Paramount launching into Ultra HD Blu-ray with Star Trek
Kirk and Spock are set to explore the strange new world of Ultra HD Blu-ray movies. Photo: Zade Rosenthal
Boldly going where no movie has gone before, Paramount is releasing Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness on Ultra HD Blu-ray in June as the studio's first foray into the new movie disc format.
two-movie set will go on sale in the United States on June 14, selling
for US$47.99 which includes UHD, Blu-ray and Digital HD copies of each
movie along with several hours of behind the scenes content for both
films including the IMAX version of Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Australians remain in Ultra HD Blu-ray limbo, we've had Ultra HD
televisions for several years and prices are falling but we're still
waiting for the home entertainment giants to unveil details of the first
local Ultra HD disc players (word is that we might know more in May).
HD Blu-ray players are expected to be on Australian shelves this year
and will be backwards compatible with Blu-ray discs with the added bonus
of Ultra HD upscaling. As with previous disc formats the manufacturers
will certainly coordinate with the movie studios to ensure that at least
a handful of blockbuster UHD titles are available from day one.
The good news for Australians is that the new Ultra HD disc format is
region-free, so discs imported from the US should play in Australian
players. Keep in mind that the bundled Star Trek Blu-ray discs will be
Region A for the US, whereas Australia is in Region B. Australians are
better off buying Blu-ray discs from Europe, which is also Region B.
Most region-free Blu-ray players sold in Australia are only region-free
for DVD, not Blu-ray.
It's surprising that the movie studios are
prepared to abandon region coding when it makes it easier for them to
price gouge around the world, so it will be interesting to see how UHD
discs are priced and what other roadblocks they put in the way. That
US$47.99 price tag for Star Trek translates to about AU$64 – I'd expect
it to be higher but they can't get too greedy considering that US Amazon
doesn't seem to restrict shipping UHD discs to Australia, if The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is anything to go by.
the US, streaming services such as Netflix and Sony's new "Ultra" movie
store are expected to drive the take up of Ultra HD, but it will be a
different story in Australia where Ultra HD streaming remains beyond the
reach of many homes until the NBN reaches their doorstep. Right now
only 8.2 per cent of homes have access to fixed-line broadband speeds of
15 Mbps, according to the latest Akamai State of the Internet report,
which is barely enough to do Ultra HD justice (HDR-enabled content demands more).
course there's more to picture quality than resolution and 1080p
streaming video doesn't look as good as 1080p Blu-ray discs. It will be
interesting to see how Ultra HD streaming video stands up against the
same content playing from disc. To sweeten the deal, Star Trek on UHD
also features the high-end Dolby Atmos surround sound format.
Francisco Javier Just Vernet