HDTV was a huge step in increasing quality and clarity over standard-definition television broadcasts, but now an even sharper image is on the way.
You may have already heard of Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV), since the standard has existed in an experimental form since 2003, but the BBC and Japan’s NHK took the first step in making the format a working reality this week by conducting the first ever UHDTV broadcast.
The broadcast, a performance by a British band called The Charlatans, took place over a special 24Gb/s internet connection to Tokyo this week. The camera used is one of only three in existence able to produce UHDTV video, which has a resolution of 7680 x 4320. The NHK viewers in Japan weren’t even able to experience the full quality of the broadcast, as the 103” prototype plasma display used was only able to accommodate a quarter of the resolution.
While NHK is hoping to possibly begin broadcasting in the UHDTV format on special, giant screens for the 2012 Olympics, widespread consumer adoption of the format could be a decade or more away due to technical constraints. The format not only currently requires an impractically large screen size, but also vast amounts of data storage space and a much faster internet connection than what is available in the current consumer market. A 20-minute UHDTV video would require 4 terabytes of storage space and a 180-600Mbps broadband connection, even after compression.
I would love to see a demonstration of this technology in action, but I don’t know that I would ever desire having that kind of video quality in my home. Even HDTV can be overwhelming at times, especially during news broadcasts and talk shows. The only thing that the crisp resolution does in those cases is help me notice the ridiculously caked-on facial makeup of the newscasters and hosts. And while nature shows are quite breathtaking in HD, do we really need to see even more detail? It I want life-like I’ll just go outside and experience nature for myself.