Is 4K For You?
There has been a lot of recent industry buzz about Ultra High Definition (UHD) or “4K” displays hitting the market. The 3840 x 2160 pixels offer an amazing 4x full-HD resolution, and the demonstrations at trade events like Digital Signage Expo (DSE), Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have been impressive. And this week, at InfoComm 2013, it’s been great to see what display manufacturers have brought to the show.
This has left AV integrators and their clients wondering if the time is right to switch to this new standard. Many industries have made the transition to full HD, only to watch 4K emerge on the horizon. They are asking, “Is 4K for me?” Below are three common reasons we’re seeing for the switch to UHD or 4K displays, especially in the 84-inch size:
Stunning Realism, Even Up Close
There is no denying the visual impact of native 4K content on an ultra-resolution display. It is simply stunning. Fashion photography takes on a whole new level of realism. Wayfinding applications are actually compelling, with even the finest text readable at close viewing distances. Visualization applications in corporate, academic, and government environments are delivered in amazing detail, even when users “zoom in” on the content. Things never before possible with video displays are now possible. This is why some of the leading luxury retail brands, information display companies, and visual simulation organizations from around the world are adopting 4K displays at a rapid pace. We expect this early trend to gather steam once clients experience the difference for themselves.
Beyond HD without Seams
Many of our customers have been working with “beyond HD” content for a long time, with PC applications outputting multiple channels for large videowall installations. Now, many customers are finding that for smaller control rooms or conference room applications, installing a UHD desktop on a single display is better than using a quad (2×2) configuration of tiled LCD displays. Same 4x HD resolution, but without the mullions running down the center of the array. Some are beginning to create tiled arrays of UHD displays to create immersive environments with an even higher resolution. We expect more customers to pursue this in the future, as conference rooms and meeting areas gain sophistication and include computers running operating systems and applications, rather than simple media players.
Content Coming Fast
Leading video card companies have had graphics-card solutions supporting ultra resolution for quite some time, as the prices continue to drop and the features increase. Image processing companies are leading the charge to bring the windowing and scaling capabilities of their systems to these displays. Media player companies and integrators are pointing the way by growing their capability to support native 4K output with HDMI and DisplayPort. And leading PC makers and chip manufacturers are predicting that standard laptop or Ultrabooks will support 4K native playback by the end of 2014.
Digital video camera companies are pushing the envelope, driving down the cost of 4K capture to unprecedented levels. Media and marketing agencies are capable of developing 4K content. All of these trends are combining to make 4K content a reality, especially in professional and commercial applications. The result is that many people are adopting UHD as a new standard to future-proof their display purchases as the availability of relevant content continues to grow.
So, is 4K for you? Only you can answer that question, but the trend is clear. Ultra HD is changing the display landscape, and the ecosystem of content, sources, and installation applications is quickly rising up around it. In the end, the question probably isn’t if, but when.