Hearne: Will Ultra TV Replace High Def or Be the Next 3D?

350px-The_National_Archives_UK_-_WORK_25-208Believe it or not, it’s been 10 years since iconic, local audio store Brandsmart bit the dust…

And 10 years as well since local furniture powerhouse Benchmark put its spanking new, mega complex near 119th and I-35 up for sale.

Think about it just 10 years.

Of course as a matter of sheer coincidence Brandsmart and Benchmark competitor Nebraska Furniture Mart celebrated it’s 10th birthday here just last year. In other words, it only to Nebraska a year, give-or-take, to snuff both of KC’s top retailers. 

A couple years prior to that, I remember Brandsmart honcho Bruce Bettinger introducing me to a wondrous, new technology called high definition television. Viewing a demo video of a football game in high def was amazing; you could almost recognize the faces of the people in the crowd. The picture was incredibly bright and crisp – beyond anything then available on DVD or satellite.

It was the dawn of a new era.


Dr. Doug

A handful of years back, I stopped now-deceased movie Dr. Doug on the way out of a screening and he predicted that the future of mainstream movies was 3D. The younger movie critics I spoke with laughed it off, but just yesterday I watched the new Captain America movie in a tiny auditorium at Standees in Prairie Village…in 3D.

Frankly, the 3D in Captain America wasn’t all that great. And the trade off in brightness – 3-D is usually darker given the technology and glasses required to view it – made me wonder if it might not have been more enjoyable in 2D.

Yet clearly the number of 3D movies the past several years has vindicated Dr. Doug.

And just a few years back it looked like the future of high definition television sets – no longer expensive toys for the few – would be 3D. They sold at a premium at first, and only the higher priced sets offered 3D, but it was clear that electronics giants like Sony and Samsung were betting on their continued growth.

But while there are plenty of 3D sets available at reasonable prices today, it seems increasingly clear that the future of 3D in movies and consumer television is far from a given.

tout-truultrahdengineThe next big thing in television? 

Ultra and 4K high definition is what manufacturers would have us believe.

And as a bit of a gadget and electronics geek, I have to admit I’ve been intrigued. As was the case with high def, I’ve been watching the technology grow and the prices drop, albeit slowly, but there remains a few very large problems.

Starting with almost no programming.

Like the early days of high def, there just isn’t very much available to watch in 4K.

Which brings us to the Association of Broadcasters Show going on now in Las Vegas.

“Perhaps the most intense debate will be over the next generation of display formats,” the Hollywood Reporter says. “So-called Ultra High Definition.”

Captain_America_the_Winter_Soldier_42391In short, the new format promises a picture four times as sharp as HD.

However, like HD, which debuted in the late 1990s, high costs and limited programming will likely slow its transition to the mainstream. A leading research firm predicts that within 10 to 12 years, 80 percent or more of U.S. televisions will own 4K TVs.

Yet many broadcasters and movie makers fear that even at four times the resolution, the improvements won’t be enough to lure consumers and content providers to pay the higher costs of producing and receiving the improved images.

Could it be that technology today is moving so fast that even a leap of four fold may be outdated by the time it becomes affordable?

Another possibility: HDR or high dynamic range imagery.

HDR is a process that can produce more accurately the range of intensity levels in an image – a more noticeable improvement some argue – at a far lower cost.

An even more extreme improvement than Ultra 4K is an 8K process that produces a picture 16 time superior to HD sets today. And Japan has already begun testing that format.

Oh and glasses-free 3D is on the drawing board should 3D continues to even matter.

And to the argument that 4K Ultra will be outdated by the time it becomes affordable and there’s a decent amount of programming available, if 8K technology is already available, why waste a dozen years putzing around with 4K?

2001-a-space-odyssey-originalTen years from now might we be looking at 64K?

Is planned obsolescence a given in each and every aspect of our technological lives from this time forward? It sure seems so, and the pace can be dizzying.

Anybody besides me still rocking a first generation iPad?

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4 Responses to Hearne: Will Ultra TV Replace High Def or Be the Next 3D?

  1. chuck says:

    I am gonna sound like Harley here buddy, but you are off base here.

    2 Billion dollars for Oculus Rift. The future is in no way a flat screen, but a helmut. Go to You Tube and click on the videos of people watching the Roller Coaster in that helmut.

    Speeeelberg will film with 8 or a dozen cameras, blue screen out what he doesn’t like and folks will think they are actually bleeding inside that helmut when they watch a slasher movie.

    Just my opinion.

    It is also my opinion that Bruce is a stand up guy.

  2. hot harley says:

    funny you bring up brands mart….bill berg…great guy…his floral bill would
    rival the national debt.
    went on some trips with him….cool guy….
    remember the “bill berg makes me puke parties”….thosewwere fun…

  3. the dude says:

    4K will be the next big sell but it may never make traction due to new tech being rolled out in a few years. remember SACD and DVD Audio?

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