Can the existing Blu-ray format accommodate 4K or Ultra HD? The Blu-ray Disc Association is already studying the possibilities.
With this year's CES being all about 4K, or the more consumer friendly Ultra HD moniker, all eyes have turned on the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) to see if we will ever see 4K content on Blu-ray discs, or we'll all need to buy into another disc format in the near future.
The reality is probably somewhere between the two. The current Blu-ray specifications does not support video resolutions above 1920x1080, or 1080p, and so the 3840x2160 of 4K will put any discs made immediately out of spec (and incompatible with most Blu-ray players). And even if players were somehow capable of playing back the 4K content (the PS3, given its powerful CPU and adaptive software nature, might just do it), the 50GB offered by Blu-ray may simply not be enough, unless a more aggressive video codec, like HEVC, is utilized (but if this happens, more incompatibility problems will surface).
There is the BDXL format, which allows for 128GB of storage, but many legacy Blu-ray players are not compatible with the format, and so the same problems still exist.
It's exactly these kind of issues that the BDA is interested examining, with the president of the BDA, Andy Parsons, revealing that the group has already launched a study to see if Ultra HD can somehow be squeezed into the Blu-ray format without having to force a bunch of changes to the format. "The BDA recently decided to form a new task force to study just this sort of possibility. It's called the format extension study task force, and it will do exactly what its name suggests: to study new technologies such as 4K, high frame rate, color enhancements, etc. Each technology that will be studied needs to be evaluated to determine technical feasibility, market demand, and potential impact on the installed base of Blu-ray players already in the marketplace, projected to be in excess of 50 million in the U.S. alone by the end of 2012." Parsons explained.
While the major TV makers all debuted 4K TVs, most costing in excess of $20,000 and 70 inches or bigger, some smaller Asian manufacturers are already hinting at sub $3000 4K TVs starting at more consumer friendly sizes.