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Parts 3, 4 and 5 of this “Living with 4K” series covered the various naming conventions and standards regarding 4K and Ultra-HDTV. Part 5 summarized the subject with CEA’s naming the new 3860x2160 displays as Ultra-HD. However, Sony responded by insisting in using also the 4K designation for their future products. Some say: why? I say: no wonder why.

I see no problem in Sony continuing the use of the 4K nomenclature for a true 4K product that came first to market as part of a long effort and dedication of manufacturing quality 4K products since 2005 for professionals and now for consumers, including content, cameras, production equipment, and displays, a coverage from image acquisition to display that no one else was able to match.

Source: Sony

If there is a risk of some naming confusion it has been actually brought by the CEA when creating the “Ultra HD” (UHD) name for 3840x2160 panels, a name that is so similar to the broad “Ultra HDTV (UHDTV)” naming convention that was already in place to engulf 2160p (loosely called 4K) and 4320p (loosely called 8k) video formats.

I understand why the CEA may have needed a more user/marketing friendly naming convention for the new higher resolution displays, a name better than the already established “U-HD1”, or “lower level U-HDTV”, or “level one of U-HDTV” or “so-called 4K”, etc.

Those displays are more in tune with the existent HDTV 16:9 aspect ratio and allow for a cleaner upscaling considering that a 1920x1080 HDTV image is evenly doubled by upscaling it horizontally and vertically to 3840x2160, and a 1280x720p HDTV image is evenly tripled to its 3840x2160 upscaled version.

However, as mentioned in parts 1 and 3, the Sony 4K projector, a true 4K display device, does not unevenly upscale the 1920 horizontal pixels of a 16:9 HD image to the 4096 horizontal pixels of its 4K 17:9 chip, but rather uses the center pixels of the chip to display the 3840x2160 image with pillars of 128 unused pixels on each side.

In other words, Sony’s 4K projector is actually a 4K product that deserves the 4K name, not just the U-HD name, and also implements the best scenario for cleanly upscaling 16:9 legacy HDTV content, and to accept and display a U-HD source and even a 4K DCI 17:9 content, when available to consumers from the many 4K theatrical releases.

Some criticized Sony for adding the 4K term to the U-HD term created by the CEA, but quite frankly, why should Sony refrain from using the 4K naming for their true 4K product/s introduced years before anyone else in the market, and truly comply with the 4K standard, in addition to be capable of handling the 3840x2160 UHD1 format of Ultra HDTV?

Source: Sony

My view also applies to any other manufacturer of true 4K products that desire to continue using 4K nomenclature for equipment that is actually 4K DCI capable, regardless how they may also comply with the Ultra-HDTV standard.
On the other hand, I disagree with Sony (or any other manufacturer) if it decides to continue using the 4K term for also a 16:9 Ultra HD panel (such as Sony's and LG’s 84" Ultra-HD panels) with a resolution of 3840x2160, and not be compliant with true 4K DCI.

To Sony’s credit, the company showed the effort to compete in the U-HD 16:9 panel market and also to share the 3D passive displays marketplace for their first time, like Panasonic did this year as well (all Sony’s other 3DTVs and 3D projectors are active shutter based, including their new 4K projector). These appear to be logical company decisions that are made to survive and compete in the very difficult TV market of the past few years. 

Stay tuned to more articles of this “Living with 4K” series

Posted by Rodolfo La Maestra, December 27, 2012 7:39 AM

More in Category: 4K (Ultra HD)

About Rodolfo La Maestra

Rodolfo La Maestra is the Senior Technical Director of UHDTV Magazine and HDTV Magazine and participated in the HDTV vision since the late 1980's. In the late 1990's, he began tracking and reviewing HDTV consumer equipment, and authored the annual HDTV Technology Review report, tutorials, and educative articles for HDTV Magazine, DVDetc and HDTVetc  magazines, Veritas et Visus Newsletter, Display Search, and served as technical consultant/editor for the "Reference Guide" and the "HDTV Glossary of Terms" for HDTVetc and HDTV Magazines.  In 2004, he began recording a weekly HDTV technology program for MD Cable television, which by 2006 reached the rating of second most viewed.

Rodolfo's background encompasses Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, and Audio and Video Electronics, with over 4,700 hours of professional training, a BS in Computer and Information Systems, and thirty+ professional and post-graduate certifications, some from MIT, American, and George Washington Universities.  Rodolfo was also Computer Science professor in five institutions between 1966-1973 in Argentina, regarding IBM, Burroughs, and Honeywell mainframe computers.  After 38 years of computer systems career, Rodolfo retired in 2003 as Chief of Systems Development from the Inter-American Development Bank directing sixty+ software-development computer professionals, supporting member countries in north/central/south America.

In parallel, from 1998 he helped the public with his other career of audio/video electronics, which started with hi-end audio in the early 60’s and merged with Home Theater video, multichannel audio
, HD, 3D and UHDTV. When HDTV started airing in November 1998, and later followed by 3DTV and 4K UHDTV, he realized that the technology as implemented would overwhelm consumers due to its complexity, and it certainly does even today, and launched his mission of educating and helping consumers understand the complexity, the challenge, and the beauty of the technology pursuing better sound and image, so the public learn to appreciate it not just as another television.