“This month Sony will begin shipping its first 4K televisions that have screens with a massive 3840 x 2160 pixels, exactly 4 times the pixels of 1080p HD,” Mark Hibben reports for The Motley Fool.

“What can you watch in the 4K or Ultra HD (UHD) format? Not much,” Hibben reports. “The race is now on to develop and deliver 4K content, and this will challenge traditional content distribution approaches as well as provide Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) much rumored iTV with the killer app it needs to be successful. ”

Hibben reports, “Naturally, the digital video industry has been working on a solution to the problem of 4K content delivery, and it takes the form of the successor to the h.264 spec, called h.265. Also called High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), h.265 greatly improves the data compression capability of h.264. Where h.264 might compress a 1080p video at 30 frames/sec into a 20 Mbit/sec (maximum bit rate) digital data stream, h.265 can compress a 2160p video at 30 frames/sec into a 25 Mbit/sec (maximum bit rate) stream. H.265 basically makes the factor of 4 in storage size and bit rate go away.”

“With h.265, 4K movies will fit onto Blu-ray disks, and 4K video content of all types, including live events and movies, will be able to be delivered via digital cable and digital satellite broadcast. Live streaming over the Internet will even be feasible for those with high-speed internet connections, say over 20 Mbits/sec,” Hibben reports. “The Apple television would be a 4K TV with a hard drive, a very big hard drive (2TB+). That may not seem very innovative, but from a hardware standpoint, the iPod was just an MP3 player with a hard drive. And just as it was the combination of hardware, software and services that made the iPod work, it would be a similar combination that would make iTV work. ”

Read more in the full article here.