Live From Las Vegas: UHDTV Broadcasts

When high-definition TVs first showed up in the late 1990s, the arrival of the new sets was preceded by the establishment of a digital high-definition TV broadcast format. In other words, the horse was leading the cart. With UHDTV, however, there isn’t a new higher-rez broadcast format to go with the new displays. What gives?

A UHDTV broadcast demo in Samsung’s CES booth—billed as the world’s first—served as a kind of proof-of-concept for over-the-air 4K TV transmission. Channel 50, a local Sinclair affiliate in Las Vegas, was sending a UHDTV signal over a standard 6 MHz digital broadcast channel. With onboard HEVC decoding as part of the feature set of Samsung’s new UHDTVs (via the company’s upgradeable One Connect box), the model in the demo could receive, decode and display the higher-rez TV broadcast. At present, a 4K broadcast standard is still far off—the details have yet to be worked out. But Samsung’s demo proved that if and when 4K broadcasting becomes a reality, its current UHDTVs will be able to handle it.