The road to higher-than-high-def television has taken another step forward with the development of a projector by JVC that is less than half the size and a quarter the weight of previous devices.
The projector was unveiled in Tokyo on Tuesday at the research labs of NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, and is compatible with an experimental broadcasting format called Super Hi-Vision. (Watch video of the new projector on YouTube.)
At 7,680 pixels by 4,320 pixels, a Super Hi-Vision picture has 16-times the resolution of today's high-def TV and four times that of 4K digital cinema.
Displaying such a detailed image presents engineers with a problem.
The best LCD screens can only match a quarter of the resolution of Super Hi-Vision and off-the-shelf projectors can't do the job either. In the past NHK relied on two projectors to generate the picture, but now it can be done with one.
The new projector is smaller and weighs 50 kilograms - about half that of one of the previous projectors. It's also cheaper. The previous projector cost around ¥300 million (US$3.6 million) and the new one is a magnitude lower in price.
During a demonstration, the images produced were incredibly detailed and have deep, rich colors. They easily surpass anything available today.
NHK is one of the few broadcasting companies to heavily invest in R&D, and development of Super Hi-Vision follows a well-worn path. The organisation was the pioneer in HDTV, beginning work on that in 1964.
NHK is working on the entire range of technologies needed to realise Super Hi-Vision, including new cameras, codecs, transmission systems and recording systems. The organisation expects most of the pieces for Super Hi-Vision service will be in place by around 2020, but it hasn't committed to a launch of service yet.
It's currently hoping to film some of the 2012 London Olympics in Super Hi-Vision.