Vizio “Reference” 4K TV’s will display at native 48 fps

Vizio Reference HFR

Good news from CES 2014:  Vizio’s forthcoming line of 4K TV‘s, dubbed the “Reference Series”, will be the first with the ability to show 48 fps content without 3:2 pulldown or any other type of meddling.

From Vizio’s press release:

For consumers who are passionate about content, the performance of the Reference Series also makes available two unique viewing modes: High Velocity Mode which enables the TV to display an ultra-fast 120 frames per second over HDMI, ideal for fast action video or gaming content, and Pure Cinema Engine for a true film-watching experience. With Pure Cinema Engine, the Reference Series presents films in their native 24 or 48 fps for the most authentic cinematic experience

This is very cool, even despite the strong possibility that 48 fps may not have much longer to live as a common format, since the Avatar sequels will likely be at 60, or perhaps even 72 fps.

As for HFR 4K sources, the only currently available solution as far as I know is RED’s REDRAY Cinema Player, which is listed at $1750 and is capable of 4K 3D at up to 60 fps.

The Blu-Ray Association began working on a 4K spec and associated disc/player technology about three months ago, but there’s no word yet on HFR capability.  They stated earlier this month that they predict consumer 4K blu-ray players and discs by the end of 2014.

RED taking preorders for 4K REDRAY Cinema Player

redray_978x513_01Thanks to JL for giving me the heads up on this 4K media player by RED: The REDRAY 4K Cinema Player. The REDRAY player is capable of high frame rate (HFR) 3D at up to 60 fps per eye.

From RED’s site:

There is nothing like a true 4K 3D experience and REDRAY delivers with playback of 3D media at up to 60 fps per eye in 4K. Whether in a home theater or at the office, REDRAY’s flexible HDMI 1.4 connectors let you leverage the latest 3D and 4K LCD flat panel and projection display technologies.

RED describes REDRAY as “the first 4K Cinema Player to bring ultra high-definition content to your home, business or local theater using internet file based distribution.” It utilizes a 1TB internal drive and “advanced networking and low data rates” which allow for content distribution via FTP transfer or solid-state media.

In addition to providing content for Ultra HD flat panel displays and 4K projectors, REDRAY can also be used for “digital signage applications to drive up to four 1080P displays.”

RED’s site doesn’t specify a release date, saying that it’s “coming soon.”  You can preorder it for $1,450.

The only other 4K content delivery platform I’ve heard about so far is Sony’s server that comes preloaded with 10 4K-mastered titles, offered alongside the Sony Ultra HD TV.  But from what I’ve read it seems like Sony’s server is a closed platform: you can’t freely move files to and from it without someone from Sony doing it for you.  Sony is currently working on a 4K content download service, but whether it will offer non-Sony content remains to be seen.

JL also notes: “3D HFR 4K Projector to follow soon…”  From RED I assume. Once we have such a projector only a few small hurdles remain on the path to 3D HFR 4K content, primarily involving content distribution, digital file security, and date routing (although all of these could feasibly be overcome by operating entirely within RED’s ecosystem).  However it would be quite a sea change for the movie exhibition community to move to RED projection solutions when they currently use Christie, Sony, Barco, or NEC projectors / integrated media blocks.  I’m sure these companies won’t let RED be the only way to get 4K 60 fps 3D content to the screen.

A question for anyone who may know the answer: does HDMI 1.4 actually have the necessary bandwidth to deliver 4K content at 60 frames per second, in 3D? Wikipedia says that 4K at 24 fps in 2D is the maximum that HDMI 1.4 can handle, while RED’s site says that the REDRAY player can indeed deliver 3D content at 4K 60 fps per eye using “flexible HDMI 1.4 connectors.”

Is there anyone out there who can help clarify this?

Sony shows off 84 inch XBR 4K TV that will cost you $25,000!

Sony has spruced up their site with a new section showcasing their bleeding-edge 4k LED 3D TV.  The screen–dubbed the XBR-84X900–is an impressive 84 inches, uses passive 3D glasses, and will set you back $25,000. It’s expected to be available for purchase in December.

By comparison, LG‘s 84 inch 4K TV (dubbed the UD 84LM960) has recently been announced to cost $20,0000, and is scheduled to release this month.  Head on over to LG’s site to sign up to be notified when it arrives in the United States

As we previously reported, Toshiba is also expected to release a 4K TV soon. And then the floodgates will open and economies of scale will start to kick in, reducing prices drastically. But it may take another year or two for a 60+ inch 4K screen to be within the realm of affordability for most people.

And what about higher frame rates?  Well, that will depend on upgrades to the blu-ray and hdmi specs, as well as possible future formats.  Although most TVs refresh at 120, 240, or even higher rates, blu-ray doesn’t currently have the disc capacity and read-speed to store and transmit 1080P images from the disc at 60 fps, let alone a 4K source at 60 fps.  And HDMI will also need an upgrade to handle the massive amount of data required to transfer 4K 3D at 60 fps to the TV.

But rest assured that the tech guys at SMPTE and the consumer electronics companies are all working feverishly create new standards that will deliver to us our much-coveted 48 & 60 fps 4K 3D movies, both at home and in the theater.

Sony planning on selling 84 inch 4K TV this fall

This fall Sony will release the 4K (3840 x 2160 resolution), 84-inch XBR-84X900 TV.  This set may be the first 4K TV to be sold in the United States: Toshiba and LG are also likely to offer 4K TVs in the US this fall.  Toshiba were the first to sell a 55-inch 4K set this past December in Japan for 77,000 yen, or around $8939 US dollars.

Sony’s set will feature passive 3D, enabling 3D viewing with cheap polarized glasses as opposed to the far more expensive shutter-based specs.  It will be priced at around 25,000 Euros, or about $31,000 dollars.

Although 4K content is virtually nonexistent in a format consumable in the home, 4K-enabled blu-ray drives are on their way and Sony’s set will upscale regular content to 4K. This isn’t as good as native 4K, but I’m sure it’ll look amazing nonetheless.

Digital projectors in movie theaters don’t yet have the bandwidth to deliver 3D movies in 4K resolution at 48 frames per second, but I predict that they’ll become available within the next few years.  And 4K 3D at 48/60 fps isn’t even the endgame: NHK has been developing 8K (4 times the pixels of 4K) “Super Hi-Vision” TVs and cameras since 2002. This is retina-display level resolution at any distance but extremely close (just a few inches from the screen) for average sized (40 – 80 inch) sets.  NHK demonstrated a Sharp-built 8K prototype at CES this year: the video below made my jaw drop the first time I saw it:

For a detailed look at NHK’s 8K efforts, check out their informational PDF.

We’re barrelling towards a “retina-everything” and “high frame rate everything” world in regards to display devices.  I predict that within the next 8 years 8K TVs and projectors that can display images in 3D at 60+ frames per second will begin filtering into movie theaters and our homes.  At that point, where is there to go but full-on virtual reality, or perhaps “entertainment spheres” that you sit inside, watching the world of the movie unfold around you?