The Consumer Electronics Association announced on October 17, 2012, that "Ultra High-Definition", or "Ultra HD", would be used for displays that have an aspect ratio of at least 16:9 and at least one digital input capable of carrying and presenting native video at a minimum resolution of 3840×2160 pixels.
Ultra high definition is also known as Ultra HD, UHD, and UHDTV. In Japan, 8K UHDTV will be known as Super Hi-Vision since Hi-Vision was the term used in Japan for HDTV. In the consumer electronics market companies had previously only used the term 4K at the 2012 International CES but that had changed to Ultra HD during the 2013 International CES. The Ultra HD term is an umbrella term that was selected by the Consumer Electronics Association after extensive consumer research.
IBM introduced the first UHDTV production monitor, the IBM T220, in June 2001 with a 3840x2400 native format. It was manufactured by IDTech. Improved follow-on models with IBM T221 as the base model number, were introduced in the following years.
NHK researchers built their own UHDTV prototype which they demonstrated in 2003. They used an array of 16 HDTV recorders with a total capacity of almost 3.5 TB that could capture up to 18 minutes of test footage. The camera itself was built with four 2.5 inch (64 mm) CCDs, each with a resolution of only 3840x2048. Using two CCDs for green and one each for red and blue, they then used a spatial pixel offset method to bring it to 7680x4320.[a] Subsequently, an improved and more compact system was built using CMOS image sensor technology and the CMOS image sensor system was demonstrated at Expo 2005, Aichi, Japan, the NAB 2006 and NAB 2007 conferences, Las Vegas, at IBC 2006 and IBC 2008,Amsterdam, Netherlands, and CES 2009. A review of the NAB 2006 demo was published in a Broadcast Engineering e-newsletter. Individuals at NHK and elsewhere project that the timeframe for UHDTV to be available in domestic homes varies between 2015 to 2020 but Japan may get it in the 2016 time frame.
On December 31, 2006, NHK demonstrated a live relay of their annual Kōhaku Uta Gassen over IP from Tokyo to a 450 in (11.4 m) screen in Osaka. Using a codec developed by NHK, the video was compressed from 24 Gbit/s to 180–600 Mbit/s and the audio was compressed from 28 Mbit/s to 7–28 Mbit/s. Uncompressed, a 20-minute broadcast would require roughly 4 TB of storage.
The SMPTE first released Standard 2036 for UHDTV in 2007. UHDTV was defined as having two levels called UHDTV1 (3840×2160 or 4K UHDTV) and UHDTV2 (7680x4320 or 8K UHDTV).
In May 2007, the NHK did an indoor demonstration at the NHK Open House in which a UHDTV signal (7680x4320 at 60 fps) was compressed to a 250 Mbit/s MPEG2 stream. The signal was input to a 300 MHz wide band modulator and broadcast using a 500 MHz QPSK modulation. This "on the air" transmission had a very limited range (less than 2 meters), but shows the feasibility of a satellite transmission in the 36,000 km orbit.
On September 29, 2010, the NHK partnered up and recorded The Charlatans live in the UK in the UHDTV format, before broadcasting over the internet to Japan.
On May 19, 2011, SHARP in collaboration with NHK demonstrated a direct-view 85 in (220 cm) LCD display capable of 7680×4320 pixels at 10 bits per pixel. It was the first direct-view Super Hi-Vision-compatible display to be released.
Before 2011, UHDTV allowed for frame rates of 24, 25, 50, and 60 fps. In an ITU-R meeting during 2011, an additional frame rate was added to UHDTV of 120 fps.
In April 2012, NHK (in collaboration with Panasonic) announced a 145 in (370 cm) display (7680×4320 at 60 fps), which has 33.2 million 0.417 mm square pixels.
In April 2012, the four major Korean terrestrial broadcasters (KBS, MBC, SBS, and EBS) announced that in the future, they would begin test broadcasts of UHDTV on channel 66 in Seoul. At the time of the announcement, the UHDTV technical details had not yet been decided.LG Electronics and Samsung will also be involved in the test broadcasts of UHDTV.
In May 2012, NHK showed the world's first ultra-high-definition shoulder-mount camera. By reducing the size and weight of the camera, the portability had been improved, making it more maneuverable than previous prototypes, so it can be used in a wide variety of shooting situations. The single-chip sensor uses a Bayer color-filter array, where only one color component is acquired per pixel. Researchers at NHK have also developed a high-quality up-converter, which estimates the other two-color components to convert the output into full resolution video.
Also in May 2012, NHK showed the ultra-high-definition imaging system it has developed in conjunction with Shizuoka University, which outputs 33.2-megapixel video at 120 fps with a color depth of 12 bits. As ultra-high-definition broadcasts at full resolution are designed for large, wall-sized displays, there is a possibility that fast-moving subjects may not be clear when shot at 60 fps, so the option of 120 fps has been standardized for these situations. To handle the sensor output of approximately 4 billion pixels per second with a data rate as high as 51.2 Gbit/s, a faster analog-to-digital converter has been developed to process the data from the pixels, and then a high-speed output circuit distributes the resulting digital signals into 96 parallel channels. This 1.5 in (38 mm) CMOS sensor is smaller and uses less power when compared to conventional ultra-high-definition sensors, and it is also the world's first to support the full specifications of the ultra-high-definition standard.
During the 2012 Summer Olympics in Great Britain, the format was publicly showcased by the world's largest broadcaster, the BBC, which set up 15 meter wide screens in London, Glasgow, and Bradford to allow viewers to see the Games in ultra-high definition.
On May 31, 2012, Sony released the VPL-VW1000ES 4K 3D Projector, the world's first consumer-prosumer projector using the 4K UHDTV system, with the shutter-glasses stereoscopic 3D technology priced at US$24,999.99.
On August 22, 2012, LG announced the world's first 3D UHDTV using the 4K system.
On September 15, 2012, David Wood, Deputy Director of the EBU Technology and Development Department (who chairs the ITU working group that created Rec. 2020), told The Hollywood Reporter that Korea plans to begin test broadcasts of 4K UHDTV next year. Wood also said that many broadcasters have the opinion that going from HDTV to 8K UHDTV is too much of a leap and that it would be better to start with 4K UHDTV. In the same article Masakazu Iwaki, NHK Research senior manager, said that the NHK plan to go with 8K UHDTV is for economic reasons since directly going to 8K UHDTV would avoid an additional transition from 4K UHDTV to 8K UHDTV.
On October 18, 2012, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced that it had been unanimously agreed on by a vote of the CEA's Board of Industry Leaders that the term "Ultra High-Definition", or "Ultra HD", would be used for displays that have a resolution of at least 8 megapixels with a vertical resolution of at least 2,160 pixels and a horizontal resolution of at least 3,840 pixels. The Ultra HD label also requires the display to have an aspect ratio of at least 16x9 and to have at least one digital input that can carry and present a native video signal of 3840x2160 without having to rely on a video scaler. Sony announced that their 4K products will be marketed as "4K Ultra High-Definition (4K UHD)".
On October 23, 2012, Ortus Technology Co., Ltd announced the development of the world's smallest 3840x2160 pixel LCD panel with a size of 9.6 in (24 cm) and a pixel density of 458ppi. The LCD panel is designed for medical equipment and professional video equipment.
On October 25, 2012, LG Electronics began selling the first flat panel Ultra HD display in the United States with a resolution of 3840x2160. The LG 84LM9600 is a 84 in (210 cm) flat panel LED-backlit LCD display with a price of US$19,999 though the retail store was selling it for US$16,999.
On November 30, 2012, Red Digital Cinema Camera Company announced that they were taking pre-orders for the US$1,450 REDRAY 4K Cinema Player which is capable of outputting 4K resolution to a single 4K display or to four 1080p displays arranged in any configuration and connected using four HDMI 1.4 connections. Video output can be 4K DCI (4096x2160), 4K Ultra HD, 1080p, and 720p at frame rates of up to 60 fps with a bit depth of up to 12-bits with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling. Audio output can be up to 7.1 channels. Content will be distributed online using the ODEMAX video service. External storage can be connected using eSATA, Ethernet, USB, or a Secure Digital memory card.
On January 8, 2013, Broadcom announced the BCM7445 which is an Ultra HD decoding chip capable of decoding High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) at up to 4096x2160p at 60 fps. The BCM7445 is a 28 nm ARM architecture chip capable of 21,000 DhrystoneMIPS with volume production estimated for the middle of 2014. On the same day THX announced the "THX 4K Certification" program for Ultra HD displays. The certification involves up to 600 tests and the goal of the program is so that "content viewed on a THX Certified Ultra HD display meets the most exacting video standards achievable in a consumer television today".
On January 14, 2013, Blu-ray Disc Association president Andy Parsons stated that a task force created three months ago is studying an extension to the Blu-ray Disc specification that would add support for 4K Ultra HD video.
On January 25, 2013, the BBC announced that the BBC Natural History Unit will produce Survival which will be the first wildlife TV series to be filmed in 4K resolution. This was announced after the BBC had experimented with 8k during the London Olympics.
On April 19, 2013, SES announced the first Ultra HD transmission using the HEVC standard. The transmission had a resolution of 3840x2160 and a bit rate of 20 Mbit/s.
On May 9, 2013, NHK and Mitsubishi Electric announced that they had jointly developed the first HEVC encoder for 8K Ultra HD TV, which is also called Super Hi-Vision (SHV). The HEVC encoder supports the Main 10 profile at Level 6.1 allowing it to encode 10-bit video with a resolution of 7680x4320 at 60 fps. The HEVC encoder has 17 3G-SDI inputs and uses 17 boards for parallel processing with each board encoding a row of 7680x256 pixels to allow for real time video encoding. The HEVC encoder is compliant with draft 4 of the HEVC standard and has a maximum bit rate of 340 Mbit/s. The HEVC encoder was shown at the NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories Open House 2013 that took place from 30 May to June 2. At the NHK Open House 2013 the HEVC encoder used a bit rate of 85 Mbit/s which gives a compression ratio of 350:1.
On May 21, 2013, Microsoft announced the Xbox One which will support 4K resolution (3840×2160) video output and 7.1 surround sound. Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing and strategy for Microsoft, has stated that there is no hardware restriction that would prevent Xbox One games from running at 4K resolution.
In mid-2013, a China television manufacturer produced the first 50-inch UHD television set costing less than $1,000.
On June 11, 2013, Comcast announced that they had demonstrated the first public U.S. based delivery of 4K Ultra HD video at the 2013 NCTA show. The demonstration included segments from Oblivion, Defiance, and nature content sent over a DOCSIS 3.0 network.
On June 13, 2013, ESPN announced that they would end the broadcast of the ESPN 3D channel by the end of the year and that they will "experiment with things like UHDTV".
On June 26, 2013, Sharp announced the LC-70UD1U which is a 70 in (180 cm) 4K Ultra HD TV. The LC-70UD1U is the world's first TV with THX 4K certification.
On July 2, 2013, Jimmy Kimmel Live! recorded in 4K Ultra HD a performance by musical guest Karmin and the video clip will be used as demonstration material at Sony stores.
On July 3, 2013, Sony announced the release of their 4K Ultra HD Media Player with a price of US$7.99 for rentals and US$29.99 for purchases. The 4K Ultra HD Media Player only works with Sony's 4K Ultra HD TVs.
On July 15, 2013, the CEA announced the publication of CEA-861-F which is a standard that can be used by interfaces such as DVI, HDMI, and LVDS. CEA-861-F adds support for several Ultra HD video formats and additional color spaces.
On September 2, 2013 Acer announced the first smartphone dubbed Liquid S2 capable of recording 4K.
On September 4, 2013, the HDMI Forum announced the release of the HDMI 2.0 specification which can support 4K resolution at 60 fps. On the same day Panasonic announced the Panasonic TC-L65WT600 which will be the first 4K TV to support 4K resolution at 60 fps. The Panasonic TC-L65WT600 will have a 65 in (170 cm) screen, support for DisplayPort 1.2a, support for HDMI 2.0, an expected ship date of October, and a suggested retail price of US$5,999.
On September 12–17, 2013, at the 2013 IBC Conference in Amsterdam, Nagra introduced a Ultra HD User Interface called Project Ultra based on HTML 5 which works with OpenTV 5.
On October 4, 2013, DigitalEurope, announced the requirements for their UHD logo in Europe. The DigitalEurope UHD logo will require that the display support a resolution of at least 3840x2160, a 16:9 aspect ratio, the Rec. 709 (HDTV) color space, 8-bit video, 24p/25p/30p/50p/60p frame rates, and 2 channel audio.
On October 29, 2013, Elemental Technologies announced support for real-time 4K Ultra HD HEVC video processing. Elemental provided live video streaming of the 2013 Osaka Marathon on October 27, 2013, in a workflow designed by K-Opticom, a telecommunications operator in Japan. Live coverage of the race in 4K Ultra HD was available to viewers at the International Exhibition Center in Osaka. This transmission of 4K Ultra HD HEVC video in real-time was an industry-first.
On November 28, 2013, Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi chief Dmitri Chernyshenko stated that the 2014 Olympic Winter Games are to be filmed in 8K Super Hi-Vision.
On December 25, 2013, YouTube added a "2160p 4K" option to its videoplayer. Previously, a visitor had to select the "original" setting in the video quality menu in order to watch a video in 4K resolution. With the new setting, YouTube users can much more easily identify and play 4K videos.
On December 30, 2013, Samsung announced availability of its 110-inch Ultra HDTV for custom orders, making this the world's largest Ultra HDTV so far.
On May 6, 2014, France announced DVB-T2 tests in Paris for Ultra HD HEVC broadcast with objectives to replace by 2020 the current DVB-TMPEG4 HD national broadcast.
On May 26, 2014, satellite operator Eutelsat announced  the launch of Europe's first Ultra HD demo channel in HEVC, broadcasting at 50 frames/second. The channel is available on the Hot Bird satellites and can be watched by viewers with 4k TVs equipped with DVB-S2 demodulators and HEVC decoders.