September 2, 2013

4K Video Recording in Your Pocket: Acer Introduces the 4K-Capable Liquid S2 Smartphone

Acer_liquids2_4k_smartphoneThe smartphone market is getting pretty crowded these days. Each manufacturer is trying to outdo each other with bigger screens, more resolution, higher CPU and GPU speeds, and anything else imaginable. What's next? 4K video of course. Acer is trying to carve out a bit of the smartphone market with a brand new device, the Liquid S2, which just so happens to be the first smartphone capable of shooting 4K video. So what does it all mean? Do we even care? Is 4K necessary for smartphones? Read on for more.

We've spoken quite a bit about 4K video and where it's at in terms of adoption. Theatrically, at least a third of movie screens now have 4K projectors, and plenty of movies are being shot in 4K or higher resolutions. In the home, however, we're just at the dawn of 4K screens and affordability. While Chinese companies like Seiki are giving us n0-frills 50" 4K screens hovering right around $1,000, it's unclear how fast we'll see super-affordable 4K TVs from the major manufacturers.

4K acquisition, on the other hand, has been a reality for major productions for years now, beginning with cameras like the Dalsa and RED ONE. That's on the professional side, though, where things often move much faster. On the consumer/prosumer side, we've been graced with some mediocre entries like the JVC HMQ10, with a few more likely to be introduced over the next year. We are starting to see things heat up on the consumer side, but in a you-knew-it-was-coming-sooner-or-later move, we now have our first 4K smartphone, the Liquid S2 from Acer:

Acer_liquids2_4k_smartphone

Here's a little bit from their press release with the S2, which will be fully unveiled at the IFA conference this week, with a release in Europe in October (no US date yet):

  • BSI Sensors and LED Ring Flash: Sharper pictures in any environment
  • Video Recording: 4K Ultra HD, fast full HD 1080p 60FPS, 4 x slow motion
  • Full Panorama Pictures: Up to 27-megapixels in a single picture
  • Display 6", full HD (1,920 x 1,080), 368 PPI, IPS
  • Main camera 13 MP auto-focus, f2.2, 28 mm lens, BSI sensor, LED ring flash, 4K video
  • Front camera 2 MP, f2.2, 24 mm lens, 88° wide angle, BSI sensor, 1080p video
  • Processor: Quad-core 2.2 GHz
  • Storage / memory: 16 GB / 2 GB
  • Battery: 3300 mAh, non-replaceable Li-polymer battery
  • Dimensions: 166 x 86 x 8.99 mm,
  • Network: 4G: 800/1800/2600 3G: 900/2100 2G: 850/900/1800/1900
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac/a/b/g/n, Bluetooth® 4.0, GPS+GLONASS, NFC
  • Sensors: Light sensor, accelerometer, proximity sensor, digital compass, gyro
  • Operating system: Android™ 4.2.2

Acer is clearly trying to cram as much stuff into this 6" behemoth as possible. This is a flagship device for them, which is probably why it includes something as "fancy" as 4K video recording -- which can only be played back on a few screens.

Right now, there isn't much point in recording 4K with a cell phone sensor, except if you want better-looking 1080 and some stabilization options later. Very few people will take advantage of it, but if you're the kind of person that just wants to carry one device with you, shooting 4K for 1080 later would give you tons of options to edit some cell phone home movies, or maybe get some better looking b-roll for your narrative/documentary if that's the only recording device you've got.

You could also go all crazy and try to shoot real movies on it with a 35mm adapter (remember those?). It's likely recording the 4K to H.264, so you're probably not dealing with very high fidelity 4K, but the pixels will be there if you want them.

So what does this all mean? 4K is going to be pushed as a standard, because companies want to sell you products. This isn't to say that there aren't benefits to higher resolution recording, but right now, a 4K video smartphone is pretty far ahead of the curve. This is one of the reasons many believe the 4K transition is going to happen faster than 1080, even if it seems like broadcast is years away.

Affordability will be the main hurdle for a few more years, but once that is no longer an issue, people are going to want the latest and greatest tech. 4K and higher bit-depths make for better images, but how much better those images actually look at standard screen sizes and distances will be up for each individual to decide.

What do you guys think? Will you be in line for the giant Acer 4K phone?

Link: Acer announces 6-inch Liquid S2, 'first 4K-recording smartphone' -- Engadget

[via The Verge]

Your Comment

45 Comments

Depending on price, someone could use this for a crash cam.

September 2, 2013 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dose

For documentary this will be stellar. Or for special effects. Camera found footage. Warp stabilizer.

September 2, 2013 at 8:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Al

hey hey

im a consumer

oh look fancy specs

>meanwhile in a store
Consumer: "so with this 4k video thing, can i watch it at 4k?"
Rep: "well not really"
Consumer: "lol who gives a shit is a big fancy number i dont understand....

... i'll buy 5"

LOL

September 2, 2013 at 8:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tyler

+1

September 4, 2013 at 12:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Consumer douchebad: "I'd buy it if it was an iPhone".

September 5, 2013 at 8:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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FabDex

Depending on price, this could be a go pro replacement: 1080p 60FPS, 4 x slow motion.

Proof is in the pudding.

Oh and from the article: "As usual, Acer will sell this handset in Europe, not the US (at least for now)."

September 2, 2013 at 8:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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steve

From what I understand, Samsung, Sony and LG will also soon be offering 4K smartphone shooters (Sony's Honami will have that odd detachable lens/sensor solution, which should theoretically match the compact camera quality, which is pretty decent nowadays). They're obviously not going to let Asus be the flag bearer for the 4K movement.
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What this will do for the photo/video market in general is to force all the major brands to introduce the consumer level 4K cameras or camcorders. Asus and the others will probably compress the heck out of the signal (I think JVC Q10 is only outputting 144 Mbps) but the prosumer and pro cameras/camcorders will likely make a big step from there. Sony is showing a sub-$5K 4K/2K FDR-AX1 camcorder for the ENG market, along with their full line of 4K products. One suspects the others aren't far behind. Because they can't afford to be behind,

September 2, 2013 at 9:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

"We are starting to see things heat up on the consumer side......"

Panasonic has a 4K camcorder coming out in November (projected). It will be using the sensor from the GH3.

September 2, 2013 at 10:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

Any link Gene, if it is the hybrid I've being waiting for this for a long time?

September 7, 2013 at 11:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DIY

No, there is no link. I heard it from an acquaintance. He has years of experience with photography and usually has some insider knowledge.

It's not a mirrorless. It's a camcorder.

What are you looking or in a hybrid? It doesn't exist yet? If there's aspects to hybrids that you wish they had that they don't have you can call the company and connect with the tech department and talk to them about the things you wish they'd add to their hybrid camera. Who knows, maybe they will take up your requests and you'll see those features in their next line. Worth a shot.

September 7, 2013 at 12:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

Sorry for the delay, I was referring to the Panasonic hybrid camcorder, which is a bit like a still and a camcorder combine, sort of like those consumer JVC's in recent years, but 4/3rds I think.

About contacting their technical department, that could work, but sometimes the last thing companies want is thousands of people knocking on their door telling them what they want. It can be as unlikely as cows moonwalking with various companies. However, I've been given a back door knocker with a prominent company on cinema camera development, and another action camera development, and have a few designs I want to offload that could given any descent camera company a shoot of being the top camera company m. Now my other deal has fallen through and gotten over a bout of illness, I might contact them.

Most of these companies miss the point. It is often about what people want to do with their cameras and how best to archieve their "realistic" expectations and what they would like if they had it. These SLR and still type manufacturers miss the point. People, and professionals on foot, don't just want great stills or great video, they want both at the same time. So for the upper market that means a progression to at least 4k still like video and 4k stills. So 4k 200mb/s inter p50 (double data rate for intra), and upto 32 mp stills for now. There is cheap chip technology that should be able to archieve this in a DSLR sized form factor cheaply. They plan probably less than 100mb/s 4kp30 on cheap cameras.

September 13, 2013 at 1:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Diy

So the same crappy mobile phone video quality, but in 4K?! Awesome!

September 2, 2013 at 10:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

I don't think phones, for what they are, have that bad a quality. I bought a Sony camcorder about 8 years ago for $900.00. Its picture was not as good as iPhones now.

September 2, 2013 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

I filmed some friends at a wedding and made the mistake of trying my phone. The picture was lovely looking until you got direct sunlight, I quickly changed to a little older pocket camera I have and it handled it beautifully (a Olympus pen 4/3rds would probably done better again, except in codec terms). makeup covers a lot of things.

September 7, 2013 at 11:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DIY

All resolutions are not created equal. It's the quality of the pixels and the color science that matters.

And GoPro aims to catch up soon.

September 2, 2013 at 10:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Steve

What have you heard GoPro is doing?

I've noticed GoPro doesn't just record extreme sports. The GoPro itself is extreme. If they would just use the guts of the camera to make a second line of cameras, a camcorder, I would be in line to buy!

September 2, 2013 at 10:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

I think we'll see a cinema cam fro GoPro before too long. They did acquire Cineform after-all...

September 2, 2013 at 11:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bwhitz

If they do make one I hope it will be low cost like the HERO line is. I have visions of 5 angles for live streaming with it if it is!

September 3, 2013 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

There's the Novo, which I believe is based on the GoPro...

novocamera.com

September 5, 2013 at 5:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hmm, could be a neat "C" camera on set; to get shots that the larger cameras couldn't get, or just for fill in. But just because it's "4K" doesn't mean that it's actually going to look good. JVC has had a 4K camera out for years that reasonably priced, but I've never seen anyone use one, nor do I know anyone that has ever used one.

Really would like ARRI to make a "student" camera version of the Alexa that was in the same price range as the BMCC. Something schools could rent/buy.

September 2, 2013 at 10:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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neil

I agree and really think gopro are in the box seat to bring out a cinema camera that competes with the BMCC. Given they own an amazing compressed raw codec in cineform, if they did it right it would hit the BMCC right in their Achilles heel.

September 2, 2013 at 10:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Paul

I brought this up on another thread - Sony has a 1080 24p video recording on a $399 20 MP camera and it looks pretty darn good. [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbat2C0EXcQ ]
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What reasons do folks have now to spend upwards of $2,000 on anything? What features can they gain? Well, 4K may be one. Larger sensor is another. A fully articulating screen. Faster auto focus. Most of them are marginal improvements. Aside of 4K and larger sensors, it's becoming a commodity business. There is a reason why Canon is thinking of moving to the currently super-high end medium format. If they make that transition successfully, then they can offer a crap load of new lenses. Or they have to get into the medical, and security imaging. 4K is pretty much their last hurrah in the consumer market.

September 3, 2013 at 12:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Reasons: Dynamic range, build quality, codec, audio inputs, SDI outs, ergonomics, manual controls, actual resolved detail, low light, etc.

September 5, 2013 at 2:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Eric

If it would have been 4.265 or h.625 the next generation avchd then maybe this would be attractive because ive heard dynamic range would be improved along with better compression.

I see they also beat the GALAXY NOTE 3 and GOPRO 4 to the punch,

This is the equivalent of putting a turbo charger in an old school hyndai with new body covering the outside,

September 3, 2013 at 12:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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JAYEEE

Compression cannot improve dynamic range past the sensor's native capability. It can only ever retain the exposure latitude or make it worse, not improve it.

September 3, 2013 at 7:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mr Blah

Next year we will have a nikon dslr shooting 4k and new canon cinema cameras shooting 4k.

September 3, 2013 at 4:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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geraldo

Tell you what, don't knock these phones.

On Sunday I interviewed a famous celebrity. The Canon 305 crashed twice(!), the GoPro B Cam also crashed but I got four minutes of usuable footage from my iPhone 4 running an app called 'Pro Camera' that allowed me to lock focus, lock exposure and shoot 25fps at 720p. I had the phone on a mini arm and it basically saved my bacon for my documentary. So yes, I would buy one of these 4k phones.

September 3, 2013 at 5:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ADC

A little ridiculous. Coming from someone that has shot/used IPhone 4 footage in a television show.. I love having an HD camera with me all the time (the shot I used in the TV show was a 5 minute shot I sped up of a sunset pressed against the window of a commercial airplane which would have been impossible with any other camera ). But 4k? I'd rather someone figure out a phone with decent dynamic range, and more importantly a sensor that doesn't have ridiculous rolling shutter issues. A camera phone is meant to be handheld, start there and then figure out decent dynamic range, and if you get past that I non holga lens that will let you shoot into the sun.

September 3, 2013 at 12:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ADC, this was meant to be a general reply, not a direct one to your comment. :)

September 3, 2013 at 12:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I agree that it would be better to develop camera phones with those features you mention.
I had my iPhone on a tripod on a medium close up so it worked in this case. I got away with it and it felt good because I had no intention of shooting on the phone.

Improved resolution is good but I too would prefer a sensor that trumps rolling shutter and has a wider dynamic range. I guess '4K' in an easier sell to Joe Public.

September 4, 2013 at 10:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ADC

Very cool and useful story ADC. What do you do about the fish eye when you use GoPros?

September 3, 2013 at 10:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

On the new 'Black' version of the GoPro 3 you can select a narrow, medium or wide (native) field of view.

Also, if you shoot 2.7k you can crop in to the image. It was a last minute shoot so I had to rush to the venue and the GoPro was the only B cam I had to hand. Not ideal, I'll say but any camera is a better back up than none at all (as was the case with the iPhone).

September 4, 2013 at 10:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ADC

Thanks for the reply.

September 4, 2013 at 8:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

My phone shoots 1080p that is not as good as 480p should be. Why would I want 4K? Give me good 720p and I'll be happy (for someone shooting with a phone).

September 3, 2013 at 7:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Shoots 4K, but runs Android 4.2.2. Classic.

September 3, 2013 at 10:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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According to Engadget, 4K is in 20 Mpbs ... in other words, a buzzword in name only.

September 3, 2013 at 12:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

I'm gonna wait to pull the trigger till it shoots 6k AND 3D, no wait.. 4D!

September 3, 2013 at 2:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David

This will not be "stellar" for special effects... Resolution alone should weigh in at no more than roughly 20-30% of what you judge a camera by, and that's if you're only counting variables that affect image quality and disregarding ergonomics, workflow-ease, durability, market-support, lens-support and other real-world factors.

And when you evaluate those 20-30% accounted for by resolution, you should always be mindful not to look at a spec-sheet or marketing terms like HD or 4K - I can almost guarantee that the 1080p 60fps on this smartphone will not resolve more actual lines than the 720p 60fps on a Canon C300.

September 3, 2013 at 3:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Davíð

I'll offer a counterpoint - this is just the first salvo. The next model down the road will have a detachable lens and six times the processing power and just might look pretty close to what a compressed 4K should look like.

September 3, 2013 at 7:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

4k and 1080p are the same thing from 10 feet away. you have to literally stare at it from a foot to see a difference.

September 4, 2013 at 11:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ishoot720p

I've done tests from like 15 feet and can see pixels on my 42 inch.

September 7, 2013 at 11:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DIY

Just back to reply to somrbody else, but thought Id add, I can see the spaces between the pixels on my local vmax screen, which I think is 4k and the annoying grain effect on the screen itself, not sitting close to it, I wear glasses?

September 13, 2013 at 1:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Diy

I wonder how this does in low light conditions? The Lumia 1020 and some other fancy phones are supposed to do fantastic with low light, and in the case of Lumia 1020, zooming (somehow). That is far more important than megapixels and video pixels. Also how aggressive the the lossy compression is can make a huge difference.

November 13, 2013 at 4:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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danwat1234

This is the best for video shooting if you use mobile phones: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/4pzoom-zoom-control-for-your-mobile-p...

May 6, 2014 at 12:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nik

When some one searches for his vital thing, so he/she wishes to be available that in detail, so
that thing is maintained over here.

August 19, 2014 at 10:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM