Ultra HD Blu-ray Licensing and Anticipating New Projectors at CEDIA Expo 2015

This blog follows up on last month’s blog (HERE), where I provided some technical details of the video formats that will be supported by the upcoming Ultra High Definition Blu-ray discs.  The Blu-ray Disc Associaton (BDA) has now announced plans to be begin the patent licensing for Ultra HD Blu-ray this month and also provided some insights as to when the new format will make it way to consumers.  The month’s blog also offers some discussion on what we my see at this year’s CEDIA Expo in terms of new HD and 4K/UHD home theater class projectors.

Ultra HD Blu-ray Licensing Begins

On August 5, 2015 the Blu-ray Disc Association issued a press release that said, in part:

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) will commence licensing the Ultra HD Blu-ray format starting August 24, 2015. The format represents the work of global leaders from the consumer electronics, IT and content creation industries and will enable consistent and reliable delivery of Ultra HD content to the rapidly growing number of Ultra HD households, expected to grow from 11.7 million Ultra HD TVs in 2014 to 95.6 million in 2019.*

Ultra HD Blu-ray is a critical component of the expanding Ultra HD ecosystem that redefines in-home entertainment through advances in resolution, contrast, color and audio, providing a sensory experience that replicates the richness of life’s sight and sounds and more accurately reflects the content creator’s intent.

“Ultra HD is expected to ramp up quickly over the next few years as it grows in popularity, availability, and affordability within the market for TV sets,” according to Paul Erickson, senior analyst at IHS Technology. “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. 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 deliver high dynamic range content that significantly expands the range between the brightest and darkest elements and gives the consumer a more life-like viewing experience. Additionally, the format provides expanded color range, high frame rate (up to 60fps) and up-to 3840×2160 resolution. The Ultra HD Blu-ray format will also deliver next-generation immersive, object-based sound formats. And, with the optional “digital bridge” feature, the specification enhances the value of content ownership by embracing the notion that a content purchase can enable the consumer to view their content across a wide range of in-home and mobile devices.

“Ultra HD Blu-ray enables the delivery of an unparalleled, consistent and repeatable experience that will set the standard for Ultra HD entertainment, the same way Blu-ray Disc did for high definition viewing,” said Victor Matsuda, chair, BDA Promotions Committee.

Victor Matsuda went on to say:

“With the commencement of licensing we would anticipate product announcements from various companies as we approach the 2015 holiday season.”

It was noted that all Ultra HD Blu-ray players will also be required to playback current HD Blu-ray Discs [but current HD Blu-ray Disc players will not be able to playback the new Ultra HD discs].

Looking beyond what information that was provided in the above discussed BDA press release, I would expect to see announcements for the first generation Ultra HD Blu-ray players at the IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany (Sept. 2015) and at the CEDIA Expo show, in Dallas, Texas (October 2015).  Other players will almost surely be announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2016.  The official retail launch of the first Ultra HD Blu-ray players and disc titles will likely be in the November 2015 time frame.  I would expect to see something on the order of 100 movies titles offered this year in this new UHD disc format.  Some, perhaps many, of the initial disc titles are expected to support the High Dynamic Range (HDR) option and/or the wide color gamut option allowed by the Ultra HD Blu-ray system.

Anticipation of new new HD and UHD Projectors at CEDIA Expo

We are still a month away from the Europe’s IFA trade show (Berlin – Sept.) and two months away from the USA’s CEDIA Expo (Dallas – Oct.).  At this point talk about new projector models must be considered speculative.  In a few cases it may be based on leaked information that will turn out be accurate, while in other cases it may turn out to be less reliable.

For this blog I will mention only Sony and JVC.

Sony – I have seen mention of a VPL-VW1200es projector on a Sony support web site.  It is widely assumed this will be the model number for Sony’s new flagship 4K/UHD projector that will be announced at IFA or CEDIA Expo.  This will probably replace the now 2 year old VPL-VW1100es model and according to some unconfirmed reports this new model will use a laser light engine, instead of the conventional UHP lamp used in the current VPL-VW1100es.

There are also unconfirmed reports from late July, that were posted on several home theater forums in Europe, claiming that Sony will be introducing upgraded models that will replace their current 1080p model VPL-HW55es with a new VPL-HW65es and also their two lower priced 4K/UHD projectors will be replaced.  In the case of international models for the 4K/UHD projectors, the rumor is the  current VPL-VW300es will be replaced with a model VPL-VW320es and the current VPL-VW500es will be replaced by the VPL-VW520es.   The equivalent current US models are called the VPL-VW350es and the VPL-W600es so any new US models will probably also carry different model numbers from what may released internationally.

If this report of updated models is correct, the updates to the 4K/UHD projectors will most likely be evolutionary in nature providing upgrades to better take advantages of the performance and capabilities offered by Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and not a major redesign of the current models.

JVC – Last year at CEDIA Expo, JVC announced no new projectors.  Instead they carried over their 2014 models that use eShift to provide a pseudo 4K image.  There has been hope and speculation over the past year that JVC would have some major upgrade to announce this year at CEDIA Expo.  Speculation was that perhaps JVC would introduce a native 4K/UHD projector and/or one with a laser light engine.  JVC has been one of the best companies at keeping their new projectors under wraps until their official announcements at CEDIA Expo, so I tend to question the accuracy of any pre-CEDIA information on what JVC has planned for new projector models.  Even at the earlier IFA show in Europe, JVC has usually held only private showings where attendees had to sign non-disclosure agreements that were in effect until the official JVC announcement was made a few weeks later at the CEDIA Expo.

UPDATE:  However, recently published information indicates JVC’s plans to introduce new models DLA-X5000, DLA-X7000 and DLA-X9000, that are presumably the successors to the current X500, X700 and X900 models.  The new models are said to have an improved eShift feature, improved contrast and increased brightness.  Thus it appears these models are evolutionary from the current models.

The source for the above information is located in France, and he reporting that JVC’s new home theater projectors will be strictly evolutionary and will not include a native 4K/UHD model nor offer a laser light engine.  Beyond the 3 improvements mentioned above, I would assume (or at least hope) that JVC will be adding support for HDMI 2.0 w/HDCP 2.2 inputs and compatibility with the upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray players.  We will probably not know how accurate or complete this information is until we actually get to CEDIA Expo in mid-October and get the official word from JVC.

Stay Tuned

For my September blog I plan to report on any interesting new home theater projectors announced at the IFA show in Germany, and talk a little more about what we can expect to see, and hear, at CEDIA Expo.

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