“I Hereby Dub Thee Ultra High-Definition,” CEA Tells 4K. Sony Grumbles

4K-resolution video capabilities are finding their way into more and more cameras these days, even though monitors that can display the resolution currently cost as much as one or two family sedans. Heck, even the tiny new GoPro Hero3 can shoot 4K, albeit at a semi-useless 15fps.

Although photographers and filmmakers can’t do too much with 4K footage at the moment, there will come a time when it’s the new 1080p. When that time comes, will we still be calling it “4K”? If the Consumer Electronics Association has its way: no.

The industry body announced today that it has come up with some formal names and definitions for 4K technology.

From now on, 4K video “should” be referred to as “Ultra High-Definition” or “Ultra HD”. HD is a commonly used term these days, so consumers should have no problem picking up on what “Ultra HD” refers to.

The association also decided that the minimum standard for any display to carry the Ultra HD badge is that it needs to be capable of displaying 3840×2160 pixel video.

While many or most manufacturers may begin using these terms and standards without complaint, Sony — itself a member of CEA — is already trying to rock the boat. CNET quotes a Sony spokesperson as saying,

To ensure clarity for consumers and delineate between today’s and tomorrow’s technology, Sony will continue to use the 4K moniker for its products and will market its future products as 4K ultra-high-definition (4K UHD).

This isn’t the first time Sony has tried to buck industry trends in order to do its own thing.

We’ll likely see a number of new 4K-capable — er, Ultra HD-capable — displays announced starting early next year at CES 2013. We’ll know then whether the new moniker is well-received or not.

(via DPReview)

Image credit: Photo illustration based on Ostwald Knighting, Their Majesties Raising a New Knight by kuminiac

  • fuzzywuzzy

    I’m still trying to figure out the point of 4K video. I mean, 720p looks pretty much perfect on a very large LCD. 1080p looks absolutely immaculate and is probably already beyond the resolution of the human eye on all but the most ridiculously large screens.

    4K just seems like a pissing contest and the technology to make a big enough toilet to handle it is a ways off.

  • Skybase

    I think I can say the same here, but the thing with technology is that it increasingly gets better. Once consumer electronics manages to handle 4k (or even 2k) video without a hitch then we’ll soon be using that resolution as a “standard” when 1080p will get passed as the “good times.” On a more practical note, what’s nice about higher resolutions is that we can do more precise things in post. While I lately don’t do VFX work, I always wished a bit more leg room on the amount of data I had to work with. At this time when 15…16…17 18MP is normal with photography, somehow I’m replacing and adding skies, backgrounds, people, whatever at 1080p resolution. It’s impressive but ultimately I’d rather have more data. (Just my personal experience there.)

    Technology does not ignore human capabilities either, a lot of the technology we have today is based around perception. In the last couple years we’ve made pixels smaller and crisper, liquid displays brighter and colorful, we have codecs which reduce file sizes but keep perceived resolutions at decent levels, we can store more data, process more data… and so on. And while some of that technology seems brute force, keep in mind that they’re ultimately being developed around how we see the world. Of course there are exceptions where we go overboard, but in general, video and audio output needs to be developed around humans. Just because we go 4k it doesn’t necessary mean your monitors will grow larger. We’ll eventually have ways to properly display that video and make sure it’s worth what it is.

    So you really can’t just say that it’s a “pissing contest” because all of this technology needs to be engineered so they work hand-in-hand. Ok I’m done ranting.

  • will hall

    Up next: 8k officially renamed m-m-m-monster HD

  • tttulio

    Who cares about CEA?

  • russianbox

    Can’t we just called it UHD? HD is after all ‘High definition’, Ultra HD could be shortened too.

  • Mute

    That’s the thing, why go with some kind of hyperbolic name when we all know there are going to be future technologies that will be just as ‘ultra’. Using something like 4K HD seems perfectly sensible, it’s quantified and future-proofed. Consumers understand, for the most part, that 720 HD and 1080 HD are different measures, it’s not a stretch to add 4k HD or even 3840 HD.

  • Oskar?

    VHD would be a better choice as it is the first step after HD. If we call 4k UHD how would we call 8K and so on? UUHD, UUUHD???

  • MonkeyKing1969

    Ultra HD sounds too vague. I like 4K HD because it can scale, as people have said 8K HD or 16K HD are probably next, so what are those called? Words like ‘ultra’ lose meaning quickly, because they provide no measure or context. I hope more manufactures tell the Consumer Electronics Association to shove off.

  • MonkeyKing1969

    The funny thing is older technologies produced higher quality images. You know good professional quality film used in a 1970s camera were in teh gigpixel range…not megapixel…GIGApixel. Current displays are worse then ‘professional quality film’ photographers used 40 years ago.

    That is why 4K resolution and beyond is going to happen. Our modern digital cameras are nice, but we have no even reached the quality of high quality film. Even to reach the quality of your (unprofessional) holiday snaps from 1970 you would need a 170 MegaPixel camera. Film is AMAZING stuff, a photo taken with care has detail you would not believe and detail that you would need a microscope to see.

  • Reader

    Well, it’s just the whole UWSXGA+ thing happens again, only this time it’s for TV instead of PC monitor.

  • Cale

    How stupid. If it’s no longer High Definition why not just name it Ultra Definition why keep the High. Several generations from now we will have some insane Japanese Anime title definition like “Omega Crimson Ultra High Definition” and that’s a mouth full.