Well 4K Ultra high definition in here big time. Or so the big TV manufacturers are making you believe. 4K TV launches have been coming in thick and fast with all the major brands already in the game. And they are in a hurry, as time to market is of prime importance. Sony learned this lesson when it was slow to engage flat screen TV in the 1990s causing a huge loss in market share they could not recover till this day.
Well there is a problem. Where is the media? Where can I buy 4K Ultra blu-ray discs? A quick search on Amazon reveals perhaps a dozen “Mastered in 4K blu-rays”, mostly by Sony, while only a couple are actually FILMED in 4K. Are these ‘Mastered in 4K’ blu-rays actually outputting video in full 4k resolution? Apparently not. Only the master file of these discs are in 4K resolution. They are subsequently down-converted to 1080p, however the bitrate has been increased to 34.8 Mbps which is higher than regular blu-rays (most Blu-ray movies run between 16 Mbps to 24 Mbps). If you have a Sony 4K display, these new titles are optimized for 4K up-conversion.
If you are preparing to plonk down a few grands more and take the plunge, be prepared to watch just a few ‘up-converted to 4K movies’ for the time being. And to future proof your purchase, it is advisable to purchase one with at least 70″ to 80″ screen size to take full advantage of true 4K when it is finally available.
Another major setback is there are currently no plans for a US 4K broadcast standard. Whereas when HDTVs were introduced in the 90s, there were already two things in play: broadcast HDTV and DVDs were available with anamorphic 480p content that took advantage of wide-screen HDTVs. So we see 4K having a tougher time converting skeptics and early adopters.