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The forthcoming spec for Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray - due mid-2015 - has much more to offer than just improved resolution, says Victor Matsuda of the Blu-ray Disc Association.

Matsuda, who is chairman of the BDA's global promotions committee, spoke directly to whathifi.com about the advantages of Ultra HD Blu-ray over 4K streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

"We think that the full experience [of 4K on disc] involves more than just the resolution of your screen. The issue of High Dynamic Range (HDR) was one of the hot topics at CES this year, and it's one of the most in-your-face advantages of the Ultra HD Blu-ray spec, along with improved colour gamut and bit depth. That's why the BDA has opted for the name Ultra HD Blu-ray rather than just 4K Blu-ray."

MORE: 4K, HDR and quantum dot explained

Matsuda confirmed that the colour bit depth will increase from 8-bits to 10-bits per channel, and that Ultra HD Blu-ray disc will be able to handle resolutions up to 3840 x 2160 at up to 60fps (frames-per-second).

He added that data transfer speeds are another big advantage for 4K on Blu-ray. While Netflix says around 15mbps is sufficient for streaming 4K video over the internet, Matsuda says Ultra HD Blu-ray will offer data transfer speeds of up to 108mbps on dual-layer discs (with 66GB capacity) and up to 128mbps on triple-layer ones (100GB).

More after the break

"This is a huge advantage of Blu-ray, it's a closed environment and much more stable. We want to be the 'best of the best' for picture quality. Streaming can be quite unstable, it depends on your internet service and how many people are online."

MORE: BDA confirms preliminary spec for 4K Blu-ray discs 

MORE: Ultra HD Blu-ray - everything you need to know

High Dynamic Range is mandatory

Panasonic's prototype 4K Blu-ray player was unveiled at CES 2015

Another benefit of Ultra HD Blu-ray, he says, is that HDR is mandatory, and alternative High Dynamic Range solutions from Dolby and Philips will be an optional part of the spec.

The BDA is currently working on a new logo for the Ultra HD Blu-ray format and says it is on track to confirm the final, full technical specification by mid-2015.

So why has it taken so long? "Rumours of a Christmas 2014 launch didn't come from us," says Matsuda. "At IFA 2014 we expected a consumer launch by the end of 2015, and we're on target for that."

As for hardware and software, Panasonic is still the only hardware manufacturer to have unveiled a prototype 4K Blu-ray player, but Matsuda says "it won't take long for the competition to kick in". And software? "There have been no announcements since CES [from the film studios], but we hope it won't be long. Hardware tends to come first, followed by the software."

Although Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be backwards compatible with standard Blu-ray, DVD and CD discs, Matsuda says "3D will not be part of the Ultra HD specification". Another nail in the coffin for 3D then.

MORE: Panasonic unveils prototype 4K Blu-ray player


varsas's picture

Looking good...but challenges ahead

I believe they have also added provision for a wider colour space.  that's great news and, together with the other improvments, means no further alterations should be required, at least for watching on a flat panel (no doubt holographic films will need something different...). 

I understand why, but it's shame UHD BluRay discs are not compatible with standard BluRay players.  I was hoping for a 2k 'core' (the same as DTS - MA carries a standard DTS 'core') or maybe a seperate layer still readable by older players.

Hopefully UHD BluRay will take the place of standard BluRay (I think DVD will soldier on for a while yet) otherwise it could easily remain quite a niche product.  Like LaserDisc was here in the UK.  There are plenty of films still not out on BluRay, it'll be even worse if UHD BluRay is a third, high-end-only, format.

Can't wait to see it though and as a fan of phyical media I'm glad it's happening.


Matt Dickinson's picture

Bad name?

"Ultra HD Blu-Ray" is too complicated. I don't think that will catch on.

ellisdj's picture

Why No 3D??? Thats terrible

Why No 3D??? Thats terrible news what is the world coming to.  Thats put me off Ultra HD Blu Ray straight away

Andy Clough's picture

Why no 3D?

I suspect because it's been a commercial failure and there isn't much consumer demand for it, despite the best endeavours of the film studios and hardware manufacturers. And AFAIK there's no spec for 4K 3D nor any content. That said, most of the 4K TVs we've tested will handle 'regular' 3D Blu-rays.

bcolgan's picture

What a bunch of idiots

Every review I've seen on 4K mentions how 3D looks like it's finally found a home, as it's stunning on UHD.

I can't believe they haven't made it mandatory when 4K finally does it justice and makes it believeable, witout the crosstalk/ghosting/etc.


Bonajones38's picture

Replacing my Pioneer Blu-ray player

Glad I got this Email. Now I'm sure to wait till 4K blu-ray players arrive this autumn - hopefully!!  I'm not gonna pay more than 500 quid though!

Jota180's picture

I'm waiting for the next

I'm waiting for the next version, the ultrasuperduper4Ksquared.

Tropi's picture

What's in a name?

QUOTE "the BDA has opted for the name Ultra HD Blu-ray rather than just 4K Blu-ray." END QUOTE
  I hope they stick with "UHD" instead of the hugely misleading "4K". Of course, it would be better still if it were called  "UHD2160 Blu-ray" so that punters knew exactly what the vertical resolution really is.