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Ultra-High Definition: Please Define!

Ultra high definition (UHD). Today that is defined as 4K. And 4K is defined as a video picture with four times the number of pixels (eight million to be exact) of “normal” high definition. Problem is, the audiovisual industry just doesn’t stop and with 4K barely out of the box, we’re beginning to hear about 8K.  Seriously.

What is a company to do? Should you wait for a new UHD standard to come into play or pull the trigger now and invest in the current UHD standard?

Take a look at the chart at the top of this post for some perspective.

All systems based on the current 4K UHD spectrum require some type of transfer to get video from one point to another. This is typically based on a category 6 shielded cabling structure. That’s within the reach of most companies today.

8K transfers? That will have to be based on an almost exclusive fiber backbone to support the amount of information sent to the device. Why? Sending and receiving 8K video content requires throughput speeds of 48 gigabytes per second!

Now, just how far out is the 8K horizon? We will see perhaps the very first implementation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics will feature an 8K broadcast from Japan’s NHK, which plans to skip 4K altogether. The reasoning behind this was stated by Kubota, “4K might be used by some broadcasters, but we’re not going to do that. The problem is that 4K production facilities require a massive investment, and with 8K now on the horizon we can’t afford to do both. That’s why we’re skipping 4K and going directly to 8K.”

What does that mean for you? The reality is – 4K is here today and is being supported throughout the audiovisual industry and throughout the world. Unlike the gimmicky 3D displays, 4K has the investment from consumer and commercial manufacturers to support the format moving forward. Companies that drive the media distribution aspect like Crestron, Extron and AMX, are all basing their next series of distribution hardware on 4K as the UHD standard.

Quite frankly, the concern today isn’t about a new UHD standard emerging five-to-10 years from now. The real focus is on the need to upgrade those all-analog AV systems and hybrid AV systems where we see a combination of analog and digital signals (2003 – 2013).

If you’re still using VGA connections or even composite DVD players, that’s you.

Most of these systems are not based on the shielded cable, CAT 6 standard, and will not support a 4K source (let alone 8K!). Let ExhibitOne help you get into the era of high definition and help you stay in sync with industry standards.

In the meantime, if you’re doing any IT upgrades over the next few years, think fiber. With fiber cable in place, we expect “plug and play upgrades” will become available that will let you update your 4K systems at a time when 8K content and 8K capable monitors become available and affordable.

Yes, the time for 8K will come, but please, please…don’t hold your breath.


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