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Prepare for 'fake 4K': new standard will silently compress PC, tablet video

Mark Hachman | April 23, 2014
Two consortiums--VESA and the MIPI Alliance--published a new video-compression standard for mobile devices on Tuesday. Display Stream Compression (DSC) 1.0 is designed to extend the life of some current video connectors by reducing the bandwidth requirements of 4K and higher-resolution video by more than 60 percent.


So DSC compression will reduce the hardware requirements for 4K and 8K video, but compressing a signal means throwing away some data away. DSC will tame the 4K/8K firehose, making it easier to design mobile video hardware and ports, said Robert Heron, a former PC Magazine HDTV analyst and now an independent consultant. But, he said via a Twitter message, it might not be ideal for home-theater systems. "I worry about how lossless is 'lossless,'" he wrote. 

Comcast already compresses its video signals, as do other cable and satellite TV service providers. Bandwidth is expensive, and reducing video quality allows these companies to cram more channels — not to mention Internet services — into the same space. Be that as it may, purists argue, you're not getting all the bits you're paying for.

Will consumers tolerate compressed 4K video? Or will they be willing to pay for technology that delivers truly higher resolutions? Time will tell.


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