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What Panasonic taught us about "Ultra HD Blu-ray"

10 Jan 2015 | Rasmus Larsen |

The first thing they taught us is that the new Blu-ray format will be called “Ultra HD Blu-ray” – quite a mouthful. It also taught us that it will enable amazing picture quality with HDR, HFR, BT.2020 and 100 Mb/s bitrate, but that the launch is still many months away.

It is called Ultra HD Blu-ray

The TV industry is divided. Half of it seems to prefer “4K” and the other half “Ultra HD”. Just when it seemed that the industry was actually trending towards 4K by changed the official name to “4K Ultra HD” the Blu-ray association tells everyone that the next Blu-ray will be called “Ultra HD Blu-ray”.

Not “UHD Blu-ray”, but “Ultra HD Blu-ray”.

Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player

Panasonic demonstrated an early prototype player at CES 2015 and buried in the bottom of the press notes were some concrete details that are in line with the talk at IFA. We now have confirmation that the new Blu-ray will support 4K resolution (3840x2160 pixels) in up to 60 pictures per second - also called HFR (high frame rate). It will support 10-bit colors as opposed to 8-bit colors for the current standard.

100 Mbps will be the highest bitrate
The group confirmed that HDR (high dynamic range) will be supported; “expanding the brightness peak from the previous 100 nit to 1,000-10,000 nit, marking a significant leap in the dynamic range of the picture. Bright light sources (e.g. lights or rays of the sun) and reflected light (from metal or water) that up to now were difficult to display can now be shown in rich textures.”. HDR was a big theme at CES 2015, and pretty much every TV manufacturer will have at least one HDR-capable TV in 2015. Netflix will also add HDR content later this year.

Ultra HD Blu-ray will also support BT.2020 (or Rec.2020), which is a much wider color gamut compared to the current BT.709 used for all HD content, including current Blu-ray movies. BT.2020 is not just a small improvement in colors, but a huge improvement that will propel home entertainment well beyond what is possible in movie theatres that currently use the smaller DCI color gamut.

Lastly, the association says that HEVC will be used as the compression standard and that 100 Mbps will be the highest bitrate (compared to 40 Mb/s for the current standard). The extremely high bitrate should make all the extra goodies possible and provide amazingly crisp picture quality for your Ultra HD TV.

So there it is, the official word. The only thing missing is a date. Some suggest that it will happen by year’s end, but there is no official date set by the BDA. Panasonic did not offer any timeframe either.

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