FAQ: What Hardware to Get for 4K

Kodi, formerly known as XBMC is excellent free and open source software for all your media centre needs (and especially video).

They have a community forum where they have complied a FAQ on hardware for 4K.  It’s a short FAQ because the hardware availability for 4K just isn’t there yet.  We expect 2016 to be a much better year for video cards in regards to supporting 4K standards.

A valuable quote from the FAQ:

In the past 10-bit colour encoding was meant for professional use but in HEVC it’s part of the Main10 profile so it will be part of consumer applications. It’s expected to be used in UHDTV broadcasts (Rec. 2020), Blu Ray and Netflix. So, in order to future-proof yourself it’s good to have a box that supports the main10 profile.

The FAQ and replies are worth a read for anyone thinking of building a future-proof home theatre PC.

Panasonic DMP-UB900 4K Blu-ray Player

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The Panasonic DMP-UB900 is Panasonic’s first Ultra HD (4K) Blu-ray player.  The price is presumed to be around $499 but has not been confirmed yet.   The specifications indicate this is meant to be a higher end play with lots of features and thoughtful abilities (like up-scaling of 4:2:0 color to 4:4:4).

The World’s Most Affordable 4K Android TV Player: $35

 

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Or so goes the claim made of affordability made by Beelink for their Beelink X2, Quad-core Android box that plays 4K.  But at $35, they probably can make that claim.  Currently $34.52 at GearBest.

The most reliable review for this box that we have found is at Home Theatre Life’s review of the Beelink X2.

Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player (FMP-X10)

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Expensive at $699 but full-featured, the Sony FMP-X10 is Sony’s attempt at a premium 4K media player.  It includes a 1TB hard-drive, streaming with Sony’s service and Netflix and all the other usual features you would expect (includes free titles, USB ports, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and so forth).

The reviews for this unit have been mixed.  It’s not clear if the price is the greatest issue, compatibility issues in the world of all things 4K, firmware support, or something else.

Ultra HD Blu-ray Specification Complete: 3840×2160 and HDR

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The Blu-ray Disc Association has finalized the specification for Ultra HD Blu-ray which supports up to a 3840×2160 resolution and extended dynamic range (HDR), amongst other things.

Disc based media has been predicted to by dying off, but this move certainly will prolong the life span.  Digital Rights Management has yet to be clarified.  These discs are to have capacities of 66 or 100GB.

 

Nvidia’s Shield $200 Android TV and Game Console with 4K Video Streaming

nvidia_shield

See Nvidia’s webpage on the Shield for more information, but some of the interesting claims are that it’s components are twice as powerful as the Xbox 360, and that it can stream 4K video.  The Shield runs off a Tegra X1 processor, has 3GB of memory and has a 256-core Nvidia Maxell GPU.