New Ultra HD TVs arrive in stores with 5-figure prices

Oct 26, 2012 by Mike Snider, Usa Today

High-definition TVs have officially graduated to Ultra HD.

The first Ultra high-definition in the U.S. go on sale this week in Los Angeles. The 84-inch LED TV from delivers four times the resolution of current HD TVs and has an ultra-high of $19,999 to match its impressive images. Sony has its own 84-inch set priced at $24,999 due in late November or early December.

"As television gets bigger and bigger, we need more lines of resolution and pixels to maintain the picture quality," said Jay Vandenbree, head of LG's U.S. home entertainment business.

There's enough manufacturer interest in Ultra HD that industry trade group the last week adopted guidelines for the higher-resolution sets. They must have at least 8 million pixels - four times that of current HD TVs. The more pixels, the sharper the picture display.

The Ultra HD label not only lets shoppers know that a new flavor of HD is available, but also helps ease confusion, said Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist and director of research. "You want to make sure consumers understand where the technology fits in," he said.

There still might be some consumer confusion. Despite the CEA's move, Sony will continue to use the previous high-def designation of "4K," which refers to the nearly 4,000 horizontal resolution lines, with its upcoming sets, calling their sets "4K UHD."

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Ultra HD is that currently there's little content available to take advantage of the higher resolution. Similar situations greeted the first HD TVs and color sets.

But most displays, including LG's and Sony's, will convert Blu-ray disc movies to the higher resolution of the larger sets. "What they own today will look great" on the new set, Vandenbree said.

New Ultra HD sets will also display 3-D content that looks better than that on current sets. And some new video cameras shoot Ultra HD resolution video, too.

But Al Griffin, technical editor at Sound and Vision magazine, doubts the sets will have much initial appeal to most shoppers. "It's expensive," he said, and consumers "are probably not going to sit close enough to the screen to really benefit from that extra resolution even if they did have" programs to watch.

Hollywood is looking into providing Ultra HD content "whether it shows up in a Blu-ray disc or whether it is downloaded, streamed" or transmitted through pay-TV providers, DuBravac said.

The new LG displays will be sold at high-end electronics retailers and will hit most major markets in time for the holiday shopping season.

The first U.S. retailer to show and sell the sets to consumers, Video & Audio Center in Lawndale, Calif., will price the Ultra HD displays at $16,999.99 starting at a special Ultra HD debut event Thursday.

Griffin said of Ultra HD: "It makes sense for it to exist at this point as a format, as something you can (eventually) get on cable TV or on Blu-ray, because screens are trending larger."

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User comments : 23

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krundoloss
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 26, 2012
Good Lord! Apparently, there is progress just for the sake of progress. Lots of TV stations are struggling just to upgrade to HD, especially local stations. And now theres a new standard, that basically has clarity beyond the range of human vision! Go ahead, make one with 20 trillion pixels, and no one will be able to tell the difference between it and a 1080p image.
Deathclock
3.2 / 5 (5) Oct 26, 2012
You cannot judge whether the clarity is beyond the capabilities of human vision (as if all humans had the same capability in the first place) without knowing several factors... resolution alone tells you nothing, it's determined by a combination of pixel density (which is resolution/display size) and viewing distance. There IS a practical application of 4k and even 8k resolutions, and while you may not be able to turn on a cable channel and make use of it there already exists many uses for it, including using it as a computer monitor. Most people with a reasonably modern video card could make use of resolutions above the standard 2k (1920x1080) simply by plugging the TV into their computers.

4K, which is 4x the resolution of 2K, is perfectly reasonable for an 84" display mentioned in the article. I'm sick and tired of hearing about this "limits of human vision" bullshit, to tell you the truth...
DaFranker
5 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2012
@krundolos & Deathclock:
There's evidence that some people can't see the difference between 20 frames per second and 120. Meanwhile, others have successfully identified the faster monitor between a 200 frames per second and a 240 in double-blind tests, and there's a well-known study of jet pilots doing some crazy feats of visionmancy with ultrahigh framerate object recognition.

Meanwhile, it's a well-known "fact" that the human eye "can only see about thirty frames per second". What's omitted is that the eyes and brain function overwhelmingly on parallel processing, not on single-channel picture-by-picture capture.

I predict that a similar phenomenon will be observed with image resolution and clarity, and apparently so do a bunch of engineers working in the field.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2012
It depends on the character of test. With sufficiently fast motion of head you can recognize even the LED blinking at 110 kHz (I checked it personally). After then the 1 MHz display would definitely bring you a smoother user experience.
gwrede
1 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2012
I predict that a similar phenomenon will be observed with image resolution and clarity, and apparently so do a bunch of engineers working in the field.
Agreed. And I predict the same goes for color. Too many people today believe that 3*8bits is sufficient. It's pathetic.
Deathclock
3 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2012
I predict that a similar phenomenon will be observed with image resolution and clarity, and apparently so do a bunch of engineers working in the field.
Agreed. And I predict the same goes for color. Too many people today believe that 3*8bits is sufficient. It's pathetic.


24bit allows for 16,777,216.. I agree that might not be the limit, but doubling that to 48bit gives a quarter of a quadrillion colors... I doubt very highly that anyone could distinguish two adjacent shades with that resolution or that any hardware would accurately be able to reproduce it.

40bit ARGB for computer monitors would be a nice standard, or 32bit RGB for video.
foofighter
5 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2012
all this picture quality and hardly anything good to watch on tv lately
krundoloss
3 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2012
Ha ha. I made my comments just to get a rise out of people. I love high res displays and yes, I can tell the difference in just about any display changes, such as going from 60 to 70 hz refresh rate, etc. And yes, there is a use for these high res displays, but watching TV is not one of them, for now. And hopefully something will be done to force local stations to get rid of their old analog equipment. From a distance, there is no need for higher than 1080p, but if you get closer, there is a difference. I would love to be able to get up close and see more detail, just as if you were to walk to a window and look out!
PinkElephant
not rated yet Oct 26, 2012
Now we just need the HDMI spec to catch up...

"HDMI 1.4 increases the maximum resolution to 4K × 2K, i.e. 3840 × 2160p (Quad HD) at 24 Hz/25 Hz/30 Hz or 4096 × 2160p at 24 Hz" - http://en.wikiped...sion_1.4

I don't see much point in shelling out $10,000+ for a 4K display that (due to its data interface limitations) is inherently and chronically incapable of handling full-resolution stereoscopic 3D content (meaning, 120 Hz refresh rate support.)

Supposedly, HDMI 2.0 is coming out by end of this year. Can't wait to see what it will provide!

I also find it slightly off-putting that two distinct horizontal resolutions (3840 and 4096) are both simultaneously being enshrined as "standard". WTF?? Just settle on one common standard; why is that so hard?

And that's my rant for today.
alfie_null
not rated yet Oct 27, 2012
Ultra HD is an easy extrapolation for set manufacturers. But the "resolution" attribute is at the point of diminishing returns. There are other aspects of vision that I'd be much more interested in seeing addressed. For instance, gamut. Or a better way to surround me with the rendition, rather than just giving me a big flat screen.
I'll also point out that all this high resolution is useless outside of a small area of focus (which is never going to be even close the entire screen). Useless for peripheral vision.

Listening to people defending/justifying this "advance" reminds me of extreme audiophiles ranting about how one absolutely has to use at least #10 gauge wire to connect speakers.
IronhorseA
not rated yet Oct 27, 2012


24bit allows for 16,777,216.. I agree that might not be the limit, but doubling that to 48bit gives a quarter of a quadrillion colors... I doubt very highly that anyone could distinguish two adjacent shades with that resolution or that any hardware would accurately be able to reproduce it.

40bit ARGB for computer monitors would be a nice standard, or 32bit RGB for video.


Matrox had a side by side demo of 8 and 10 bit per color some years ago showing the color banding in high contrast scenes. But while 16 bit per color ie. 48 bit color, might be overkill (unless they use some of the extra to code for dynamic range as well), most digital processors work best on power of 2 boundaries, which is the reason you don't see odd numbered bit counts (unless they are including the error correction bit which is stripped before calculation). So 48 bit color might actually appear for the purpose of calculation performance in the hardware.
Jaeherys
not rated yet Oct 27, 2012
Anyone who uses a computer frequently and/or plays games can very easily tell the difference between 45 and 60 fps. If you are good at these things then even 50-60 is possible. The difference between 120 hz and 240 hz is just as equally apparent. Our bodies may not be able to distinguish each frame from another, but as a whole, it is extremely easy... Bring on the 480 hz tv! with 10^20 colours :D. Admittedly, it is quite difficult to distinguish between varying bits of colours
gwrede
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2012
but doubling that to 48bit gives a quarter of a quadrillion colors... I doubt very highly that anyone could distinguish two adjacent shades with that resolution or that any hardware would accurately be able to reproduce it.
There are two things about color, that both have to be adequate. One is the number of shades (as in bits), and the other one is the dynamic range.

Now, the real test in my book is, on a sunny day, take a picture from a very dimly lit room so that the picture shows both the interior and the world outside through an open window. Then show the picture in your monitor, and put up a sheet of glass in front of you, to the side of the monitor, so that you see the original view through it.

Color depth and bits are adequate when you can't see a difference between the monitor and the glass sheet.
axemaster
not rated yet Oct 27, 2012
What happens when people are offered a choice between downloading 480p, 720p, and 1080p videos?

19% choose 480p.
57% choose 720p.
24% choose 1080p.

People consistently don't go for resolutions above 720p, even when it is available. So what's the point of having a 4000p format? I mean, do they think we're using our TV to inspect spy satellite images or something?
Jaeherys
5 / 5 (2) Oct 27, 2012
@axemaster
I'd wager that around the world where their internet doesn't suck, they choose to watch 1080p. The only reason I don't always watch 1080p when streaming is because of bandwidth.

If blu-rays will support 4K, then that's where it will be at until our internet can catch up.
axemaster
not rated yet Oct 27, 2012
Really? Because I have a 7MB/s connection. I can download a 300MB video in 40 seconds. My continued preference for 720p has nothing to do with bandwidth, and everything to do with me not wanting to have to buy TBs of storage.

Thanks for the thinly veiled insult by the way.
Jaeherys
not rated yet Oct 27, 2012
@axemaster
I meant no insult! I and a lot of people I know only get between 0.75-2MB per second at peak and can never stream at that bandwidth. But I can see why you wouldn't store 1080p videos on your computer. I just assumed you meant for streaming. Do you know if those stats are for streaming or directly downloading onto a hard drive?
axemaster
not rated yet Oct 27, 2012
The stats I posted were for downloading. Streaming I usually get much slower speeds, usually because the streaming websites have slow connections on their end (this being my motivation for downloading).
Burnerjack
not rated yet Oct 28, 2012
I've always thought that ultra HD was meant for Giant displays and not really intended for typical residential use. I suspect that much of the hoopla is to move more units in a sluggish economy. Foofighter has an excellent point(IMNSHO). Why shell out that kind of cash when most of the content that's NOT repeats and oversold airtime (as in absurd commercial/entertainment content ratio)is just so much drivel? If it weren't for gaming, my TV would be on less than 20% of the time it's on now. Why, if it weren't for gaming, I might even go outside when not working! Wow! What a concept!
Moebius
not rated yet Oct 28, 2012
What good is it without source material? It's going to be an impossible sell to get people with Blue-ray collections to upgrade if the BR format is around for a couple more years even if someone comes out with a better disc. Violet-ray? Ultraviolet-ray? Broadcasters are still mostly SD too.
sirchick
not rated yet Oct 29, 2012
What happens when people are offered a choice between downloading 480p, 720p, and 1080p videos?

19% choose 480p.
57% choose 720p.
24% choose 1080p.

People consistently don't go for resolutions above 720p, even when it is available. So what's the point of having a 4000p format? I mean, do they think we're using our TV to inspect spy satellite images or something?

What happens when people are offered a choice between downloading 480p, 720p, and 1080p videos?

19% choose 480p.
57% choose 720p.
24% choose 1080p.

People consistently don't go for resolutions above 720p, even when it is available. So what's the point of having a 4000p format? I mean, do they think we're using our TV to inspect spy satellite images or something?


That could be more a factor of download time due to internet speeds and file size due to hard drives, some times they over ride the quality requirement. But if the download time was 100 times faster and hard drive space is 100 times larger.....
hb_
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2012
@Deathclock

First or all: The color sensitivity of the eye is logarithmic, which means that even though we may not be able to see the difference between RED intensity '3052' and '3053' - on a scale between 0 to 4095 - , we see a large difference between '2' and '3'. So, more bits benefit the percieved color resolution where one or more of the primary colors has a low content. More bits means truer colors.

Second. Color gamuth. The three primary colors cannot reproduce all the colors that we can see. It's a hughe pink elefant in the room that no one pretends to see... A typical monitor can only display about half the range of the colors that we can see! This is one of the reasons why you will never hesitate as whether you are looking at a monitor or a window.
gwrede
not rated yet Oct 29, 2012
What happens when people are offered a choice between downloading 480p, 720p, and 1080p videos?
What happens is, people consider a few things before choosing.

- The resolution that is most comfortable to view on their monitor
- The resolution and speed their graphics chip can render adequately
- The user's net connection bit rate
- Download time
- The user's data plan
- If they are in a hurry just this time and can't wait for the UHD version
- In some cases better stream resolution worsens audio quality (!)
- The capacity of their storage media
- What purpose they foresee for the download in the future

The last case being, for example, there's no use downloading a 4000x2500 picture if you only need it as a background picture, or if they need to send someone a movie on a CD it can't be in HQ.

Using the "best" resolution for everything is as smart as buying the car with the most horse power when all you do is commute to the office and go to the grocery store.

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