UHDTV is (Probably) Next

Now that we have all got three or four or more HDTVs (High Definition TVs) scattered around our houses and the HDTV market in the western world is approaching saturation Sony and Toshiba are working on the UHDTV which is the Ultra-high Definition TV.

Normal old High definition TV comprises 1080 horizontal lines of picture (or 720 if you still have a v1 HDTV).

Ultra-high definition TV will have an effective resolution that is four times higher with 4,320 horizontal lines of picture.

So. Why do we need UHDTV? Well the first reason is so that Sony and Toshiba, and probably all the others, can get us to all upgrade our HDTVs.

The second reason is the distance-to-screen optimal viewing distance of 1080 line high-definition. Because of the way the human eye works for optimal viewing of 1080 line high-definition video you should be 3.5 to 4 times the width of the screen away from the screen. If you get closer than this then three things start to happen:

  • You will begin to be able to detect the dark grey/black horizontal lines between the image lines on the screen (especially on Plasma screens).
  • You vision processing system will not see solid colours (the colours will start to flare or ghost, blue tinted or bright colours may start to become exaggerated, and blacks will start to look grey [especially on LCD screens]).
  • Motion will not appear as seamless and fluid.

So, if you have a 40” wide-screen HDTV you need to be at least 140” away from it for the best experience. That is basically 3.5 metres.

If you have a 50” wide-screen HDTV you should be at least 175” or about 4.5 meters back to get the full benefit of your investment.

However living areas are becoming smaller. But people want to put the largest screen in there that they can afford regardless of how crappy the viewing experience might be. Basically they will go into a form of denial and tell themselves that the everything is fine.

Well the solution to this is to have a higher definition screen. Four times the definition seems like a good number. Hence you arrive at UHDTV with 4,320 horizontal lines of picture. With definition this tight you can be as close as 1.5 times the width of the screen and still see a solid crisp picture. So you could put a 60” UHDTV just 90” or slightly over 2 metres away and the picture is going to look perfect. Being that close you might end up getting a really sore neck from moving your head around to follow the action but the colours and the picture will look amazing.

Also with resolution that tight it makes your TV much better for viewing still images on. They will look as sharp and as solid as viewing them on a 24” 1920x1200 computer screen on your desk.

But before you go off looking at when you can order your new Quad-def TV (as they are starting to call them) there is one small problem. At this point in time there is no content available at this resolution. No TV channels broadcast anything as Quad-def. You can’t get Quad-def Blu-ray and, as far as I know, there is no Quad-def content anywhere on the Internet to download yet. And seriously, if you could find a Quad-def TV to buy it would probably be about $40,000 or something like that.

But in another three years or so . . . . . .