Yes I said "Redray", not "Blu-ray" 4K player. This is an update of my "Living with 4K – Part 2 – 4K Content, when?" article.
According to RED DIGITAL CINEMA, this 4K player is expected to be available by early 2013. I requested a unit for review back in December so this is just an introductory article, which I will continue with a full review when RED sends me a review unit.
I also plan to review the 4K media server Sony lends to new owners of new Sony 4K panels to display some 4K movies until the consumer market can supply it (see further below). The server is configured as a Dell computer CPU with recorded 4K movies, it comes in a big box with a bunch of accessories, including a tablet, 16-feet HDMI high-speed cable, etc. The server for the 4K projector is different, I will review it and the REDRAY media player using my 4K Sony projector.
The Redray player is not a disc player, but rather a 4K movie download and playback player. Toshiba used this Redray player to demo their new Ultra HDTV displays at CES 2013.
In addition, a soon to be available Sony’s 4K consumer player (pictured further down, not the computer loaner above) was announced at CES 2013, with a 4K movie service, both to be available by mid 2013, no pricing or details of the 4K content itself were provided.
Could these announcements of download players be considered enough signs of a possible end of pre-recorded media with the 4K arrival?
The Blu-ray Association has been giving me that impression at their roundtables. Every time I asked Mr. Parsons, the president of the Association, he responded that they were NOT working on a 4K Blu-ray disc standard, although it is difficult to judge and anticipate the consumer electronics industry (some reasons at the end). But that is the subject of my next article "Living with 4K - No Disc? The end of Collecting Movies".
Here is the $1,450 Redray player, which realistically its MSRP should be irrelevant to someone that spent $25,000 on a 4K display. I paid as much for my first DVD player back when dinosaurs were around, not to mention my turntables for vinyl records, what is interesting is that turntables are coming back to haunt all the MP3 "audiophiles" of the modern world.
The RED company manufactures the famous Red 4K (actually 5K) video camera for filmmakers at a very reasonable price compared to the alternatives (pictured).
The Redray 4K player implements its own compression algorithm in .RED files requiring only 2.5 MB (20 Mbps) for transporting 4K content, which is roughly what HD requires today for broadcasting with MPEG-2 at its full resolution (19+ Mbps).
The content will be supplied by a RED’s distribution platform: Odemax.com, expected to be up and running by March 2013. The platform provides filmmakers, production companies and independent distributors, direct channel access to the new cloud enabled REDRAY 4K home players.
The question is, would one be able to have access to a new movie release from any major studio as well? We will have to see how the service grows.
The 4K player from Sony (pictured) is expected to let a consumer download 4K movies from Sony studios and partners, which content selection maybe more interesting than Odemax’s independent filmmakers to some, although no doubt others may prefer the exact opposite.
The Redray player outputs 4K DCI but also UltraHD, 1080p and 720p formats with an audio of 24-bit 7.1 channel at 48 kHz, comparably lower than the Blu-ray capacity of 7.1 channels at 96 kHz or 5.1 channels at 192 kHz.
It connects via HDMI 1.4 to the 4K display for video, and it has a separate HDMI 1.3 output to connect to an A/V receiver or preamp for multi-channel audio, as some Blu-ray players already do, such as Oppo.
I confirmed with HDMI LLC at CES 2013 that the HDMI specification standard will introduce a new version by the first semester 2013 that as expected will include, among other features, a 60fps frame rate spec for 4K (the current HDMI version1.4 already supports 4K as 24fps and 60i, in addition to 25fps and 50i for other regions of the world).
Here are the technical specs of the REDray player:
When I get the Redray player for review I will cover more of the technical details, I just wanted to give you the heads up of what is coming, especially because many naysayers keep criticizing the need for 4K and use the lack of 4K content as an additional excuse to reject 4K in general, I would not be surprised if they are still pursuing further return of the investment they made on their blinking-12:00 VCRs.
Stay tuned with my next article "Living with 4K - No disc? The end of Collecting Movies".
Posted by Rodolfo La Maestra, January 27, 2013 8:53 PM
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.