Apple’s 4K television opportunity

“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.

58 Comments

  1. At less than $300 the 4K TV will make a decent monitor for the new Mac Pro. Until then, what else would you use it for?

    3D didn’t catch on, 4K will have the same problems and the same lack of answers.

    1. UHDTV as a $3,000 monitor is not unrealistic. It will sell to those people who need it. Remember what the original 30 inch Cinema Display cost: $3,299, if I remember correctly. Even at that price it really helped usher in the world of large computer monitors. That old 30 incher sold quite well for some time.

      A good quality UHDTV computer monitor for $300 or less is not likely in the next two to three years. But in five years? Maybe.

      Personally, I hope Apple comes out with a 32″ monitor that is 4096×2560 (16:10 aspect ratio). It will never happen, but I can dream, can’t I?

      And as to what to “use it for”… Most movies shot today are being shot at the Digital Cinema 4K (or 5K and down sampled). Movies that are being digitally remastered today are being done at the Digital Cinema 4K or 8K. The availability of this level of imagery resolution is increasing. It is no different with UHDTV imagery availability growing with time than it was for 1080p availability. Today it’s sparse. In 5 years it will be prevalent. In 10 years it will be the norm.

  2. The 4K TV will be great for user-generated content. It will drive a new-generation of higher resolution, still and video cameras.

    The 4K TV will ensure that iOS Apps are more readable at 10-foot distances. Mac OSX on my 1080p HDTV must be re-scaled to 720p to keep tbe type large enough to read at eught feet. the results are just a bit fuzzy. Remember, the App revolution is coming to the big screen.

    4K will be great for gaming content, and ensure that iOS games will be competitive with next-generation console games.

    The list goes on…it would be a mistake to gauge your need or desire for a 4K HDTV based on yesterday’s standards.

  3. Content is king. If Apple where to sign up the NFL and College Football for transmission of 4K video, every sports bar in America would want several 55″ 4K Apple iTelevisions. Apple is really the only company with the resources to pull this off. This would jump start the technology, break the CATV bundles, and instigate a new round of network upgrades for Telephone and CATV companies. Within two years Apple would be the first or second manufacturer of 4K Televisions. Computer monitors would follow with a massive pixel DPI increase instead of a frame rate increase. Monitors would then be crystal clear and extra sharp making work much easier. I’m thinking the magic number for 4k 55″ is $2.5k and 4k 46″ $2k. A lot of room for profit.

  4. This is, of course, a load of nonsense. Apple STILL does not support Blu-ray after all this time, but they are going to jump on this niche-within-niche technology?! Amusing to say the least. Maybe someday when every household in the US has Japan-quality broadband speeds- not before.

  5. For 2 years now, we have been experimenting with using large screen TVs 70″ and 80″ in stead of projectors. We have found that 720P is the finest resolution you can use to show content to a room of 8+ people. This is not about watching movies, but all forms of content.

    Our TVs are capable of 1080P, 3D 240Hz, etc. The specs are wasted in the fact it doesn’t work on large crowds. I don’t believe UHD is going to be functionally necessary unless we are talking about 50+ ft screens.

    1. I respectfully suggest that you and your friends get your eyes checked.

      Even using the grossly inaccurate “one arc minute resolution” as the breakpoint for what the human eye can actually see (and this does not take into account other known aspects that drive visible resolution even further) and taking the conservative approach of a comfortable viewing angle of 60 degrees (even though a lot of “experts” believe comfortable viewing angles can be a great as 90 degrees) the math works out to a LOT more than 720p.

      That dumb, inaccurately low one arc minute value translates to 3,600 horizontal pixels that a person can comfortably see (60 arc minutes per degree times 60 degrees). The 720p value is 1280 horizontal pixels or just over 1/3 of the supposed minimum value. Even 1080p at 1920 horizontal pixels is not that much higher than 1/2 of the supposed minimum to get beyond the widely claimed “retina resolution”.

      So… I again respectfully submit that you and your friends get your eyes checked if you can’t see anything better than 720p.

      1. There is the audience of one and of many. When you speak of many, you can’t assume everyone can see. Also in our circumstance we are looking at distances of greater than 8 ft. 30ft is not unimaginable for some people.

        For me personally, on the iPhone, I need 3 to see pixels. I won’t benefit from UHD, and I think 4K is a testosterone spec if anything else. Unless you are talking about very large screens which is also a very small market.

    2. I don’t believe UHD is going to be functionally necessary unless we are talking about 50+ ft screens.

      Something in that range. How ridiculous that people are voting down your post, because you got it right. 4K and 8K are FAIL technologies outside of professional applications. It’s going to be yet-another loss leader technology for Sony.

      Hey to all the down voters: You have ‘GEE WHIZ!’ deer-in-the-headlights’ syndrome. Wake up. And please remember I told you so. No average media user is going to find anything useful, noticeable or beneficial about 4K or 8K. Go for 1080p and you already have more than wonderful.

  6. Immediate content would be:
    • Select movie releases via iTunes (and probably all new releases)
    • High resolution photo slideshows
    • High resolution UI

    If the “killer app” is affordable 4K display and actual iTunes content at reasonable prices (say $6.99 for new releases) it could be a very popular television set.

  7. Two points:

    Apple should double (to ~ 3840 x 2160 pixels) the resolution in its desktop Macs before wasting the effort on 4k TV, which currently has practically no media content available to support it — not on hard media nor via download. …and it’s unlikely that ISPs have the bandwidth to support widespread 4K resolution downloads anytime soon.

    It is ridiculous that HD photo and video equipment resolutions have gotten so far ahead of computer displays. Why can’t Apple offer the GPUs & the displays to show HD content natively?

    Second: pixels are not” massive”. They are very lightweight.

  8. A leap too far…

    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

    And I WON’T CARE.

    4K and 8K are useful for projecting video/movies onto massive screens in theaters. I see NO market for either in the average household. ‘Look at my I have money!’ loons will no doubt blow massive dough on too-much-tech gadgetry if only for the patching over of their insecurity problems. But 4K and 8K will languish and rot in the average public market.

    I don’t say this lightly. I remember mildly reprimanding an know-it-all techTard who said there would be no market for 1080p. What a great slapping reality gave that dummy.

    But there are no serious benefits of cramming more pixels onto your TV than your eye can resolve. You are not going to notice any benefit. You ARE, however, going to notice:

    1) The ma$$ive co$t.
    2) The massive bandwidth requirements.
    3) The massive hard media required to purchase and show it.
    4) Sony gloating in the background thinking they’ve come up with a new Killer Tech, which they have not.

    If you think Betamax and Blu-ray were a FAIL in the public market, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I seriously feel sorry for Sony these days. They’ve lost touch with reality. Very sad.

    1. Oh and Mark Hibben, who reports for The Motley Fool: Thanks for the tech specs. But that’s about it. If you think Apple is going to fall for the FAIL that will be 4K and 8K, you’re insane. Please get in touch with human physiology and the concept of the Cost:Benefit Ratio. The ratio for 4K and 8K will be enormous to the point of ridiculous. IOW: Don’t invest in 4K and 8K outside of professional applications.

  9. “What can you watch in the 4K or Ultra HD (UHD) format? Not much,” Hibben reports”

    That is wrong. You could watch anything that you watch today on this device.

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