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Is 4k resolution the next big thing: will it live up to the hype?

Posted by Jonathan Maniery on Fri, Jul, 12, 2013 @ 17:07 PM

In the June edition of Commercial Integrator, journalist D. Craig MacCormack, asked the question, “Will 4K live up to the hype? Or flop like 3D?” “As we now know, the hype surrounding 3D failed to produce the bottom-line results most manufacturers had been hoping for,” writes MacCormack, “That brings us to 4K, also known as Ultra HD. In a Twitter-based chat of industry insiders previewing this year’s InfoComm in Orlando mid-June, moderator Paul Konikowski asked whether 4K will be ‘the thing this year or flop like 3D?”

In this industry, the wild-and-crazy ideas are fun, and gorging on fresh technology is invigorating. But we will not reap the benefits of these new offerings if there is no realistic way to launch them into action. So, we posed this question to some of our own industry leaders.

Will 4K take over the world?

Or is it doomed to exist in the museum of castaway technology? 

To answer these questions lets start off with commentary from Alano Vasuqez, a Display Solutions Specialist at Horizon Display.

"Is 4K a flop? I think those judgments are best reserved until the content capture devices mature and become more affordable. 4K cameras like the Red Pro 5.0 which have a base price of $15,000 will lose their competitive edge when cameras like the JVC 4K hybrid stills/video DSLR comes out with a more palatable price tag of $5,000.

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Ask government agencies and virtualization companies taking advantage of 4K today if they think the technology is a flop? They will probably say “No way”…

Now if you are still skeptical with its intrinsic value, how about we think outside of the box a bit? Let’s take 8MP content, a 4K monitor, and include touch interactive technology into the mix. Now that is something that may appeal to the masses. With interactive touch hardware moving well beyond the standard 40” and 46” sizes; the 70”, 84”, and large matrix video walls are the next wave of interactive mediums. While engaged with an interactive monitor you are always at an arms length, so the value is delivering content with two times the resolution as it will only heighten the immersive experience.

Let’s give the content capture technology some time to mature and reach a price point that is more attractive before we pass judgment. But why wait on implementing 4k today? Building an immersive experience that is rich in media and further engages the user should be something we continually strive for. So will you be a pioneer in this 4K movement or will you be watching from the sidelines… in 4k?"

Now lets hear from Josh Tonasket, Display Solutions Specialist at Horizon Display and technology expert in the field of interactive hardware/software as well as Digital Signage.

"I believe 4k resolution is going to live up to the hype as the new standard for HD for one overarching reason; people want to view media in a resolution that is equal to or exceeds their natural eye sight.  It’s the old “looking through a window” expectation for digital media.  This is why the ideal viewing distance recommendations for HDTV are partly based on the fact that when you are too close, the resolution doesn’t look so high definition or crisp."

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"A few other supporting factors that I think will fuel the fire for 4k resolution are the following: 

1) Almost any digital camera you purchase now has options to take photos in a resolution beyond 1920 x 1080

2) The PC video game industry has been pushing the resolution factor beyond 1080p for years ( most larger desktops are 2560 x 1600)

3) A 4k TV will support legacy resolutions (i.e 1080P until the media catches up)

To bring the issue back to our industry, no one wants to see pixels when they are standing in front of a large format touch screen…………………hence the retina iPad challenge ensues. "

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Don't just take it from us, lets hear what Nikolai Cornell from PUSH Offices has to say. PUSH is a creative agency located in Venice , you can check them out here.

 "I think 4k is going to have a really hard time being sold to the average consumer to use at home. The perceptible improvement of the image quality is not going to justify the extra cost. Most people are pretty happy watching SD movies at home because HD takes forever to download or stream. HD movies definitely look better, so if a user has a fast enough internet connection then great. In regards to TV broadcasts, a lot of them are still in SD and a bunch of sports broadcasts are in HD and look great. So if bandwidth is not an issue HD is the obvious choice, but I have NEVER heard anyone say to me: "This HD video just does not look as good as it could." Imagine how long it would take to stream or download a 4K movie. Not going to happen any time soon.

 In the movie theaters watching a 4K movie looks better for sure, but that's because the projected image is so large and you can really tell the difference when the pixels are denser. So 4k for the theaters will be big and that will cause more movies to be made in 4K so there will definitely be some movie content at 4K. In regards to broadcast TV, or cable TV shows, I highly doubt any of them will be shot in 4K any time soon. There is just no demand for it.

When it comes to "touch" experiences where a user is standing 2 to 3 feet away from the screen I think 4K has a lot of potential to improve the fidelity of the image a user looks at. Right now, an 82" screen with a 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution was a very poor PPI ratio making the pixels very noticeable which affects the way type and details are rendered. An 82" touch-screen is really at the limit of what looks acceptable in full HD resolution. So if you double the resolution it's going to look MUCH better and crisper.

 The major challenge however will be on the content side. If you want to create a 4K interactive experience you will most likely be forced to create a bunch of new content instead of leveraging existing content because most existing content that a client might have that is digital will have been created for the web or maybe they have the original larger images, but they will most likely have SD video and some HD video. Take a decent sized image on a website (900 x 600 pixels) and put it on a 4K screen and it will look like a postage stamp.

 Also need to consider the hardware that will be needed to run a 4K interactive exprience. You will need a very robust video card, but that cost will not be too much compared to the cost of the screen!

 To end things I will say that there is great potential for 4K in the "touch" world, but the barrier to entry will increase considerably for potential clients because ultimately they will need to pay more across the board for hardware, software and content development."

We hope you have enjoyed the insight on 4k resolution and touch screens from some industry leaders.  The real question is what do YOU think? Will 4k be a flop? Don't be afrarid to use the comment box. We would love to hear your insight!

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Author Bio: Jessica Webster | Horizon Display

Jessica Webster, Marketing Specialist for Horizon Display. Jessica likes to destroy create things. She specializes in creative design, copywriting, brand awareness, interface creation and making it all look easy (when we all know it sure isn’t). When she’s not designing the heck out of everything, you will probably find her staring at her Pantone swatch book drinking an unnecessary amount of coffee.

jessica webster

Topics: Commentary, Touch Displays