Apple is gearing up for a big 4K push

“To butcher a quote from Douglas Adams, 4K displays are generating excitement much in the same way 3D TV didn’t,” Mike Schuster reports for Minyanville. “Ultra high-definition televisions and monitors have folks salivating over crystal-clear images that put Blu-ray to shame. Fortunately, displays are starting to drop to near-affordable costs, however customers are still waiting for technology and media content to play catch-up and widely support a horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels.”

“In January, Netflix became one of the forerunners of the technology after announcing that its second season of House of Cards would be available in ultra high definition on select TV sets,” Schuster reports. “But with 4K still in its relative infancy, tech giants are still tinkering with graphical horsepower and bandwidth constraints for their big push into ultra high definition.”

Schuster reports, “Well, with its recent release of OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 beta to developers, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) appears to be gearing up for a big 4K push — and may release a ultra-hi-def display very soon.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple’s OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 to enable pixel-doubled ‘Retina’ mode for 4K monitors – March 7, 2014

44 Comments

  1. To paraphrase Douglas Adams a bit better: “4D TV is taking off in a way that is almost exactly if not entirely unlike the way that 3D didn’t”

    1. You are mangling two quotes, and ending up with so etching that isn’t a bit better. The misquote in the article riffs on the ships of the Vogon constructor fleet hanging in the air “in exactly the way a brick doesn’t”. You are conflating that with the reference to the Nutrimatic drinks dispenser offering something “almost, but not quite, totally unlike tea.”

      And on the anniversary of the first broadcast too…. shame!

        1. No, all from memory I’m afraid. 🙂
          36 years ago today, the first episode was broadcast on BBC Radio Four. I was 11, and it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. Big fan.

    2. All of this amounts to a hill of beans. The economy is about to crash beyond what we saw in 2007. Look for the ugly ’80’s to make a come back. America has cooked the books over the last 3 years and even manipulated how they compile GDP. Pay attention to your own debt load, your employer’s debt load and the Country’s debt load. Enough said.

  2. Sadly, the US doesn’t have the internet pipes necessary to deliver really stunning 4K content. The only way you’ll be able to REALLY appreciate 4K is via disc…. and I think the BluRay spec will scale up to accommodate it easily enough… will need a new player… for sure…

            1. And Verizon. The pair of them are the duopoly from hell.
              Both are choking out content selling competitors (from the top -and- the bottom (i.e both via strong arming distributors/networks and by throttling delaying ip packets from competitor’s streams)

              Regulation isn’t the answer (it will stifle investment in newer faster networks), splitting physical distribution from content sales is the only way.

        1. Point taken. There really is a lower rate of return in the US for every meter of cable laid. I’m clubbing myself over the head with a stuffed dead cat for not taking this into account.

          However, it’s now well known that, as fits the current spirit of the age of business, that companies in the US have all but stopped laying new cable and instead have turned to gouging customers with inflated prices, throttling and filtering.

          Added factor: I get particularly sensitive to the ‘I Hate My ISP’ factor because I have Time Warner Cable, who are major suckage. The alternative is Verizon, who’ve essentially given up competing with TWC, resulting in their service also being major suckage as well as the same price gouging. blahblahblah

            1. Frack yeah! It has been a deliberate gouging of customers and poor service.

              I remember one Saturday evening when I was trying to get some work done over Time Warner Cable and their servers simply stopped working. My connection was great, but NOTHING was going out from their servers. After patiently climbing the ladder of incompetence at their tech support, I finally got to a top level guy who knew what I was talking about. He had not-a-clue what was going on. I told him: “I will bet you that some dickhead admin over at the servers is doing work on them and neglected to tell anyone he was brining them down.” It turns out I was correct.

              IOW: Time Warner Cable is one rotting ball of FUBAR. No wonder they were trying to sell themselves off. They don’t give a rat’s. I’m highly skeptical of Comcast doing any better a job, however. Bandwidth filtering and choking is NEVER welcome. Net Neutrality or get out of the business!

            2. I am certain Comcast is just as bad. But, if they unite their powers, they will be even more able to get away with providing terrible service and gouging their customers for the privilege of dealing with them.

        2. So how does this explain the dismal data rates and high prices in the 20 largest cities?

          I will agree with your excuse (and it is an *excuse* for the large providers) in largely rural areas (even some areas in the North Eastern U.S. have houses a mile or more apart) and in large expanse areas like large areas of Nevada and Montana. However, these areas are absolutely no excuse for comparatively low data rates and high prices even in the 20 densest cities in the U.S.

          In those cities the average data rate should be 100+ Mbps with available services (if you want to pay for it) up to 1 Gbps. Those should move to 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps respectively in the next five years. Unfortunately, the average data rate in those cities is a fraction of that, and it is unlikely to increase very much in the next five years.

      1. The up side is that Apple has been building billion dollar server farms to stream from and store this 4K data. It doesn’t fit on a DVD disk . Apple tells the talking heads about 5 sites that they can’t hide. People think that there are no others off the PR grid.

        There are a lot of locations that require solar powered and fuel cell powered server farms. Yet, know one is looking for them.

    1. I haven’t read all the posts to see if anyone has referenced the latest codec, H265 that will handle 4K without a problem.

      Search the web for more info on H265

  3. If it is anything like HDTV, content available will be anemic for years. It took a long time for the studios to start generating content in HD. We still have SD channels on cable.
    I spent 3K on an DLP HDTV back in 2006 thinking content would be available in quantity. Big mistake. 5 years later I bought a larger LCD screen for a third of the price.
    So from now on, I’m going to wait on the new TC tech until it becomes cheaper and the content is widely available.

    1. Exactly. And the reason to go 4K is to use a larger set, like 84″. Smaller than that and HD is still fine. Even 80″ HD sets now are at $4-5,000. It’s easily another 3-4 years before entertaining the idea and expense of 4K seriously for most mere mortals IMHO. And I work in the film industry. I have to say a proper HD picture off Blu-Ray still looks great. And Time Warner Cable HD is essentially still only 1080i or 720p equivalent.

      1. I would say you would start to see the difference in TV’s as big as 50″. 1920×1080 is not as large as one might think. On a 72ppi monitior it only extends to about 21″

        1. I looked at a 4K set and at a normal viewing distance 50″ just didn’t do it for me, even with my glasses on. It looked not that much different from HD, certainly not worth the thousands more to buy. If I’m going to have 4K it’s gonna be BIG. I don’t see a lot of advantage otherwise except for using your 4K TV as a computer monitor.

          1. And do you have aspheric lenses in those glasses (I do)? If you don’t, you don’t *really* care about seeing the best you can. If you don’t care about seeing the best that you can, how can anyone believe that you really care about how good an image is?

            I really HATE (I can’t say that strongly enough) it when people start spouting off about how “4K is not worth it unless you have an XXX” TV”. It’s pure rubbish. It’s no different than those people a dozen years ago who were saying 720p is all you need when 1080p was still just getting a foothold.

            It has been very well documented that observers can perceive differences in an image *well* beyond that of individual pixels. Sure, you might not be able to “see” an individual pixel beyond a certain point, but there are many, many studies out there that have demonstrated that people can perceive differences in both static and motion imagery as much as 10x better than in images where they can easily “see” each individual pixel!

            And if you work in the film industry, I’m surprised you use the term “4K” for UHDTV. They are not the same. The term “4K” is an internationally recognized Digital Cinema standard that has been out for about a decade or so. The 4K standard has a specific format (2160 x 4096) which is different from UHDTV with a format of 2160 x 3840. (So if you want to watch a true 4K film on your UHDTV then you have to either letterbox it or you have to do a pan and scan.) They even have different allowed bit depths per pixel and frame rates and such.

            1. I’m glad you are a proponent of 4K. I’m just looking at it’s pro’s and con’s from a practical consumer point of view at this stage of the game. You’re talking the visual equivalent of what aural range a dog can hear. A 50″ 4K set won’t work for me except in an editing bay. At home I’d want something considerably larger, or a projector, to truly enjoy it. Just not cheap enough yet.

              And yes I know all about formats being a Visual Effects Supervisor and Director of Photography thanks who belongs to ATAS, AMPAS, VES and the ICG who’s worked on many things over the years you’ve no doubt seen. You may have seen me recently waving to you (at the cameras actually) from the 2014 Academy Awards.

              At this point film or 4K may be the originating source material but after that it’s conversions to HD. Letterboxing, “fit to screen” or shaving off a few pixels is nothing new to fit another aspect ratio. No worries. Anyway I look forward to Ultra HD for the home in a few years. Not ready for prime time yet IMHO. Too many pieces and prices of the puzzle have yet to snap into place.

          2. It’s more than the pixels – a lot depends on how the rollout handles bit depth, gamut and other factors that could make a noticeably superior viewing experience on ANY size screen.

            So very reminiscent of the mega-pixel wars in cameras when again, many other variables were key.

            But as usual, one or two factors, and with 4K to date, res is the only spec people and most of the press are focusing on.

        2. 21″ where did you learn your math skills?
          Square root of the sum of the squares is the diagonal (not to mention that at 72DPI even the horizontal measure is >21″)

          1920@72ppi is 26.666″ (H), 1080@72ppi is 15″ (V)
          So: the diagonal (“screen size” ) of a 1080 HD screen at 72ppi would be ~30.5″ (30.5959)

      2. Aside from the lack of content an even better reason to hold off on a 4K purchase is the fact that the higher definition is not discernable on a TV unless you are very close. (See: http://referencehometheater.com/2013/commentary/4k-calculator/ for elaboration, a chart and a calculator). For example, to see the difference between 4K and 1080P on a 50 inch TV you would need to be closer than 6.5 feet from the screen and the ideal distance is 3.67 feet. Eventually most large screen TVs will be 4K with no additional cost over 1080P and there will be no reason not to use the higher resolution (besides the extra graphics horsepower needed). A better use of 4K tech would be mobile devices and computer screens, both of which we use very close. A 30 inch computer monitor would have an ideal viewing distance of 2 feet 2 inches, closer to being practical but still overkill.

        1. Correct. There are distance and resolution differences you can perceive, or not. Yep at some point the cost difference will not be much of a consideration between HD & Ultra HD. And that’s probably when most will take the plunge. The industry has years before that happens.

  4. I’m getting very tired of buying content just to see the format outdated. I’m staring at you old and expensive at the time DVD collection.

    Unless some kind of upgrade is offered when new formats are introduced, it makes it more and more clear that it’s not worth buying anything. Apple or another company could clean up if they offered newer formats at a discount as long as you had the previous format.

  5. What good is 4K? Comcast and others can barely broadcast 720p! Still don’t have 1080p from what I can tell. We will never see 4K. It will be like Bluray.

    For 3D I still haven’t been impressed with any 3D, the best I seen was a fish that looked like it was 12″ in front of your face and it was like 8 seconds of video out of a the whole movie. I forget which video, was one of the under the sea or ocean or something. Other than that 3D has sucked. I don’t mind wearing glasses its the content that sucks, I want 3D to stick out and make so its in front of your face and stuff being thrown at your eyes. I see 4K as another failure, nothing to go nuts over.

    1. Comcast where I am is 1080i max. After I installed a Chromecast on my set and cast a YouTube video from my phone (which is 720p itself), I saw my set indicate a 1080p signal for the first time since I bought it.

      That a dongle on my Wi-Fi network (Chromecast pulls the content itself – it does NOT mirror the phone screen) could deliver a better-looking signal than my big cable box on my expensive cable account was a bit of a wake-up moment.

  6. I was drooling at a 4K for $3K showing landscapes of Norway. But , for me, the problem is all the crap coming out is Hollywood and cable TV not worth watching anyway.

    1. Oh puhlease, that is so…. “idiot Hipster”.
      There is plenty of amazing cinema coming out of hollywood, if you are watching crap it is because you are picking the crap. (which there is also plenty of coming out of Hollywood)
      Hollywood’s production mix is a lot like touring LA. Sure you can find plenty of horrible things to see but there are also some pretty amazing sights as well.

  7. I am concerned that the content we now have is not intelligently displayed with the right aspect ratio for the source: old tv shows with rectangular pixels and 4×3, movies with square pixels and 16×9 or 2×1 and now 4k stuff with something yet again. I can’t stand seeing tv where everyone looks fat and wide. I can live with black stripes on the sides or top and bottom.

    1. You can have the show in one frame and continuously running commercials in the other eight! Brilliant! You may be on to something. 🙂 At least then they might not run commercials IN the show.

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