8K TV: What it’s worthwhile to know


Samsung’s 98-inch 8K TV.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Simply whenever you had been getting used to the concept of TVs with 4K decision, right here comes 8K. In 2019 the primary 8K TVs went on sale, and proper now in 2020 you possibly can select from a number of 8K TVs, with extra on the best way later this yr. 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

Value is one purpose 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, vice chairman of Business Evaluation at NPD Group, in December 2019. “8K will migrate down in value however it would face a stiffer problem than 4K, for instance, as the value factors and the marketplace for very massive TVs are actually extremely established and really value aggressive.” The financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic may push the adoption of 8K TVs even additional into the long run.

However the day will come when 4K and 8k go the best way of all these decrease resolutions and are changed by an even bigger quantity. Does this imply 4K TV is already out of date? Do it’s worthwhile to rush out and purchase an 8K TV or danger being unable to observe your favourite reveals? Do you want an 8K TV for the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Sequence X

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

8K TV shopping for recommendation: Do not

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

  • Until you have got 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 massive display screen.
  • To get essentially the most out of any 8K TV, you want precise 8K content material.
  • There’s mainly no 8K content material (motion pictures and TV reveals) accessible proper now and little prospect of any within the subsequent yr.
  • Each new consoles promise 8K decision, however that is doubtlessly very deceptive.
  • Within the subsequent few years 8K TVs will get cheaper and maybe truly be price contemplating.

Now that you have slid your pockets again into your pocket, sit again and soak in all the things there’s to learn about 8K TVs at this time. 

Learn extra: Bear in mind when TVs weighed 200 kilos? A glance again at TV developments through the years

What’s 8K?

A standard HDTV from a couple 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 consult with the horizontal decision, they name that “2K,” however it’s mainly the identical because the HDTV 1080p you have got 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.” Nevertheless, on the TV aspect, manufacturing efficiencies meant we received 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 whole pixels. Not solely is that Four occasions the decision of 4K, that is an unbelievable 16 occasions extra pixels than 1080p. Or to place that in a different way, you could possibly put 16 full-resolution 1080p movies on an 8K display screen on the similar time with no lack of high quality. I am undecided why you’d need to do that, however hey, why not?

TV resolutions

Decision identify Horizontal x vertical pixels Complete 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 fashionable 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 likely be an official brand and “spec” on new 8K TVs. This goes past uncooked pixel rely to assist shoppers discover TVs that carry out to a minimum of 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 correct):

  • At the least 7,680 pixels horizontally and 4,320 vertically. 
  • At the least one HDMI enter able to accepting that decision, at 50 or 60 fps (relying on area), with HDR. 
  • The power to upconvert decrease decision alerts to 8K.
  • The power to obtain, and show, 10-bit content material.

Do you want 8K?

Not even a little bit. 

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

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It is uncommon that anybody will get a big sufficient TV — or sits shut sufficient to at least one — to justify the necessity for 4K resolutions. 8K is extreme overkill… a minimum of for a TV. In the event you’re speaking about huge theater-size screens like Samsung’s Wall or Sony’s Cledis, 8K could be superb. However since 4K is difficult to discern when evaluating to a 1080p TV, 4K to 8K from 10 ft away will likely be just about unattainable.

That stated, as a result of 8K TVs are at present at costliest choices from an organization, they usually even have options that assist it produce some gorgeous photographs that don’t have anything to do with decision. So 8K TVs doubtless look nice, no matter their pixel rely.

Learn extra: Samsung’s 2020 TVs go on sale, deal with 8K, price a bundle

What about content material? 

With out 8K content material, an 8K TV is only a 4K TV with a couple of thousand {dollars} caught to it with duct tape. Samsung talks up fancy “AI” upscaling expertise on its TVs, designed to enhance the look of mere 4K and 1080p sources on an 8K display screen. And different TV makers like Sony and LG have touted their very own 8K particular sauces. However to get essentially the most out of all these 33 million-plus pixels, the incoming supply must be 8K too.

There are three principal elements to getting any new format viewable in your house: the content material itself, transmission and playback. The Samsung 8K TV, and others that can absolutely comply with, symbolize the playback aspect. As within the TV or projector in your house. That is the simple half.

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Content material is more durable. First off, there are solely few cinema cameras able to capturing 8K. Japan’s NHK has been dabbling, and can doubtless transmit a good portion of the Tokyo Olympics, every time it lastly occurs, in 8K. There was some 8K content material shot on the final a number of Olympics, so count on much more. There are a handful of channels on YouTube that showcase 8K content material, principally nature documentaries and the like.

Purple, one of many principal digicam firms used for Hollywood motion pictures, has a number of fashions that may report on this decision, as do a couple of others. Apparently, there have already been characteristic movies shot in 8K. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the primary, adopted by Mortal Engines, The New Mutants and some others which can be upcoming. Creating 8K content material is more difficult, as the fee for these cameras, plus the computer systems and storage able to coping with a whole lot of terabytes, if not a number of petabytes of data, don’t come low-cost.

There are additionally a rising variety of client cameras that may report 8K, like Canon’s EOS R5, and even some smartphones, like Samsung Galaxy S20.

Learn extra: Samsung Galaxy S20 8K decision video seize: Must you care?


The Purple Monstro 8K VV “Mind” has a 35.4-megapixel CMOS sensor, can report 8K video at 60 fps, has over 17 stops of dynamic vary, and prices — brace your self — $54,500. 


So once I say there’s “no” content material, that is a little bit of hyperbole. There are some movies exhibiting up on-line, as an increasing number of content material producers are experimenting with the format. Nevertheless, it should be a very long time earlier than you begin seeing your favourite reveals or motion pictures in 8K. That stated, there are advantages to 8K video even when your finish result’s playback on 4K or 1080p shows.

So what concerning the new Xbox and PlayStation?

Each Sony and Microsoft have introduced that their next-generation gaming consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Sequence X, will each be able to outputting 8K decision. Appears like a fantastic excuse to purchase an 8K TV, proper? Not so quick.

First, and most essential, you’ll not want an 8K TV to play video games on these consoles. They’ll work simply tremendous on most 1080p and practically all 4K TVs. In the event you can join a PS4 or Xbox One to your present TV, it would work with a PS5 or Xbox SX. 

Secondly, video games will must be particularly written to benefit from 8K, one thing that is not going to be notably frequent. The PS4 Professional, for instance, has been out for practically 4 years and there nonetheless are just a few dozen video games that truly render in 4K. That is a bit of tremendous print that is a little bit onerous to know. The decision you see on display screen may not be what decision the console is rendering the sport. It’s miles extra frequent for the console to construct the sport’s visuals at a decrease decision, 1440p maybe, after which a separate chip will upconvert that to 4K to ship your TV. That is the similar factor your TV does routinely if you happen to play a DVD.

Learn extra: Sony PS5 vs. Microsoft Xbox Sequence X: Sport on for vacation 2020

Lengthy story quick, few video games will look a lot totally different on an 8K TV than they may on a 4K TV. There’s restricted money and time whenever you develop a recreation (effectively, most video games), and few builders will need to make investments these restricted sources on one thing solely a handful of individuals will be capable to get pleasure from. Way more doubtless are video games rendered in 4K with larger framerates, one thing else made doable by the most recent model of HDMI and accessible on the brand new consoles.

A number of megabits = new HDMI cables

Getting the 8K onto your new 8K TV can also be a little bit of a problem. Ideally, the TV’s inside apps will likely be 8K suitable. You’d suppose that’d be a given, however it wasn’t within the early days of 4K. Additional, there is not any 8K content material from the likes of Netflix, Amazon or Vudu. YouTube, as you see within the video above, is one choice, as is Vimeo. Ultimately, ATSC 3.0, also referred to as Subsequent Gen TV, would possibly permit 8K to be broadcast over the air, however we’re a lengthy approach from that.

8K additionally presents one other concern for the early adopter: the bandwidth required goes to be ridiculous. Most 4K content material streaming firms suggest you have got an web connection within the 20Mbps vary. 8K, even with all the things else the identical, has 4 occasions as many pixels. That does not equate precisely to a 4x enhance in knowledge or bandwidth, however, and that is only a ballpark guess, a connection requirement within the 40 to 50Mbps vary would not be surprising. Perhaps you, expensive CNET reader, have that form of velocity, however the overwhelming majority of individuals don’t.


A visible illustration of how rather more bandwidth the upcoming Extremely Excessive Velocity cables can deal with.

HDMI Discussion board

Apparently, we have already received the bodily connection factor sorted in case any 8K media streamers hit the market or they’re wanted for the PS5 and Xbox SX. HDMI 2.1 is able to 8K resolutions and extra. However earlier than you rush out and top off on HDMI 2.1-compatible cables, have in mind there’ll nearly actually be a brand new commonplace between now and vast adoption of 8K. So these cables is likely to be out of date, regardless of their present forward-looking look.

The entire main 8K TV makers say that their units have HDMI 2.1 inputs able to dealing with the 48Mbps bandwidth required for the very best decision and frame-rate mixtures (8K and 60 frames per second and 4K at 120 FPS). We additionally received a glance at some new, higher-bandwidth HDMI cables. 

To benefit from larger 4K framerates on the brand new consoles, presuming your TV can deal with them, you would possibly want new cables.

Why, CNET, whyyyyy???

To placed on my cynic hat, rising decision is without doubt one of the best methods to supply the looks of upper efficiency. That is doubtless what TV makers are smoking, popping out with 8K TVs when there’s basically no content material and no 8K infrastructure. 

Given how simple it was to market 4K as “higher trying than 1080p,” TV makers are claiming the identical factor with 8K. However decision is only one facet of general image high quality, and never some of the essential ones. Enhancing different elements, like distinction ratios, general brightness for HDR, extra lifelike colours and so forth, supply higher picture enhancements however are considerably better technical challenges. That is very true for LCD expertise, one thing Samsung remains to be strongly flogging — all of its QLED TVs are simply LCD TVs with quantum dots

It is comparatively simple to create a higher-resolution LCD panel, however enhancing the opposite elements of efficiency for that tech is a better problem. This is the reason OLED is a factor, and why many firms, together with Samsung, are researching new applied sciences like true direct-view quantum dot shows, MicroLED, mini-LED, and different applied sciences.


Direct-view quantum dot show.


Do not look forward to 8K

So if you happen to’re excited about shopping for a brand new TV, does this imply you must maintain off? Properly, in case your present TV works, you must most likely maintain on to it regardless, however new 8K TVs should not be an element. As we talked about above, these early 8K TVs are very costly. We’re additionally many, a few years away from any type of widespread 8K content material. We arguably do not have widespread 4K content material, and nobody is speaking about scrapping 4K to go on to 8K.

The opposite facet is a warning that will likely be seconded by numerous 4K early adopters: There is no such thing as a assure these early 8K TVs will find yourself being suitable with any future 8K commonplace. There are tens of hundreds of 4K TVs that may’t play any present 4K media content material. 

Why pay exorbitant quantities of cash on a TV that hardly has any content material now, and may not be capable to play any later? Bragging rights, I assume, and if that is your factor, who am I to face in your approach? Simply needless to say present HDR 4K TVs look vastly higher than each first-gen 4K TV and value a fraction of the value. 

Replace August 13, 2020: Added data about new 8K TVs, together with the part on the next-gen consoles.

Received a query for Geoff? First, take a look at all the opposite articles he is written on subjects like why you should not purchase costly HDMI cablesTV resolutions definedhow HDR works and extra.

Nonetheless have a query? Tweet at him @TechWriterGeoff, then take a look at his journey images on Instagram. He additionally thinks you must take a look at his best-selling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines and its sequel

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