Taking the 4K Challenge


Malls. They’re good for a lot of things. Shopping. Tiffany concerts. And now, conducting 4K consumer research.

CableLabs, which has several Ultra HD/4K projects underway, set up shop over the weekend at the Flatiron Crossing mall in Broomfield, Colo., to find out if the average consumer could detect a tangible difference when presented with video in the eye-popping format.

We’re told that the mall demo featured a synced up, side-by-side comparison of two 4K TVs displaying the same content, with one set presenting 1080p HD video being up-converted, while the other screen delivered video in native 4K. Here's was the set-up:

"The objectives of the demo were to understand if people could perceive differences between the two, understand what differences they perceived and to what extent,” the organization said.

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And? CableLabs isn’t sharing those results yet (we’ve asked them to pass them along when they are tabulated), but the demo/experiment  did collect survey results from 250 people who were at least 18 years old. They all got $10 Starbucks gift cards for their troubles.

Cable’s interested in knowing how consumers perceive 4K video as MSOs start to assemble their Ultra HD strategies. No U.S. MSO has announced any plans to launch 4K services yet, but at The Cable Show in June in Washington, D.C., Comcast demonstrated Ultra HD running over IP (via DOCSIS 3.0) and via its traditional QAM-based video platform to show that it’ll be ready to support 4K when the market develops.

To help MSOs further prepare for 4K and its engineering and technology implications, CableLabs, has opened an Ultra HD lab and has purchased a Red Epic camera to shoot “rights free” content for its testing purposes.

4K was the topic of a Twitter chat hosted by CableLabs and Multichannel News on Thursday, Aug. 22, that included insight from CableLabs president and CEO Phil McKinney, who noted that “[v]iewing distance to screen size is a factor [with 4K], but we think consumers will have a ‘better than HD’ experience with most 4K TVs.”

You can check out the blow-by-blow here.