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When is 4K coming to Freeview? Demo of Ultra HD over DTT: Eyes-on and first impressions

It’ll be a while yet before we get 4K channels on Freeview, but we know they’re in the pipeline – because we’ve seen one. 

At the 2015 DTG Summit in London, broadcast equipment manufacturers Rohde & Schwarz showcased an end-to-end demo of 4K TV, transmitting live Ultra HD footage from a Sony F-55 camera to an LG 4K TV. 

The camera was connected to a encoder and multiplexer which applied HEVC (H.265) compression to the footage which was then sent to a test transmitter, which Rohde & Schwarz personnel cheekily described as a ‘mini Crystal Palace’

Related: 4K Ultra HD interoperability test kicked off by DTGThis rig was then hooked up to a short range directional aerial which beamed the transmission to another aerial – connected to the LG TV – positioned 10 metres across the room. 

The transmission was broadcast at 562MHz, a frequency typically used for tests like this, which Rohde & Schwarz had to pay Ofcom £50 for 24 hours of playtime. 

Due to the low power of the transmission and the direction nature of the aerials, it was unlikely that anyone watching TV at home nearby in London’s King’s Place would have picked the signals up. 

The Sony F-55 camera is the same model that the BBC and Sky have used to film live sporting events like the 2014 World Cup and Premier League football matches

The footage was filmed at 25 frames per second – half the rate of other 4K Ultra HD footage we’ve seen. While motion wasn’t quite as smooth, the high contrast issues we’ve seen elsewhere were notably absent here. 

As there’s no broadcast standards for 4K TV, we still don’t know what frame rate TV producers will use. 

The LG TV used in this demo 55UF950V which has HDMI 2.0 ports. HDMI 2.0 allows for 4K video at up to 60 frames per second, which, as it turns out, might not be enough to adequately capture live sports

As such, the jury’s still out as to when we’ll see 4K channels on Freeview, or anywhere else for that matter.  

Rumours have suggested that Sky will launch a 4K set-top box this summer, ahead of the next Premier League season and a hypothetical Sky Sports 4K channel, but nothing official has been confirmed yet. 4K TV in the UK – coming when it’s done. 

 

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