8K TVs are likely to be one of the main topics of conversation at CES 2020, so now is the time to find out what 8K Ultra HD is and how it differs from 4K Ultra HD. Comparatively speaking, while 4K Ultra HD is four times higher than Full HD, 8K Ultra HD is four times higher than 4K Ultra HD and 16 times higher than Full HD. But how important is this step in the development of video technology, and will the new format ever replace 4K Ultra HD? These are serious questions, and in this article, we will answer them.
Are 8k TVs Good?
In terms of arithmetic, 8K is seeming twice the 4K resolution, but it really isn’t. After all, we are talking here about two dimensions – horizontal and vertical, so the number of pixels in 8K format – 7680 x 4320 or 33 million (33 117 600 to be exact) – is 16 times higher than in HD format and 4 times higher than in 4K format – 3840 x 2160 (8,294,400 pixels). For a visual representation of 8K, make a two-by-two rectangle of four 4K TVs. A result is a huge number of pixels.
In general, other technologies, such as high dynamic range, can have a more noticeable effect on the image, especially when viewed from a distance. So, HDR significantly affects the brightness and color of the picture. However, 8K is undoubtedly noticeable on large screens and up close.
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history of 8K TVs
8K TVs began to emerge at a time when 4K was gaining traction. 8K displays came first, and then Sharp showed the first 8K TV at CES 2013 with an impressive 216cm screen. Of course, it was just a demo that did not go on sale that year, or even for several years after, as is often the case with the emergence of advanced technologies.
Subsequently, several other companies began to create their own 8K prototypes, although there was an acute shortage of content even in 4K resolution in the market. An important milestone in the development of the new format was the launch of the first satellite channel in 8K resolution by the Japanese broadcaster NHK in 2016. In the same year, NHK filmed and broadcast some events of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 8K, although viewers could only see them in their original format in special cinemas.
In September 2019, the US Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced an 8K TV certification program, assigning a special 8K Ultra HD logo to eligible models. This certification is voluntary, and manufacturers, upon successful passing of testing, have the right to use the specified logo on packaging and in advertising materials. Its purpose is to inform buyers that they are purchasing products that meet the latest standards.
To be certified, a TV must have a true 8K resolution (7680 x 4320) and be capable of converting low-resolution content to full 8K. It should also be HDR compatible, although it is not specified which version. Finally, at least one of the connectors must be HDCP 2.2 compliant to receive a 10-bit color signal at the pixel level.
When will 8K TVs become widely available?
8K TVs are already available on the market. Samsung launched its first 8K model in 2018, and at CES 2019 has already unveiled an entire Q950R lineup ranging from 140cm to 249cm, starting at $ 3,500.
LG’s first OLED 8K model is also the largest OLED in history, with the $ 30,000 Z9 OLED 8K 223cm currently on sale. If this price confuses you, then the company offers a 190cm alternative to the NanoCell 8K for $ 5,000.
Sony’s ZG9 8K series is available in 216cm and 249cm diagonal sizes, although at $ 70,000 for the larger model, you pay a hefty extra for the extra inches.
China’s TCL intended to release the Roku 8K model this year, but plans have now been pushed back to 2020. It will most likely be the most affordable 8K TV on the market.
At the moment, the 8K format is outside the budgets of the vast majority of buyers, and this situation is likely to continue in the coming year. However, as new producers enter this segment, prices will decline rapidly. We’ve all witnessed the fall in the value of 4K TVs over the past couple of years, as is the case for 8K TVs, and it is possible that the fall will be even more rapid.
To give readers a sense of the dynamics at issue, recall that the first Sharp 8K TV for “professional use” went up for sale in 2015 for $ 133,000. And today the price of the 140cm Samsung 8K TV is only 3% of the price of the Japanese pioneer. Changes in the modern TV market are happening quite quickly.
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are 8K tvs have better content quality
Even if you are the proud owner of an advanced format TV, you will be faced with a shortage of original programs in 8K quality. But the situation is gradually changing.
The streaming service Vimeo announced support for 8K, and today has over 6,000 videos in this format. YouTube adopted the 8K standard even earlier and also has thousands of videos in the new quality, although its search filter can only set the maximum resolution in 4K. Japan’s NHK launched an 8K test channel in December 2017 and switched it to permanent mode last year. Owners of 8K TVs in the Land of the Rising Sun can enjoy the content, albeit limited, from this channel today. The largest event for the development of the new format will be the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which will be broadcast in Japan in 8K quality. Whether they will be available to viewers from other countries is still unknown.
But the scarcity of original 8K content isn’t a reason to skip buying an 8K TV, especially a big screen one. Modern models can convert 4K to 8K, and the difference in quality will be obvious. To prove it, Samsung once held a demonstration by setting up two 216cm TVs side-by-side. One of them played 4K content, and the other played the same content converted to 8K. The difference was clearly in favor of high resolution. By the way, the new Samsung 8K models are equipped with a specially designed processor that uses artificial intelligence to convert low-resolution footage to 8K in real time on a frame-by-frame basis.
In the meantime, 8K cameras have already hit the market, and sooner or later, production studios will start filming programs in the new resolution. The only question is how long this process will take. Perhaps, as a hint, you can pay attention to what the situation is with the content in 4K format today. Streaming platforms such as Amazon, Netflix, Vudu and others already offer 4K video streaming, and the selection of 4K UHD Blu-ray movies is already large and growing. Although, on the other hand, the volume of programs in 4K is only a small fraction of the volume of programs in HD resolution.
The spread of the digital ATSC 3.0 standard will eventually lead to 4K broadcasting over terrestrial networks, cables and satellites. Technically, the 8K format is compatible with ATSC 3.0 technology, but the main task for providers is to eliminate the lack of 4K content for the huge mass of owners of the corresponding TVs.
With the rapid rise in popularity of HDR technology, providers are also focusing on making their programs compatible with this relatively new format, which is also downgrading 8K content.
Yes, today you can already get an 8K TV and find yourself in the same situation that early buyers of 4K TVs were in. But from a practical point of view, such a step is still difficult for most viewers to justify. The actual situation today is that 4K TVs will be relevant for a long time to come.