4k – Correction of Perception

4k – Do you remember when YouTube first hit the scene (Feb 2005)? Do you remember people saying, who the hell wants that? Why would I want to look at some dopey home video. How will they ever make money? And all the other usual tripe narrow minded people put when confronted with something new and different. Today of course they’re wishing they had bought shares in the company then.

Since then it’s gone from an $11 million start-up to a company valued at $40 billion and in the process made a lot of smart moves and bets. One of them is its 4K channel. Yep, a high-bandwidth channel devoted to 4k home movies – boy, another dumb idea right? Wrong. So terribly wrong that if you actually did have that thought you should go stand in the closet and apologize to yourself for a half hour.

The secret is (and the folks at YouTube get this), all the new high-end smart phones for the last year or so have been shipping with big sensors >8 Mpixels, and the best of the best of those phones have SoCs with a dedicated ISP (image signal processor).

Yeah but, I can hear you saying, you can’t see a 4k video on your phone. Gosh – really? Today that’s true. But maybe you’ve heard 4k tablets are coming and the new smartphones have WiDi and HDMI MHL 3.0 interface.

Just to prove the point I took my one year old Galaxy Tab3 out on the deck and made a 4k video. It was really hard – I had to push the record button. Now 4k is a lot and so I filled up my 3GB SD, but I also got a 4k video. I then viewed it on my PC (which has multiple 4k screens on it) and I measured the video, it was indeed full 4k, and what’s more, it looked fabulous.

A 50″ 4k TV can be bought today for <$1,000 – the same as an HD cost in 2012. Data from IHS finds that 4k TV shipments reached over one million per month in March and should top 15.2 million for the full year. That’s one of the fastest ramp ups in the history of consumer electronics. And yet the folks who don’t own one are pooh-poohing the 4k revolution, just as they did the introduction of YouTube.

But the remarkable thing is the tie in between smartphones and 4k UHD TV. When HD TV hit the market there wasn’t any YouTube and only 1 Mpixel phones. Today smartphones are helping enable the 4k TV market, big difference, and YouTube is right in the middle of it, right where it belongs.

So in this brave new world of multiscreen entertainment where we watch the big screen whilst also looking at one of our smaller screens, the notion of using your smartphone as a source is totally viable, in fact even desirable.

Like it or not bub, you’re getting 4k. – Jon Peddie