“Aren’t we living in the most interesting time? I truly believe we are” said SMPTE president Wendy Aylsworth on Monday as she welcomed attendees to the Symposium on next generation formats that kicked off the annual SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition. “Advances in wireless technology allow consumers to get content anywhere, anytime … Home technology is allowing HFR, HDR, UHD – and these can greatly increase the content quality.”
But do consumers want UHD TVs, which are currently priced anywhere from $700-$40,000?
This is the question that Insight Media president Chris Chinnock asked the first panel of the business track, and this question was addressed throughout the day.
“Nobody has been making money for a while, but I see some reason to be optimistic,” said Peter Keith, vp and senior research analyst Piper Jaffray. “When I see a product, I ask ‘is it bigger and does the picture look better?’ 4K checks both those boxes.’
But there are many considerations in this discussion and while initiatives in areas such as satellite and OTT 4K services are in the works, a key challenge of course is getting 4K content to the home.
Steve Venuti of HDMI Licensing believes 4K upconversion features on new displays could help to jumpstart the market. Added Samsung marketing exec Dan Schinasi: “The reality is that most of what we watch will be upconverted for the foreseeable future.”
But on another panel, Bryan Burns, the former ESPN exec who is now president and CEO of Forward Direction Group, offered his view on the subject of upconversion, saying, “I hope we don't hear, ‘if there was only more content [4K would gain momentum].’ If there’s is chip that upconverts everything for you, it make it harder for producers to invest in creating the content.”
Speakers also addressed the need for clear terminology with which to communicate the new capabilities to consumers. The Consumer Electronics Association uses Ultra HD as the industry term for 4K, but ITU for instance has a 4K and 8K flavor. “CEA has come up with a definition for the U.S., but they don't follow it in Europe [and other international markets]. There’s still a way to go,” said Paul Gagnon, director of global TV research for NPD Display Search.
In conjunction with this program, a 4K/UHD demo room has been organized to showcase 4K/UHD in both professional and consumer markets. It will remain open through Oct. 23.