New Ultra HD Blu-ray format confirmed for 4K video

We had got bored waiting, but the new 4K video disc format is finally official

As a format 4K has been around for quite a while, now though we're finally getting a disc format to bring movies to our home on a spherical piece of plastic.

There was some considerable debate about whether we would ever get a disc format for 4K video. But, as we love high-quality video we're pleased to see that there will be a way of getting amazing ultra HD video. As good as Netflix is, the two are hardly comparable in total quality.

For one thing, Ultra HD Blu-ray will have a bitrate of up to 100mbps and will have two disc sizes, 66GB and 100GB - the first is dual-layer, the second has three layers. This could also have an impact on games consoles like the Xbox One and PS4, which may get a hardware upgrade to take advantage of this new format.

There's more to the format too. It increases the bit depth from 8 to 10-bit which should allow for an image with no banding and nasty effects that sometimes appear around highlights. As good as Blu-ray looks, there were some compromises made that the new format will rectify. There will also be a much wider colour gamut too, which will take advantage of modern screens that can display far more colour than Blu-ray can currently deliver.

Most important though is the move to support HDR. If you've ever dabbled in photography you might have heard of this processing technique. Essentially it delivers images that have lots of detail in both the bright and dark areas. Modern cameras have a sensitivity nearly as high as our eyes, so we could start to see a lot more detail in movies that ever before. This is actually one of the more important advances in TVs, so it's very exciting. Perhaps more so than the resolution increase.

We don't much like the name Ultra HD Blu-ray though, it's a lot of hassle to write. Perhaps Blu-ray+ or something might have been a better way to go. No matter what the name though, the format is a great idea and we should start to see players - like the one Panasonic announced at CES - appear this year. There are already quite a few 4K films waiting to be put on the new format too, so we should see a good launch selection.