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Blu-ray disc association begins to license Ultra HD Blu-ray technology

The Blu-ray disc association on Wednesday announced that it plans to begin licensing its Ultra HD Blu-ray format on the 24th of August. The set of technologies will allow makers of players, receivers and other electronics as well as designers of various audio/video (AV) processors to create hardware compatible with Ultra HD Blu-ray format. The first UHD BD players will hit the market later in 2015.

“With the commencement of licensing we would anticipate product announcements from various companies as we approach the 2015 holiday season,” said Victor Matsuda, chairman of the BDA promotions committee.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray format supports ultra-high-definition video in up to 3840*2160 resolution with up to 60 frames per second and maximum data rate for video and audio of 128Mb/s, a significant increase from 54Mb/s of the standard Blu-ray. The UHD BD format delivers high-dynamic range (HDR) with 10-bit colours as well as Rec. 2020 colour gamut. The new format uses high efficiency video coding (HEVC, also known as H.265) technology with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling. In addition, the Ultra HD Blu-ray standard is compatible with emerging object-based sound formats, including DTX: X and Dolby Atmos. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will have 50GB, 66GB and 100GB capacities.

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All Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be capable of playing back existing Blu-ray movies. To support all the innovations of the Ultra HD Blu-ray format (such as 3840*2160 resolution at 60fps with 10-bit colour), players and UHD TVs will need to support HDMI 2.0a technology. Some of existing Ultra HD TVs with HDMI 1.4 outputs can be upgraded to HDMI 2.0 and even HDMI 2.0a using a firmware update.

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 eventually gain support for UHD Blu-ray. Technically, both consoles can playback 4K Ultra HD video, support appropriate codecs and integrate high-performance Blu-ray drives. However, internal limitations may prevent companies from enabling playback of Ultra HD Blu-ray on existing machines.

Leading makers of consumer electronics are projected to roll-out their Ultra HD Blu-ray players by the holiday season. The first players are expected to be considerably – two or three times – more expensive than standard Blu-ray hardware. Ultra HD content will cost about the same amount of money as standard Blu-ray movies.

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KitGuru Says: Finally, the Ultra HD Blu-ray is on the finish line. What remains to be seen is how quickly will makers of affordable players manage to release their Ultra HD Blu-ray devices…

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