As we’ve highlighted countless times here on HDTVTest, one of the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of widespread 4K TV adoption (besides the cost!) is the almost total lack of any native ultra HD content to watch on these super high-resolution televisions.
TV manufacturers are working overtime to address the problem. We’ve already seen significant progress with the idea of streaming 4K content using the new HEVC codec, while Sony recently unveiled a cloud-based Ultra HD media streaming player (which unfortunately is unlikely to arrive on these shores any time soon). Meanwhile, Japanese TV companies are said to be working towards broadcasting 4K over satellite in time for the FIFA 2014 World Cup Finals.
But while streaming content seems like a good idea, some consumers (especially videophiles) are clamouring for a physical solution to the problem. Currently, it’s difficult to cram a 4K feature length movie onto a physical disc, which means that we can’t just go out and ‘buy’ movies to watch on our big screens. The Blu-ray, which is the highest capacity optical disc on the market today, holds a mere 25GB of data, or 50GB in dual layer. More recently we’ve seen developments in the BDXL format, which increase Blu-ray capacity to 128GB, but even that is barely enough.
Which is why Sony and Panasonic’s announcement earlier today that they’re working together to boost the amount of data that can be stored on a single disc to some 300GB is such an important step. Though neither company has admitted as much, it’s clear that the partnership is an effort to resolve the 4K media question once and for all.
The two Japanese firms are teaming up to create what will essentially become the successor to the Blu-ray disc. Their ambitious plan is to create a higher capacity optical disc that’s ready for consumer use before the end of 2015.
As for the technological intricacies of the project, these are currently unknown. Even so, Sony points to its own 1.5TB XD CAM format (which squeezes 12, 25GB discs into a single cartridge) as an example of how its been pushing up capacities. Panasonic brings plenty of expertise to the table as well, with its own 180TB LB-B M9 format and RAID technology that’s capable of storing 12x100GB discs on a single cartridge.
While cartridges are clearly unacceptable as a successor to Blu-ray, these advancements serve to encourage us that they can achieve their goal of squeezing 300GB onto a single disc in the next couple of years. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for 4K Blu-ray!