4K - the new 'Full HD' -first appeared in the upper echelons of the display market around 2012, taking the resolution of displays and media content to 3840x2160 pixels per picture and above (i.e four times the number of pixels found in Full HD, 1920x1080). At that time Full HD was still something expensive and futuristic. As we move into 2017, the profits have become so squeezed on manufacturing and selling Full HD TVs and LCD panels that factories and stores are focusing on the next generation - 4K, Ultra HD, UHD or HDR, as it's variously described. And of course, whilst such superlative visual quality is a luxury now, it won't be too long before it's the norm.

What can I watch in 4K / Ultra HD ?

4K Ultra HD content is still limited. Streaming providers such as YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon and Netflix have a growing selection, but it's by no means comprehensive. Such is life for early adopters of any new format, but the major manufacturer and content provider support suggests 4K Ultra HD will gain more traction than a trend such as 3D TV.

Another key point is that many popular current smartphones and consumer video camera brands such as Go Pro are capable of creating 4K content. So we aren't just waiting on big film and TV studios to make this high quality media, we will see a lot of individual bloggers, amateur and smaller production companies creating lavish, detailed pieces in 4K. 

You can find some excellent 4K videos linked on this article which also outlines the 'consumer grade' smartphones and video cameras that can produce Ultra HD content.

4k resolution comparison with HD

What kind of cables will I need for 4K / Ultra HD? 

HDMI cables do come in two speed ratings: high speed (category 2) and standard speed (category 1). Standard speed cables will not pass resolutions greater than 1080i, so high speed cables (capable of up to 18Gbps) are required for Full HD and above. However, the certified high-speed cables are commonly available, and the price difference over standard speed cables is negligible. Hence...

4K HDMI cables (are nonsense). You do not need a new HDMI cable for Ultra HD 4K (probably).

I didn't realise HDMI connections had different speeds - does this matter?

The HDMI connection speed is determined by the version of the HDMI standard used by the video source and display equipment (e.g. your Blu-ray player and TV). For a 4K Ultra HD ecosystem the devices need to have HDMI 2.0 connections. HDMI 2.0 is the new connection standard, replacing HDMI 1.4. 

Most current 4K Ultra HD content is streamed (so probably achieving an internet connection speed of at least 15 Mbps will be your first concern..). A DisplayPort connection (or the fairly similar Thunderbolt port found on Macs) can support 4K. However, to connect your computer to a 4K Ultra HD display screen via HDMI, HDMI connection speed becomes relevant. Or if you are purchasing a 4K Blu-ray player or Xbox One S to play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs you may need to check your overall HDMI ecosystem is up to scratch. For example, if you use an AV receiver to switch sources, this will also need to be 4K compatible. 

Next level copy protection

Another consideration for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray content is that the copy protection standard used, HDCP 2.2, is a further advancement on current protocols. Again, AV receivers etc, need to support HDCP 2.2 to pass 4K content that is copy protected in this way. See this article for more information on what you need to know about HDCP 2.2.

What is Ultra HD Premium?

In January 2016, the UHD alliance (UHDA) unveiled the specifications for the Ultra HD Premium standard. Emanating from a collaboration of the top technology and media companies on the planet, this gives the Ultra HD Premium standard significant weight as THE standard in next generation display and content. Going further than defining a standard solely in terms of the display resolution, the Ultra HD Premium standard also benchmarks high dynamic range (HDR), peak luminance levels (brighter whites), deeper and darker black levels, and wide colour gamut - so the various gradations of shades will be super smooth and rich.

You may have already seen the logo for Ultra HD Premium, appearing on the likes of Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TV lineup. Any technology bearing the badge has to pass the stringent certification criteria and are designed to help the consumer.

“The diverse group of UHDA companies agreed that to realize the full potential of Ultra HD the specs need to go beyond resolution and address enhancements like HDR, expanded color and ultimately even immersive audio. Consumer testing confirmed this,” said UHD Alliance President Hanno Basse. “The criteria established by this broad cross section of the Ultra HD ecosystem enables the delivery of a revolutionary in-home experience, and the ULTRA HD PREMIUM logo gives consumers a single, identifying mark to seek out so they can purchase with confidence.”

'The Science bit'

In order to receive the UHD Alliance Premium Logo, the device must meet or exceed the following specifications:

•  Image Resolution: 3840×2160
•  Color Bit Depth: 10-bit signal
•  Color Palette (Wide Color Gamut)
•  Signal Input: BT.2020 color representation
•  Display Reproduction: More than 90% of P3 colors
•  High Dynamic Range
•  A combination of peak brightness and black level either:
•  More than 1000 nits peak brightness and less than 0.05 nits black level
•  More than 540 nits peak brightness and less than 0.0005 nits black level

Crossover have been future-proofing its AV systems for the use of 4K Ultra HD standards for some time, building in 4K Ultra HD-ready infrastructure using the latest transmission and matrix switching devices wherever possible.

No doubt as the next generation of Ultra HD Blu-ray players and digital streaming media through ultra fast broadband services start to be wired into their AV systems, our customers will be glad to have chosen Crossover.

Ultra HD Premium 4KI
The UHDA is an industry group made up of more than 35 member companies, including world-leading device manufacturers, content providers and distributors. The group have been collaborating for some time to promote the next chapter of ‘best in class’ home entertainment ecosystems.
UHDA members