What is 8K and do I Need a New TV?

Technology is ever-changing and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the latest advances. As a corporate video production house, we are well aware of this phenomenon. In 2013, 4K televisions became available to consumers. Within a couple of years, they became more affordable. Now 8kUHD TV, also known as Super Hi-Vision, has burst on the scene. So what is 8K and do we even need to worry about it yet?


What is 8K and do I Need a New TV?
8K has four times the pixels of 4K

Resolution refers to the number of horizontal and vertical pixels that make up an image. More pixels means better definition. A 4K TV has 3840×2160 resolution, while an 8K TV has 7680×4320 resolution. That’s about 33.2 million pixels for an 8K image, about four times as many as a 4K image. If you’re still watching an HD TV, you’re seeing 1/16 of the pixels. When Sharp rolled out the first 8K TV at CES five years ago, the 85-inch model blew people away.

What Can I Watch in 8K?

Let’s agree that 8K is the sharpest, most vivid image able to be produced for and by a television. But here’s the rub: there’s not much to watch in 8K. In fact, broadcast tv still doesn’t support 4k—you’ll need to go elsewhere to get your fix. That means content for 4K, a format that’s been around for six years, is still ramping up. This is par for the course since next-generation televisions always precede the content.

What is 8K and do I Need a New TV?
Japan’s NHK plans to launch an 8K channel in December

So who’s producing 8K content?NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, has already dipped its toe in the 8K pool. YouTube has supported the format for years and Vimeo has been onboard for almost a year. It’s assumed that paid streaming services will follow suit shortly.

There are platforms that can support 8K, although the bandwidth eaten up by this format is significant. Providers are already struggling with 4K bit rates and consumers would need to upgrade to receive 8K content. Regardless, NHK plans on launching the world’s first 8K television channel in December and showcasing the format during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.


What is 8K and do I Need a New TV?
Can we see the 8K difference?

If you’re worried about keeping up with the neighbours, you can relax. Televisions with 8K capability are not yet available to consumers in North America. In Japan, it’s possible to buy an 8K TV for around US$10,000. Should you be wealthy enough to buy one of these models, and you found content to watch, you would be treated to a resolution that meets the limitations of the human eye. The pixels are so tiny and so dense, our brains don’t detect scan lines and the image looks real.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: I was able to go online and fill out an order an 85-inch Q900 QLED Smart 8K UHD TV from Samsung. It would only ship to a US address and the price tag was just shy of US$15,000. I hear Sony and LG are also working on consumer models with LG predicting sales of five million sets by 2022.

Stick to 4K for Now

Most reports say the reality of 8K TV is still a ways off. It’ll be years before consumer sets are mass-produced and affordable and it’ll take time for content to ramp up, too. There’s also the matter of whether we’d see the difference between 4K and 8K. No doubt 8K TVs are coming, but ignore the hype for now. Better to set your sights on 4KUHD, which is the format we use at Key West Video. Call us today for a free quote.