Sony to sell ultra-HD '4K' TV set in US stores (Update)

Aug 29, 2012 by Peter Svensson
This undated image provided by Sony shows an ultra-HD '4K' TV set. High-definition TVs roughly quadrupled the resolution of the sets that came before them. Now, the industry is poised to do it again as Sony says its U.S. stores will, by December, sell a TV set with four tims the resolution of today's best HDTVs. (AP Photo/Sony)

(AP)—High-definition TVs roughly quadrupled the resolution of the sets that came before them. Now, the industry is poised to do it again.

By December, U.S. stores will sell a TV set with four times the resolution of today's best HDTVs, Sony Corp. said Wednesday. The set will measure 84 inches (213 centimeters) on the diagonal, making the screen area four times as large as the common 42-inch set.

Executives said Sony will reveal the price of the set next week.

There is, for now, very little video content available that can take advantage of the higher resolution. With some work and know-how, a computer connected to the set can display video in the ultra-HD "4K" resolution. The set will also do its best to "upscale" TV, DVD and Blu-ray movies, so they look better.

Phil Molyneux, chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, said the situation was no different from the launch of the cassette tape, the CD or the DVD.

"We always get this question when we launch beautiful new technology: Where's the content?" Molyneux told journalists at an event in New York. "Did we bring the content to market? Yes, we did."

The exact resolution of the set is 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. It's known as "4K" because it has nearly 4,000 pixels on the horizontal edge. That compares with 1,920 by 1,080 pixels in "1080p" sets. More pixels allow TV makers to make bigger screens without compromising sharpness.

Sony makes digital projectors operating at 4K resolution for movie theaters.

The TV industry has been looking for a technology that will get consumers to upgrade their HDTV sets. Sales are slumping after an initial wave of upgrades from standard-definition sets, and 3-D sets attract only a small number of consumers.

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Apple Inc. has slowly been quadrupling the resolution of its devices, starting with the iPhone 4 two years ago. This year, it released iPads and MacBooks with ultra-high-resolution screens.

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User comments : 11

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JRDarby
not rated yet Aug 29, 2012
rwinners
not rated yet Aug 29, 2012
Ahhh... who will provide media that does this screen justice?
Smarrelli
not rated yet Aug 30, 2012
At what resolution are we as humans incapable of detecting the finer detail? Naturally it would depend on screen size and viewing distance but to me it seems like, unless you're one of the lucky few that have a large screen TV and a living room large enough to do it justice, we're pretty much there.
hb_
3.5 / 5 (2) Aug 30, 2012
@Smarrelli

But what they are not telling you, is that when it comes to colors the screens are nowhere near what we can percieve. We have a logarithmic light sensitivity, which means that when the content of one of the primary colors is low, we probably resolve more colors than what the screens can show us.

Our color range is also about twices as large as what the screens are capable of. Of course, correcting this would mean using more primary colors, and nobody is about to take this step.
gwrede
2 / 5 (1) Aug 30, 2012
But what they are not telling you, is that when it comes to colors the screens are nowhere near what we can perceive.
True. The screens of today are quite bad at color, brightness range, and of course resolution.

All you need to try this out is an old fashioned slide projector and some good Kodachrome slides. Put the screen next to a flat TV and make the projected picture the same size.

The difference in quality is simply disgusting.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2012
Dancing with the stars and Ancient Alien disinfotainment pn Faux News will never look better.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 30, 2012
we probably resolve more colors than what the screens can show us.

We don't resolve all that much. Our best resolution capabilities are in the black/white/grayscale spectrum.
Medical datasets (e.g. from CT scans) are saved at 12 bit grayscales (4096 shades of gray), but even trained medical professionals under optimal lighting conditions cannot distinguish more than 256 gray values(8 bit).
Here's a link where you can try this out yourself
http://www.photoi...-Bit.htm

With RGB therefore 48bit (16bit per color) is more than enough to encode all the hues you can possibly distinguish (and the step from 24 to 48bit is just so that you don't get noticeable artifacts when doing color corrections. Without that it wouldn't be necessary).
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Aug 30, 2012
RWinners was on the right track. Who will provide the content that might do this display monitor justice. Abandon the "TV" meme and with it goes Dancing with the Ancient Aliens disinfotainment.
Aloken
not rated yet Aug 30, 2012
Thats great, 4k resolution. Except for a few, select youtube videos we have no publically available source of media that gets close to that kind or res.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 30, 2012
Chicken and egg. What's the point of making 4k video if there are no monitors to play it on. What's the point of buying a 4k monitor when there are no 4k movies.

The 3D industry is in the same fix. There's no real need for 4k so they must artificially create a need (via advertising). This may work (as it has with HD in the past) or it may not work (as with 3D).

But when all is said and done: People watch TV for the content and not for the clarity of the picture (or can you see anyone saying: "I really want to watch show X tonight. But I won't because the clarity isn't high enough/it isn't in 3D").

Better resolution or other gimmicks (like 3D) aren't improving the content, so people don't really care until the cost is comparable to the old monitors.
chromosome2
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
I liken 3d to color TV. Imagine if we had black and white TV's, but the effective resolution was like, 160x120-- and some guy comes along and says, hey, let's make it COLOR! Screw that guy. More angular resolution FIRST. And here we are. Most screens are below 1080p, have mediocre contrast ratios, and don't go up past 60Hz. When we're running 4k at 120fps with a gazillion to one contrast ratios, well, bring on the 3d I say. Until then, it's out of technological order, and therefore a gimmick.