Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

#4 Next Wave / OLED IOLED Contrast Ratio

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

Part 4 of 4

Goodbye LCD

Your video source defines potential possible performance.  Connected AV components and interconnecting cable must allow the video to pass.  Your TV determines the ultimate result.  


Organic light-emitting diode contrast ratio has led OLED TV to the high-performance leader.  Advanced inorganic light-emitting diode technology, IOLED, is on the horizon.  Both consist of single-pixel points of light that range from full-on brightness to full-off. 

Nit Picking Difference   

The Nit is a measure of brightness.  For reference, the noonday sun measures around 1,600,000,000 nits.  The night sky around 0.001 nits.  UHD LCD TVs currently achieve a brightness level of 1500 nits.  OLED screen measure 540 nits. 

Whoa, LCD is far brighter than OLED.  Yes, but LCD TV can only achieve a black level of 0.05 nit, while current OLED screens achieve a black level of 0.0005 nit.  High dynamic range lies in the contrast difference. 

It’s a Difference of Ratios.  

Dynamic range is the difference between the darkest black level and brightness white.  The ratio of the black level to the brightest level equals the contrast ratio. 

LCD TVs have achieved contrast ratios of 30,000:1.  Current OLED models approach 1,000,000:1.  OLED contrast ratio is the HDR gateway to a more lifelike natural color.

LEDs and Q-Dots

Current OLED TVs border the DCI P3 color standard.  But the future lies in REC.2020 color.  Steps toward that goal have begun. 

Samsung plans to ship new QD-OLED televisions this winter.  The Q corresponds to quantum-dot.  The quantum-dot is a molecular semiconducting particle that produces light when struct by UV or blue LED light.  Samsung uses blue LEDs to stimulate and create red and green quantum-dot sub-pixels of light.  Their remaining blue sub-pixels are produced by the blue LEDs.  Their QD-OLED TVs will further improve contrast and color gamut. 

They have also projected fall 2021 IOLED based QNED TVs.  Again the Q corresponds to quantum-dot.  But the organic LEDs are replaced with inorganic LEDs.  Inorganic light-emitting diodes are substantially brighter, which further extends the contrast ratio.  QNED may approach 12bit REC.2020 color.

Don’t get caught up in the numbers and acronyms.  The salient UHD HDR point — all real-LED-pixel displays can turn a pixel off while an adjacent pixel is full-on

OLED and IOLED contrast ratio, and its expanded color gamut, plus advanced manufacturing development has led Samsung to announce the discontinuation of their LCD production.  Say goodbye to LCD.

Pothole Warning   Avoid bumps in the AV road.  Confirm the essential specifications of all connected electronics and interconnecting cable.  For example, if a TV does not explicitly specify a list of HDR formats, then assume it does not support HDR at all.  An ULTRAHD Premium logo confirms support for Premium Alliance specs.  The best UltraHD products exceed their standards with support for HDMI 2.1, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HGL.  

Catch the Wave  

A new era of AV magic lies in your AV professional hands.  It’s a mix of nits, contrast ratio, color gamut, light-emitting diodes, wide-bandwidth Internet access, audio/video streaming, and off-air antennas.  It’s a new wave of profitable opportunity.


Additional Note: 

Web Search Confusion – A web search did not easily-reveal QNED as inorganic technology.  The ‘N’ in QNED stands for nanorod LED.  Inorganic tech is hidden in nanorod LED illustrations.  Look closely at the labeling.  GaN is gallium nitride.  Gallium nitride is an inorganic material.  Therefore, a nanorod LED is an inorganic LED.  And QNED is IOLED TV.

Web Search Correction – A web search produced many Samsung QNED stories that incorrectly identified quantum dots as color filters.  Quantum dots are not filters.  Quantum dots are points of illuminating light.  

Check out my website Ed’s AV Handbook & business site SandTrapAudio.







#3 Next Wave / UltraHD (UHD), 8K UHD, HDR

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

Part 3 of 4

UltraHD (referred to as 4K) quadruples video resolution from about two million HDTV pixels to more than eight million pixels.  That’s good.  Pixel count is easy to explain, but difficult to see. 

8K UltraHD doubles UltraHD (UHD) resolution, which quadruples the number of UHD pixels.   Again, the pixel-count is easy to explain.  Yet even more difficult to see. 

HDTV            1080 lines x 1920 pixels/line = 2,073,600 pixels

UltraHD          2130 lines x 3840 pixels/line = 8,294,400 pixels  

8K UltraHD    4320 lines x 7680 pixels/line = 33,177,600 pixels

As the early days of HDTV and now UltraHDTV, 8K UHD video sources will be in short supply for some time.  The current resolution benefit of 8K, with the assistance of AI-upscale software, is primarily focused on wall-sized screens. 

The Viewable Difference  

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is more complicated to explain but easy to see.  HDR expands the difference between the darkest black and brightest white pixel.  It creates an expansive grayscale that produces more detailed side-by-side simultaneous dark-bright light.  This extended broader grayscale also increases color gamut.  This may be the most significant difference since the introduction of color. 


The C.I.E. is the international committee of color standards.  Their C.I.E. color chart defines the visible range of color and sets video standards.  UltraHD HDR employs two C.I.E. color standard options,  DCI P3 and REC.2020.

Digital Cinema Initiative P-3 represents 45.5% of the C.I.E. color chart.  REC.2020 equals 75.8% of the color chart.  For reference, HDTV REC.709 equals 35.9% of the chart. 

DCI P-3 satisfies current UHD standards.  REC.2020 is the future objective.  In either case, both support more lifelike natural colors that are considerably more visible than  UHD  pixels. 

HDR  Caveat  

HDR utilizes competing formats.  Your choice of video sources dictates format options.  The TV must decode the format.  Front running formats include HDR10, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HGL. 

HDR10 is the baseline default format for all HDR sources and TVs. 

Dolby Vision has become the high-performance option.

HDR10+ is an alternative to Dolby Vision.

HGL is the NextGenTV broadcast format.

HDMI Caveat

HDR formats are dependent on HDMI specifications.  Non-compliant interconnecting cable or AV components produce blank screens or downgrade the video to standard dynamic range. 

HDMI 2.0a supports HDR10. 

HDMI 2.0b adds support for HGL. 

HDMI 2.1 adds support for 10bit HDR10+ and 12bit Dolby Vision. 


The UltraHD Premium Alliance, an association of manufacturers, studios, and others, established baseline UltraHD HDR specifications. 

3840 x 2160 video resolution. 

LCD 0.05nit to 1000 nit brightness. 

OLED 0.0005nit to 540 nit brightness. 

10bit Color. 

90% of the DCI P3 color gamut. 

The UltraHD Premium logo validates product meets their standards. 


Continue to part #4 “OLED, IOLED, Contrast Ratio”

Visit my website Ed’s AV Handbook  & business site SandTrapAudio.








#2 Next Wave / Channels Of Distribution

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

Part 2 of 4

I travel a strip of historic US40 almost daily.  Long ago, the interstate highway system drove the old highway off the road map as an obscure alternate route.  Remnants of its past still lie in the trees and brush at the side of the old road — the foundation of a gas station, bent rusty motel sign, a well worn dated bridge.  

It’s an age-old story as US40 shelved the old Lincoln Highway.  The Lincoln Highway ended the Union Pacifics’s near-monopoly of an east-west US trade route. The railroad ended east-west ship-by-sea via Cape Horn dominance of commerce.   It was also a welcome alternative to travel by wagon. 

Each new channel of distribution stunted the economic clout of the existing primary channel.  And each new channel created new profitable opportunities.  5G cellular networks and NextGenTV are prime to do much the same, as they accelerate cable and satellite cord-cutting.  

5G Networks 

5G is a new and improved 5th generation cellular network.  Think of it as a glorified Wi-Fi hotspot.  It considerably enhances wireless Internet access.  5G broadcasts via three radio bands — mmWave, Mid-band Sub6, and low band — each with distance, speed, or signal obstruction advantage. 

mmWave 24GHz to 90GHz

mmWave provides tremendous data speeds.  But mmWave is short on range and has trouble penetrating windows and walls. 

Mid-band Sub6 3GHz to 4GHz

Mid-band Sub6 lies between 4G-LTE and WiFi.  It has fewer solid obstacle issues but still boosts data speeds.  Plus, it provides large-coverage in densely populated areas. 

Low-band 700MHz 

Low-band forms the backbone of 5G.  It offers reliable wide-coverage via existing 4G-LTE sites.  Low-band data speeds are marginally better than 4G-LTE and more than sufficient for most needs. 

5G’s mobile “Wi-Fi hotspots” offer more convenience than being anchored to home-based WiFi.  5G offers more security than public WiFi.  Plus, 5G’s multiple bands allow users and providers to individually manage bandwidth and coverage needs. 


Internet protocol-based over-the-air NextGenTV has launched in many US markets.  NextGen provides two sources of UltraHD HDR video  — local broadcast channels, and Intenet streaming access.  It is poised to become a cord-cutter’s primary source of UltraHD HDR video. 

NextGenTV broadcasts cover greater distances and extend deeper into buildings than HDTV.  Local UHD broadcasts are free.  Cable and satellite cord-cutting savings cover streaming service and antenna installation costs.    It may also connect to mobile devices — cell phones, tablets, laptops — with included tuners. 

TV manufacturers can integrate a NextGen tuner or offer a set-top box.  The tuners include an off-air RG-6 antenna jack, plus WiFi and a hard-wire RJ-45 jack that provide connection and distribution to home router networks. 

Rooftop Antennas  

A TV picture is only as good as its input signal — garbage in garbage out.  The antenna is the NextGenTV portal.  A quality rooftop antenna produces RF signal gain. Targeted RF gain improves the signal to noise ratio. High signal to noise ratio produces a clean picture. 

Rooftop antenna pricing ranges from about $80.00 to $300.00.  Add the cost of a mast, mounting hardware, and quad shield RG-6 coax.  You may also need a preamplifier, distribution amp, antenna rotator, splitter, combiner, filter, additional antenna, plus installation.  This adds up to a profitable opportunity. 

If you’re new to the antenna category, then get kick-started with the following websites.

FCC DTV Reception Map

The FCC website offers broadcast data based on specific channels.

  • Distance from your location to broadcast tower.
  • Signal strength
  • Repack status of VHF channel numbers to a UHF frequency

Consumer Electronics Association Antenna Selection

The CEA partnered with Channel Master to assist antenna selection.

Continue with a search for RF signal strength meters.  Do you need a precise measurement of signal strength in decibels-milliwatts Pwr(dBm) plus signal noise in decibels-milliwatts NM(db) noise?  Or is a modest LED signal strength meter good enough to meet your needs?

Continue to part #3 “UltraHDTV HDR”

Visit my website Ed’s AV Handbook & business site SandTrapAudio.



#1 The Next Wave

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

(1st of 4 parts)

Trade shows, product seminars, and distributor events are primary sources of industry news and first-hand product information.  This year we are limited to virtual events, trade-mags, and web-search.  But virtual doesn’t replace personal meetings with friends and reps. I count on their hands-on experience to separate noise from meaningful information.

The hands-on exchange of information is particularly important this summer.  New channels of distribution and television technology are transforming the AV landscape.

5G cellular networks offer a flood of Internet-based services — street traffic management, video conferencing, Internet of things, augmented and virtual reality, much more — plus easy-access wide-bandwidth wireless AV streaming. 

NextGenTV, based on Internet protocol, provides free over-the-air UHD HDR broadcast plus another access-point to AV streaming. 

UltraHD (UHD) doubles HDTV resolution.  UltraHD-8K doubles UHD resolution.  More significantly, both pave the way for High Dynamic Range (HDR). 

HDR formats have the potential to more than double color gamut.  And HDR’s potential shines on near infinite contrast ratio OLED television, which is evolving into advancing IOLED technology. 

Individually each noted technology is a game-changer.  Collectively, the technologies spearhead a new wave of AV magic and profitable opportunity. 

However, the magic disappears in the wrong interconnect, lack of HDMI 2.1 support, absent video format, and insufficient specification.  At worst no picture.  At best the video downgrades to standard dynamic range. 

This 4 part blog aims to stand-in for a hands-on conversation that initiates a useful discussion among AV pros.

Next Part #2 NextWave Channels of Distribution


Visit my website Ed’s AV Handbook & business site SandTrapAudio.



Keep Pace

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Keeping pace with our industry and technology is essential.  It’s important to have reliable sources of information and instruction.  It’s also important to maintain a solid foundation in the basics of audio and video.  Too often the basics are being taken for granted.  More on that soon. 

Industry associations, manufacturers, and distributors are prime resources.  CEDIA offers training at a significant but fair cost.  Manufacturers and distributors offer free instruction seminars that also include lunch. 

Industry recognized blogs such as CE Pro and Smart Brief publications are trustworthy choices.  In addition, e-mags such as Home Theater Review, Audioholics, Tech Hive, TV Technology, C/Net, Stereophile, The Absolute Sound, and AVS Forum offer solid insight.

Internet sites such as Wikipedia offer dependable explanations of technologies.  But be wary of opinionated unqualified amateur blog sites. 

Let’s confront neglected AV basics.  I first recognized this condition long ago while conducting a product sales training.  It was visible in the glazed looks and anxious demeanor of many trainees.  The root cause was assuming everyone was on the same playing field of knowledge; they were not.  I witnessed their distress in basic terms such as ‘stereo’ and ‘high fidelity’. 

The problem was resolved by adding introductory basics to the sales training.  This included elementary terms, a sketch of AV physics, plus how stuff works.  The result was eye-opening — more than anticipated.  New recruits and even seasoned staff thanked me. 

Through the years the training outline expanded into a personal binder of notes that included upgraded explanations of the AV physics, technology, and related subjects.  Ultimately that binder morphed into this website. 

Join our quest to ‘save the world from poor fidelity’. Use this website to get new recruits up to speed or to refresh what you already know.  And give our sponsors your consideration with a click. They cover the overhead. 


Friday, December 13th, 2019


  Terms such as audiophile, video-phile, or custom AV pro do not adequately characterize the skill of my late friend Steve.  Steve was an AV wizard.  The foundation of his craft was based on his assertion than “everything makes a difference”.  He would add that his objective was to “minimize the compromise” of the distorting differences. 

Steve meticulously hunted down compromising difference points.  He listened, viewed, and evaluated each point from the electrical outlet, through all interconnecting cable, attached components, as well as the acoustical and lighting environment.  Then — where economically and physically feasible — he modified, replaced, or removed the compromising difference points. 

Steve’s methodical “minimize the compromise” process consistently delivered hair-raising results of frisson. 

Frisson (pronounced ‘free-sawn’) is a sub category of the goose bump.  It is a goose bump chill or thrill triggered by music, film, or art.  A simple song can activate moments of frisson.  The images and soundtrack of a film can also induce frisson. 

Steve’s frisson-able process sealed a bond with his customers that could not be broken by competitors.  

Sometime in the last century, an audio dealer was confronted by a customer who did not want to see or sacrifice floor space for a speaker system.  He was prepared to trade audio fidelity for his vision of room aesthetics and settle for lower, yet still pleasant, audio fidelity. 

Thus begat the custom in-wall/in-ceiling speaker.  Its understandable compromises — small woofer, attachment to a room boundary, and (often) above ear level placement — impede frisson.  

Although handicapped by the custom speaker, frisson can still be achieved if compromises are minimized with a tailored recipe of amplification, audio/video sources, speaker placement, interconnecting cable, and acoustical modifications.  Consider the following list of Steve-type ingredients. 

– Select a receiver/amplifier with larger and better isolated power supplies. 

– Use high resolution audio and HDR UHD video sources. 

– Install speakers as close to ear level as possible  If surround sound — at least the center channel.

– Engage ‘small’ or adjust the crossover in the speaker setup to avoid over driving small woofers. 

– Reroute low frequency audio to a sub-woofer. 

– Hide the sub-woofer (in a wicker basket?) while avoiding distorting room mode placement. 

– Install acoustical absorption at the ceiling 1st points of reflection and behind seating near a wall.

– Install carpeting or a throw rug with extra padding at the floor 1st point of reflection. 

– Reinforce sheetrock mounted speakers with a SandTrap. 

– Reduce noise from exterior and interior sources.  This can be as simple as closing a window or as complicated as sound proofing the room. 

– Regarding video performance: minimize the influence of direct lighting, ambient lighting, plus any reflected color withing the room.

– Calibrate the audio and video. 

Use this list to form a bond with customers that cannot be broken by competitors.  Select applicable workable ingredients form the list.  Spice it up with you custom ingredients.  Stir, bake, and then install your concoction of frisson-able AV wizardry.


Captain Ed 

Saving the World from Poor Fidelity   Since 1972

Ed’s AV


Location, location, location

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

This blog was lifted from my website Ed’s AV  It addresses the challenging subject of how to choose a retail location.  This is a 9 step process that defines trade area boundaries, locates its trading areas, describes its demographics, and selects a brick-n-mortar home.  But before we proceed let’s confirm three definitions for clarity.

1. Trade Area – the total geographical area in which your customers reside.
2. Trading Areas – locations within a trade area where the action of trading takes place.
3. Location – the address you select to trade in a trading area.

Step 1 Trade area map
Print a map of your prospective trade area with streets, major geographical features, and census tracts.  Select this link to U.S. Census.

Step 2 Trade area barriers
A barrier placed between a customer and a retail location impedes their travel. People are inclined to avoid barriers. They tend to drive to a location on their side of a barrier, even if a convenient bridge or underpass is present. Highlight natural or man made barriers within the trade area that impede travel to trading areas; this includes rivers, freeways, rail-road tracks, airports, mountains/hills, etc.

Step 3 Local routes
Seek and highlight popular local routes within the trade area to churches, schools, local government, post office, grocery stores, competitors, malls, commuter highways, hospitals, ball parks, and other key destinations.

Step 4 Center focus
Select a feasible prospective location situated on a local route between your customer prospects and the competition.

Step 5 Circular mapping
Return to your trade area map. Draw a series of circles (feasible location at the center) with radii of 1 mile, 2 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles, 20 miles, and more if desired.

Step 6 Data spreadsheet
Return to the U.S. Census Tract Data

Search for — and create a spreadsheet list of — the trade area census tract data within the circled area as follows:
a. List trade area census tract numbers in the first column.
b. Add the following demographic headings:
– population
– # of households,
– your targeted income groups
– your targeted age groups
– if relevant – your targeted gender
c. Insert the census tract data for each demographic.

Note: It takes an effort to learn how to use the U.S. Census site.

Step 7  The guesstimate
Add this column heading “%” to the spreadsheet.  Inspect the census tracts within each region created and bounded by the ‘circles’.  Given the trade area barriers, your local route knowledge, and distance from the proposed location – guesstimate the % of households that will choose to travel from each census tract toward the proposed location versus competitors in the opposite direction.  Insert your guesstimate into its ‘%’ spreadsheet column.

Step 8  The factored summation
Return to the spreadsheet. Add an extra column next to each demographic.  Multiply each census tract demographic by the results of step 7.  Enter each result into its extra data column.
– (population) x (Step 7 results)
– (# households) x (Step 7 results)
– (income group) x (Step 7 results)
– (age group) x (Step 7 results)
– (gender) x (Step 7 results)
Sum each ‘extra’ demographic column.  The totals of each ‘extra’ column are your exclusive trade area demographics.

We’re almost home
The boundaries of your trade area are drawn.  Its trading areas and local routes have been identified. You have a clear demographic sketch of your customers. Now choose a home location.

Step 9 Head them off at the pass
Next to committing money to the business, choosing a retail location may be your most taxing business decision.  In addition to its indoor practical functions, a retail location via its store front can also become your most productive promotional tool.

The best locations are positioned between customers and significant competitors.  In effect, their store front signage ‘heads them off at the pass’.  This better location will cost more than alternatives.  But it will deliver a competitive edge that alternatives can only offset with increased promotional expenditures; a cost typically much higher than the difference between a lower cost location and a better location.

Now, create an annual profit & loss forecast.  Its operating expenses will include your budget for rent/mortgage.  But be prepared to entertain the idea of reallocating budgeted promotional funds to your rent or mortgage.

Enlist the guidance of a seasoned local Realtor who knows the local travel paths of the trade area.  As a rule, they are the gray haired agents at a rear desk in a real estate office.  Present the agent with a list of your qualifying needs and wants.  Include your budget for rent or purchase.

A good real estate agent is a sufficient.  But also speak to other retailers in the trade area.  Take drives from different points within the trade area to the proposed location.   If your inquiries confirm your trade area data, and the location is within budget, secure the location with a lease or a purchase.


Fidelity without truth?

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Samsung has released a new TV.  It could be a very good TV.  But this blog is not about the TV. This is about its misleading manufacturer.  And others like them.  It’s about right vs wrong.

Let’s begin with a historical perspective.  In the fall of 2007 or there about, Samsung introduced an LED television. At the time I was perplexed.  I didn’t think real LED TV technology was ready for mass production.  After an unexpected frustrating search, I confirmed that it wasn’t.

To my ultimate surprise that search was impeded by Samsung.  Although the term LED was ever present in their advertising copy; the term LCD had been completely omitted.  Any website association between the terms LCD and LED was buried in a hard to find Samsung spec page. As is now commonly understood; that page revealed that their use of LEDs referred only to LCD TV back lighting.

Samsung’s campaign of misinformation was further advanced by the ‘big-box’.  The ‘box’ promoted the LED theme that minimized the term LCD.  They also parroted half-truths that slandered competing TV’s such as plasma.  Half truths such as the LED TV offered longer life than plasma TV; The LED TV was more energy efficient than plasma; The LED TV offered 120Hz processing; plasma did not.

In truth an LCD or plasma panel has a half-brightness life expectancy of 15 years or more. Their power supplies are more likely to die long before the panels.  LED/LCD is more energy efficient than plasma; but only by an insignificant margin.  Plasma did not offer 120Hz processing; well, plasma didn’t need it.  120Hz processing is an exclusive band-aid for slow LCD pixel response and continuous ‘on’ LCD back-lighting.

In retrospect, I suspect the naive ill-informed ‘big boxers’ were also mislead by Samsung. Therefore I am cutting them some slack.  Although they have done little since to back off the LED only theme.

In any case Samsung’s campaign was successful.  Their promotional slight of hand had differentiated their TV on crowded retail floors.  In my view their campaign was a prominent factor in vaulting Samsung sales beyond the bigger players of the time – Sony, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Pioneer.  In fairness the new TV did offer two popular features; it was brighter plus thinner than plasma and previous LCD TVs.  Thin and bright still sells a lot of TVs.

CES January 2017 – Samsung has introduced their new quantum dot QLED TV.  Wait, I didn’t think quantum dot TV technology was ready for mass production.  I’m perplexed.  After another impeded search I have confirmed that real Q-Dot pixel TVs are not ready for mass production. I found the truth at websites such as,,, and others.  I did not find it via Samsung.

Samsung’s QLED TV isn’t new technology.  The QLED moniker is primarily a re-branding of their SUHD models.  It’s the third-improved-generation of their SUHD TVs that place a quantum dot film in front of LED back-lighting. The film corrects the blue leaning color of the LED.  That is; the film provides a brighter more accurate white back light.  Sony Triluminos LCD TVs have used this quantum dot film technique for many years.

The new Samsung’s, as the Sony’s, appear to very good UltraHD HDR LCD TVs with an impressive palate of color; However they do not yet support all UltraHD HDR content formats. This is an issue for consumers who want high end video performance.  Sony supports Dolby Vision but lacks support for the HGL or Phillips/Technicolor HDR formats. Samsung currently does not support any of these significant formats.  And as with the Q-dot and LED truth, the HDR facts are not easily accessible.

Keep in mind – the primary theme of this blog is not about the TV.  It’s about the omission of essential facts by the manufacturer.  I’m tired of being mislead. I do not like folks who attempt to deceive me.  This blog is about right vs wrong. It’s wrong to lie.

Samsung is not alone.  In addition to misleading TV facts, many manufacturers of AV receivers are currently misleading customers about their power ratings – they’re lying.  Some manufacturers refer to their 3 inch speaker as a ‘woofer’ – What?  Some are touting blue-tooth speakers as a high fidelity product. I’m sure they’re OK – as a decent boom-box was in the 1980’s; but HiFi – no way.  I can offer more examples; but, I think you get the point.

Look – I expect to be lied to by sleazy laywers and politicians, but I draw the line at my high fidelity audio/video world.  Fidelity should apply to how we behave – not just the picture and sound. Without truth how can there be fidelity? Help me save the world from poor fidelity.

HDR Ultra-HDTV Part 7

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity

Part 7  System compatibility.
Ultra-HDTV home theater system compatibility is critical.     All components and interconnecting cables must be capable of passing a 18Gbps Ultra-HD video signal. This includes the source component,  AV receiver, AV preamp, plus the TV or Projector.

However the ISF’s Joel Silver has discovered that many     AV receivers and switchers lack 18Gbps bandwidth. Many squeeze a 13.5Gbps UHD Blu-ray down to a 9Gbps standard dynamic range image.  In some cases screens ‘blank out’ except for the text message “Incompatible Signal”.

TV setup is another issue.  The ‘Deep Color’ setting in the TV’s menu must be enabled for the playback of Ultra-HD HDR Blu-ray discs. This may also require a reboot of the TV.

Then beware of TVs advertised as “HDR enabled” or “HDR compatible”.  They may recognize HDR content. And they will produce an image.  But they do not process HDR content.  “HDR enabled TVs”  “de-tune” HDR content to standard dynamic range performance.  This process is referred to as “Color Mapping” or “Tone Mapping”.

Therefore I offer this recommendation.  Set up all UltraHD systems at your shop to confirm performance.  Even if the product spec sheets state all is good.  This simple rule will avoid an embarrassing situation.

Hurry up and get to the chorus
Customers do not pay for lectures.  They just want to have fun.  Indeed, you must meet, greet, and qualify customers. But keep buzzwords to a minimum.  Assess their wants and make your recommendations. Then, as they say in the music world, “hurry up and get to the chorus”. Let an HDR Ultra-HD home theater demonstration sing for itself.

That concludes this 7 part blog.

HDR Ultra-HDTV Part 6

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity
HDR Ultra-HDTV — Part 6 Ultra-HD sources

Ultra-HD sources currently include Ethernet rental/purchase services, Ethernet real-time streaming, and the Blu-ray disc.

Streaming services have a bandwidth issue. 25Mbps seems to be the download speed ‘sweet spot’ for Ultra-HD streaming. Yet the average consumer connection is only 15 Mbps.  Unlike streaming, download only services avoid the issue by storing the data to a media server device (hard drive with user interface) for later playback.  Blu-ray discs also avoid the issue.  Just buy or rent a disc.  Load disc in player.  Press play and view.

The initial Ultra-HD Blu-ray players and most TVs are limited to the HDR10 format. Many will soon offer Dolby Vision upgrades. They jury is still out on other formats.  Finally Ultra-HD broadcast is currently limited to DirectTV and Dishnet via a limited selection of channels.  Off-air terrestrial broadcasts do not yet exist.

Ethernet real time streaming and download purchase/rental services include:
– Netflix
Streaming Ultra-HD HDR10 & Dolby Vision service.
– Amazon Instant Video
Streaming UHD HDR10 & Dolby Vision Instant Video service.
– Vudu (Walmart)
Ultra-HD HDR10 and Dolby Vision download purchase or rental only service.
Currently limited to certain LG and Vizio 4K UHD TVs
– YouTube UHD
Streaming only service.
Uses Google VP9 compression (Not HEVC) .
– Fandango Now
Streaming or download purchase/rental via Samsung & LG TVs, Roku, or Vidity storage devices.
– Google Play
UHD HDR download purchase only service.
– Sony’s Ultra 4K Movies
Ultra-HD HDR download purchase only service.
– Vidity Ultra-HD
Ultra-HD HDR for download purchase only service.
– UltraFlix
UlraHD download rental only service.

That concludes Part 6.   Next Part 7 System Compatibility.

HDR Ultra-HDTV Part 5

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity

Part 5  More HDMI Tips
HDMI uses 19 pins to move audio and video from point A to B.  The pins offer other functions such as the audio return channel (ARC), an Ethernet path, and ‘remote’ control functions.  But that bloody ARC feature can drive many AV receivers crazy.
Tip – Go to the TV setup menu and turn ARC off unless you intend to use it.

A single 19 pin interconnecting AV cable is convenient.  But the primary purpose of HDMI’s 19 pins is to prevent unauthorized copying.  It does this via Transition-Minimized Differential Signaling.  TMDS interleaves video, audio, and data via three time controlled digital packets.  How this actually works is beyond my pay grade. However AV Pros should be particularly aware of Pin #19. It includes the 5 volt Hot Plug Detect function.  This pin carries 5 volts from the source component to the next components’ HDMI sink chip.  This is a critical.  If the voltage is corrupted the HDMI world stops – no picture, no sound.
Tip – DPL Labs’ Jeff Boccaccio’s rule #1. “Don’t mess with the 5 volts”.

HDMI has problems with cable lengths over 30 feet.  The problem can be solved with ‘active’ amplified cables.  However some manufacturers rely on Pin #19’s 5 volts to power their cable.  That breaks Boccaccio’s rule #1 “Don’t mess with the 5 volts”.
Tip – Install active cables with dedicated power supplies.

HDR bandwidth puts even more stress on Pin #19’s limited voltage.  The use of fiber optic cabling can avoid the issue.  Reasonable pricing plus easier to use terminating tools have made fiber a feasible choice.
Tip – Research the use of fiber optic cable for long cable run installations.

That concludes part 5. Next Part 6 Ultra-HDTV sources.

HDR Ultra-HDTV Part 4

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity

Part 4  The High Definition Multimedia Interface
HDMI can be the bane of an AV professional’s daily work.  Blank screens, intermittent video, and noisy images caused by inconsistent manufacturing, changing specs, and long cable lengths are all too common.  This blog won’t change that.  But it may add some insight that leads to possible solutions.

The ‘High Definition Multimedia Interface’ is a system (19 conductor interconnecting cable, dedicated termination, and microprocessing IC’s with software) that primarily prevents unauthorized copying.  The HDMI IC’s are installed in the source component, the display, and in any component in the system path (receiver/preamp/switcher).

The source HDMI IC pings the next HDMI IC.  That chip simultaneously responds with a return ‘handshake message’ AND pings the next chip (if any).  Each chip waits for the ‘handshake’ response.  Any incorrect responses results in a blank screen, intermittent picture, or noisy picture.  Solutions can include;
– Unplug and reinsert cable.
– Replace the cable. But not necessarily a more expensive cable – just another cable.
– Experiment by replacing electronic components.  Even if the component works in another          system.  Some combinations simply don’t like each other.
– Set up all system components in-house to confirm performance before driving to an                    installation.

HDMI has evolved thru many versions.  Each is backward compatible which permits the previous evolution of video and audio to pass.

HDMI 1.4 & 1.4a (4,096 x 2,160 @ up to 24fps)
Version 1.4 supports HDTV plus the audio return and Ethernet channels.
Version 1.4a supports 3D.
– Recommend ‘High Speed’ (high bandwidth) cable.

HDMI 2.0 (3840 x 2160p @ 60fps)
Version 2.0 supports Ultra High Definition 18Gbps bandwidth @ 60fps.
It also provides for dual screen video streams. (sort of picture in picture)
– Recommend ‘Premium High Speed’ cable.

HDMI 2.0a
Version 2.0a supports High Dynmaic Range formats.
– Recommend ‘Premium High Speed’ cable.

HDMI 2.0b
Version 2.0b supports EOTF Dynamic HDR formats.
2.0b also provides up to 32 channels of multi-dimensional digital audio.
– Recommend ‘Premium High Speed cable.

HDMI 2.1 supports 48Gbps bandwidth, 8K video resolution @ 60Hz or UltraHD @ 120Hz.
Support for 120 frames per second enables Virtual and Augmented Reality.  2.1 also supports Hi-Resolution audio, object based surround sound, and E-ARC (audio return channel).
– Install 48Gbps bandwidth cable.

The first HDMI 2.1 product won’t be released until 2018.  Although 2.1 supports 48Gbps bandwidth, Internet providers are still trying to deal with 25Gbps.  So, don’t reach for your wallet yet.  But do prep your installations for cable replacement.  Their is is lot to be confirmed.


That concludes part 4.  Next part 5  More HDMI Tips.

HDR Ultra-HDTV Part 3

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity

Part 3  HDR Format War?
An HDR UltraHDTV must support the source HDR format.  If not, the image may be downgraded to standard dynamic range at less than Ultra-HD resolution or worse — a blank screen.  The issue is a standard format does not yet exist.

Several current TV’s support more than one HDR format.    To date HDR10 and Dolby Vision are the most prominent.  However a Technicolor/Philips joint venture is becoming an alternative; As is the BBC/NHK Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) format.  The following is a list of the competing formats being considered.

HDR10 (10 bit color) is a combination of the SMPTE HDR standard and Consumer Technology Association HDMI 2.0a spec.  It is currently the baseline format.   An enhanced HDR12 is also in the works that supports Dynamic HDR as the Dolby Vision and HGL formats.

Warning: Beware of Entry level Ultra-HDTVs advertised as “HDR enabled or compatible’.  They may recognize HDR10 content and produce a picture.   But they DO NOT provide HDR performance.

12 Bit Dolby Vision
Dolby is a 12bit color format.  In comparison to 10bit formats — the 2 extra bits increases the color palate from one billion to four billion colors.  Dolby is also a dynamic format that continuously optimizes night and daylight images on a ‘dynamic’ frame-by-frame basis.

In addition Dolby Vision is compatible with the HDMI 2.0 and 2.0a standards (HDR10 requires 2.0a).  Dolby is also backwards compatible with HDR10 sets.  In my mind ‘backwards to HDR10 ‘ says it all.

Phillips Technicolor Format
Phillips/Technicolor is a Dynamic HDR format that requires the HDMI 2.0a standard.   It has been reported that it may be more compatible with the library of standard-dynaminc-range HDTV video broadcast and Ethernet streaming. (I’m not sure what that will actually mean on the TV screen.)  The jury is out.

Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG)
HLG is being promoted by the BBC & NHK as a broadcast standard that employs a Dynamic frame-by-frame EOTF process based on the display’s actual peak luma value.   HLG requires HDMI 2.0b.  This format may be the long shot winner in this possible war.

Is it a war?
The lack of a standard may produce a format war.  But don’t Panic – yet.   There are still other issues to be concerned about such as every AV pro’s favorite subject – HDMI.

That’s Next in part 4.

HDR Ultra-HDTV Part 2

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity

Part 2 Buzzword Noise Reduction
This is an outline of the technologies that support the stunning images on HDR Ultra-HDTV screens. The objective is to clarify their definition and reduce the ‘buzzword-noise’ that obscures their significance and misleads many to pitch an HDR Ultra-HDTV as simply a brighter TV.

High Dynamic Range
High Dynamic Range is primarily about an expanded range of luminance – the difference between black and the brightest white light – that allows for a simultaneous display of bright highlights and dark shadow detail. But this breakthrough that “changes the nature of television as we know it” is achieved via three additional inter-weaved video elements: color space, gray-scale, and color gamut.

The Illuminating Details
The following sheds more light on the ‘inter-weaved’ elements. It also introduces many of their
underlying building blocks and video allies.  This includes Color Volume, Color Depth, Bit Depth, Deep Color, DCI P3, the Nit, Gamma, EOTF, frame rate, HEVC, and the CIE Color Chart.

The CIE Color Chart is the official chart of visible color. It is defined by the red, green, blue X, Y color mix points and their Z gray scale amplitude (brightness) points.  D65 specifies the brightest Z point goal.  Envision the illustration as a three-dimensional cone. The CIE is an international organization.

Color Space is simply the total referenced space within the Color Chart cone.

Color Gamut is the color space allocated to a video technology.  For example; the larger triangle defines REC 2020 Ultra-HDTV color gamut.  The smaller triangle defines REC709  HDTV color gamut.

Color Volume measures color gamut as a percentage of the total color space.  For example; Ultra-HDTV covers 75.8% of the total color space. HDTV covers 35.9% of the color space

Color Depth or Bit Depth is the number of computer bits allocated to create a video color sub-pixel.  The number of bits determines the possible range of color shades.  For example; 8 bit color provides up to 255 shades per red-green-blue sub-pixel for a total of 16.78 million colors.  10-bit color provides up to 1024 shades for a total of 1.07 billion colors.  12- bit as employed by Dolby Vision provides even more shades.

Deep Color describes 10 bit or more color depth. For example 10 bit HDR10 and 12 bit Dolby Vision offer Deep Color potential.   Many new TVs can be enabled to reproduce Deep Color.

DCI P3 – The Digital Cinema Initiative P3 spec defines the color gamut of commercial digital cinema that covers 53.6% of the CIE Color Chart.

Note: Current TVs are limited to the DCI P3 specification.   Although we may look forward to the full CIE 2020 color space spec; the current library of movies is limited to DCI P3.  The good news is DCI P3 is a significant improvement over HDTV.

NIT – The NIT is a unit of TV screen brightness.  This is different from the ANSI lumen that measures the reflected screen brightness produced by a video projector. As a reference; the ISF’s Silver and Paullin stated; “Our old TV content was created thinking in terms of brightness at 100 Nits; this is what NTSC CRT reference monitors were capable of.  HDR monitors will be capable of 4,000 to 10,000 Nits.”

Different standards!

HDR LCD TVs and HDR OLED TVs are defined by different brightness standards. An HDR LCD TV must be capable of over 1,000 Nits peak brightness and less than 0.05 Nits black level. An HDR OLED TV must be capable of 540 Nits brightness and less than 0.0005 Nits black level.
The LCD brightness spec is nearly twice the OLED spec. This will lead many to claim LCD is better than OLED. However HDR OLED black level is 100 times lower. If you want the TV with the largest dynamic range – the difference between peak brightness and black level; then HDR OLED crushes HDR LCD.

Note: The NIT is to light as the decibel is to sound pressure level.
Similar to hearing, human vision is not evenly sensitive to the entire bandwidth of light.
The eye is most sensitive to green light, less to red, and even less to blue.  This subjective visual response is defined as luminance.  The subjective response to sound is called loudness.

Gamma is a fixed gray-scale luminance correction to accommodate human perception.  If your an old audio pro – gamma is similar to Fletcher/Munson loudness correction.

EOTF or Electro-Optical Transfer Function is a dynamic (not fixed as gamma) frame by frame luminance adjustment.  The Hybrid Log Gamma and Phillips/Technicolor HDR formats use this technology. (More on this later)

Frame Rates [frames per second] – The REC 2020 HDR UltraHD specification provides for 120fps or 60fps. The 120fps option is significant because it exceeds the frame rate requirement for Virtual Reality and Augment Reality.

HEVC – Ultra-HDTV broadcast and Blu-ray discs require High Efficiency Video Coding compression. HEVC ‘squeezes’ video data within their limited bandwidth. Unaltered, Ultra-HD cannot fit within Blu-ray disc space or via future off-air broadcast bandwidth.  This is not a consumer issue. Content and hardware providers products will comply.

In a HDR nutshell
HDR luminance sets the table for an extended gray-scale that creates a broader space of color.  The expansive gray-scale/color-space lays the foundation for a wider color gamut Ultra-HDTV specification.

The HDR breakthrough is derived from the combination of concurrent dark/bright light plus the expanded shades of color.   This is not about  more pixels or a brighter screen.  This is about better pixels.

That concludes Part 2.    Coming Soon Part 3 – The possible format war.

Ultra-HD HDR Primer Part 1

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity
Ultra-HDTV HDR Primer
Many home theater enthusiasts will soon bathe in the ‘crazy good’ images of a new era of television.  Sadly, others will miss the picture as they drown in a deluge of misleading on-line and retail ignorance.  This seven part blog aims to avoid the latter.  Part 1 sets the table. Succeeding parts 2 thru 7 will translate buzzwords, report on a possible format war, inspect the HDMI interconnect, offer HDMI tips, lists available sources, and identify compatibility issues.

Part 1  Set the table
A Tangential Relevant Observation
It was once common for a manufacturer to engage independent retailers to roll out new technology.  Independents were typically more prepared to evaluate, demonstrate, and install new product.  In exchange they were rewarded with a profitable window of exclusive distribution.  The arrangement was sustained until a market beach-head was secured.  Distribution was then expanded through larger retailers.

That’s how many manufacturers tested market waters.  Those days have long passed.  They now seek cheaper faster launches.  Proficient retailers have been swapped for lower wage ‘big box’ staffs crammed with carefully scripted instant product knowledge to introduce their wares.  This is the backdrop for the inaugural screening of High Dynamic Range Ultra-HDTV.

Honest Breakthrough
Every once in a few decades an authentic breakthrough arrives on our screen.  The roll out of High Dynamic Range Ultra-HDTV is one those events.  Tom Burns at TVTechnology commented;  “……. While most people expected (UltraHDTV’s) resolution … 4,096 pixels/line x 2,160 lines … to have the biggest impact, it’s high dynamic range (HDR), higher frame rate, and wide color gamut (WCG) that come along with (HDR Ultra-HDTV) that are the technological and creative differences that the consumer can immediately see and gives consumers the visual proof they need to rush out and buy a new TV.”

This is what Joel Silver & Terry Paullin of the Imaging Science Foundation had to say;  “Implemented properly, HDR holds the potential to be the most meaningful improvement to our collective enjoyment of images on screen from disc, broadcast and even commercial theater since color TV was introduced in 1956.”

Again, Tom Burns regarding HDR;  “…… It’s like the Trojan horse that slips into our living room and completely changes the nature of television as we know it.”

There’s a fly in my HDR soup
The ‘big box’ is Ultra-HDTV’s most significant marketing conduit.   Their flawed demonstrations unwittingly sabotage HDR.  It is a condition that ‘dumbs down’ the value of HDR to the level of the disappearing curved screen and 3DTV.   It is a state of mind that misleads too many at the ‘big box’ to pitch HDR as simply a brighter TV.

If that ‘brighter’ TV is sold; incompetent installations unintentionally vandalize “the collective enjoyment of the images”.   Misinformed customers discover that their Internet provider cannot support Ultra-HD HDR streaming.  They may also discover that the HDMI jack of their home theater receiver is incompatible with the new Ultra-HD HDR standards.  Then their friends observe this predicament and decide to shy away from Ultra-HD altogether.

In additon, do you remember Beta vs VHS,  or SACD vs DVD Audio,  or HD-DVD vs Blu-ray?   Similarly Ultra-HD is dealing with competing HDR formats.  Although manufacturers may support one or more; the losing formats could possibly leave us with an obsolete hunk of metal and plastic.  Be wary of this pesky fly.  It could evolve into an ‘elephant in the room’.

Grab the rebound
It’s a dark day when someone who coveted a high performance video experience exits a ‘big box’ dismayed and empty handed.  On the bright side manufacturers big promotional spending is drawing customers from their homes to the streets.   And that creates an opportunity for AV professionals to take a ‘free ride’ on their big spending and grab unfulfilled customers on the rebound.

It’s not easy.  It requires a disciplined innovative promotional strategy.  But when you do — be prepared to greet customers with a clear understanding of the relevant technologies, the installation requirements, and compatibility issues.  Then set a stage to demonstrate your expertise.  Part 2 ‘Buzzword Noise Reduction’ will lead the way.

Next / Part 2 

Ultra-HD Risky Crossroad

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

The transition from HDTV to Ultra-HD TV is at a risky unsettled crossroad. Should your customers cross now or later?  And when they act; Which direction should they take?  The answer is fraught with evolving specifications that could jeopardize their expectations and investment.  Yet the answer can also lead to an awe-inspiring home theater experience well beyond HDTV.  Before we address the question, let’s take an inventory of the unsettling evolving issues.

An element of the anxiety originates in the terms that have been used to describe video resolution beyond HDTV. This includes Ultra-HD, Super Hi-Vision, 4K, and 8K. For a time, the term Ultra-HD encompassed 4K, 8K, and twice HD resolution.  This issue has been resolved by the Consumer Electronic Association.

The CEA has officially defined Ultra-HD as video with a resolution of 3840 pixels per line x 2160 lines with a 16:9 aspect ratio.  In addition, an Ultra-HD television must have a least one digital input capable of managing 3840 x 2160 pixels.  This also involves a new HDMI specification.  More on that later.

The CEA seemingly resolved the confusion regarding resolution.  Yet some still refer to  Ultra-HD as 4K because 3840 pixels is almost 4000 pixels.  But Ultra-HD is not 4K.   4K is the Digital Cinema Initiative specification for digital movie theater cinema. The DCI defines 4K as:
– A picture with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio or Scope presentation with 4096×1716 pixels.
– A picture with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation with 3996×2160 pixels.
The DCI standards are only relevant to our Ultra-HD TV conversation in regards to color.  More on that later.

Note: Do not confront customers with the misuse of the terms Ultra-HD and 4K. AV Pros should simply continue to correctly refer to TVs with 3840 x 2160 resolution as Ultra-HD or UHD. Customers will eventually catch on.

Three Conditions
The CEA definition is a welcomed clarification. But fulfilling the ultimate promise of Ultra-HD TV is dependent on three conditions.
1. Support for the essentials: HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2, HEVC
2. An upgrade path: HDR, the C.I.E. REC 2020 Spec
3. Prep for Virtual Reality.

The Essentials
HDMI 2.0a
It is generally known among AV Pros that HDMI 2.0 is required to pass an Ultra-HD source at 60 frames per second to the TV screen.  HDMI 1.4 will not ‘make the cut’.  This includes video switching via an AV receiver or AV preamp/processor.  However a new version, HDMI 2.0a, is on the scene.      The ‘a’ in 2.0a designates support for HDR formats. (HDR will be discussed later.)  The essential point: Although HDMI 2.0 meets the minimum essential requirement; HDMI 2.0a will be the prerequisite for maximizing performance in the near HDR future.

HDCP 2.2
The next essential is HDCP 2.2 (high-bandwidth digital content protection).  This is an issue for early Ultra-HD adopters.  Many initial Ultra-HD TVs did not include support for HDCP 2.2.  This holds true for AV receivers.  HDCP 2.2 encrypted Ultra-HD video will not pass to the TV screen without HDCP 2.2.

The final essential is HEVC (high efficiency video coding).  As HDTV’s MPEG4, HEVC squeezes Ultra-HD video within the limited bandwidth of our video media.  It’s a decode prerequisite for source components such as the Ultra-HD Blu-ray player, media servers, streaming boxes, plus broadcast off-air, satellite, and cable TV.

Compression Notes:
1. HEVC has potential competitors: Google’s VP9, Mozilla/XiPh Daala, and Cisco’s Thor.  However it appears they may be limited, if used, to Internet streaming and personal computers.
2. HEVC has also proposed to replace the current MPEG4 audio partners of ACC and Dolby AC3 with MPEG-H and Dolby AC4.  The decoding will take place in the AV receiver, AV pre/pro, or source component.

Upgrade Path
Customers are justifiably concerned about product obsolescence.  Postpone their appointment with the recycle bin with a TV that supports High-dynamic-range (HDR) formats, and the C.I.E. REC 2020 specification.  This duo will dodge the bin while delivering more visible improvement than the increased resolution from HDTV to Ultra-HD TV.

HDR Formats
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a moniker for several encode/decode digital formats that expand the range of luminance (the brightest light to the darkest black) well beyond HDTV or an Ultra-HD TV without HDR support. This isn’t about increasing the number of pixels.  HDR makes every pixel better via a broader palate of color, more shadow detail, and stunning contrast.  It produces a more life-like picture.

An HDR enabled TV is needed to reproduce a decoded HDR formatted video source.  The actual decoding takes place in the source component (Blu-Ray player, media server, cable box).  An HDR enabled TV is simply a TV capable of reproducing the dynamic range of the decoded HDR source.

There are several competing HDR formats: Dolby Vision, BBC, Philips, Technicolor, and VIDITY formerly called the Secure Content Storage Association.  The Blu-ray Disc Association has already announced support for Dolby Vision and the Philips formats. No format has yet been adopted for broadcast. Dolby has acknowledged that live broadcasting in Dolby Vision is currently not possible, though the company is working on it.  But Technicolor has successfully completed a HDR broadcast test.  Keep tuned for more news.

C.I.E. REC 2020 Specification
In 1931 the C.I.E. (an international commission on illumination) quantified a standard for the color range of human vision.  It is referred to as the C.I.E. ‘color space’.  As a reference; The HDTV C.I.E. REC 709 spec can reproduce 35.9% of the color space.  The DCI (digital cinema initiative) P3 reference covers 53.6%.  The new C.I.E. REC 2020 specification, (a pillar of HDR formats), increases color space coverage to 75.8%.

In addition to expanded color space, REC 2020 adds the frame rate option of 120 frames per second. To date (Oct 2015), we are still waiting for Ultra-HD TVs with HDMI 2.0a support that can handle up to 60fps let alone 120fps.  Vizio announced a TV that will offer HDMI 2.0a and it ‘may’ support 120 fps; it might even arrive on the sales floor by the end of 2015.

The fundamental upgrade point: HDR formats provide for the implementation of the C.I.E. REC 2020 Specification.  And the C.I.E.120 fps option opens a gate to the ultimate UltraHD future of Virtual Reality.

Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) is the portal to the AV frontier. Consumer head-set prototypes are currently focused on the high-end gamer. But the technology has the potential to expand into the arena of large screen TVs.   In there lies an upgrade path to an ultimate Ultra-HD TV home theater experience.

Virtual Reality is more than pixel counts, color space, and frames rates. VR developers have engaged an understanding of how our brain works.  They are employing a slice of science that sort of hacks the human brain. Consider this Virtual Reality scene.  You’re standing at the edge of a VR cliff. You attempt a virtual jump.  But you can’t.  You can’t because VR has targeted and stimulated your brain with specific flashed patterns of light that initiate your involuntary response to survive.  You can’t step forward even though you know it’s not real.  It’s simply amazing.

To date, the best of Virtual Reality uses an AM-OLED 90 fps display headset feed by a fast powerful computer.  So, how does a headset based product apply to a large screen TV?  Well, the headset doesn’t. But an off-shoot of VR technology does.  It’s called Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a limited field of view version of VR aimed at gamers and commercial applications.  Some prototypes have moved this version of VR from the headset to the small video screen of a smart phone or tablet.  Although it is not as encompassing as VR, AR still creates an immersive experience. If Augmented Reality is successful; it is then reasonable to predict a future where AR exploits a 100 inch UltraHD REC 2020 full color space 120fps OLED TV. And that my friend puts the ultimate Ultra in Ultra-HD TV.

Ed, will you please answer the question?
OK …the risky evolving Ultra-HD issues have been identified.  Let’s address the question. Should your customers cross now or later?  When they do, which direction should they take?  The answer rests in the three conditions.  Each supports a different path of risk and performance.  Select a path that aligns best with your customer’s product-cycle-lifestyle: ‘early adopter’, ‘patient enthusiast’, or ‘family budget AV buff’.

If your customer is an early adopter; select a TV that supports HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, and the D.C.I. P3 color space specification.  That’s as good as it gets so far. Early adopters understand (at least they should) that their TV is headed for an early appointment with the recycle bin.  That’s OK.  By definition early adopters are eager to move on and buy the next better product.

If your customer is the patient enthusiast, ‘pull the trigger’ when support for HDR and the C.I.E. REC 2020 color spec arrives.  Confirm the essential of HDMI 2.0a.  If they can wait for a TV that supports 120 fps; then the door to Augmented Reality is open.  All of this should become available in 2016.

If your customer is the value oriented on a family budget AV buff; do not let them buy an Ultra-HD TV.  Save money, install a HDTV.  If they have a plasma TV, tell them to keep it.

AV Note: Home theater projectors are poised to benefit the most from Ultra-HD, HDR, and C.I.E. REC 2020.  Consider almost invisible pixels on a 100 inch or more all encompassing wide screen with the expanded color and stunning contrast.  Wow….!   Use the ‘three conditions’ and your customer’s ‘product-cycle-lifestyle’ to choose that projector.

The chicken & the egg
I have avoided the Ultra-HD elephant in the room –- the availability of Ultra-HD sources.  What can you watch?  Well not much Ultra-HD, yet.  Before we address the options, let’s add perspective to this Ultra-pachyderm.

Someone has to be the first to ‘crack the egg’ or ‘fry the chicken’.   I can clearly recall setting up the first 50 inch Pioneer rear projection 3-gun CRT HDTV.  What did we watch?  We gawked at a 15 minute HD program loop sourced from an exclusive Ku band (small dish) satellite broadcast.  We also added a set-top-box-line-doubler-scaler (@1/3 of the TV’s price) to produce an acceptable DVD picture.  NTSC to HD processing in the early generation HD sets was awful.  But compare that situation to 6000 very expensive black & white TVs in U.S. homes in 1946 with almost nothing to watch.  Or color TV programming in 1965 that was limited to prime time evening broadcasts; the only source of video.

UltraHD TV is in a much better state.  Over-the-air broadcast do not exist yet.  But pay per view Ultra-HD is available via DirectTV’s Genie.  The Genie uses a proprietary wireless ‘connection’ with a limited number of TV models from Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba.  A just announced DirectTV Genie Mini will work with any UltraHD TV that supports HDMI 2.0 @ 60fps and HDCP 2.2.   Comcast has launched an UltraHD app for Samsung TVs that offers NBC and the USA Network.  Comcast will soon offer a set top box that will be compatible with more brands of TVs.  Streaming via Netfilix and Amazon is available if your Internet connection can support it.  Sony and others offer media servers (hard drives with operating software) supported by Internet download services.  UltraHD Blu-ray should be on retail shelves in 2016.  And there is a huge library of 4K and 8K movies being prepped for all of the above.  Plus, don’t discount an improved High Definition picture on an Ultra-HD TV with expanded color space and good video scaling and processing.

The Quest
The objective is to improve the home theater experience.  Even if your customer does not buy an Ultra-HD TV; use their Ultra-HD interest as an opportunity to assess their room lighting, acoustics, video sources, and audio system.  Appropriate lighting will produce a better picture on any TV.  Better video sources (lower noise) will enhance the picture further. Assess the interconnects.  The HD cable box may still be using the composite video path. (This still exist.) Bigger better speakers, a more powerful amplifier, plus an address of acoustical problems will complement their enhanced video with an injection of sonic induced goose-bumps.

Minimize risk and maximize performance as you lead your customer across the risky crossroad of Ultra-HD TV.  Join my quest to ‘save the world from poor fidelity’.

Join me @