Ultra HD Blu-ray standard now completed – first products available this year

The Blu-ray Disc Association has announced it has completed the standard for Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. At the end of this year the first players and discs should become available. The organization has also revealed the logo of the new Blu-ray specification.

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Previously the Blu-ray Disc Association announced it was hoping to finalize the UltraHD content standard by the end of 2014. This was delayed, likely because the new discs also needed to offer other image quality improvements. The new standard will support video with higher framerates than 24 FPS, the current maximum frame rate on Blu-ray discs with Full HD video.

Also High Dynamic Range (HDR) support has been added to Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, this technology is currently promoted by TV manufacturers and should reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity.  The Ultra HD discs will support a greater range of colors with the BT.2020 color gamut standard, although there are currently no TVs able to display video using the standard. The Ultra HD Blu-ray format also supports up to 10-bit color depth and 4:2:0 chroma subsampling.

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Besides image improvements there are also improvements on audio, the BDA has added support for object-based audio formats which include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

The discs show video in the Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels which are compressed using the HEVC codec with a bitrate up to 100 Mbit/s. The new discs have capacities of 66 and 100 GB with 2 or 3 layers respectively. Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be able to playback older Blu-ray discs while regular Blu-ray players likely won’t be able to playback Ultra HD discs.

The BDA has also added an optional “digital bridge” feature to the Ultra HD Blu-ray discs which allows consumers to playback the content on the Blu-ray discs also on other devices such as smartphones and tablets. The feature appears to be similar to UltraViolet which offers similar functionality and exists since 2010.

The first Ultra HD Blu-ray discs should become available by the end of this year.

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