While Netflix and Amazon are offering increasingly robust libraries of 4K content for their streaming customers, and Roku launched a new 4K-compatible device, pay-TV operators are once again falling behind the innovation curve.
Except for a few sporadic announcements about 4K-enabling satellite launches and 4K set-tops to be released at some undetermined future date, there has been little if any actual movement in the pay-TV industry on the UltraHD topic since January. Special report
Despite a number of product debuts by some of the largest pay-TV providers, including DirecTV, Comcast and Dish Network, the overall industry has yet to fully embrace 4K services.
After back-to-back product introductions at the beginning of this year by DirecTV, Comcast and Dish Network, it looked as though pay-TV was going to embrace 4K/UltraHD in a pretty significant way in 2015. But save for a few sporadic announcements about 4K-enabling satellite launches, there has been little if any actual movement in the pay-TV industry on the UltraHD topic since January.
Comcast will follow up the launch of the 4K-capable Xi4 set top later this year with the 2016 deployment of an even more advanced device, the Xi6, that features high dynamic range (HDR) technology.
After weeks of speculation, Roku formally unveiled its $130 Roku 4 streaming box, which imbues 4K streaming capability into the Roku ecosystem for the first time.
Roku's latest device, the Roku 4, has a number of new features: a new operating system, OS 7; 60 frames-per-second 4K compatibility; and a remote control with voice search capability, among others. What it doesn't have is added gaming capabilities, and that was done on purpose according to Roku CEO Anthony Wood.
Canada's Rogers Communications announced a major 4K programming initiative, with plans to show all 81 Toronto Blue Jays baseball games and 20 "marque" National Hockey League match-ups in the UltraHD format next year.
The quality of HDMI cables hasn't often been put to the test in environments involving short throws of traditional 1080p high-def video signals. But the stress test increases exponentially for cables designed for the HDMI 2 standard, which accounts for 60-frames-per-second 4K video where high dynamic range is involved, along with thing like high-resolution multichannel audio and Ethernet.
Sony has launched a new YouTube channel themed around 4K content, not only to promote its line of 4K/Ultra HD cameras, but also to spur growth in 4K usage by content creators.