Technological advancements take time. Look at all you can do on iPhone X. DSLR-like HDR photography, 4K video with slow-motion and time-lapse. Those capabilities dwarf what iPhone could do way back 2007.
Now, look at your television. For a variety of reasons, most of what you see on broadcast TV is 720p or 1080i, but it’s still digital and still HD (high definition). Some of the TVs you see in Walmart, Best Buy and elsewhere these days are 4K and UHD. While some 4K content is available, it is not common, and those televisions simply upscale traditional broadcast TV signals and cable TV programming.
1080p, 4K, and UHD are merely steps to the next video plateau, which is 4K HDR. Now you can see why Apple waited so long to upgrade Apple TV to handle 4K. 4K and HDR is kinda sorta mostly here already but more is on the way, yet it isn’t the most common standard, and won’t be for a few years. 4K HDR televisions are dropping in price, and more 4K HDR programming is making its way to your television.
Apple TV 4K with HDR tells us where the future will be. Yes, 4K HDR will be a plateau we will sit on for a few years, and it will remain such until content is generated at the next level, likely 8K, and that will take a few years.
Unfortunately, what is happening in television is nothing short of a massive sea change from commonality– everything video looked the same on nearly every device– to fragmentation, where we have many different devices that display video– not just traditional television fare– with many different levels of content.
My iPhone X can display HDR content but not in 4K. Yet, the last three iPhone models– iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and iPhone X, can capture video in 4K which can be displayed on 4K television screens.
Step by step, with many steps overlapping previous and future steps, Apple is moving the entire smartphone and tablet industry– and television– toward the next plateau; 4K and HDR. Along the way will be various levels of video quality, but already 4K HDR televisions are available, YouTube and Vimeo have 4K HDR video content. So do Amazon and Netflix, and more online streaming content is on the way.
These changes in distribution, video quality, and sources represent a sea change in both the technology industry and traditional media. I’m not sure how far we can advance the state of content art beyond 4K HDR– is it just diminishing returns after that? For all the nattering nabobs of negativism about the company’s slow walk of some technology, Apple is a leading actor in the change and uniquely positioned to drive change toward 4K HDR with devices, content creation (Final Cut Pro will be 4K and HDR in a future version; can 4K Mac notebook screens be far behind?), and distribution.