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Move over HD, 4K is here!

by Andy Clutton

4k is hereThe pace of the development of technology is seemingly unstoppable these days. Just as many of us have become used to HD systems and as many CCTV camera manufacturers have embraced megapixel technology, along comes Ultra HD or 4K, much quicker to market than many people expected. Fortunately, in the security industry we didn’t have to contend with 3D in between the two formats, but still the speed of the introduction of UHD to the market has been a surprise. And for those of us still in awe at the quality of Blu-Ray will need a sit down with the news of Red-Ray just around the corner.

In PSI we have often pondered at to the continual research, development and launch of new systems and whether it causes unnecessary headaches for installers, particularly as so many people operating in the security field are still favouring analogue technologies or at least just beginning to put a toe in the IP water. It can be no shock for vendors when the take up of some new technologies is slower than expected especially when there is an established favourite already comfortably used in the marketplace.

The take up of IP CCTV is a case in point. The tipping point for IP vs analogue sales in the UK has been ‘…this time next year…’ for almost a decade and in the meantime clever people have introduced encoders and other such solutions that allow analogue cameras to transmit over a network, thus doing away with the need for replacing cameras. IP systems themselves have become extremely simple to install – no longer requiring the expertise of a trained installer to fit it, although without the CCTV knowledge-base the positioning and lighting of the cameras may not always give the best results.

While the IP surveillance market has been waiting for its tipping point, along have come other solutions that have almost done away with the need to upgrade to the very technology that camera manufacturers wanted installers to fit in order to enable networked security in the first place. The cameras waited so long to become the bride that the bridesmaid has made off with the groom on the way to the church.

There is no chance of this happening in the displays market. This is probably due to the modern consumers’ insatiable demand for having a better quality system each time they buy a new unit or simply to outdo their nearest and dearest; thus the screen manufacturers know that the next big launch will automatically have a market. We see it twice a year with the introduction of new iPhones or Galaxy handsets as queues of people line the streets to be the first to purchase a mobile phone. This does not happen for other household appliances such as fridges or irons, but for phones, games consoles and televisions the market wants the next generation asap and the manufacturers know it.

All of the major TV producers have either launched 4K screens or are about to so and judging by the pre-show info for IFSEC this year, a number of CCTV camera manufacturers are launching 4K units. While the transmission of UHD TV footage is still in its infancy the anticipation of the brilliance of the image is causing a stir and there will be contract specs that soon include UHD.

With the introduction of UHD the future of monitor/display installation/cameras is not just about specifying HD or not. It is definitely no longer a black and white issue.

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