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Amazon promises HD TV on steroids


The CES show in Las Vegas is ground zero for big announcements and Amazon sought to make a splash of its own this week, announcing a commitment to 4K technology and arrangements with some of the biggest names in entertainment to enhance television picture quality.

In an announcement short on specifics, Amazon’s Instant Video unit said it was working with Samsung, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Discovery and others to offer customers a premium 4K Ultra HD experience. The company said its announcement was further evidence of a commitment to 4K technology that was evident last month when Amazon Studios announced plans to shoot all 2014 full original series, including comedies and dramas, in 4K Ultra HD.

4K in a nutshell is super high resolution for those who want to see every pore in Anderson Cooper’s face or blade of grass during the Super Bowl. Prior to 4K, which is capable of showing four times as many pixels as standard HD, the highest resolution on the market was full HD 1080p, which consisted of 1920 x 1080 pixels. 4K has 3840 x 2160 pixels.

“Customers are excited about the future of 4K and the next evolution of high resolution video. We’re working with consumer electronics leaders and Hollywood studios to make that a reality,” said Bill Carr, vp of digital video and music for Amazon. “There are a number of elements that need to work together to create a true 4K experience for customers. You need great content and compatible devices, but you also need a service that can deliver that content to your devices so that it plays beautifully. We’re excited about making that a reality.”

According to Kyungshik Lee, an SVP with Samsung’s display business, 2014 is going to be a break out year for ultra HD.

“Samsung is launching its biggest line of Ultra HD TVs and is excited to work with content services like Amazon Instant Video to bring the clarity and lifelike quality of 4K to our customers,” Lee said.

Content providers also weighed in on the merits of 4K and their commitment to it.

“Warner Bros. is looking forward to working with Amazon as they offer their customers a fantastic 4K home entertainment experience,” said Ron Sanders president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution. “The new 4K Ultra HD displays provide viewers with a superior picture, bringing new life to movies and TV shows, and for content that is not available in 4K, the Ultra HD displays will make every detail of your Blu-ray collection more vivid and crisp compared to standard 1080p screens.”

“We’re delighted to explore the 4K arena as part of our multifaceted relationship with Amazon,” said Lionsgate President of Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution, Jim Packer. “Ultra-high definition is the tip of the iceberg in underscoring the potential for new technologies to enrich our library of great franchises and other premium content in the years to come.”

"Amazon has a strong history of consumer-empowering innovations, and their commitment to advancing the consumer digital experience is a testament to their innovative culture," said Mike Dunn, president, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. "Our strategy of fostering easy, affordable and accessible ways for consumers to enjoy Fox movies and TV shows across all of their devices is very much in line with that."

“Discovery has been pleased to offer Amazon customers an array of our popular content,” said JB Perrette, chief digital officer, Discovery Communications. “In Discovery’s nearly 30-year history, the company has led the way in providing closer-to-reality content experiences, from digital to HD to 3D and now, with 4K. We applaud Amazon for developing a true 4K viewing experience for its customers and we look forward to working with them to create ever-better viewing opportunities for our audiences.”

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