Still early days for 4K?

Bottlebrush

Active Member
I'm interested to hear what you all think. Rather than seeing the final days of 4K physical media I think we may see a resurgence. Up until now it's been a niche format for many reasons. The relatively high cost compared with DVD and Blu-ray, the lack of 4K TV's and players in homes, very little promotion of the format and the advantages of HDR.

I still know many people, myself included who haven't upgraded to 4K yet, I'm about to. Large TV's that take advantage of the extra detail are just becoming affordable by the average consumer. 4K players are much more prevalent with the PS5 and X Box Series X out there and finally 4K discs are available at the phycological barrier of £10(in sales for now). I think this all adds up to a greater likelihood of higher sales.

Streaming is the main argument against physical but I see large areas of most countries still struggling to provide sufficient bandwidth to support 4K at a decent quality. There is also the younger generation who seem to be finding satisfaction in the ownership of something physical. I've no doubt that 4K discs will never be mainstream but I can see greater uptake over the next few years. Does anyone else agree/disagree and why?
 

4K UHD Fan

Active Member
4K physical media is not going to last as not enough consumers are interested in the vastly superior quality over streaming (unless you have a Kaleidescope system!).

Year on year physical media is rapidly declining and 4K UHD probably has another 3-4 years left before its no more!!
 

Bottlebrush

Active Member
4K physical media is not going to last as not enough consumers are interested in the vastly superior quality over streaming (unless you have a Kaleidescope system!).

Year on year physical media is rapidly declining and 4K UHD probably has another 3-4 years left before its no more!!
I can only speak from my own experience, which may not be typical! I've been buying a lot more 4K media now the prices have come down. £10 is reasonable, £20 is too much unless it's a real classic. As with everything else, price is the key factor. In my opinion the industry should knock DVD on the head and drop Blu-ray and UHD down a tier in price.

I think vinyl is a good analogy for 4K discs. Who'd have thought that would make a come back? Especially with the likes of Spotify etc. I suspect there were very few turntables still being used after the advent of CD. It will be interesting to see who is right, my money is in 4K physical continuing albeit as a niche. More so if we don't see any 8K media.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
To be fair though 4K discs aren’t vastly superior to the best quality streaming any more are they, especially image wise - that’s not remotely accurate for Apple TV 4K content. I think that’s a big issue with it as well as cost. I just can’t justify £25 for a standard new 4K release, but if they were all £15 I’d always buy the physical 4K version. Yes they do come down in price but by then the digital version on iTunes has come down to £5 or less.

I think it will end up similar to laserdisc in terms of it becoming very niche - I was very much a laserdisc collector in my time and you can already see that studios like Second Sight, Arrow and Studiocanal are bringing out 4K and BR box sets that very much mirror the kind of lavish treatment laserdisc box sets got back in the day. The box sets of Alien, Star Wars and Aliens / The Abyss etc were obvious labours of love and i think the 4K disc market will get smaller but thrive with collectors on this basis, including me! But £25 for a standard release seems very expensive IMO.
 

Bottlebrush

Active Member
To be fair though 4K discs aren’t vastly superior to the best quality streaming any more are they, especially image wise - that’s not remotely accurate for Apple TV 4K content. I think that’s a big issue with it as well as cost. I just can’t justify £25 for a standard new 4K release, but if they were all £15 I’d always buy the physical 4K version. Yes they do come down in price but by then the digital version on iTunes has come down to £5 or less.

I think it will end up similar to laserdisc in terms of it becoming very niche - I was very much a laserdisc collector in my time and you can already see that studios like Second Sight, Arrow and Studiocanal are bringing out 4K and BR box sets that very much mirror the kind of lavish treatment laserdisc box sets got back in the day. The box sets of Alien, Star Wars and Aliens / The Abyss etc were obvious labours of love and i think the 4K disc market will get smaller but thrive with collectors on this basis, including me! But £25 for a standard release seems very expensive IMO.
Agreed on price. Most of the 4K discs I've bought have been closer to £10 than £20 but I hardly ever buy one on release, not least because I don't have a 4K TV yet!

What I'm curious about is, and I can't offer an opinion as I haven't seen it, is what's that extra bit rate being used for? If streaming at 15-25Mbps is apparently indistinguishable from 50-100Mbps discs why out so much information on the disc. Is it a waste or is it the other variables coming into play? i.e. the viewers eyesight, small screens, too far viewing distance, cheaper TV's, lower quality players, lack of proper HDR, incorrect setup of equipment?

Has anyone controlled for all these factors and objectively compared the two?

I bought a few digital films at one point and then thought, what happens if I leave the platform or it goes bust or they just don't offer the title I want? That was a major issue for me especially as I don't have permanent subscriptions to all platforms. I pick them up and cancel them as they have content I want to watch. The other issue was if I have decent hardware I want to hear Dolby Atmos, see Dolby Vision or any of the newer formats for which support is patchy at best from the streaming services.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
Agreed on price. Most of the 4K discs I've bought have been closer to £10 than £20 but I hardly ever buy one on release, not least because I don't have a 4K TV yet!

What I'm curious about is, and I can't offer an opinion as I haven't seen it, is what's that extra bit rate being used for? If streaming at 15-25Mbps is apparently indistinguishable from 50-100Mbps discs why out so much information on the disc. Is it a waste or is it the other variables coming into play? i.e. the viewers eyesight, small screens, too far viewing distance, cheaper TV's, lower quality players, lack of proper HDR, incorrect setup of equipment?

Has anyone controlled for all these factors and objectively compared the two?

I bought a few digital films at one point and then thought, what happens if I leave the platform or it goes bust or they just don't offer the title I want? That was a major issue for me especially as I don't have permanent subscriptions to all platforms. I pick them up and cancel them as they have content I want to watch. The other issue was if I have decent hardware I want to hear Dolby Atmos, see Dolby Vision or any of the newer formats for which support is patchy at best from the streaming services.

Good points here, and thanks for starting an interesting thread! Well DV and Atmos is offered on the vast majority of new Apple 4K releases (and if you’re limited to 1080p at the moment you’ll still get the atmos track unlike some Blu-ray Discs). Re. quality there is a slight difference in favour of physical in terms of that final level of grain / image clarity, but I’m noticing that on a projection screen with a JVC N5 projector. Codecs are different too so newer, more effective compression will make a difference to file sizes. We’re certainly getting to a point now where regular streaming issues like blocking in darker scenes are getting improved at a fast pace, and I barely ever see that on my JVC. I remember showing a very pro-physical friend the 4K Apple Stream of Life of Pi on my projector and he couldn’t believe the AV quality for something that cost me £3.

Yes sound on discs is absolutely better but again it’s not a vast difference and unless you’re very well off I just cannot see how endlessly paying out £20-£25 for 4K discs because they look 10% better is sustainable when the majority of ITunes 4K titles I get come in at well under £10. Re. digital platforms, I take your point (I had that happen to me with BBC digital purchases, although they refunded them), but I would think it’s more likely that the last remaining Blu-ray player will give out before Apple or Google go bust. You never know of course, but equally by then all the discs that cost £25 now will probably be £5 or less on Music Magpie! Plus the literally dozens of free upgrades to 4K I’ve had with Apple aren’t to be ignored either.

One point on streaming that is important to note is the incredibly inaccurate picture people sometimes paint that all services are the same. Iplayer for example is a terrific free service and I love it, but you can’t compare an old HD master of a film on that to a 4K DV or HDR stream from Apple, they’re not remotely the same. @lgans316 and I try to point this out repeatedly, not to make people feel bad but just to try and counter the ‘all digital is awful’ narrative!

I was staunchly pro physical for a long long time until I looked at the huge number of unwatched films on my shelves, or those that I watched only once, and realised how much they had cost me, and how much they were now worth. Digital quality is superb with Apple through the TV app or the box (which provides extras and alternate cuts etc that the app doesn’t) and I’ve bought so many films in 4K for £2.99 or even less. And they’re available immediately for anyone else in the house. Don’t get me wrong, I love physical media and have no intention of giving it up completely, but my earlier point was that the standard, non limited edition 4K physical releases will never gain traction in my opinion when they’re £25 a pop. That’s why DVDs are still around because they’re cheap enough to be impulse buys. Plus £15 for a Blu-ray is more reasonable now but you have a hard enough job concvincing some people that Blu-ray is better than DVD, let alone another £10 for a 4K disc release. And many people with very good kit would consider Blu-ray - still a terrific format in 2021 - good enough and that the extra £10 for the 4K disc does not represent a comparable jump in quality that DVD to BR does. Unfortunately with the change in Zoom I think we’ve also come to the end of 3 for £30 with UHD deals, which were brilliant.

Added: just to say all the above comes with the caveat that I completely recognise that for people with limited internet access, streaming is a non-starter.
 
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lgans316

Distinguished Member
4K UHD disc will be the last physical media format. Anything beyond this will be on streaming.

4K discs are no longer vastly superior to a good quality 4K stream (iTunes/MA, D+, Netflix to an extent). I have a massive collection in both formats. The difference on my 65 inch OLED from a reasonable viewing distance is miniscule. On the audio front, there can be some differences depending upon your equipment. Of course the chest beating hardcore physical folks won't agree to this but I don't care.

I enjoy both and can't wait to enjoy in a 77 inch OLED that I will purchase in few months.

I do have a soft corner for physical as I have been collecting discs for more than 2 decades. I really hope the Studios don't ditch it.
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Im not buying digital or streaming so Apple will never get me. Feel free to quote me if I ever say otherwise! :D

Annoyed I cant sell off digital codes easily anymore but I hardly get any now anyway.
 

lgans316

Distinguished Member
@Jim Di Griz fair enough but an honest question - why?

Apple are quite infamous for data breaches and hacking especially on iCloud. Personally I don't have anything on iCloud, so it doesn't affect me and thankfully I don't have the figure & guts to take nude selfies and upload them on iCloud lol.
 

Bottlebrush

Active Member
Some interesting points and I agree with most of them. There is of course a philosophical point of view that if you don't have it in your hand you don't own it. This is especially true in the digital age and I hate revisionism and titles being pulled because someone decides they don't it's not agreed well.

As for quality I suspect most viewers sit too far away to see the extra detail in 4K, hence the no difference observations. A 65"TV needs to be viewed from 6-8ft away to resolve the extra detail. I've even found this at 1080p, sitting at around 6ft away makes it look like a new TV compared with the usual 12ft. Luckily my wife likes films too so when we out one on I just moved the sofa forwards 6ft. It does seem to confuse the dog though!

I can't see 8K streaming any time soon. At 4x the data very few users will have 100Mbps spare to stream it. I don't see 8K TVs taking off either unless they stop selling 4K TVs. If say over half the people I know don't own a 4K TV yet and to be honest wouldn't see the difference to justify the expense.

I'm wondering if we're going to see a real slow down in the pace of change, as we've seen with phones? The performance increases are getting less noticeable and owners keep their devices longer.
 
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Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
@Jim Di Griz fair enough but an honest question - why?
Because I dont like Apple.

And I want to see my collection too. Ive got enough to last a lifetime anyway and my collection is paltry compared to some!
 

Bottlebrush

Active Member
Because I dont like Apple.

And I want to see my collection too. Ive got enough to last a lifetime anyway and my collection is paltry compared to some!
I can agree with that, I don't like Apple either, not that they don't make great products but I don't like their walled garden business model and price gouging on devices. Another reason I don't like digital, if a company changes ownership or their business practices change and I don't like them I am free to drop their services without being tied to them.

I'm a 70's child so like you I like physical items. I'm no technophobe either, having worked in computing and built my own, I've learnt not to trust that anything stored as 1's and 0's doesn't last forever! I suspect a lot of digital photo collections will be lost to future generations.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
Yep I do agree on the price gouging - some of the accessory prices have been cartoonish and the lack of expandable memory on their phones (and massive price hikes for small additional bits of memory) made me stick with Android for years. That’s why I was so surprised by digital pricing and free 4K upgrades, I never thought that would happen
 

FevreDream

Well-known Member
Do any of the big electronics companies still make UHD players, or at least produce new models regularly like they do with TV’s? Can’t remember the last time a new 4K Blu Ray player was reviewed on AVForums for example.
 

Bottlebrush

Active Member
Do any of the big electronics companies still make UHD players, or at least produce new models regularly like they do with TV’s? Can’t remember the last time a new 4K Blu Ray player was reviewed on AVForums for example.
I've not seen any new ones announced by the big brands. Probably not much need, if the current ones do the job just keep selling those. More profitable than creating new ones that do the same job. I suspect the pandemic had slowed things down too. I'm getting a UB820 as it seems to do a very good job without breaking the bank.
 

dragontycoon

Active Member
I will never stream as streaming is always renting, not owning. If you can't move them on and the service can end at any time, it's a rental.

Plus i don't trust the prices will always be this cheap (if you consider this "cheap") and that's not just including all the different services... bandwidth isn't free and technology is always improving. A friend recently moved to house that doesn't even have mobile phone reception. I didn't even think it was possible to not get a good phone reception in the UK now (except for tunnels). What if I want to move to an area that has poor internet.

Like Gamepass on the xbox/pc. Gamers don't realise it's a loss leader and will increase in price eventually. It is slowly indoctrinating console gamers to accept that games will be rentals (no second hand market) in the future, like Steam has done to pc games.
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Yep I do agree on the price gouging - some of the accessory prices have been cartoonish and the lack of expandable memory on their phones (and massive price hikes for small additional bits of memory) made me stick with Android for years. That’s why I was so surprised by digital pricing and free 4K upgrades, I never thought that would happen
All part of the plan. Hook you in cheap and then you'll probably stay - whatever the price.
 

Bottlebrush

Active Member
I will never stream as streaming is always renting, not owning. If you can't move them on and the service can end at any time, it's a rental.

Plus i don't trust the prices will always be this cheap (if you consider this "cheap") and that's not just including all the different services... bandwidth isn't free and technology is always improving. A friend recently moved to house that doesn't even have mobile phone reception. I didn't even think it was possible to not get a good phone reception in the UK now (except for tunnels). What if I want to move to an area that has poor internet.

Like Gamepass on the xbox/pc. Gamers don't realise it's a loss leader and will increase in price eventually. It is slowly indoctrinating console gamers to accept that games will be rentals (no second hand market) in the future, like Steam has done to pc games.
Very true, I was just thinking about that with the streaming. If physical dies, what happens to the streaming pricing? Another factor is in a lot of countries internet bandwidth is metered and costs a lot to stream SD let alone UHD. Besides which many of the streaming platforms charge extra for UHD, it all adds up.

I may be proved wrong but the quality of 4K is so good now for home use that if you have a film collection there will be much less pressure to upgrade. There is the initial up front cost but after that it's "free". I do stream but only for TV series and things I'll only watch the once.

I'm due an upgrade soon and I think that will see me through the next decade. By that time the landscape could look a lot different.
 

domtheone

Distinguished Member
I don’t think its early days for 4K physical. More mid term.

Have accepted that it’ll just be a slow drip feed of movies. Hopefully for several more years.

The amount of films released (that i’m interested in) so far, has been disappointing. Can’t see that changing with several of the studios only interested in streaming (eg Disney) now.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
All part of the plan. Hook you in cheap and then you'll probably stay - whatever the price.

Well to be fair I think people are more intelligent than just doing that, and in any case the difference in prices is vast. Equally you could say that people are mugs for endlessly buying the same films on new physical formats at £20 a time (and before the recent leap in quality of the best 4K streaming I was very much one of those consumers).

If the digital prices do align with physical media, then if it’s still around I’ll just buy physical media. If not I’ll be fine with digital. If physical isn’t being produced as much then for me the price of it will have been the biggest factor by far, I’ve always appreciated the quality of it. But I can’t ignore the enormous value proposition of free 4K upgrades even if it will only last for a few years. I have saved literally thousands of pounds by not having to buy 4K discs after having the Blu-rays due to Apple 4K upgrades, and whatever the reason for that it’s a value that is undeniable.
 
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Marv

Member
I don’t think its early days for 4K physical. More mid term.

Have accepted that it’ll just be a slow drip feed of movies. Hopefully for several more years.

The amount of films released (that i’m interested in) so far, has been disappointing. Can’t see that changing with several of the studios only interested in streaming (eg Disney) now.


If people dont own a UHD player by now i see very few going out and buying them. More people are buying 4K tvs when getting new sets but this is only because 4K TVs are becoming standard and your getting harder pushed to buy a new set that is not 4K.

I know two people who have bought new 4k capable sets in the last 12 months but have no idea what 4K is.
Neither of them own blu -ray players, so the chances of them getting into uhds are zero. One watches netflix on their set the other Sky HD.
 

Bottlebrush

Active Member
If people dont own a UHD player by now i see very few going out and buying them. More people are buying 4K tvs when getting new sets but this is only because 4K TVs are becoming standard and your getting harder pushed to buy a new set that is not 4K.

I know two people who have bought new 4k capable sets in the last 12 months but have no idea what 4K is.
Neither of them own blu -ray players, so the chances of them getting into uhds are zero. One watches netflix on their set the other Sky HD.
Do you know anything that owns a PS5 or an Xbox? There are far more UHD players out there now than there have ever been, millions more. I do take your point though that the average consumer doesn't have a clue.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
One more point (sorry!) - for me I never mind paying £25-30 for the loaded Arrow / Second Sight / SC releases, whether on BR or 4K, because I love the extra physical stuff like booklets etc and I’m very happy to do so. But I just can’t bring myself to pay £25 for a 4K title that’s a standard release and has a £10 increase on the BR’s price just because it’s in 4K.
 

GrazzaB

Distinguished Member
Do you know anything that owns a PS5 or an Xbox? There are far more UHD players out there now than there have ever been, millions more. I do take your point though that the average consumer doesn't have a clue.

Yes there are but how many of them will actually buy a 4K disc? Loads of my friends had a PS4 but aside from the incredibly rare massive high profile stuff like the Christopher Nolan Batman films for instance, they never bought a disc.
 

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