Ultra HD Blu-ray 4K discs will ship before the holidays

UHD discs will hold up to 100GB of content

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A prototype of a 4K UHD Blu-ray player.

Credit: Creative Commons Lic.

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) today announced it will begin licensing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray technology this month and expects discs to be available by the holidays.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray specification boasts up to 3840x2160-pixel resolution, compared to high definition's 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution. The 4K Blu-ray format also will offer a greater color range and a 60 frames per second (fps) frame rate compared with HD's 24fps.

8680px 8k uhd 4k shd fhd and sd.svg Creative Commons Lic.

The difference in resolution between standard definition, high definition, 4K ultra-high definition and 8K ultra-high definition.

The BDA unveiled its final Ultra-high Blu-ray specification three months ago. While a single-layer HD Blu-ray disc can hold up to 25GB of data, and a dual disc up to 50GB, the new 4K discs will store 66GB and 100GB on dual- and triple-layer discs.

Ultra-HD televisions are expected to grow from 11.7 million 2014 to 95.6 million in 2019, according to research firm IHS Technology. UHD-TVs will represent 34% of the market in that year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Ultra HD Blu-ray players will also be required to play back current HD Blu-ray Discs. This requirement, coupled with the upscaling capabilities of players and TVs alike, gives consumers access to a library of more than 10,000 titles currently available on Blu-ray Disc.

The specification also has an optional "digital bridge" feature, that would allow UHD content that was purchased to be viewed across a wide range of in-home and mobile devices.

"The ability to consume Ultra HD content during this time, however, is a question mark due to variables such as Ultra HD broadcast offerings and household bandwidth for Ultra HD streaming," Paul Erickson, a senior analyst at IHS Technology, said in a statement. "Ultra HD Blu-ray aids consumer adoption of Ultra HD by providing an immediate, tangible way to watch Ultra HD content that completely bypasses service provider and bandwidth-based variables."

The Ultra HD Blu-ray format will also deliver what the BDA describes as "next-generation immersive, object-based sound formats."

The immersive cinema sound format places greater demands on surround sound systems in that it localizes sound around listeners producing a three-dimensional effect.

"With the commencement of licensing, we would anticipate product announcements from various companies as we approach the 2015 holiday season," the BDA said in a statement.

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