Ultra HD Blu-ray 4K discs will ship before the holidays

The Blu-ray Disc Association will begin licensing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc technology this month and expects content to be out by the holidays.

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) today announced it will begin licensing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray technology this month and expects discs to be available by the holidays.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray specification boasts up to 3840x2160-pixel resolution, compared to high definition's 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution. The 4K Blu-ray format also will offer a greater color range and a 60 frames per second (fps) frame rate compared with HD's 24fps.

The BDA unveiled its final Ultra-high Blu-ray specification three months ago. While a single-layer HD Blu-ray disc can hold up to 25GB of data, and a dual disc up to 50GB, the new 4K discs will store 66GB and 100GB on dual- and triple-layer discs.

Ultra-HD televisions are expected to grow from 11.7 million 2014 to 95.6 million in 2019, according to research firm IHS Technology. UHD-TVs will represent 34% of the market in that year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Ultra HD Blu-ray players will also be required to play back current HD Blu-ray Discs. This requirement, coupled with the upscaling capabilities of players and TVs alike, gives consumers access to a library of more than 10,000 titles currently available on Blu-ray Disc.

The specification also has an optional "digital bridge" feature, that would allow UHD content that was purchased to be viewed across a wide range of in-home and mobile devices.

"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," Paul Erickson, a senior analyst at IHS Technology, said in a statement. "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 also deliver what the BDA describes as "next-generation immersive, object-based sound formats."

The immersive cinema sound format places greater demands on surround sound systems in that it localizes sound around listeners producing a three-dimensional effect.

"With the commencement of licensing, we would anticipate product announcements from various companies as we approach the 2015 holiday season," the BDA said in a statement.

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