Thursday, 21 March 2013

8K - is bigger, better?

A few years ago, well seven I think, I decided that I wanted to find out if my brain was capable of learning new things outside of my comfort zone and after a short investigation I decided to take an Open University course called "T175 - Networked Living", exploring information and communication technologies. It took 8 months to do and at the end of it I had 30 points towards the 360 I need to get a full degree. I was hooked.

Since then I have studied modules called "Beyond Google", "Design and the Web", "Communication and Information technologies" and "Computers and Processors" and a few others. Currently I am doing "Innovation - Designing for a sustainable future" and "Technologies for digital media". 

Coincidently this last module has posed a question about UHDTV or Ultra High Definition TV and refers to a document written by two Japanese engineers, Masayuki Sugawara and Kenichiro Masaoka which looks at the future of TV and what is the ideal size and resolution of screen. They did a series of spatial rendering tests and concluded "that UHDTV should have around 8000
horizontal pixels based on the research results described above. Interoperability with existing television system suggests:
- a picture aspect ratio of 16 : 9 is preferable;
- a simple integer ratio between the pixel counts of TV systems is preferable.
Finally, we concluded that 7680x4320 is desirable for the pixel count of UHDTV." 

Now I can't argue with that especially now that 4K is officially half that resolution. The engineers looked at the ideal size of the screen or panel to watch this on.

"Recommendation ITU-R BT.1845 provides guidelines on the relationship between screen size and viewing distance given that the optimal viewing distance is one at which one pixel corresponds to the visual angle of arc-minute. The optimal viewing distance is, e.g., 100 cm when viewing an UHDTV image on a 100-in screen.[...] The optimal viewing distance for a 20-in screen is 20 cm, at  the human visual system (HVS) reaches the limits of accommodation. The size of a 20-in screen is close to A3, and a 7680x4320 pixel screen would have approximately 350 pixels/in."

Let me just repeat that. The best way to watch TV is on a 100 inch (presume diagonal measurement) screen from just 3 feet 3 inches away - wow! I'm now old enough to need the full length of my arms just to focus on something and I tend to watch a 42 inch 1080p screen from about 8 feet away. And if I wanted to look at an iPad screen (presuming it had 8K pixels) "optimally" it should be about 3 inches away from my face.

Really? If your mother is like my mother she would be telling you to move back from the screen or you'll ruin your eye-sight, and this time she might be right. So if this is the ideal do I want it? Does this mean that if I bought a 100 inch 4K screen ($25,000 says I won't just yet) I could watch it from a comfortable (and ideal distance) of 6 feet 6 inches. At least I wouldn't get yelled out by all the people behind me. Be interested to hear from anyone who has actually stood in front of a 100 inch 4K screen for their opinion.

So my vote is that bigger, in this case is not better, which adds more weight to my argument that 4K will not be a stop gap resolution but a very good and well loved one. Now I better get back to my studies as I still have 2 years to go.

* The full document mentioned above can be purchased here.

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