8K TV is here (already), but don’t be afraid

Samsung’s 98-inch 8K TV.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

Simply while you have been getting used to the concept of TVs with 4K resolution, right here comes 8K. In 2019 the primary 8K TVs went on sale, and proper now in 2020 you’ll be able to select from a number of 8K TVs, with extra on the way in which later this 12 months. producers like Samsung, Sony, LG and TCL are doing their finest to persuade you that an 8K TV is definitely worth the funding. And it is fairly an funding, at present greater than $3,000 for a 65-inch 2020 Samsung. 

Worth is one motive why we’re nonetheless years away from 8K TVs being commonplace. “On a unit foundation we do not count on 8K to exceed 1% of quantity till 2022,” stated Stephen Baker, vp of Business Evaluation at NPD Group, in December 2019. “8K will migrate down in value however it’s going to face a stiffer problem than 4K, for instance, as the value factors and the marketplace for very giant TVs at the moment are extremely established and really value aggressive.” The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic might push the adoption of 8K TVs even additional into the long run.

However the day will come when 4K and 8k go the way in which of all those lower resolutions and are changed by an even bigger quantity. Does this imply 4K TV is already out of date? Do you have to rush out and purchase an 8K TV or threat being unable to observe your favourite reveals? Do you want an 8K TV for the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X

The reply to all of those questions is “no.” This is why.

8K TV shopping for recommendation: Do not

Earlier than we get into the nitty gritty, here is a fast abstract of our present considering relating to 8K TVs.

  • Until you will have cash to burn, do not even contemplate shopping for one proper now.
  • From what we have seen, there’s little or no picture high quality enchancment over 4K TVs.
  • Any picture high quality enchancment we have seen required sitting very near a really giant display screen.
  • To get probably the most out of any 8K TV, you want precise 8K content material.
  • There’s mainly no 8K content material (films and TV reveals) out there proper now and little prospect of any within the subsequent 12 months.
  • Both new consoles promise 8K decision, however that is doubtlessly very deceptive.
  • Within the subsequent few years 8K TVs will get cheaper and maybe really be value contemplating.

Now that you have slid your pockets again into your pocket, sit again and soak in all the pieces there may be to learn about 8K TVs right now. 

What’s 8K?

A conventional HDTV from a number of years in the past is 1080p, which suggests it has 1,920 pixels horizontally, and 1,080 vertically. Many digital cinema projectors — those in film theaters — have a decision of two,048×1,080. As a result of it is common in Hollywood-speak to solely seek advice from the horizontal decision, they name that “2K,” however it’s mainly the identical because the HDTV 1080p you will have at house.


Mathias Appel/HDMI Licensing

The time period “4K” comes from the digital cinema aspect, too, with a horizontal decision of 4,096, therefore “4K.” Nonetheless, on the TV aspect, manufacturing efficiencies meant we acquired double the horizontal and vertical resolutions of 1080p HDTV, so 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. Everybody colloquially calls this “4K,” although the technical time period is Extremely HD. This has 4 occasions as many pixels as 1080p HD.

Which brings us to 8K. You guessed it: twice the horizontal and vertical decision of 4K, for a whopping 7,680×4,320 and 33,177,600 complete pixels. Not solely is that Four occasions the decision of 4K, that is an unimaginable 16 occasions extra pixels than 1080p. Or to place that in another way, you possibly can put 16 full-resolution 1080p movies on an 8K display screen on the identical time with no lack of high quality. I am unsure why you’d wish to do that, however hey, why not?

TV resolutions

Decision title Horizontal x vertical pixels Whole pixels Different names Discovered on
8K 7,680×4,320 33,177,600 8K Extremely HD, Extremely Excessive-Definition (UHD), Tremendous Hello-Imaginative and prescient, UHD-2 Excessive-end TVs
4K 3,840×2,160 8,294,400 Extremely Excessive-Definition (UHD) Most trendy TVs
1080p 1,920×1,080 2,073,600 Excessive-Definition (HD) Smaller, less-expensive, and older TVs
720p 1,280×720 921,600 Excessive-Definition (HD) Even smaller, and older, TVs

Client Expertise Affiliation’s 8K Extremely HD brand


One factor to search for in new 8K TVs: there will be an official logo and “spec” on new 8K TVs. This goes past uncooked pixel depend to assist shoppers discover TVs that carry out to no less than a sure commonplace. That is partly to keep away from the mess from the early days of HD and 4K, the place a number of the first TVs could not settle for a full HD or later, a 4K sign. The Client Expertise Affiliation lays out the next minimums a TV is required to should put on the 8K Extremely HD brand (seen to the appropriate):

  • Not less than 7,680 pixels horizontally and 4,320 vertically. 
  • Not less than one HDMI enter able to accepting that decision, at 50 or 60 fps (relying on area), with HDR. 
  • The power to upconvert lower resolution signals to 8K.
  • The power to obtain, and show, 10-bit content material.

Do you want 8K?

Not even a bit of. 

As we have explained many times with 4K TVs, there is a level of diminishing returns in relation to decision. The human eye can solely see a lot element, and additional pixels past what you’ll be able to discern are mainly wasted. To get something out of upper resolutions and their proportionally tinier pixels, you have to sit nearer, get an even bigger TV, or each.

samsung infiniti screen0 copy

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It’s rare that anyone gets a large enough TV — or sits close enough to one — to justify the need for 4K resolutions. 8K is excessive overkill… at least for a TV. If you’re talking about massive theater-size screens like Samsung’s Wall or Sony’s Cledis, 8K would be amazing. But since 4K is hard to discern when comparing to a 1080p TV, 4K to 8K from 10 feet away will be pretty much impossible.

That said, because 8K TVs are currently at most expensive offerings from a company, they often also have features that help it produce some stunning images that have nothing to do with resolution. So 8K TVs likely look great, regardless of their pixel count.

What about content? 

Without 8K content, an 8K TV is just a 4K TV with a few thousand dollars stuck to it with duct tape. Samsung talks up fancy “AI” upscaling technology on its TVs, designed to improve the look of mere 4K and 1080p sources on an 8K screen. And other TV makers like Sony and LG have touted their own 8K special sauces. But to get the most out of all those 33 million-plus pixels, the incoming source needs to be 8K too.

There are three main aspects to getting any new format viewable in your home: the content itself, transmission and playback. The Samsung 8K TV, and others that will surely follow, represent the playback side. As in the TV or projector in your home. That’s the easy part.


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Content is tougher. First off, there are only few cinema cameras capable of capturing 8K. Japan’s NHK has been dabbling, and will likely transmit a significant portion of the Tokyo Olympics, whenever it finally happens, in 8K. There has been some 8K content shot at the last several Olympics, so expect even more. There are a handful of channels on YouTube that showcase 8K content, mostly nature documentaries and the like.

Red, one of the main camera companies used for Hollywood movies, has several models that can record in this resolution, as do a few others. Interestingly, there have already been feature films shot in 8K. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the first, followed by Mortal Engines, The New Mutants and a few others that are upcoming. Creating 8K content is more challenging, as the cost for these cameras, plus the computers and storage capable of dealing with hundreds of terabytes, if not multiple petabytes of information, do not come cheap.

There are also a growing number of consumer cameras that can record 8K, like Canon’s EOS R5, and even some smartphones, like Samsung Galaxy S20.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S20 8K resolution video capture: Should you care?


The Red Monstro 8K VV “Brain” has a 35.4-megapixel CMOS sensor, can record 8K video at 60 fps, has over 17 stops of dynamic range, and costs — brace yourself — $54,500. 


So when I say there’s “no” content, that’s a bit of hyperbole. There are some videos showing up online, as more and more content producers are experimenting with the format. However, it’s going to be a long time before you start seeing your favorite shows or movies in 8K. That said, there are benefits to 8K video even if your end result is playback on 4K or 1080p displays.

So what about the new Xbox and PlayStation?

Both Sony and Microsoft have announced that their next-generation gaming consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, will both be capable of outputting 8K resolution. Sounds like a great excuse to buy an 8K TV, right? Not so fast.

First, and most important, you will not need an 8K TV to play games on these consoles. They will work just fine on most 1080p and nearly all 4K TVs. If you can connect a PS4 or Xbox One to your current TV, it will work with a PS5 or Xbox SX. 

Secondly, games will need to be specifically written to take advantage of 8K, something that isn’t going to be particularly common. The PS4 Pro, for example, has been out for nearly four years and there still are only a few dozen games that actually render in 4K. That’s a piece of fine print that’s a little hard to understand. The resolution you see on screen might not be what resolution the console is rendering the game. It’s far more common for the console to build the game’s visuals at a lower resolution, 1440p perhaps, and then a separate chip will upconvert that to 4K to send your TV. This is the same thing your TV does automatically if you play a DVD.

Long story short, few games will look much different on an 8K TV than they will on a 4K TV. There is limited time and money when you develop a game (well, most games), and few developers will want to invest those limited resources on something only a handful of people will be able to enjoy. Far more likely are games rendered in 4K with higher framerates, something else made possible by the latest version of HDMI and available on the new consoles.

Lots of megabits = new HDMI cables

Getting the 8K onto your new 8K TV is also a bit of a challenge. Ideally, the TV’s internal apps will be 8K compatible. You’d think that’d be a given, but it wasn’t in the early days of 4K. Further, there’s no 8K content from the likes of Netflix, Amazon or Vudu. YouTube, as you see in the video above, is one option, as is Vimeo. Eventually, ATSC 3.0, also known as Next Gen TV, might allow 8K to be broadcast over the air, but we’re a long way from that.

8K also presents another issue for the early adopter: the bandwidth required is going to be ridiculous. Most 4K content streaming companies recommend you have an internet connection in the 20Mbps range. 8K, even with everything else the same, has four times as many pixels. That doesn’t equate exactly to a 4x increase in data or bandwidth, but, and this is just a ballpark guess, a connection requirement in the 40 to 50Mbps range wouldn’t be unexpected. Maybe you, dear CNET reader, have that kind of speed, but the vast majority of people do not.


A visual representation of how much more bandwidth the upcoming Ultra High Speed cables can handle.

HDMI Forum

Interestingly, we’ve already got the physical connection thing sorted in case any 8K media streamers hit the market or they’re needed for the PS5 and Xbox SX. HDMI 2.1 is capable of 8K resolutions and more. But before you rush out and stock up on HDMI 2.1-compatible cables, keep in mind there will almost certainly be a new standard between now and wide adoption of 8K. So those cables might be obsolete, despite their current forward-looking appearance.

All of the major 8K TV makers say that their sets have HDMI 2.1 inputs capable of handling the 48Mbps bandwidth required for the highest resolution and frame-rate combinations (8K and 60 frames per second and 4K at 120 FPS). We also got a look at some new, higher-bandwidth HDMI cables. 

To take advantage of higher 4K framerates on the new consoles, presuming your TV can handle them, you might need new cables.

Why, CNET, whyyyyy???

To put on my cynic hat, increasing resolution is one of the easiest ways to offer the appearance of higher performance. This is likely what TV makers are smoking, coming out with 8K TVs when there’s essentially no content and no 8K infrastructure. 

Given how easy it was to market 4K as “better looking than 1080p,” TV makers are claiming the same thing with 8K. But resolution is just one aspect of overall picture quality, and not one of the most important ones. Improving other aspects, like contrast ratios, overall brightness for HDR, more lifelike colors and so on, offer better image improvements but are significantly greater technical challenges. This is especially true for LCD technology, something Samsung is still strongly flogging — all of its QLED TVs are just LCD TVs with quantum dots

It’s relatively easy to create a higher-resolution LCD panel, but improving the other aspects of performance for that tech is a greater challenge. This is why OLED is a thing, and why many companies, including Samsung, are researching new technologies like true direct-view quantum dot displays, MicroLED, mini-LED, and other technologies.


Direct-view quantum dot display.


Don’t wait for 8K

So if you’re thinking about buying a new TV, does this mean you should hold off? Well, if your current TV works, you should probably hold on to it regardless, but new 8K TVs shouldn’t be a factor. As we mentioned above, these early 8K TVs are very expensive. We’re also many, many years away from any sort of widespread 8K content. We arguably don’t have widespread 4K content, and no one is talking about scrapping 4K to go directly to 8K.

The other aspect is a warning that will be seconded by countless 4K early adopters: There is no guarantee these early 8K TVs will end up being compatible with any future 8K standard. There are tens of thousands of 4K TVs that can’t play any current 4K media content. 

Why pay exorbitant amounts of money on a TV that barely has any content now, and might not be able to play any later? Bragging rights, I guess, and if that’s your thing, who am I to stand in your way? Just keep in mind that current HDR 4K TVs look vastly better than every first-gen 4K TV and cost a fraction of the price. 

Update August 13, 2020: Added info about new 8K TVs, along with the section on the next-gen consoles.

Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he’s written on topics like why you shouldn’t buy expensive HDMI cablesTV resolutions explainedhow HDR works and more.

Still have a question? Tweet at him @TechWriterGeoff, then check out his travel photography on Instagram. He also thinks you should check out his best-selling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines and its sequel

#dont #afraid


Geoffrey Morrison