8K TVs - the story so far...
So Sharp has its 8K monitor at IFA 2018, which launched in Europe earlier in the year.
Samsung has the Q900R QLED 8K TV here at IFA 2018, and is promising it will be on sale within weeks, in four sizes from 65-inch to 85-inch (and the bigger the better with 8K).
Toshiba has an 8K model here as a concept, but Tosh Europe is not the same as Tosh Australia is not the same as Tosh America, so we needn’t worry about that one much in Australia for the moment.
TCL is another company promising bone fide launches, aiming for April 2019, with a FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Edition 8K QLED TV, a customised edition from TCL’s global partnership with the International Basketball Federation. This seems an odd way to break into 8K, until you realise the 2019 Basketball World Cup finals are taking place in China, which loves its basketball, and guess where predictions place the vast bulk of early 8K TV sales! TCL is a sponsor of the Finals.
Besides, if you don’t like basketball, well, it can likely be used for other things... once the content comes along. It’s a 75-incher, not quite as big as the image above (behind TCL’s Portuguese Senior Designer Tiago Abreu) might imply...
LG’s 8K OLED was an exciting prospect (more details here), but turned out to be a bit of a squib — “Don’t ask us when, don’t ask us how much!” bellowed a disembodied presenter through a ceiling PA. "Don't bother showing it then," remarked a wit nearby.
But the picture was, admittedly, exceedingly gorgeous. “It is ready for production,” continued the presenter, but LG is apparently still weighing up the business sense of launching this early when the content situation is so unclear.
The connections for 8K are problematic too — if you did have some 8K content on some source device, there’s no HDMI connection capable of carrying it, though the first 8K silicon was hoped to be launching here as well. Sharp’s solution is to bundle four HDMI cables together to carry the signal.
Sony doesn’t have any 8K TVs yet, but does have cameras, proudly presenting at IFA its three-sensor 8K camera system for broadcast, which delivers deep depth of field, high dynamic range, and most excitingly it can do this at 120 frames per second. Broadcasters are very keen on 120fps, we’re told by Paul Gray of IHS Markit, but we’re a whole generation of HDMI away from 8K/120 capability, so don’t expect it to chug into your living room any time soon.
That makes upscaling the main focus for those putting 8K TVs into the market, although your photos should look pretty schmick too, given that many smartphones, D-SLRs and mirrorless cameras are pushing up to these resolutions.
But we’re not aligning with the 8K cynics on this one — though we do agree that putting 8K on a 65-inch (as Samsung has done) seems almost entirely pointless unless you plan to have your nose on the screen. With much larger panels the higher resolution will allow close-up seating positions that deliver very wide angles of view — creating an 'IMAX effect' for TV if you like, even more so than with a projection system in a home or even real cinema. As with IMAX, wide angles of view deliver real immersion, fooling the brain into accepting the image as reality. With 8K the days of a ‘window onto the world’ may be over, replaced by a world of realism in your living room.
One day. At a price.