8K TV: everything you need to know
8K TVs from LG, Samsung and Sony have arrived, but is it really worth buying one?Believe it or not, 8K TV is already here. From 8K TVs to 8K broadcasts, there has already been a huge amount of work put into making the resolution a reality for consumers.
We’ve already reviewed the first 8K TVs to market in the shape of the Samsung QE85Q900R (85in) and Samsung QE65Q900R (65in) QLED TVs, and had a first look at the Sony ZG9 8K TV. And with more 2019 8K TVs on the way from LG and Huawei, 8K resolution has very much arrived.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s remember the current state of play. It’s fair to say 4K TV has only in the last year or so become mainstream. That doesn’t mean we’re all watching it, all the time – but if you’re sizing up a new TV and you care about picture quality, 4K resolution should be on your wish list. And thanks to the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, 4K Blu-ray, BT and Sky, there is suddenly ample 4K content to watch.
But, as ever in consumer electronics, there is always something new on the horizon. The prospect of 8K certainly shouldn’t affect your eagerness to go 4K – but to be informed is to be empowered, so we thought we’d round up the state of play for 8K.
So, who’s working on 8K TV? And when could we be watching it? And is it actually that much better than 4K? Read on.
What is 8K?
What we’re talking about here is resolution. This means the number of horizontal and vertical pixels. Pixels equal information, so more pixels should mean a better quality image. That’s the theory, at least.
In the case of 8K, this means a horizontal resolution of 7680 pixels and a vertical resolution of 4320 pixels, or 4320 resolution video.
By comparison, 4K video has half the number of horizontal lines and half the number of vertical lines (3840 x 2160), for a resolution of 2160. Full HD is 1920 x 1080, or 1080.
All this means 8K has four times as many pixels as 4K, and 16 times the number as Full HD.
Who is making 8K content?
8K video developments to date have largely been driven by filmmakers and TV broadcasters. From a video-editing point of view, the higher resolution can be useful. While filmmakers may not ultimately deliver an 8K film, shooting in the higher resolution gives editors room to manoeuvre, allowing for cropping and zooming while still retaining a high-resolution image. That said, 6K cameras are currently far more prevalent in Hollywood.
Meanwhile in Japan, broadcasters have been experimenting with 8K TV for some time. Back in 2015 the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, NHK, ran a series of 8K trials, and in 2016 the company announced it was successfully demoing 8K broadcasts. So successful were the trials, NHK has now launched the world’s first 8K television channel. Since 1st December 2018, it has broadcast 8K TV shows on a daily basis, 12 hours a day.
With Japan aiming to deliver 8K broadcasts in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it looks like a plan is coming together. Surely they just need to figure out that live workflow…
The Korean Broadcasting Corporation (KBS) is also researching 8K broadcasts, working with LG on content, possible broadcasts and displays – there was 8K experimentation at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. And if you were in Brazil last summer, you could have watched the 2018 World Cup in 8K.
The likes of Netflix and YouTube were, of course, quick out of the blocks when it came to 4K content, and now streaming site Vimeo has jumped aboard with 8K. A recent update adds support for HDR and 8K resolution videos. Naturally, you will need an 8K screen to really take advantage…