The future looks bright: Prepare to be dazzled by HDR telly tech

But will the EU take a dim view of things?

Breaking Fad The future of television’s so bright you’ll have to wear shades. At least, that might be the case if plans to evolve television to a High Dynamic Range (HDR) future gather traction. HDR has been exciting the creative community for some time now.

Philips Goya TV from 1972

Digital, HDTV, UHD, HDR... the upgrade cycle continues

Many argue that it’s actually a more significant upgrade than Ultra HD resolution, not least because any improvement in brightness and contrast is easier to appreciate than raw detail. But the future of HDR is far from clear cut, and it transpires that some unexpected obstacles may yet dull its brilliance.

In case you’ve not noticed, today’s TV picture quality revolution is a work in progress. Currently rolling out is UHD One Phase One, which combines 3840 x 2160 resolution images with frame rates of no more than 60fps and the long-established BT.709 colour standard (arguably more a low common denominator colour restraint).

However, UHD-1 Phase 2 is where things start to get really interesting. Potentially a commercial reality by around 2018, this second advance will see frame rate support rise to 100-120fps, a subset of the more advanced BT.2020 colour standard introduced and, crucially, HDR introduced.

Regular LCD (left) vs. 1000 Nit HDR (right)

Seeing is believing: regular LCD (left) vs. 1000 Nit HDR (right), over exposure on HDR side never makes it easy photograph

For a sneaky look at tomorrow’s next big TV fad, I was invited over to TP Vision’s R&D facility in Ghent, Belgium. While it may not be a household name, TP Vision is a screen Goliath with the rights to produce Philips-branded TVs for great swathes of the globe, including Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Argentina.

TP Vision has R&D sites in Bangalore, Taipei, Xiamen and Ghent, and runs manufacturing plants in China, Russia, Argentina, Brazil and Poland. Director of Product Strategy and Planning for the brand is Danny Tack, a veteran TV visionary who moved to TP Vision when Philips sold its screen interest.

HDR is very much on Tack’s roadmap, and his team is taking a leading position in technology development. Deep within the company’s research labs are screens tuned for various levels of brightness.

UHD-1 roadmap phases

UHD-1 roadmap phases – click for a larger image

“At the moment, no TV displays or sources are capable of showing HDR,” explains Tack. “That’s because they’re made and post processed for a display standard of 100 Nits (aka candelas per square metre), a standard that originates from the time of CRTs. Today’s LCD displays already go far brighter, up to 450/500 Nits maximum.” Content is long overdue an upgrade, he says. Both Netflix and Vudu have been investigating HDR.

In the TP Vision PQ lab, prototype screens offering different brightness levels run demo content comprising native HDR still images and standard dynamic range video sources. One challenge going forward, says Tack, isn’t just about developing native HDR content and panels, it’s about mapping standard dynamic range material to HDR picture displays. “We want to give viewers a system which is useful for all their content, not just HDR encoded content,” I’m told.

Next page: Eco worriers

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Will Lenovo ever think beyond hardware?
    Then again, why develop your own software à la HPE GreenLake when you can use someone else's?

    Analysis Lenovo fancies its TruScale anything-as-a-service (XaaS) platform as a more flexible competitor to HPE GreenLake or Dell Apex. Unlike its rivals, Lenovo doesn't believe it needs to mimic all aspects of the cloud to be successful.

    While subscription services are nothing new for Lenovo, the company only recently consolidated its offerings into a unified XaaS service called TruScale.

    On the surface TruScale ticks most of the XaaS boxes — cloud-like consumption model, subscription pricing — and it works just like you'd expect. Sign up for a certain amount of compute capacity and a short time later a rack full of pre-plumbed compute, storage, and network boxes are delivered to your place of choosing, whether that's a private datacenter, colo, or edge location.

    Continue reading
  • Intel is running rings around AMD and Arm at the edge
    What will it take to loosen the x86 giant's edge stranglehold?

    Analysis Supermicro launched a wave of edge appliances using Intel's newly refreshed Xeon-D processors last week. The launch itself was nothing to write home about, but a thought occurred: with all the hype surrounding the outer reaches of computing that we call the edge, you'd think there would be more competition from chipmakers in this arena.

    So where are all the AMD and Arm-based edge appliances?

    A glance through the catalogs of the major OEMs – Dell, HPE, Lenovo, Inspur, Supermicro – returned plenty of results for AMD servers, but few, if any, validated for edge deployments. In fact, Supermicro was the only one of the five vendors that even offered an AMD-based edge appliance – which used an ageing Epyc processor. Hardly a great showing from AMD. Meanwhile, just one appliance from Inspur used an Arm-based chip from Nvidia.

    Continue reading
  • NASA's Psyche mission: 2022 launch is off after software arrives late
    Launch window slides into 2023 or 2024 for asteroid-probing project

    Sadly for NASA's mission to take samples from the asteroid Psyche, software problems mean the spacecraft is going to miss its 2022 launch window.

    The US space agency made the announcement on Friday: "Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October 11."

    While it appears the software and testbeds are now working, there just isn't enough time to get everything done before a SpaceX Falcon Heavy sends the spacecraft to study a metallic-rich asteroid of the same name.

    Continue reading
  • Rise in Taiwanese energy prices may hit global chip production
    National provider considering cost increase of 8%, which could be passed on to tech customers

    Taiwan's state-owned energy company is looking to raise prices for industrial users, a move likely to impact chipmakers such as TSMC, which may well have a knock-on effect on the semiconductor supply chain.

    According to Bloomberg, the Taiwan Power Company, which produces electricity for the island nation, has proposed increasing electricity costs by at least 8 percent for industrial users, the first increase in four years.

    The power company has itself been hit by the rising costs of fuel, including the imported coal and natural gas it uses to generate electricity. At the same time, the country is experiencing record demand for power because of increasing industrial requirements and because of high temperatures driving the use of air conditioning, as reported by the local Taipei Times.

    Continue reading
  • Tech companies ready public stances on Roe v. Wade
    Some providing out-of-state medical expenses, others spout general pro-choice statements

    Several US tech companies have taken a stance or issued statements promising healthcare-related support for employees following the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v Wade last Friday.

    A Supreme Court draft opinion that was leaked in February provided advanced warning of the legal eventuality, giving companies plenty of time to prepare official positions and related policies for employees.

    Without proper policies in place, tech companies could put themselves at risk of "brain drain" as employees become tempted to relocate to states where abortion access is readily available or to companies that better support potential needs as healthcare in the US is more often tied to an employer than not.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022