With the age of 4K already underway in the form of TVs, gaming and streaming content, there's one area that's been overlooked — discs. Considering the number of movies and TV shows streaming online through a subscription (or otherwise), collecting the physical copy isn't a priority anymore. However, the Blu-ray Disc Association hopes to change that by keeping up with the times with the finished specs for Ultra HD Blu-ray.
The biggest change is resolution. For Blu-ray, the maximum resolution was 1920 x 1080. With Ultra HD Blu-ray, it's been upgraded to 4K UHD resolution, or 3840 x 2160. This doesn't mean that every piece of content on the new spec will reach that resolution, but the new standard allows content up to UHD resolution.
Other features include a wider color range than Blu-ray content, high dynamic range and a high frame rate count. This also means that the file sizes (and storage capacity) are going to increase dramatically. Dual-layer Blu-ray discs hold up to 50 GB, so Ultra HD Blu-ray should have at least twice the amount of storage space.
One thing that will stay the same in Ultra HD Blu-ray is the inclusion of a digital copy for use on tablets, smartphones and laptops. The customer gets the best of both worlds for the price of one -- a physical copy for the home theater and a digital copy for long trips and other occasions when you're not in front of your home theater.
With a new spec also comes new Ultra HD Blu-ray players, which is a bit of a concern. Fortunately, these new players will have backwards compatibility with Blu-ray discs. However, those who have been using a traditional Blu-ray player for some time will just have to replace it with a model that plays Ultra HD Blu-ray, and those who use the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One for Blu-ray content are stuck unless they want to add another space-hogging box to the living room.
Licensing for Ultra HD Blu-ray begins this summer, but just like 4K content and TVs, it will take some time to see wide adoption. The TVs are already here, but the amount of content needs to increase in order for users to justify the cost of purchasing new 4K devices.