Although there has been some progress in industries and infrastructure related to the streaming of 4K content, it seems that the Blu-ray disc will remain a feasible solution for the distribution of 4K premium content, and the Blu-ray Disc Association has almost finalized the 4K Blu-ray disc format specs.
Speaking at IFA 2014 in Berlin, Victor Matsuda, chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) global promotions committee, said that licensing of the optical disc technology that can handle high-resolution 4K footage will start by the spring 2015, and the first 4K Blu-ray players should arrive by the holiday-shopping season of that year.
Matsuda underlined the importance of the physical media and their advantages over streaming, mainly due to the often limited Internet connections provided around the world.
Besides the high resolution of the 4K Blu-ray video compared to today's 1080p video, the new 4K Blu-ray disc specification (dual-sided 50GB discs) will also improve color gamut and offer a higher dynamic range, meaning that details in shadows and highlights will be visible. And of course, the new new format will be able to show 4K video at 60 frames per second.
Specifically, the 4K format will increase the bit depth for each pixel from 8 to 10. And a new color-recording technology called BT.2020 will allow a wider gamut, compared to the existing 709 color encoding system, which shows 30-35 percent of the visual color spectrum. The BT.2020 can render about 70-80 percent.
It's not clear whether BDA's efforts will be successful. With services from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Google, and others, people can watch the video they want immediately rather than having leave the house to get a disc. Streaming media is also becoming more convenient with players from Apple, Roku, Amazon, and Google.
The new 4K Blu-ray disc format works on existing Blu-ray discs with 50GB capacity. It stores data in a different way, though, moving from the H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding) compression technology to the newer H.265/HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) successor.
The new 4K Blu-ray drive players will be able to read at a rate of 50 or 60mbps or even higher -- that' double the data rate of today's Blu-ray disc.
Add to that the efficiency of the HEVC compression and you get a technology capable of handling the quadrupled pixels required moving from 1,920x1,080 pixels to 3,820x2,160 pixels.
The new technology is also expected to open a new round of controversy among Hollywood Studios and video enthusiasts, as it will be protected using a more advanced digital rights management (DRM) technology for preventing unauthorized copying.