Made any 4K videos lately?

Posted: 10.08.14

Do you remember when YouTube first hit the scene? Do you remember people saying, Who the hell wants that? Why would I want to look at some dopey home video? How will they ever make money? and all the other usual tripe that narrow-minded people spout when confronted with something new and different. Today, of course, they’re wishing they had bought shares in the company then. 

Since then it’s gone from an $11 million startup to a company valued at $40 billion and in the process made a lot of smart moves and bets. One of them is its 4K channel. Yep, a high-bandwidth channel devoted to 4K home movies—boy, another dumb idea, right? Wrong. So terribly wrong that if you actually did have that thought you should go stand in the closet and apologize to yourself for a half hour.

The secret is (and the folks at YouYube get this), all the new high-end smartphones for the last year or so have been shipping with big sensors (over 8 megapixels), and the best of the best of those phones have SoCs with a dedicated ISP (image signal processor).

Yeah but, I can hear you saying, you can’t see a 4K video on your phone. Gosh—really? Today that’s true. But maybe you’ve heard 4K tablets are coming, and the new smartphones have WiDi and an HDMI MHL 3.0 interface.

Just to prove the point, I took my one-year-old Galaxy Tab3 out on the deck and make a 4K video. It was really hard— I had to push the record button. Now. 4K is a lot. and so I filled up my 3-GB SD, but I also got a 4K video. I then viewed it on my PC (which has multiple 4K screens on it), and I measured the video. It was indeed full 4K, and what’s more, it looked fabulous.

A 50-inch 4K TV can be bought today for less than $1,000—same as an HD cost in 2012. Data from IHS finds that 4K TV shipments reached over one million per month in March and should top 15.2 million for the full year. That’s one of the fastest ramp-ups in the history of consumer electronics. And yet the folks who don’t own one are pooh-poohing the 4K revolution, just as they did the introduction of YouTube.

But the remarkable thing is the time in between smartphones and 4K UHD TV. When HD TV hit the market, there wasn’t any YouTube and only 1-megapixel phones. Today smartphones are helping enable the 4K TV market. That’s a big difference, and YouTube is right in the middle of it, right where it belongs.

So in this brave new world of multi-screen entertainment where we watch the big screen while also looking at one of our smaller screens, the notion of using our smartphones as a source is totally viable—in fact, even desirable.
Like it or not, bub, you’re getting 4K.