Berlin — The first 4K Blu-ray decks, as well as pre-packed 4K Blu-ray discs of Hollywood films, may go on sale as early as the 2015 holiday season, certainly by early 2016.
According to Victor Matsuda, chairperson of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) promotions committee, the 4K Blu-ray spec is due to be completed and licensing beginning by late spring/early summer next year, which means “some aggressive hardware makers may have models on shelves by the holiday season next year.” Matsuda noted the technical framework for the next-generation Blu-ray format has been set, with internal discussions continuing to solve outstanding issues.
4K Blu-ray will include an extended color gamut with 10-bit channel depth rather than 8-bit, and will support high dynamic range.
The planned 66GB capacity disc will support a 108Mbps transfer rate, while the 100GB disc will handle 128Mbps. Each will support all frame rates 60p and below, and include HEVC/H.265 decoding and HDMI 2.0.
Masuda expects Hollywood studios to produce 4K Blu-ray versions of their films in time to match the first availability of hardware, but there’s some question about whether the studios kept the actual 4K masters of films previously shot in digital. According to a source, the high cost of storage forced the studios to down-convert their 4K masters and will now have to re-upscale these masters back to 4K.
How much these 4K Blu-ray decks will cost is anyone’s guess at the moment.