All the signs are that there is going to be more 4K content available sooner than many people thought, with the likes of Netflix and Amazon committing to 4K production and delivery. And since these content providers deliver using the internet, there's no need for broadcast standards to catch up
But for some time to come - and possibly for ever - there will be HD content that needs to be upscaled for delivery on 4K screens. Upmarket 4K displays contain effective up-conversion chips, but cheaper ones that may well be very good at displaying native 4K content, have so far failed to perform well with up-conversion.
Seiki, who have surprised reviewers with the cheapness and the quality of their displays, have moved quickly to address this issue, and have just announced two external products that can perform high quality 4K up conversion. One is an active cable that contains a 4K upscaler, and then second is a plug-in adaptor.
Essentially, this means that any device outputting HD over HDMI can display its content on a 4K monitor with pixel accuracy. Upscaling is a tricky process to do well, and quite easy to do badly.
Of course the upscaling process doesn't add real information but it does make lower resolution content look much better on higher resolution devices.
Perceived quality is always subjective, but Seiki's up-converters meet the standards of the Technicolor 4K Image Certification program, about which Seiki says:
"Technicolor’s rigorous certification program validates detail enhancement, edge restoration, noise reduction and up-conversion to create optimal digital entertainment experience in the home with HD content"
The up-converters use technology from Marseille Networks, a company specialising in high quality chips that can be produced at consumer prices.
We think this is a significant development because it is now possible to buy a low-cost adaptor and transform virtually any content to a format that will display well on 4K displays. With lower-end 4K screens now approaching cost parity with higher-end HD screens, there is now even less reason for consumers to avoid 4K for their next TV purchase.
Press release in full after the break
SEIKI INTRODUCES U-VISION™ HDMI® ACCESSORIES TO DELIVER HIGHEST QUALITY 4K EXPERIENCE
Seiki Leverages Marseille’s VTV-1222 to Establish a New Class of Video Processing HDMI Cables and Adapters for 1080p Up-conversion Performance Comparable to Native 4K Quality, Certified by the Technicolor "4K Image Certification Program"
LAS VEGAS (CES 2014) – Jan. 3, 2013 –To help consumers experience the best digital entertainment content on 4K Ultra HD TVs, Seiki (www.seiki.com) introduces the U-VISION™ line of 4K up-conversion HDMI® accessories that optimize current HD and non-HD content for 4K Ultra HD screens. Available as a standalone HDMI cable or HDMI up-conversion adapter without cables, U-VISION products integrate Marseille Networks VTV-1222 video processing chip to transform legacy content into sharp, detailed 4K video. Seiki U-VISION 4K up-conversion HDMI cable and adapter are the first accessory products to deliver the Hollywood video experience certified by the Technicolor 4K Image Certification program.
Technicolor’s rigorous certification program validates detail enhancement, edge restoration, noise reduction and up-conversion to create optimal digital entertainment experience in the home with HD content. The Marseille VTV-1222 patented video processing technology provides unparalleled image enhancement and 4K up-conversion for use with the latest 4K Ultra HD TVs, it has successfully passed the certification.
Seiki will demonstrate its U-VISION 4K up-conversion accessories for the first time at the CES Unveiled Las Vegas, the official media event of the International CES. The event will be held on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.
“At CES 2014, Seiki will reveal how the U-VISION 4K up-conversion HDMI accessories will empower 4K Ultra HD TV adopters to create and enjoy the highest quality digital content at home without waiting for 4K content,” said Frank Kendzora, executive vice president at Seiki. “Together with Marseille’s advanced VTV 4K video processing technology, Seiki aims to speed up the adoption of the new Ultra HD TV standard with more 4K content enabled by one of the best up-conversion technologies available today.”
“Marseille is delighted to be working with Seiki to bring this new exciting class of consumer products to market. Integrating our Technicolor 4K Image Certified VTV-1222 into their family of U-VISION products, Seiki is delivering on their commitment to provide consumers with the highest quality visual experience,” said Amine Chabane, Marseille’s president and CEO.
“Technicolor is leveraging its expertise in Hollywood to establish a leadership position to drive consumer adoption of 4K,” said Manuele Wahl, senior vice president, Technology Licensing, Technicolor. “We deliver innovative picture technologies at every stage of the video workflow and the 4K Image Certification program is just one of Technicolor’s strategies to speed deployment and create a quality 4K viewing experience for consumers.”
The Seiki U-VISION HDMI accessories are designed to work with 4K Ultra HD TVs to enhance picture quality of HD video content, and perform real-time detail enhancement, edge restoration and noise reduction. Both products support 1080p up-conversion to 4K video signals up to 30Hz. U-VISION 4K video processing key features include:
Up-conversion of 1080p content up to 4K
Up-conversion of 720p content up to 1080p
Adaptive edge enhancement of lines and curves for improved video and user interfaces
Adaptive sharpening and noise reduction to refine video content
Low-latency processing for HD video gaming
Brightness, contrast, saturation improvement
The Seiki U-VISION 4K Up-conversion HDMI Cable will be available in Q1 2014 with a suggested retail price of $39.99. The U-VISION 4K Up-conversion HDMI Adapter will be available in Q2 2014.
About Marseille Networks
Marseille Networks, Inc. has created a revolutionary business model enabling fast chip innovation while lowering development risks and costs. The Marseille proprietary “Virtual Silicon” platform enables unprecedented design collaboration with OEMs, resulting in market-validated, cost-optimized, production-ready products that create predictable, repeatable revenue streams. The Company's Video Through Virtualization (VTV) family of video processors have achieved the highest levels of cost performance for HD to 4K video processing and scaling for the cost sensitive CE source devices such as Blu-ray and streaming media players. These products enable the massive installed base of legacy HD content to be delivered to the new generation 4K TVs with near native 4K video quality. Consumers can enjoy the Hollywood movie theater experience at home today without waiting for 4K content. To date, Marseille is the first and only chip manufacturer to qualify as Technicolor 4K Image Certified. At Marseille, we and our customers say…See it, Perfect it, Build it. http://www.marseilleinc.com
Technicolor, a worldwide technology leader in the media and entertainment sector, is at the forefront of digital innovation. Our world-class research and innovation laboratories enable us to lead the market in delivering advanced video services to content creators and distributors. We also benefit from an extensive intellectual property portfolio focused on imaging and sound technologies, based on a thriving licensing business. Our commitment: supporting the delivery of exciting new experiences for consumers in theaters, homes and on-the-go. Euronext Paris: TCH • www.technicolor.com
Seiki (pronounced “SAY-key”) represents a new way of thinking in consumer electronics. Seiki offers straightforward, reliable digital entertainment experience that is affordably priced and backed by comprehensive customer support.
Featuring a one-year replacement warranty, Seiki markets a full range of high-definition LED televisions that feature 4K Ultra HD and Full HD 1080p resolutions. Seiki 4K Ultra HD TV was recognized and presented with the ninth annual POPULAR MECHANICS’ Breakthrough Awards as one of the top ten products setting benchmarks in design and engineering today.
The company also markets an audio product line that includes multi-channel stereo sound bar solutions and portable Bluetooth® speaker models. Seiki products are available at select authorized national in-store and online retailers. For more information about Seiki and its complete list of North American retail partners, please visit www.seiki.com.