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It’s the screen’s horizontal resolution: four times that of 1080, the present hi-def standard.

No, the current 1080p of most screens is 1920 (horizontal) by 1080 vertical. Thus, the horizontal is about 2000, or 2K (technically 2K is 2 x 1024 or 2048). The 4K naming standard (if there is one) will be about 4K across. Thus 2x in each dimension. Some displays will be exactly 2x...3840 x 2160.

There are already 4K monitors for PCs and the HDMI and Display port specs have been updated for these. Previously you had to connect two cables to get to 4K

One problem I see with 4K –even though the resolution is boggling – is it’s yet another media change necessitating new editions of existing movies.

The resolution isn't really boggling. We've had the ATSC HDTV standard in shipping products for about 14 years, IIRC. Sure most displays were expensive back then and most were only 720p of physical pixels, but the transmission and decoding had to be able to handle up to 1080i back then.

Moore's Law gives us a doubling of computing power power every 2 years or so. So we've had about 7 doublings during this time, or about 128 times the pixel processing power. Going from 1080p to 4K is only 4 times as many pixels. Throw in one doubling for 1080p instead of 1080i, and another from 720 to 1080. We still have at least 4x more processing capacity per pixel as we did back then.

There is no doubt that we can make large LCD displays with the pixel density needed to display 4K video. We have handheld displays, sold by the millions that do 1080p today. A 40" - 60" display is technically easy...excepting that the yields might not be that good...but a few dead pixels on such a display would not be a big deal...for a low price.

Source material. I wouldn't think of a new disc format...but streaming from Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, iTunes, etc is how you are going to get this, IMO. Any animated feature movie can easily be made in whatever resolution is desired...its just 4x as much computing. Top tier films are already shot in 4K for digital theaters...some are moving to 8K already. So there is not a lot of existing content...but there are plenty of movies (hundreds or a thousand or so) that could be made available...just a packaging post processing decision...not a reshoot.

It is not going to happen very soon or quickly...but 4K displays are going to trickle out for the next few years, then maybe a big push in 2015 or 2017.

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