Ultra HD or 4K are terms that we are becoming increasingly used to hearing. After the televisions which appeared in 2013, it's now the turn of Ultra HD content to step onto the stage. The audio-visual universe is evolving and nothing can stop it.
The advent of Ultra HD technology, which is an evolution from Full HD, experienced two distinct phases. The first phase, which was linked to the first Ultra HD television, only offered increased definition with a resolution of 3 840 x 2 160 pixels, i.e. around 8 million pixels compared with 2 million for Full HD models. While the picture quality displayed was more precise (four times more pixels on the screen, which was pretty good!) the other picture components remained identical to the HD format used by the Full HD screens and Blu-Ray disks in particular.
The second Ultra HD phase, which began in 2015, reached fruition this year with ranges of televisions with increased performance, thanks to the integration of different technologies: wide gamut, HDR and 10-bit colour depth. The first technology, wide gamut, offers a broader range of colours (the famous gamut). See our article on the subject. In short, a wide gamut television may display colour shades that are impossible to reproduce on a model which doesn't have the technology. HDR (for High Dynamic Range) offers a wider dynamic range, with sharper whites and deeper and more visible blacks, compared with a traditional SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) screen. On screen, this translates for example into a sun setting on the sea with its reflection sparkling as never before, or scenes set at night with perfectly dense blacks but with numerous visible details, even in the darkest parts of the picture. The third technology, which is the ideal complement to wide gamut, gives each RGB (Red, Green and Blue) component a video signal coded over 10 bits rather than 8 bits, enabling a total of 1.07 billion colour shades compared with 16.8 million before.
In Ultra HD, the idea is not just to increase the number of pixels displayed on a television but to improve the quality of these pixels for a noticeably-better picture quality. The objective to provide Ultra HD screens with realistic pictures that have never been seen before, much closer to human vision.
The TCL television range features various models that already have some or all of these new technologies. The S79 , S78 and S88series Ultra HD models have a 10-bit screen and wide gamut technology. The X1 series televisions, which are scheduled to be in stores at the end of the year, go even further still by integrating HDR too for a faultless picture.
To enable a television to produce a perfect picture which is as faithful to reality as possible, or one which corresponds exactly to what the director intended, the source must integrate enough information. Of course, improvement and upscaling are always possible and produce good results, but if you want the best picture you need adapted content. Ultra HD content is already available, in particular thanks to on-line VOD services such as Netflix. Ultra HD Blu-ray players have just appeared on the market, as have the first films on the same media. Ultra HD Blu-ray also integrate HDR, as does Netflix, which is already broadcasting the Marco Polo series in Ultra HD and HDR. It will be followed by 12 other series by the end of the year.