Forget 4K: The Future of TV is "Wide Field of View" According to Netflix

By Adam Scott on at

As 3D TVs continue on their slow march to the bargain bin, all AV enthusiasts' eyes turn to the promise of ultra-high definition 4K screens. But for movie streaming dominators Netflix, 4K may already be yesterday's news.

Speaking to TechRadar, Neil Hunt (Netflix's Chief Product Officer) believes the future instead lies with "wide field of view" programming. And for that, we're going to need a screen that doesn't just fill the standard 30 degrees of our vision, but 120 degrees instead.

Currently the guideline for a TV is that you view it from a distance equivalent to 1.5 times the screen size. What that means is when the director of photography shoots a scene he knows which wide angle lens to put on to make the perspective look elongated from normal. But it's entirely based on the physics of how far you are from the screen, so if you sit further away from it, everything looks flat. If you sit too close, everything looks wide angle and too far apart.

To counteract that, Hunt is hoping that manufactures will work on displays in the form of a "100-inch widescreen" to be viewed from the same couch distance as today, allowing for "added ambiance for the other two thirds," either side of the central focus point.

Hunt's description sounds like the an artistic advance upon the overwhelming size of an IMAX screen, with the potential to scale to a living room -- he suggests being able to watch a nature program, hear a bird tweet at the far side of the picture, and have the viewer turning their attentions to the periphery of the scene. It certainly sounds immersive.

That's not to suggest Netflix will be skipping out on 4K. Quite the opposite in fact: Hunt's team is positioning itself as a leading supporter of the medium, if only to distance itself from accusations it's only good for "scratchy 320p webisodes". But if Hunt's expectations bear fruit, you may be wasting your money saving up for a "mere" 4K display. And for a person so entrenched in the broadcast industry to be so excited about such potential innovations, you have to wonder if he hasn't already got some insider information on the sort of televisions sitting over the horizon. [TechRadar]