Ultra HD Blu-ray Format and Logo Finalized

Blu-ray Gets a Second Life With Ultra HD Blu-ray Format

Ultra HD Blu-ray Logo with Panasonic Prototype Player
Ultra HD Blu-ray Logo with Panasonic Prototype Player. Logo provided by the Blu-ray Disc Association - Player Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

It is now Official: For those that had any doubts about the future of Blu-ray, you can relax as the Blu-ray Disc Association has announced that it has put the final touches on the forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray format, as well as presenting its new Official Logo.

Much of the specifications for the new format have been issued previously, which I have reported on, but here is the current rundown until I get an official spec sheet:

Playback Compatibility: Just like all current Blu-ray Disc players can also play DVDs and CDS, all Ultra HD Blu-ray players, in addition to being able to play Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs (4K resolution), will also playback compatible with standard Blu-ray Discs (2D and 3D), DVDs, and audio CDs.

However, it is important to also note that you will not be able to play and Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc in a standard Blu-ray Disc player. These discs should not be confused with Sony's Mastered-in-4K Blu-ray Disc movies.

Disc Capacity: Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will be the same physical size as current Blu-ray discs but will either 66GB (dual-layer) or 100GB (triple layer) storage capacity, as required by content length and features.

Video Formats: Ultra HD Blu-ray content will be recorded (mastered) in the HEVC (H.265) codec.

Frame Rate: Support is provided for 60Hz frame rates.

Color Formats: 10-Bit color depth (BT.2020), and HDR (High Dynamic Range) video enhancement (such as Dolby Vision) is supported

Video Transfer Rate: Hi-speed 128mbps transfer rate is supported (actual transfer speeds will vary depending on the studio issuing the content).

Audio Support: All current Blu-ray compatible audio formats will be supported, including object-based formats, such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X.

Physical Connectivity: HDMI 2.0 outputs with HDCP 2.2 copy-protection will be the standard for audio/video connectivity.

Internet Streaming: Just was with most current Blu-ray Disc players, manufacturers will also have the option of including internet streaming capability on Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Such players will also have the ability to stream 4K content from services, such as Netflix.

Optional Features: A feature called "Digital Bridge" (Manufacturers can elect to either provide or not provide it), will allow owners of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs to view their content on a variety of in-home and mobile devices.

More details on this feature is forthcoming, but may involve the capability of copying the contents of a purchased Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc onto a hard drive built-into the Blu-ray Disc player, and allowing to contents to be playable (with some sort of further copy-protection limitations) over a home network or streamed to a select number of compatible devices. As soon as this is confirmed (or not confirmed), this section will be updated.

3D: As of this time, the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format does not include 3D in 4K, but the players will be compatible with the current 1080p  3D Blu-ray Disc format.

Final Note: Licensing of the new Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format will officially begin this Summer (2015), with players expected to roll out either by the end of the year, or shortly after they are showcased at the upcoming 2015 CEDIA and/or 2016 CES trade shows.

Definitely stay tuned as the Ultra HD Blu-ray Players reach the market.

UPDATE 09/04/2015: Samsung Previews Forthcoming 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player

UPDATE 10/20/15: Panasonic Unveils First Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player For Consumer Market - But Only For Japan - So Far (About.com TV/Video)

UPDATE 11/01/15: CyberLink Joins Working Group Developing Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Compatibility For PCs (About.com TV/Video)