Ultra HD TVs - or 4K TVs - were everywhere at CES 2013 but the absence of players, content and a distribution format shows that the industry still has work to do. Sony's CEO, Kaz Hirai says that Sony wants a 4K standard. A physical disc format is unlikely but not completely out of the picture.
Sony: 4K disc format unlikely
Ultra HD is coming whether you like it or not but the first generation of Ultra HD TVs might be a bad investment as the industry still has not settled on a 4K format. The industry is not even close to a consensus point.
FlatpanelsHD spoke with Sony at CES about 4K/Ultra HD and Sony’s CEO has also shared his thoughts in an interview with The Verge. Sony has a tradition of promoting its own formats and at times they have been successful. The latest example is Blu-ray but Sony has also failed with formats such as the MiniDisc. And it is certainly not impossible for Sony to once again push its own format with the introduction of 4K.
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Sony’s CEO says that he wants a 4K standard in terms of both a file format and a distribution format. From a general point of view a disc format such as Blu-ray could be the obvious way based on historic trends in the TV industry but Kaz Hirai thinks that a 4K disc format is unlikely but not impossible. The Blu-ray consortium for example has no official working group dedicated to 4K and if it happens, all consumers will need to invest in new discs and Blu-ray players again.
Sony believes in Internet distribution
Kaz Hirai thinks higher of internet distribution. Therefore, Internet streaming and download is what Sony will explore and try before a physical disc format is considered. Sony has already taken the first steps towards 4K downloading with the introduction of the 84-inch 4K TV that comes bundled with a hard drive. Later in 2013, customers will be able to download 4K movies from Sony’s servers. Sony already has lots of experience in this field as it has offered game downloads though the PlayStation Network for many years.
The big question right now is if Sony will once again push its own format or join an open industry standard. The problem with the latter option is that a simply does not exist at this point.
FlatpanelsHD will soon explore the possible routes and technologies for an Ultra HD format and distribution in an article. Stay tuned. We will also share more information on our hands-on experiences with the new Ultra HD TVs.