The history of television has come a long way, from standard definition to 1080p (aka Full HD) to 4K (aka Ultra-high-definition) and now 8K (aka Super Hi-Vision or Full Ultra High-Definition). While most of us are still trying to grasp what 4K TV means or even think of buying one, the futuristic 8K TV is already here. CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2020, which opened its gates on 7th January, showcased a new range of 8K TVs, led by Samsung’s Q950. The new technology is exciting, but will we be getting 8K TVs any time soon or should we just focus on 4K TV? Let's get into the details.
What Is 8K?
When you hear the term 8K, you’ll be forgiven to think that it means double the resolution of a 4K TV. However, when it comes to TV technology, mathematics becomes strange and the numbers don’t make sense. 8K describes the resolution of the TV, which is the number of horizontal and vertical pixels that a TV screen can display. Typically, the more pixels an image has, the higher the image quality. To set the picture, here's what the numbers mean:
- A 720p (HD) TV has 1280 horizontal pixels and 720 vertical pixels (1280 x 720), which equals around 921,600 pixels.
- A 1080p (Full HD or FHD) TV has 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels (1920 x 1080), which equals around 2,073,600 (2 million) pixels.
- 4K has 3840 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical pixels (3840 x 2160). The total number of pixels translates to around 8.3 million (8,294,400).
- 8K has 7680 horizontal pixels and 4320 vertical pixels (7680 x 4320). This translates to around 33 million (33,177,600) pixels in an 8K display. As you can see, the numbers just don’t add up, but that’s how it is. In comparison, 8K resolution is 36 times the pixels of HD, 16 times the pixels of FHD and four times the pixels of 4K.
Do Pixels Matter?
Absolutely. An image with a higher resolution of say 4K (that’s 8.3 million pixels), can't be compared to a 1080p image. Now, with the advent of 8K TVs, the image quality is taken to another level.
What Makes 8K TV a Game Changer?
Let's say you have a 70-inch 1080p TV and you live in an apartment with an average size living room. The image quality may look terrible since you’ll notice the pixels. To enjoy great image quality, you’ll have to sit pretty far from the TV. On the other hand, 4K TVs improve on this but you’ll still need some distance between you and the 70-inch 4K TV to get the best experience. Now, with 8K TV, you can sit pretty close and still enjoy the best picture quality. It will be more of a cinema-like experience with finer details than ever before. Another benefit of an 8K TV is that even when you're not viewing 8K content, you’ll still get immersed in the best picture in TV technology. Again, the screen size and distance to the display screen make a huge difference when watching 1080p, 4K or the new 8K TV. There’s still little information on how an 8K TV performs outside of the controlled demonstration rooms. But, soon enough, we’ll be able to tell all the difference.
Should I Skip 4K and Buy 8K TV Instead?
The short answer is no. First, it’s the price shocker. 8K TVs are way too expensive for ordinary people to afford. The cheapest, a 65-inch Samsung, goes for around $3,500. Although we expect the prices to drop to a reasonable range, it will take a couple of years. Over the years, the market for very large TVs has been rising and the prices, including those of 4K TVs, have become very competitive. That said, consumers are still familiarizing themselves with 4K TVs. This means that 8K TVs might take longer to be embraced by the larger consumer base.
What 8K TVs Are Already on the Market?
8K TVs have been around for a little while now. Samsung’s Q900R 8K TV was released in late 2018 and received high ratings. As expected the prices were staggering. The 65-inch model was offered at $5,000, the 85-inch model at $15,000, and the 98-inch model at a whopping $70,000. There are other players as well. Sony’s z9G 98-inch 8K TV has a steep price of $70,000 while the 85-inch model costs $13,000. LG and TCL have also displayed their new 8K TV models and they happen to be impressive.
8K Content is Not Yet Available
While 8K TV is going to be a hot topic in 2020, consumers will have to wait longer to watch 8K content. However, Hollywood has already dipped its toe in the 8K realm and a few movies have already been shot in 8K, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. According to sources, the upcoming Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo will also be shot in 8K. However, you’ll have to be in Japan to experience the 8K material. So, while we wait for 8K content and 8K TV prices to drop to a ‘normal’ range, our focus remains on 4K OLED TVs.
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