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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 11, 2013

New Standard Supports 4K Video Capture in Consumer Devices

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

4K UltraHD quadruples the number of pixels in a video compared to normal HD and is the next evolution of video technology, both for TV and for user-generated fare. But, supporting it is easier said than done. 4K typically requires eight times the amount of bandwidth necessary to carry it than HD 1080p and makes for files that are too big to be easily handled on consumer electronics video capture equipment.


To the rescue is the SD Association (News - Alert), creators of PC storage card standards, which today announced a new high-performance option and symbol specifically designed to support a wide array of 4K television and video products. The Ultra High Speed (UHS) Speed Class 3 (U3) symbol will indicate products capable of recording 4K video.


"The world's favorite SD memory card continues to evolve and meet shifting industry needs," said Brian Kumagai, president of the SD Association. "Our new UHS Speed Class 3 standard will give consumers and businesses more flexibility and capability as the market shifts to 4K video formats. Both SDXC and SDHC memory card standards already offer the massive storage needed to support 4K video with enough room to store photos, music, documents and other data on a single portable card."


The UHS Speed Class 3 defines a 30Mbps constant minimum write speed to ensure high-quality video recordings. This means 4K video, live broadcasts and content can be recorded on high-performance cameras such as Digital Single Lens Reflex (D-SLR), Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (D-SLM), camcorders and video cameras and then played back smoothly.


ABI Research (News - Alert) predicts that despite limited 4K content to date, the technology will eventually become mainstream, possibly as soon as 2017-2018. While price remains the most critical factor for 4K TV adoption, spurring content creation—which the SD evolution facilitates—will be critical too. Already, over-the-top (OTT) services like Sony’s Video Unlimited 4K service and display features such upscaling will help early adopters bridge the content gap and raise consumers’ valuation of 4K as a TV feature, the firm said. 


 “Despite a very limited installed base there have already been a number of 4K trials from broadcasters, pay TV operators and satellite operators,” ABI senior analyst Michael Inouye said.


 “Unlike 3D, which required awkward glasses, 4K has the legs to become an industry norm,” said practice director Sam Rosen. “This isn’t a sprint, however, and it will take time for the necessary infrastructure, installed base of devices and content to come together before 4K becomes an integral part of how the typical TV household consumes video content.”


New devices offering the UHS Speed Class 3 will be backwards compatible and will work with existing SD memory cards. 


Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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