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Home video technology has advanced an incredible amount in the last twenty years, as the industry has graduated from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray. But while streaming may seem like the future of the market, physical media isn't dead yet, and that's why we will soon see the release of a new format known as Ultra HD Blu-ray.
News about this development has been reported by USA Today, which says that the Blu-ray Disc Association has formalized specifications for the new format, and has revealed that licensing agreements are expected to be worked out this summer. Sadly, the article doesn't mention when we can expect media to start being released in Ultra HD Blu-ray, though it is expected that the special players will start hitting the market at the end of this year.
So what makes the difference between UHD Blu-ray and standard Blu-ray? The specs say that the new format features four times the resolution, and will also support high dynamic range - which basically makes whites whiter and blacks darker, creating a wider range of brightness. Color-wise, USA Today notes that UHD will be able to process over 75 percent of colors that the human eye can make out - which is quite impressive compared to the standard Blu-ray, which can only show a little more than a one-third). It will also support media filmed at higher frame rates - such as Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, and James Cameron's upcoming Avatar sequels.
It's also mentioned that Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be backwards compatible, though Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will not play on standard Blu-ray players.
One can imagine that there will be a good amount of debate within the film collector community about this new format. As with any change of this nature - be it cassettes to CDs, or cell phones to smart phones - there will be many who feel conflicted about collecting in a new medium after dedicating time to the collection of Blu-rays for many years - but there is an extra level to it as well. As alluded to earlier, the future of home media does seem to be trending towards the digital over the physical, and in that environment the idea of upgrading to a new format (which may soon be obsolete) isn't exactly that exciting.
For all of you Blu-ray collectors out there, what will you do when UHD Blu-ray when titles become available? Answer the poll below, and then head down to the comments section to let us know what you think about the new format.