" consist of slowly moving serene mountainscapes etc, rather than fast-moving sports, for instance? They wouldn't want to show up the headline pixel count figure hides a multitude of sins such as that if you don't increase the frame rate accordingly, your pictures turn to mush as soon as they start to move.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: Content is everything

        I don't know. I've seen stores that intentionally tune their HDTVs to sports channels. It's popular so it draws attention. I don't think I've seen a lot of 4K sport demos yet, but I think I've seen one or two, and they weren't relatively tame motion sports like golf or tennis. Though I admit I haven't seen them do an auto race with a lot of car-following movement.

  5. 0laf

    So we'll continue to get the UHD hardware shoved down out throats coupled with broadcaster hype only to find out as usual they'll compress everything as much as possible and the end result will be about as good as SD.

    But we'll all buy 4k 3D tvs coz they'll be the only ones around.

    We've still got a hand me down 32" 720p telly and no HD decoder. Can't say we're in a hurry to get anything new.

    1. handle

      3D TVs?

      That was last year's fad - or maybe the year before's. Does anyone use those any more?

      1. GrumpenKraut

        Re: 3D TVs?

        I have to admit that for movies of the type "lots of shit gets destroyed" 3D is a plus.

        Intellectually yours, GrumpenKraut

  6. Duffy Moon

    Does anyone in the UK even broadcast in 1080p?! Most of the channels on VM are still SD. Broadcasters seem to prefer quantity over quality (see also DAB).

    If UHD ever makes it to VM/Sky, I expect it'll be so compressed that any benefits will be outweighed by all the artifacts.

    1. NinjasFTW



      Thats my concern too and not alleviated by the comment from the Sky guy about needing to reduce the bit stream.

      I remember when I went from Virgin to Sky TV and the difference between the HD channels was amazing. Virgin must use a bucketload more compression.

      I've recently upgraded to a new 4K TV (a lower range Panasonic) and the difference between my old 1080i is astounding.

      The biggest frustration is watching some of the UHD content on Youtube and knowing that UHD content as standard is so far away :(

      1. Zmodem

        Re: Compression

        there is freeview HD, and freesat, both have exactly the same channels to watch nowadays

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Does anyone in the UK even broadcast in 1080p?!"

      Looking at Freeview, some of the programs on BBC1/2/3/4 & Channel 4 HD are 1080p, the rest are 1080i. Not sure what ITV HD is. There may be other HD channels I'm not remembering ...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Your alien overlord - fear me

    By the time they agree on UHD, 8k tellies will be the 'standard' box people buy.

    Sky got burnt on 3D so is unlikely to want to flog another dead horse.

    They still charge a premium for HD-ready channels so imagine the cost to the public if they offer 4k/6k/8k? And if they don't get enough channels offering that format, no one is likely to subscribe (having being burnt on 3D) so other channels won't invest etc. etc.

  8. Zmodem

    the average person in the uk will buy a tv every 10 years, you have businesses updating waiting room sets, and nobody else cares because next year there will be 8k

  9. Buzzword

    HDR is more important than UHD, right?

    From what I've read in this article and previous ones, HDR is the big gain, not so much higher resolution. What would it take to get HDR at 1080p - does that come under the existing HD standards or would we need the UHD standards?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HDR is more important than UHD, right?

      They're in the current HDMI specs IIRC, but most HDTV manufacturers didn't really use it since few devices actually outputted in HDR (and it wasn't in the HDTV specs at the time, which didn't even allow for faster then 30 fps at 1080p). There was a discussion about it during the PS3 days IIRC. So it's a case this time of updating the content specs to actually use HDR, and since it's coming along at the same time as 4k, they're riding the same train, so to speak.

    2. Warm Braw

      Re: HDR is more important than UHD, right?

      Assuming we're talking TV, you'd probably need a new TV regardless - your TV has to be capable of producing the range of light levels that HDR material would require and existing sets are built for existing standards. There are H.264 profiles with greater colour depth, but it's unlikely any existing domestic HD TV would recognise or decode them.

    3. The Bobster

      Re: HDR is more important than UHD, right?

      If I understand it correctly, there's no equivalent ITU-R standard for HDR yet, in a simialr manner to Rec. 709 for HDTV.

      I think that means that there's no consistent method of processing HDR across capture device, processing, transmission and display. So you will get a different interpretation of HDR depending on what equipment you use at each stage of the process.

      Would much prefer HDR to UHDTV any day.

    4. Fred Dibnah

      Re: HDR is more important than UHD, right?

      Yes indeedy, to my aging eyes HDR is far more of an improvement than more pixels. I'd much rather go HDR with the same screen size than add pixels and have to buy a bigger screen to see them on. Mrs Dibnah indoors would have summat to say on t'matter as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: HDR is more important than UHD, right?

        The elephant in the room is:

        What is HDR when talking about a tv?

        I know what it is in production and post production. I know what it is in reality. But what magic and snake oil are they suggesting it is for a TV? See HD Ready V HD Compatible as an example where the label can be nothing more than a sticker making your TV stand "High Definitino compatible".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: HDR is more important than UHD, right?

          "What is HDR when talking about a tv?"

          The most basic premise is that HDR is a wider more-flexible colorspace (RGB24 is a fixed 8-bit-per-channel colorspace), allowing for a wider play to color intensities as needed (an example would be a scene with both the sun in plain view and very deep shadows). Standards are coming together to allow for this to be standard in television going forward. HEVC includes a Main 10 profile (10 bits per channel) with upcoming specs for up to 16 bits per channel. Meanwhile the Rec. 2020 color space (which HEVC can support) is already approved for use in UHDTV.

      2. kb3m

        Re: HDR is more important than UHD, right?

        Yes HDR make a difference you can see from down the hall. Unless you're viewing your 4K TV from 6 feet away the increased resolution is barely noticeable.

        4K TV's exist solely to replace current HD sets. 4K was not a consumer mandate but a TV manufacturer's. Total tail wagging the dog.

  10. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

    is that a typo? I currently have 50Mbps over TV cable and that's not even their top tier. Had it for several years and 15Mbps over the same copper strand and provider for many years before that.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

      From Ofcom:

      Average UK Download Speeds (% Improvement vs Prior Report)

      * February 2015 = 22.8Mbps (+21.93%)

      * October 2014 = 18.7Mbps (+5.06%)

      * April 2014 = 17.8Mbps (+21.09%)

      * August 2013 = 14.7Mbps (+22.50%)

      * March 2013 = 12Mbps (+34%)

      Anyone care to speculate how many homes get below average speeds? I get 30Mbps, at home, and Netflix regularly craps out on me.

      1. Zmodem

        Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

        i dont even have a land line, i just use 3g on EE or 3, which ever im feeling generous about and give them some money once in a while

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

          Point is, you're one of the lucky ones. Many are lucky to get 5Mbps on a landline.

          1. Zmodem

            Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

            i can get 8Mbs on both and download at 750kbs on some servers, most are 440kbs, if i use firefox then that drops to a average of 220kbs

          2. Chris Evans

            Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

            I'm one of the lucky ones. I happen to live next to an exchange so get 18-20Mbps.

            Whilst I'm sure the vast majority of standard ADSL customers won't get 15Mbps maybe 5% do?

            Is there something else like latency that means that 15Mbps over fibre could be used when 15Mbps over standard ADSL couldn't?

            1. Zmodem

              Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

              put your cellphone on charge and make it a wifi hotspot and use 3g to watch netflix, you have unlimited data on 3 for £15 on PAYG

              1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

                Zmodem: an interesting thought, and one for interesting times -- I'd never have thought ten years ago that I'd be able to undercut a landline with payg mobile.

                (Sadly in my case the reason I have a landline is that none of the mobile companies can sustain a signal at my house in all weather conditions. Horses for courses, I suppose.)

                1. Zmodem

                  Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

                  its not really undercutting, if BT would give me a landline back and i bothered to have a full job, i would just get 76mbs

                  i don`t need phone calls, the average speed in my area can goto 88mbs over BT lines

                  1. Zmodem

                    Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

                    the next step is to be able to pay the 18 contract in full when your order it, £540 is pocket money unless you sell daps or a labourer

                    1. Zmodem

                      Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

                      who`s thumbs down, contracts suck, with plus net you can pay 18 months line rental when you order, but not the full 18 months for broadband, if you have the money know you should just be able to pay for it, if they want a cancelation charge in 10 months because you get sacked, they won`t be getting anything

      2. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

        In my last Breaking Fad, I included a graph from Netflix, with their ISP speed index. You can see the August figures on their blog

        This is the speed that they are managing to stream during prime time. Top of that list is Virgin, with 4.02.

        You might have a headline speed much more than that, but that's the average that they're able to pump out IPTV. There's a hell of a long way to go before it's a reasonable delivery mechanism that's capable of replacing broadcast.

      3. Mage Silver badge

        Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

        More than half of them get less than average?

        Actually it's very complicated as a few 100Mbps to 1Gbps can mean even though half of people get less than 5Mbps an "average" can be 15Mbps.

        Packages on copper are misleading. Up to 22Mbps can be average of less than 3Mbps due to crosstalk, line quality and distance.

        There are different kinds of "averages". The median user speed at peak time is more meaningful if the SD is also quoted. A graph with two lines is best. (% users vs speed buckets for peak time and off peak)

        Also what if two or more people at a premises want different content?

        UHD or even HD, never mind 2K on internet in reality needs a video server at each ISP node and fibre to the home otherwise only a tiny handful can watch it.

        We don't even get the quality possible on SD or HD, because of Terrestrial spectrum constraints (too much going to Mobile) and cost on Cable and Satellite. Never mind the quality, look how many channels there are.

        In a typical living room for average vision with decent content, 1920 x 1080 is OK up to about 50" to 60"

        UHD needs minimum 120" to be worth while for average viewer. Pointless on 42"

        Increasing frame rate to 96 fps (x4 cinema) would give more significant improvement at 60". Perhaps native at 90, 96 and 100 progressive would allow good quality interpolation from existing sources.

        Interlace was a 1930s analog trick to half the transmission bandwidth by temporal compression (still at 25i looks similar resolution to 50p (50fps) still, the eye can't see detail as well on movement, which is drops to 1/2 vertical resolution.

        1. Dallas IT

          Re: "a decent fibre network connection (around 15Mbps)"

          "More than half of them get less than average?"

          Don't confuse median with mean/average. It's quite possible for more than half a population to be below an average if the distribution isn't a bell curve or other symmetrical distribution.

  11. ColonelClaw

    There is another audience for 4K that the article doesn't touch upon - gamers. Personally I bought a 4K TV solely for gaming, and it's bloody incredible playing at 4K 60FPS. Ok, it's not a massive audience, but I reckon it's got to be worth a couple of percent of those buying 4K TVs, and it's only going to go up as GPUs get more powerful/cheaper.

    FWIW the Steam hardware survey has those gaming at over 2K resolution at about 2%

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It would pretty much be a PC-only audience as even the current console generation only hits 1080p60 on occasion. And achieving 4K @ 60fps is going to take some pretty high-end PC hardware, on both the CPU and GPU sides; otherwise one or the other gets overloaded and you end up chugging.

    2. handle

      Do you play scrabble or something?

      Because as no doubt that would look incredible at 4k, any games actually involving movement will be distinctly meh at 60fps.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aspect Ratios and the diagram of Page 2

    the comparison of the different resolutions only focuses on cropped display versions of the resolutions.

    After all, full 2K res (as taken from a scan of a 35mm film frame is 2048x1556. That's a lot more data than the aparent 2048x1080 that the diagram claims.

  13. TidySweep

    In Canada K 2K 4K 8K

    Here the big box stores are selling 4K televisions like hotcakes .. but I read that the folks in Japan are well into 8K development. Yet the cable companies have no plans for 4K in the near future; Rogers (the big cable company in the East) plans to send 1080i over the cable lines indefinitely. For 'simple' television, a 1080p television is more than necessary to handle the incoming signal.

    When one is in the store, the 4K demos are wonderful 'n all, but at home, the big 1080p TV here seems to be more than enough to enjoy TV, I rarely give it a thought.

    Why should we care? Perhaps the truth is that 1080i is enough for general television?

    1. Bob H

      Re: In Canada K 2K 4K 8K

      Most people can't truly appreciate 4k anyway, let alone 8k, the reason 4k looks spectacular is that the content used to demo gets crafted specifically for it and it is using multiple times the bandwidth for delivery. If we put the same effort in to HD and just did it better we'd be on to a winner, but then again people wouldn't be buying new TVs...

      1. Dallas IT

        Re: In Canada K 2K 4K 8K

        Agreed - one has to sit far too close to the TV to even be able to discern the difference between clean 1080P and 2160P that it makes it fairly pointless. 4K/2160P seems to be a solution looking for a problem.

  14. Tim Brown 1

    Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

    Unless you have a very large room and a very large TV your eyes physically can't register any difference between the HD we have now and 4K.

    I won't bore people with the details here but go and research the biology of the eye if you're interested.

    The main application for 4K (apart from manufacturers trying to con people into buying expensive TVs) is for use on the massive screens in public spaces.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

      Well exactly, And as another post said, apart from tech-lovers the rest of us probably change TVs once a decade.

      I have no desire to change my Samsung HD TV. Hell there aren't even any 4k channels to watch.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

      Quite right. For those who care, the angular resolution of the human eye is about 1 arcminute. This means that you won't be able to distinguish individual pixels smaller than 1mm at around 3 metres, which is a reasonable estimate for the viewing distance to most TVs in living rooms.

      Assume you have a 50" TV, that is the diagonal size, which translates to a screen width of around 1100 mm in a standard 16:9 layout. In standard 1080p HD (1960 x 1080 px), that makes each pixel 0.56mm.

      So, unless you have a massive TV (and in my mind, 50" is excessive), or you sit so close to it you can't see the whole thing in one go, it's going to make no difference to you whether it's in 720p, or ultra-super-mega 16K HD.

      Add to that that the portion of the human eye that can actually resolve anything down to that kind of angular resolution is tiny (the fovea) and covers only the central ten degrees or so of your vision, and that everything else is essentially interpolated by your brain from shapes, colours and motion.

      I've said all this before, and been voted down before for saying it, presumably by those desperately trying to justify the expense they've just shelled out for a new TV they didn't really need, and from those who sold it to them.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

        We covered the maths here a couple of years ago:

      2. Bob H

        Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

        I am not disputing what you say about the finite angular resolution but in addition to that it turns out that human vision is much more complex than just simple angular resolution. An expert who was speaking yesterday at an event was pointing out that the human eye isn't a camera, the human eye has too much processing that affects "resolution", the real resolution of the eye is affected by the objects on the screen.

      3. Bluto Nash

        Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

        I'm still contemplating a purchase of a 40-42" UHDTV simply as a replacement for my 28" 1920x1200 monitor (so the whole "sitting too close" scenario applies). Of course, I'll likely have to upgrade my video card to get full use out of it, but when has that been an issue? It's a few years old now anyway and I'm due some new shiny.

      4. Badvok

        Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

        @Loyal Commenter: "Assume you have a 50" TV, that is the diagonal size, which translates to a screen width of around 1100 mm in a standard 16:9 layout. In standard 1080p HD (1960 x 1080 px), that makes each pixel 0.56mm."

        WRONG! Each pixel is about 0.9mm wide (diagonally), so definitely around about your supposed perception resolution and the last thing I want to see is individual pixels, I want to perceive smooth sharp lines and curved edges not a jaggy mess or edges anti-aliased into a blur.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

          WRONG! Each pixel is about 0.9mm wide (diagonally), so definitely around about your supposed perception resolution and the last thing I want to see is individual pixels, I want to perceive smooth sharp lines and curved edges not a jaggy mess or edges anti-aliased into a blur.

          Okay, I was (sensibly I thought) quoting the edge dimensions of the pixel, not the diagonal size (the only thing ever quoted in diagonal size appears to be screen sizes for marketing purposes). Using Pythagoras' theorem, a square pixel of 0.56mm would actually have a diagonal size of slightly under 0.8mm, but lets not split hairs here. Unless you have an image on your screen with high contrast between non-moving pixels (e.g. an individual black pixel on a white background), you aren't going to make out the edge anyway. I'm not aware of anything you might want to display on a TV that has this sort of characteristic, so the points that you are making are ones that are commonly known as nonsense.

          If you were using a high resolution screen close up for detailed design work then being able to cram more onto the screen at a resolution where you can discern individual pixels is useful, which is why a full 1080p HD computer monitor is a useful tool. I personally have very good vision and can just about discern individual pixels on a 24" version of such a screen at a distance of around 18 inches. This is useful when making sure design layouts are pixel-perfect etc. But other than that you probably wouldn't notice if the resolution was halved, particularly if viewing the sort of moving images which would be typical of a movie or broadcast TV.

          Also, I might point out that anti-aliasing as a technique (as opposed to linear sampling) generally allows better resolution of things that are around the size of a single pixel, especially when in motion, without them appearing and disappearing, so in contrast to edges being 'anti-aliased into a blur', anti-aliasing is a thing to be favoured - ask any gamer and they'll explain why you should buy a graphics card that can manage it.

          1. Badvok

            Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

            "uoted in diagonal size appears to be screen sizes for marketing purposes). Using Pythagoras' theorem, a square pixel of 0.56mm would actually have a diagonal size of slightly under 0.8mm, but lets not split hairs here."

            WRONG AGAIN! Yes a square pixel of 0.56mm would be < 0.8 but your original calculation of 0.56mm was wrong (FHD = 1920x1080). I did compound the error by typing 0.9mm instead of 0.8mm but that's finger trouble for you. The diagonal dimension is what your eye will be able to detect unless of course you have CCDs for eyes that are perfectly aligned with the display.

            I can think of quite a few things that have distinct edges on TV programs that I watch, like people, houses, plants, in fact I'm really struggling to figure out what it is that you watch that doesn't contain any high-contrast edges.

            Anti-aliasing is a work-around for poor resolution, ask any gamer who has a QHD or better screen whether they actually keep anti-aliasing turned on.

    3. Chris Evans

      Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

      Whilst resolutions greater than 1080p may not be noticeable to most people with a good 1080p source. Most TV is broadcast with such high compression that the jpeg artefacts are obvious:-(

      Higher resolutions will mean less noticeable artefacts:-)

      n.b. The size of room is not important, it is the size of screen compared to how far away the viewer is that is relevant.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

        "Higher resolutions will mean less noticeable artefacts:-)"

        ONLY if you give it enough corresponding bandwidth to compensate. Otherwise, you force it to cram and create even larger artifacts that offset the resolution improvement.

        1. Cryo

          Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

          "ONLY if you give it enough corresponding bandwidth to compensate. Otherwise, you force it to cram and create even larger artifacts that offset the resolution improvement."

          Yep, if broadcasters were interested in improving image quality, they would increase resolution and bitrates to make proper use of what existing HD screens can already offer. Practically no cable or satellite companies even air anything at full 1080p yet, and their 1080i broadcasts are typically compressed down to bitrates comparable to that of a standard-definition DVD.

          Online streaming services are even worse when it comes to image quality. Youtube's "1080p" runs at about half the bitrate of an SD DVD, and as such, when a scene is in motion, everything tends to devolve into a blurry mess. Youtube's 4K streams increase the bitrate, but it's still only a little higher than that of a DVD, or similar to 1080i cable. In scenes that are mostly stationary, it's possible to get a sharper image, but with any significant amount of onscreen movement, things will again get blurry and artifacts will become visible.

          Of course, even with high-bitrate encodes, most people won't be able to discern the difference between 1080p and 4K at typical television viewing distances. Ultimately though, image quality is much more limited by the broadcasters and streaming services than it is by a television's physical resolution, and they're going to continue using the bare minimum image quality that they can get away with, since any increase in bandwidth will cost them more money, for something that the majority of their subscribers won't even notice.

      2. Dallas IT

        Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

        "Whilst resolutions greater than 1080p may not be noticeable to most people with a good 1080p source. Most TV is broadcast with such high compression that the jpeg artefacts are obvious:-(

        Higher resolutions will mean less noticeable artefacts:-)"

        How do you figure? The artifacts being introduced in today's 1080P channels is precisely because of bandwidth constraints in carrying that info to your home. How do you think we'll get less artifacts when they're trying to send a signal that's 4 times higher in resolution?

    4. handle

      Re: Waste of time and money, you can't break the rules of biology.

      It doesn't stop Apple flogging the ultimate "Retina" display... and then next year flogging an even higher resolution display...

  15. Bunker_Monkey

    The BBC have stated in the past that 8K will be the final step in terms of the resolution debate and a limit in Biology. Therefore I'm just going to wait until 8K sets are reasonably priced.

    1080p is good enough for me. I'd rather see investment getting more content in HD sorted first, ie getting off the SD broadcasts making HD standard.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All this talk of spending money on 4k, why don't they spend the money on decent scripts and original plot lines, it's all the same old daytime crap that's now filling the airwaves 24/7.

    I've no desire to just watch shit in even higher resolution otherwise I'll "Just Switch Off My Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead"

    If there were only a few more Wes Andersons around in TV production.

    Thursday moan over, it's Friday tomorrow :)

    1. PNGuinn


      Ooh, nasty.

      How dare you suggest that. Hollywood and tv folks might cry.

      Spot on. Back in the days of B&W, heavy equipment, no high tech, and more important, very little money quality content HAD to be king.

  17. TidySweep

    You're hitting on the most important issue with television

    @ readinthereg : These days when a movie or piece of art or show is claimed to be pushing the envelope, usually it means it is wallowing all the more in the gutter.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still meh.

    What I've got is fine by me, and I'm not interested in anything notionally 'better'. Now, something different, like holographic TV (that's proper 3D, none of yer poxy stereovision, please!), THAT would pique my interest - once it came down in price to about £100 for a set. £200 tops. (shrugs, well, that;s the kind of prices I can afford for such things, so if it's dearer than that, it may as well not exist.

  19. Deryk Barker

    Ho hum

    Video quality keeps improving, sound quality keeps getting worse.

    And the content?

    Seriously not worth the extra, it's simply a way for the tv manufacturers to persuade the gullible to fork out more cash.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ho hum

      I hear a difference between HD content and SD (DVD/BR or broadcast).

      So I'm not sure what you mean there. I agree not everyone makes use of the improvements when recording.

      Or do you mean the sound quality gets worse each year? I think something else other than the tv. ;)

  20. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not interested

    Don't get me wrong... I'm not going to go rallying against 4K sets. Since LCDs use conventional techniques, so making the same-sized 4K LCD panel should cost about the same as a 1080 panel. The decoder chips should cost about the same (decoding H.264 or -- hopefully they come to their senses and use H.265 -- shouldn't cost much more than an MPEG2/MPEG4 decoder already does.) If the 4K and 1080 sets cost the same (within a few dollars), well, OK.

    That said -- I think 4K is useless. Personally, I'm not buying new TVs, period, as opposed to computer monitors. HD over SD? Yeah, it looks better even at a realistic viewing distance (unless you have a very small TV). 4K over 1080? I don't know anyone that sits close enough to their TV to possibly notice the difference*. Furthermore, I have zero interest in buying it when there is no 4K cable and no OTA 4K content (I think DirecTV and Dish Network may have a channel or two), and (since there is no standardization), if and when 4K OTA came out I'd be stuck buying ANOTHER new TV anyway.

    *I'm curious if people swearing up and down that 4K looks better are looking at the same content in both 4K and 1080 -- when HD came out, the tendency on in-store demos was to use over-sharpened video with the contrast set excessively high to make it look "vibrant", and some blurred out dim crap on the SD sets. I heard several people (watching an ad ON THEIR EXISTING SD TV showing an HD set with excessively sharpened forest scenery on screen) exclaim how much sharper that HD picture was, until I burst their bubble and pointed out they were watching the ad on their existing TV, so it couldn't be sharper.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: Not interested

      they are talking arse, images are just upscaled, unless you use a tripod and film the same thing at 1080p and 4k with industry camera`s

      1. Charles 9

        Re: Not interested

        "they are talking arse, images are just upscaled, unless you use a tripod and film the same thing at 1080p and 4k with industry camera`s"

        Didn't the article mention 6K cameras, meaning 1080p and 4K are both downsampled from the 6K raw source?

    2. PNGuinn

      Re: Not interested "I'm not going to go rallying against 4K sets"

      Drive too fast for you, do they?

  21. PNGuinn

    In 2 minds now

    On the one hand - at this rate of uptake - hd monitors are dead in the water. In a couple of years I'll be able to get a 24 inch 4k ips screen for £100 or so. (WITH A MATT SCREEN, mr manufacturer or I aint buying.) The other requirement is a siutable graphics card - low power and fanless for under 50 squid. I suspect that might take another year or so.

    But then, not if this will kill off or delay 8k. That'd get me near 400dpi.

  22. Tromos

    Is there any point?

    Even HD is overkill for people prancing about, baking cakes or doing up houses.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: Is there any point?

      there are 60 or so channels beside the bbc, with all the movies and zombie and sci-fi american drama`s

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is there any point?

      Exactly, it's TV viewing content that's the underlaying issue irrespective of whether it's 1080p, 1080i or 4k. If there's fuck all on the TV, what's the point?

      The only advantage is for 4k is the potential retailers profit margins.

      1. Zmodem

        Re: Is there any point?

        none, if your posh enough to have a 4k camcorder, you will be posh enough to have a 4k projector

        uk tv channels can`t afford to pay ofcom for normal tv bandwidth, they won`t be going 4k any time soon

  23. D@v3

    Page 2

    "We don’t want to take shortcuts and deliver a slightly less than optimum 4K service. But we also want to get those bitrates down because we want to stream across a wireless infrastructure to 4K mobile devices,”

    Seriously? 4K mobile devices? If there is debate about how much a 'normal' person can actually perceive the 'improved' quality from HD -> 4K on a full screen TV at 'optimal' viewing distances, what the hell good is it on a mobile device, with (if being really generous) a 12" screen, being held maybe a foot away from your face?

  24. Nick Sticks

    Well, the BBC haven't even upgraded their equipment at Norwich to HD yet as you have to change channel on a Freeview box from 101 to 1 to be able to see the Look East news program.

    That said I'm really not looking forward to seeing Stewart White in HD anyway so take as long as you like BBC.

  25. cortland

    CGA overdrive

    1980's, WELL before 4K, one brand of imported monitor could be driven at higher resolution's than rated for, emitting smells, smoke and (eventually) fire, too.

  26. Dallas IT

    The problem with 4K (mislabeled - it's actually 2160P which is slightly lower res than 4K which is a broadcast standard) is that until there is media, streaming or cable/satellite programming using it everything you watch in 1080P or below is being upscaled to fit the native 2160P resolution. Every pixel is being quadrupled, so you're ending up with a worse image than if you simply stayed at a 1080P resolution until actual 2160P material is available.

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