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Will 2014 be the year of ultra-high definition?

gadgets Updated: Dec 30, 2013 11:07 IST

Televisions and monitors that support the technology are already on sale but until now there's been very little in the way of native content. That could all be about to change.

Netflix has confirmed that it is to start streaming shows in ultra-high definition (UHD) starting this January in the US. The first show to arrive in living rooms with four times the pixel density of traditional high definition programming will be the second season of "House of Cards."

However, there's a catch. Netflix says that not all UHD TV brands will be supported and that the definitive list won't be published until the International CES in Las Vegas in January.

For those that don't know, UHD (sometimes called 4K) is a display technology that offers four times as many pixels as a high definition screen for a depth of light, color and detail which is as close as a viewer can currently get to actually looking out of a window or being present while something is being filmed.

This year's CES is expected to be dominated by televisions and in particular smaller and more affordable sets that support UHD. Although UHDTVs from LG, Sony and Samsung are already on sale, their size (anything between 60 and 110 inches) and stratospheric price tags have put them out of the reach of most consumers. And even those sufficiently well-heeled to buy one for every room in every one of their homes have had second thoughts about a purchase, simply because there is so little UHD content out there for the sets.

The image quality of UHD may be incredible, but so are the sizes of the video files or broadcast packets needed to support that picture. Sony has made no secret of the fact that it will be ‘going all in' on the technology at CES and it believes the key to providing consumers with access to native content is to provide them with devices -- smartphones, tablets, stills and video cameras -- that can record in the format.

There's also a good chance that the company will unveil a UHD version of Blu-ray at the event -- something that really would solve the native content problem.