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NAB 2013: 4K stole the show

Over in Las Vegas, the 2013 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show is finishing up – today is the last day – and insofar as next generation technology is concerned, 4K broadcasting stole the show (as it did with CES). If you were not presenting a 4K system of some sort, you were talking about it.

4K is the next generation HDTV and it is worth waiting for. Rather than 1,920 x 1,080, the image size is 3,840 x 2,160. This is the same as four HDTV sets. (It should be noted for the sticklers out there that the movie boys do things differently and call 4K 4,096 x 2,160 for a 17:9 aspect ratio – they actually have 4K across).

And yes, after all this becomes commonplace, we'll have 8K.

The king of the 4K demos was Sony. The company buried itself back in the Central Hall where it was showing off every sort of 4K product including video cameras. The first item that caught my eye was a large format 3D 84in LCD display. 3D in 4K is awesome, as you would imagine, but the $24,000 (£15,500) price tag is a little discouraging. It uses the passive RealD technology and as far as I'm concerned, it is the winner of the 3D wars. It uses circular polarisation, which works great, only requires cheap glasses, is unpowered, and is more forgiving than old-fashioned polarisers.

I would be surprised if any other 3D technology survives the decade despite the fact that some other technologies do a better job of producing lifelike 3D images. Most are simply not as practical.

I should mention here that you do not need to worry about upgrading anytime soon. Panasonic studied resolution for some time and says that at a distance greater than six feet on a 50in display, you cannot tell the difference between 1080p and 720p. I have not heard what it says about 4K but I'm sure you can do without it for a while.

In fact, I was looking at an odd 4K monitor with blurry content and it seemed like crap. If you are feeding normal content that might be upscaled, the boost may be too miniscule to matter. Most of the content delivered by Sony seemed to be 4K content to begin with and that is what looks so great.

But nothing was as spectacular as the 56in Sony OLED prototype display that was tucked away in the corner. The display was so vibrant and beautiful that once you started looking at it you could not pull your eyes away. The detail seemed exaggerated and the colour was pure Kodachrome. If Sony – or anyone else, for that matter – can produce this display in quantity, it will take over the world.

Strangely, I was under the impression that Sony bailed out on OLED displays. I guess not. Keep an eye on it.