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Ultra HD Blu-ray

They say that history repeats in a spiral. In full measure, this can be attributed to technical progress. Today, home video equipment is moving to a new round of such a spiral with an unusual name for Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Let's remember how the Blu-ray standard was born - everything started with the appearance of TVs and projectors with resolution exceeding the standard for that time 480 and 576 lines. At first they were so-called HD Ready devices, the resolution of which was 1280x720 points, later appeared TVs and projectors with full HD-resolution 1920x1080 points. The video for demonstration on these devices was scaled from the sources in standard resolution (in most cases - from DVDs). And only in a few years there were commercial releases of Blu-ray discs and devices for their reproduction, able to fully unlock the potential of Full HD TVs and projectors.

Now there is a similar picture - at first TVs with 4K resolution appeared on the market, then 4K-projectors were presented. Players and receivers for home theater got the function of video scaling to the resolution of 4K, and Sony, for demonstrating its TVs and projectors, even released a multimedia player 4K, on ​​the hard drive of which several movies were recorded in this resolution. But to fully discover the potential of modern display devices and finally move to a new level of quality of home video under the name "4K" was the new format of optical discs Ultra HD Blu-ray. With the release of the first releases in this format and with the advent of the player for their reproduction, it is quite possible to state: the era of 4K has come. What are the distinctive features of the Ultra HD Blu-ray format? Let's try to understand.

Usually, when starting a new format, media for home use is not limited to just one "chip" - usually by increasing the resolution of the picture. So, at the start of the DVD standard, users received a five-channel digital sound, a choice of several audio tracks and subtitles, unprecedented navigation capabilities and additional material for the film. When the Blu-ray Discs appeared on the Full HD picture, multichannel lossless audio tracks and the ability to receive various information from the Global Web were added, which increased the interactivity of the viewing. With the Ultra HD Blu-ray standard, there have also been innovations in the sound field - these discs are more likely to find the soundtrack in new formats like Dolby Atmos, DTS: X and Auro 3D. However, there is nothing to prevent the production of ordinary Blu-ray discs with such tracks, which is done. But the main innovations of the new disk format are not related to its resolution and concern the quality of the encoding and image display. This technology HDR and extended color coverage according to the standard Rec.2020.

Technology High Dynamic Range (HDR)

The High Dynamic Range (HDR) provides an increase in the range of brightness between the darkest and brightest parts of the frame, which in turn makes the picture subjectively more contrast and bright. In addition, the ability to display details in very bright or dark places of the frame improves. However, to demonstrate all the advantages of HDR, this technology for obvious reasons should primarily support the display device. And earlier, in order to visually increase the contrast, and with it the development of halftones in the shadows and light areas, the TVs changed the intensity of the backlight, and the projectors - the diaphragm of the lens. The algorithms controlling this process proceeded from the average brightness throughout the frame, as a result of which a certain compromise, not always a natural result, always turned out. HDR technology is designed to eliminate this trade-off, transmitting additional metadata for the image, in which information about the dynamically changing exposure (brightness) of the frame and gamma (count-contrast) will be encoded. And the display device, relying on this data, can quickly and, most importantly, optimally adjust the image. The result is an ideal picture on almost any display or screen. Visually, it seems more contrasting and vivid, although in reality neither the maximum contrast nor the brightness of the display devices is increased.

Advanced color coverage Rec.2020

The second important point was the expanded color coverage, achieved through the use of 10-bit color coding (in the standard DVD and Blu-ray, 8-bit coding was used). Most clearly, the advantages of extended color coverage are visible on the standard color locus. You can see how the profile Rec.2020 overlaps the standard Rec.709, especially the green and red component. Returning from the artificial diagrams to the real video, we get an expanded color palette, richness of colors and natural color rendition.

New standard - new tools

A significant increase in the resolution relative to the Full HD standard and the transition to the 10-bit color representation multiply the amount of information necessary to encode every minute of the video. In addition, H.264 (AVC) codec used for authoring Blu-ray discs does not support either 10-bit encoding or Rec.2020 profile. So, we need a more efficient algorithm for preparing video with the support of the claimed technologies. And it was created - the Ultra HD Blu-ray standard uses the new H.265 (HEVC) codec, which allows, albeit at the limit, to record a two-hour Ultra HD Blu-ray movie on a standard 50 dual-layer Blu-ray disc GB.

In addition, once again, the copyright protection system was changed - the new version was HDCP 2.2 index. To successfully demonstrate the discs of the new standard of this protection specification, all components of the home theater system through which the video is broadcast must match. So, preparing a home theater system to work with the new standard will require the replacement of all elements, including cables! Yes, in order to broadcast video with 4K resolution in 4 format: 4: 4 60 Hz, a cable is required that is capable of transmitting 18 Gbit / s stream, while the HDMI 1.4 standard implied 10,2 Gbit / s channel capacity. And if at small connector lengths it is possible that your old HDMI cable will provide the required stream, then in case of using the projector, when it comes to lengths over five meters, the cable will most likely have to be replaced.

Perfectly understanding that for many users the simultaneous acquisition of a new source and upgrade of the receiver can cause financial problems, the manufacturers of the first Ultra HD Blu-ray disc players have equipped their models with two HDMI ports. Thus, if you have an AV receiver in your system that does not meet the new requirements, you can connect the player directly to the TV or projector, and use the second port to switch to the receiver for broadcasting the soundtrack.

There is something to see

Today, not one dozen disks in the format 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray are already available, but the release of 74 releases has been announced. Among them there are really noteworthy publications, both on content and on technical execution: "Mad Max: Road of Fury", "Martian", "Survivor", the last two parts of the Star Trek saga, "Batman vs. Superman: At the dawn of justice" and a lot others. Each edition includes, as a rule, two versions of the film - on a regular Blu-ray with a resolution of Full HD and on an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with an 4K resolution. True, we just make a reservation, all this luxury, as well as devices for playing Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, is available now for the market of North America and selected European countries. On the timing of the appearance of the format in Russia while you can only guess.

The first players of Ultra HD Blu-ray

As well as at the start of the Blu-ray format, the first player of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs was the Samsung model with the UBD-K8500 index. Her sales began in the US at the beginning of 2016. According to the manufacturer's intention, this device should be the only source in your home theater system. In principle, if the home cinema is used only for watching movies, Samsung UBD-K8500 will cope with this task. Ultra Blu-ray discs require a powerful computing platform that can handle the processing of lower resolution content. In addition to the new format discs, the player reproduces the 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD discs very well. In addition, the device can be integrated into a home computer network, for which both the RJ45 Ethernet port and the built-in Wi-Fi wireless network adapter are provided. Being connected to the network, Samsung UBD-K8500 is able to play multimedia files of all popular formats and resolutions from DLNA servers. The only exception was ISO image files. Also, the player can play media files from external USB storage devices - the 3.0 USB port for their connection is located on the front panel of Samsung UBD-K8500.

In May 2016, the Panasonic DMP-UB900 player appeared on the shelves of England and Germany, which is offered for a price almost twice that of Samsung UBD-K8500. For what is it proposed to pay extra? If we talk about the picture quality and sound of Panasonic DMP-UB900 in comparison with Samsung UBD-K8500, we will note the following points:

- Significantly higher resolution in semitones in HDR mode;

- A little less sharpness of the image;

- amazing smoothness in scenes with panning and active movement of the camera;

- Sound with High Clarity Sound option in Panasonic DMP-UB900 is amazing - as if a lot of details are added to familiar tracks.

Against this background, the lack of support for 3D from Panasonic DMP-UB900 does not seem to be a drawback. The reference mastering, video from Blu-ray discs with an 1080r resolution, the device draws brilliantly to the resolution of 4K. But in terms of playing multimedia files everything is not so rosy - if Samsung UBD-K8500 is absolutely omnivorous (with the exception of .ISO files), then Panasonic DMP-UB900 is a real Japanese horse. Files in the .mkv container with 4K resolution over the network - failure, some .mkv files with Full HD resolution from external USB drives - failure. Although the bulk of our collection of machines still read, and even how. Features of the most powerful processor for post-processing of pictures are expensive.

Through hardship to the stars!

In conclusion, it is necessary to mention the childhood diseases of the format. Rarely, when it is possible to do without them, and the more complex the technology, the probability of occurrence of any problems is higher. There were pitfalls and at the launch of Ultra HD Blu-ray. It's about the problems of compatibility of sources with display devices when playing video in maximum quality. Currently, with the current firmware versions, there are problems with 4K projectors from Sony:

- Samsung UBD-K8500 - projector Sony VPL-VW320ES / 520ES - works correctly only in the mode of HDR OFF, rec.709. When HDR and rec.2020 are activated, the picture becomes very dark with a predominance of red hues;

- Panasonic DMP-UB900 - projector Sony VPL-VW320ES / 520ES - the correct image is obtained only in 4 mode: 2: 0.

It remains to be hoped that childhood illnesses will be only childish and will be corrected in new versions of firmware.

Stay tuned and get fresh reviews, compilations and news about the movies first!

Yandex ZenYandex Zen | InstagramInstagram | TelegramTelegram | TwitterTwitter


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