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Patent licensing terms still murky for next-gen video

A patent licensing group has revealed many names of the corporate muscle behind an important next-generation video compression technology -- but the license itself remains elusive even as the technology arrives in the marketplace.

The technology, called HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) or H.265, is a codec used to encode and decode video for more economical storage and transmission across networks. It's designed to make a transition to 4K Ultra HD video more feasible on today's network connections.

HEVC/H.265 is the sequel to today's dominant technology, AVC/H.264 -- and it's at … Read more

VLC steps into next-gen video wars with VP9, HEVC support

VideoLAN's VLC media player software has added experimental support for two video compression formats, HEVC and VP9, that are at the center of a technologically and legally complicated fight for the future of online video.

VLC 2.1.1, free and open-source software released Thursday, continues with the program's broad support philosophy by supporting many compression formats. That neutrality, though, is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to next-generation video formats.

The video competition is chiefly between Google's open-source VP9 codec and HEVC, which has patent royalty burdens but which comes from a standards … Read more

Google touts benefits of WebP image format

Google, which controls both ends of the Internet connection for a significant fraction of online activity, has a lot of power over the Internet. A little image-format tweak to one of its Web sites shows just how much.

Few others have expressed much enthusiasm for its WebP image format, an offshoot of the WebM project to promote a royalty-free video codec. Google asserts that its smaller file sizes would unburden networks and help Web pages load faster, but as Mozilla likes to point out when grappling with such matters, adding a new format to the Web means adding a requirement … Read more

HEVC video standard finished; high-end improvements coming

An array of companies have finished work on video compression technology called HEVC or H.265 that promises better video to start with and that paves the way for higher-end extensions next year, they announced today.

The High Efficiency Video Codec supports 4K "UltraHD" video -- and perhaps 8K as well if the video industry can convince buyers that so many pixels are worthwhile. Perhaps more important, given how many people watch video online these days, it doubles video quality for a given network data capacity.

HEVC has the potential to spread very widely indeed. It's the … Read more

Google's new VP9 video technology reaches public view

VP9, the successor to Google's VP8 video compression technology at the center of a techno-political controversy, has made its first appearance outside Google's walls.

Google has built VP9 support into Chrome, though only in an early-stage version of the browser for developers. In another change, it also added support for the new Opus audio compression technology that's got the potential to improve voice communications and music streaming on the Internet.

VP9 and Opus are codecs, technology used to encode streams of data into compressed form then decode them later, enabling efficient use of limited network or storage … Read more

New HEVC video compression wins big over today's standard

A new compression technology represents a significant improvement over today's standard, a new study found. The result could help pave the way for video with at least four times the pixels of today's 1080p standard.

The new compression technology, called HEVC or H.265, is significantly better than today's prevailing standard video codec, called AVC or H.264, researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland, concluded.

"The test results clearly exhibited a substantial improvement in compression performance, as compared to AVC," the researchers said. "As ultra-high definition television has recently … Read more

HEVC, a new weapon in codec wars, to appear in September

A trade show in September will be the coming-out party for video technology called HEVC or H.265, a new arrival in a hotly contested market for the best approach to compression.

HEVC, short for High Efficiency Video Coding, is for encoding and decoding video streams so they can be stored or transmitted more economically than today's dominant H.264, aka AVC or Advanced Video Coding. Specifically, HEVC allies say it can deliver the same quality video as H.264 with half the network bandwidth.

The codec has been in the making for years, but it's now almost … Read more

Qualcomm shows horsepower of next-gen H.265 video

BARCELONA, Spain--H.264 is today's leader when it comes to mainstream video encoding technologies, but it will have to share the stage in 2013 with a successor called H.265 that can squeeze a video into nearly half the file size.

H.264, also known as the Advanced Video Codec (AVC), defines how a video can be compressed for reduced storage requirements and--very importantly given the online video explosion--for streaming across networks. H.265, also called High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC), uses new techniques to compress video even more.

Qualcomm, a San Diego-based chipmaker that's on the international standards group developing H.265, … Read more

What is 4K UHD? Next-generation resolution explained

As if 3D TV and LED LCD vs. OLED vs. plasma and 120Hz and the Soap Opera Effect weren't confusing enough, in the last year we have seen the rise of a new HDTV technology called 4K. Or if you use its official name, Ultra High Definition (UHD).

UHD is an "umbrella term" that encompasses higher resolutions (more pixels) than HDTV, as well as more realistic color and higher frame rates. Today and this year, pretty much the only one of those improvements available in new TVs and content is 4K resolution, so that's what we'll talk about here. Judging from the new TVs shown at CES 2014, manufacturers are tripping over themselves to bring you a new array of 4K compatible products.

But just like 3D and HD before it, 4K has a case of putting the hardware chicken before the software egg. About 15 months after 4K TVs first appeared on the market , there's little consumer 4K content available: no TV channels or Blu-ray discs, just a few specialized video players, YouTube and other clips of varying quality, and promises of streaming video.

Still, the shift from 1080p to 4K TV hardware is inevitable. This year 4K TVs will replace high-end 1080p models as the best-performing LED LCD-based sets on the market -- although the reason they're better will have nothing to do with resolution.

Confused again? Don't worry, we'll walk you through, starting with the question: So what is 4K anyway, and what makes it different from high definition?… Read more