4K hyped by broadcast industry but brings its own commercialisation problems

Editor | 20-11-2012

Even though it can see that fundamentally there are new opportunities for 4K video technology, Futuresource Consulting is warning that these may have been over-hyped, particularly within the world of broadcasting.

Trailing webinars designed to outline the big picture for the big resolution screens, the analyst noted that 4K represents a more natural progression for the industry than 3D TV ever did and that its development should be assisted by elements of the broadcast equipment market already becoming increasingly commoditised.

Yet even before a commercial market can be considered, Futuresource warns that a number of key issues still have questions hanging over them, a basic one being that TV manufacturers face the task of persuading consumers to upgrade to a higher resolution set at a time when most consumers are just starting to recognise and enjoy the benefits of full HD.

Looking at the key commercial development parameters that would affect the broadcast and pay-TV industries, Futuresource adds that for panel makers the issues of producing 4K panels at higher yield rates are many, while prices for commercialised sets are expected to remain out of the reach of mass market consumers for several years.

Another key challenge highlighted is the increased bandwidth required to transmit 4K which offers four times the resolution of 1080p HD, thus demanding four times the data rate. In addition, in order to counter motion-blur being more visible at high resolution, Futuresource suggests that an uncompressed data rate of 4K would be eight times that of 1080p and 16 times that of 1080i.

Undeterred, Asian panel makers are moving forwards with the production of large screen 4K TVs and it seems very likely that there will be some launches over the next 12 months. Yet Futuresource concludes that it remains to be seen whether 4K TV becomes the commercial success that those in the value chain wish for and that the picture will not be clear for another 12-18 months.