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Better Than HDTV

Just when we think we have enough hard drive storage they introduce the next level of video. Japanese national broadcasters are already working on a successor to HDTV. The format, called Ultra High Definition Video, or UHDV, has a resolution 16 times greater than plain-old HDTV, and its stated goal is to achieve a level of sensory immersion that approximates actually being there. At a picture size of 7,680 by 4,320 pixels -- that works out to 32 million pixels -- UHDV's resolution trounces even high-end digital still cameras. HDTV, by comparison, has about 2 million pixels, and normal TV about 200,000 (and only 480 lines of horizontal resolution versus 4,000 with UHDV).

The UHDV proposal has also focused on sound. The standard calls for 22.2 sound: 10 speakers at ear level, 9 above and 3 below, with another 2 for low frequency effects. It is a setup that is well beyond the level of the multichannel systems currently in vogue, like the 5.1 surround system.

All those sound channels and all those image pixels add up to a lot of data. In test, an 18-minute UHDV video gobbled up 3.5 terabytes of storage (equivalent to about 750 DVD's). Looks like the petabyte drive that I talked about last year won't be big enough.

New York Times June 3, 2003

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