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Specs Finalized For Ultra HD Blu-ray, Licensing Begins Summer 2015

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.

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  • ohim
    I thought we got over disks ... they are a thing of the past, as a videographer it makes me go bananas each time technology changes and we are stuck with old tech and specs of the disks ... memory sticks will always keep the pace with technology since you can put anything on them.
    Reply
  • Cazalan
    The cheapest I've been able to get a 128GB USB stick is for $28. The physical discs are MUCH cheaper to produce.

    Streaming 4K content across the internet is going to get the cable companies excited. Expect those bandwdith limits to start coming in as more households routinely use 1TB+ traffic a month.
    Reply
  • hitman400
    I thought we got over disks ... they are a thing of the past, as a videographer it makes me go bananas each time technology changes and we are stuck with old tech and specs of the disks ... memory sticks will always keep the pace with technology since you can put anything on them.

    Disks are there for retail. The only thing you can put on flash drives movie wise is torrented files or files you got from the retail disk. Tip for the future, don't give away that you torrent in the future so ...easily lol. If you are not talking about movies on discs but discs in general, well, the article has specificity.
    Reply
  • hitman400
    I thought we got over disks ... they are a thing of the past, as a videographer it makes me go bananas each time technology changes and we are stuck with old tech and specs of the disks ... memory sticks will always keep the pace with technology since you can put anything on them.
    Or maybe movies you bought online, sorry if I didn't consider that.

    Disks are there for retail. The only thing you can put on flash drives movie wise is torrented files or files you got from the retail disk. Tip for the future, don't give away that you torrent in the future so ...easily lol. If you are not talking about movies on discs but discs in general, well, the article has specificity.
    Reply
  • mmxcore
    I thought we got over disks ... they are a thing of the past, as a videographer it makes me go bananas each time technology changes and we are stuck with old tech and specs of the disks ... memory sticks will always keep the pace with technology since you can put anything on them.

    They are saying at least 100gig a disk, if I get 100 or even 1000 movies, how many hard drives or flash sticks do you want me to get?
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    I thought we got over disks ... they are a thing of the past, as a videographer it makes me go bananas each time technology changes and we are stuck with old tech and specs of the disks ... memory sticks will always keep the pace with technology since you can put anything on them.
    Nobody on the content creation side has used discs in... well pretty much ever. It was film, then tape, then flash, and now HDD/SSDs. Disc media is merely for retail content because it is super cheap and easy to work with (you can buy a whole stack of DVDs/BRDs for the cost of just a handful of flash drives).

    Personally I am stoked for this. I have bought more than a few direct-digital things over the years, and you know what? Content changes, companies go out of business, old DRM styles become no longer supported... and the media is just as expensive (and often more expensive) than buying physical media. I just want a place where I can go online, buy a show that I want, download it to my home server, and have the option to re-download content in the future in the event that my house catches on fire and I lose everything. The same way that I buy an MP3 on Amazon! Is it too much to ask?!?!?!?!

    But we do not live in that world, so I have to go buy a disc, and go through the whole process of ripping it myself for use on all of my disc-less systems in the home. I mean, it does not take that long... but it would cut a few steps out of the process, and they could probably make a better quality file with smaller file size than I can, so it is a service I would really go for. But as that is not available I am glad that UHD BRDs are finally coming out so that I can enjoy 4K content soon!
    Reply
  • MyDocuments
    Hmm, imagine a shoe-box (or larger) full of flash sticks or micro-SD cards to sort through in order to find a particular movie, that'll end up driving you bonkers.
    Although I suspect it's not quite as bad as sorting through a box of cables or mains adaptors where the wires always end up getting tangled.

    Back on topic; when will we see discs (or screens) supporting UHD-3D content, how much storage will that require and what will the audio-standard be?
    Reply
  • spdragoo
    I take it you haven't heard of Vudu, Ultraviolet, Flixster, Amazon...need I go on? There are plenty of options for legal, DRM-equipped digital downloads that don't require a physical media.

    However, there is always a downside. If the digital download is stored in an online service (i.e. Vudu, Flixster, etc.), then I can access it from any device, provided that device has an app, has an active Internet connection available, & that I am able to log into the account. However, I do not have any way of storing it locally, so I can't just store it on my home server to stream to another device over my home network, let alone transfer the file to a smartphone or tablet so that I can watch it without Internet (i.e. while on a flight that doesn't offer free in-flight Wi-Fi).

    Same goes for the accounts where I actually get a file to digitally download. Yes, I can download a physical file that I can store locally...but there's usually a limitation on how many devices I can store that file on simultaneously. Not a problem if streaming from my PC over the home network to another device, but can be a problem if I want to also take the file with me on another device. And in some cases, if you lose the original downloaded file you may not be able to go back & redownload it from the original link, having to go through a process of "proving" that you already paid for it, or they'll make you repurchase it. Or, worse yet, if your account gets closed out/cancelled (maybe by the company because they don't like something you did, maybe because the company isn't in business any longer, maybe the company lost the license, etc.), you may find that what you purchased wasn't the file itself, but just the access to the file...& without an active account, you no longer have permission to keep the file.

    So, for some people, having that physical disk that they can store in their house & guarantee that, as long as they physically have it (& as long as the disk can physically be read by a device) they will have access it, is more "convenient" and "user-friendly" than some of the digital options. Not to mention that it makes it much easier if, say, a sibling or other family member wants to borrow it to watch (kind of like borrowing a book from your shelf)...something that's nearly impossible to do with the digital downloads.

    In the end, unless digital downloads can be made just as hassle-free for the average home user (i.e. someone who's not necessarily technically inclined, someone whose familiarity & comfort level with technology is at or just slightly above the "C-A-T spells 'cat'" level), don't expect digital downloads to even come close to replacing physical media.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    4K is actually 4096 x 2160. Ultra HD is 3840 x 2160. Television manufacturers and YouTube are trying to simplify it for consumers & adding to the general confusion by naming it "4K". See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4K_resolution for more.

    However, generalizing 3840 x 2160 as "4K" is becoming the de facto standard name, if not the default already, so I'm not too worried about it.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    The days of physical media for movies is just about past. Most people, even those not technically savvy, are fully capable of connecting a wireless Roku box to their home network and streaming a movie they just bought or rented from Amazon.

    It's "neat" that they can put more a a disk, but the only people who will even have a need for this format are the 4K crowd at this point. A majority of people complained when they saw "The Hobbit" with a high frame rate (personally, I thought it was pretty awesome!). What makes the ultra bd manufacturers think a majority of people want to see HFR movies?
    Reply