I still remember the days when HD was the new big thing, revolutionizing our screens. But I guess sitting in 2019, we can safely say that the TV landscape has far better things to offer-like the 4K Ultra HD-four times better than HD.
With so many players in the market, it is becoming increasingly affordable. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Sky, Amazon Prime Video, etc are making 4K content available at our homes. A lot of other services like IPTV lets you have access to thousands of channels.
Here are 10 things that have revolutionized our TV experience.
4K Ultra HD Resolution
The TV industry started making HD (High Definition) from SD (Standard Definition) about 10 years ago. That time it was all about increasing resolution: from 480 to 576 to 720 and 1080. Then came the big thing -HD TV, with the ultimate resolution of 1920 × 1080p.
But the demand for better resolution kept the wheel rolling. We can now experience 4K Ultra HD, with a resolution of 3840 × 2160, with 4x the pixels and twice the horizontal and vertical lines of HD. Due to the increasing demand for larger screens, a lot of research and investment is going into this field of making the pictures more alive. Ultra HDTV came into the market first in 2013 but made its way into people’s homes faster than HDTVs did.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the other buzzword in Television technology, other than 4K of course. For a wholesome experience, especially with brighter colors, HDR is the technology to incorporate. They make the blacks darker, whites whiter and basically any color brighter.
There are different versions of HDR on the market, which can be confusing for the consumers. The most prominent ones are HDR10, Dolby Vision, and the broadcast-standard Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). Most new 4K TVs come with the standard HDR10, as well as most 4K Blu-rays. Meanwhile, Dolby Vision HDR is slowly making its way on to select 4K Blu-rays. Undoubtedly, HDR will be one of the talking points in the next few years to come.
Connectivity and HDMI
To date, HDMI remains the standard for sending and receiving HD and 4K media files. With the frame rate at 30fps, HDMI 1.4a is a good option for both HD and 4K videos. HDMI 2.0 was first introduced in 2014. This incident enabled a newer content protection technology, HDCP 2.2. With HDMI 2.0, the capacity was raised to 60fps.
Encoding and Decoding Standards
MPEG-4 AVC or H.264 is used for Ultra HD encoding. But these days, it has a new encoding technology called HEVC or H.265. This new compression standard matters because it can get efficient use out of limited bandwidth as 4K requires a lot more bits. This has made the jobs of cable operators and broadcasters quite easy.
YouTube uses VP9 compression technology which is royalty-free. While streaming 4K content, Netflix and Amazon Video use HEVC. So before paying for 4K streaming, you need to make sure your device is compatible as first-gen 4KTVs use H.264. Expect all the decoding chips to match the new HEVC compression technology soon.
Immersive Audio: Atmos and Beyond
Currently 7.1-channel Dolby Digital Plus is the best for broadcast sound quality. Dolby and DTS are now taking different approaches for providing that immersive experience. You can play up to 9 speakers for your home with Dolby Atmos. It is already available on streaming sites like Netflix and Vudu and on 4K and Blu-ray discs.
DTS:X, on the other hand, can give you a three-dimensional sound experience. It is slowly picking up the pace with a few Blu-ray tracks. The good thing is that they work with both the Ulta HD Blu-ray and the old version of Blu-ray.
Flexible and Transparent Displays
Another good thing about TV now is that they are getting slimmer. It saves a lot of space and there is no need for it to stay fixed on the wall. Super-thin OLED panels offer flexible screens, roll-up screens, transparent screens, you name it-it’s there.
‘Wallpaper’ TV from LG is very thin (5mm) and it wobbles quite a bit. They are now working on another TV that you can roll it into a tube. Panasonic has a 4K OLED intelligent transparent glass that can blend into the background. With the advance of technology, we can hope all this will be available in our homes within a couple of years.
Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)
The color space specified for full HD TV is BT.709 (or Rec.709). WCG means the adaptation of a larger color space than specified. BT.2020 (or Rec.2020) is the new standard color space for 4k resolutions and it offers much greater saturation than Rec.709 standard.
4K TVs that don’t support HDR still can support WCG even though it isn’t advertised much. The wide color space spec leaves a lot of room for improvement in the picture quality department, far better than what the current spec can handle. This will undoubtedly play a crucial part in the future of screening.
High Frame Rate (HFR)
The traditional is the 24 frames per second (fps) which are used in films. Any frame rate higher than that is HFR. In Europe, the standard is 25/50fps and 30/60fps in North America. There is a scope to go up to 120 fps in the future. Reducing motion tracking and an overall smoother picture is the goal of a higher fps.
There is already a pursuit for the resolution of 7680 × 4320p. The chase for better picture quality will not come to a halt even with HDR, WCG, and HFR. Some are calling it 8K while others are calling it Ultra HD 2 (UHD-2) as opposed to the existing UHD-1. Japan will broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 8K.
One of the latest technologies in screening is the modular displays. With the capacity to evolve from different shows and created from building blocks -if this technology becomes available at an affordable price, this can change the entertainment industry.
Wall to ceiling TV screens-immersive in its most literal sense. Sony, Samsung, and Google are currently working on modular screens.
MicroLED is a new display technology that is very modular and quite efficient. One of the most exciting things at the CES show in Las Vegas was assembling the MicroLED tiles for a full-fledged entertainment panel.
Samsung, Sony, LG, and other manufacturers need to make it affordable if it has any chance of making it into our homes. Which of the technologies are you thinking of incorporating in your life?