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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 11, 2014

Apple Preps 4K UltraHD Support for OS X

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Apple (News - Alert) seems to be preparing for a 4K UltraHD world, offering the option to run its OS X Mavericks beta 10.9.3 operating system with native 4K resolution on compatible monitors.

Apple rumor site 9to5 Mac said that Apple is calling the 4K support "Retina,” and noted that it will scale the operating system to the UltraHD display specs by adding lines of pixels—so the graphics don’t look oddly outsized for users anymore.

“Before this update, users with Macs connected to a 4K display would simply experience their content on a larger scale with window elements spread out,” the site noted. “Macs on 4K displays essentially were given [about] 4,000 lines of room to accomplish their tasks. Prior to this 10.9.3 beta, users have solely been able to run their Macs at a Retina/pixel-doubled resolution using unofficial hacks.”

4K is the latest and most advanced in high-definition video, utilizing displays with an aspect ratio of at least 16:9 and capable of showcasing video at a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, or 8.3 million pixels. That’s four times the number of pixels as standard full HD. The technology still faces a number of challenges, however, including the expense of the TV sets required to view it, and the fact that it takes eight times the bandwidth to deliver versus a typical HD stream. Nevertheless, the cost of sets is coming down and encoding technologies like HEVC are addressing the delivery hurdles. So, it’s a lack of content that looks to be the largest market obstacle for now.

In any event, the mass-market deployment of 4K is really a case of when and not if, according to Futuresource Consulting, which reported that 4K TV shipments have already grown, from just 62,000 units in 2012 to 780,000 by the end of 2013.  It projects that this number will reach approximately 22 million units in 2017. 

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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