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A new range of television sets will be unveiled at the upcoming 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV in January. Along with high dynamic range (HDR), OLED displays and much larger screens, TV set manufacturers will be eager to grab a larger portion of viewer’s wallets with these features.

However, are broadcasters ready to support the new technologies? Will streaming competitors beat OTA broadcasters to delivering 4K, UHD, HDR and other image improvements? The jury may officially be out, but new research offers some tempting clues on where technology will lead viewers.

A presentation by Semtech shows that there are different versions of UHD detailed in the SMPTE standards specifications.

A presentation by Semtech shows that there are different versions of UHD detailed in the SMPTE standards specifications.

There is little doubt that OTT providers, which already have embraced 4K as a way to distinguish their services, are lighting a fire under the broadcast industry to get UHD moving. Yet, over-the-air broadcasters remain undecided about what new technology features to embrace and when to do so.

UHD is much more than just a higher number of pixels. It’s about a whole new experience that includes higher resolution, higher frame rates, higher dynamic range and wider color gamut. What is now clear is that OTA delivery must include more than just higher resolution images.

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The UK’s BBC R&D recently conducted a survey of the size of televisions and kinds of environments in which people watch TV at home. The results are especially important as the broadcast industry moves towards UHD images.

Except for a few test broadcasts, UHD is mainly confined to internet delivery for the UK home viewer. The survey revealed that 91% of respondents watched broadcast TV, with 61% also watching internet streams and 68% watching packaged media such as DVD’s. Virtually all of this viewing is in standard definition.

However, before deciding on a part to higher-quality images and sound, it is important to understand current viewing conditions. Would the typical viewer even benefit from upgrading to a UHD television?

It is important to note that the full UHD experience must take into account home viewing conditions. This study looked at three areas; viewing environment, distance from the screen and the audio system used. The survey results provide some guidance for regulators and broadcasters as a path to UHD is constructed.

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