The latest and greatest thing in TVs are new models with 8K resolution. That’s 7680x4320 pixels or four times as many pixels as a 4K TV and 16 times as many as a 1080p TV. Do these new 8K TVs offer a differentiated experience? Can you see the difference?
What About 8K Content?
It is true that is limited native 8K content today, but that was also true of native 4K content 5 years ago. Today, there is a decent amount of native 4K HDR content available and I believe 8K content will come along at a similar pace in the coming years.
Japan is already broadcast 8K content on an 8K satellite channel and is gearing up to broadcast the full 2020 Summer Olympics from Tokyo in 8K. With this precedent set, it will be hard for major sporting events to now not be captured in 8K. China is expected to be a major market for 8K TVs so content creation is expected to heat up there soon, and also in Korea. In Europe, Rakuten in Spain has announced the first 8K streaming service and SES Astra may be offering 8K satellite service soon as well.
Streaming service providers led the adoption of 4K and I expect them to lead with the adoption of 8K. None have made public announcements yet, but with the introduction of improved compression technologies in the next 2 years allowing 8K streaming at acceptable data rates, don’t be surprised to see these companies vying to be the leader in 8K streaming. And, Sony has announced that the next PlayStation platform, PS-5, will be 8K capable. This is also expected to arrive in 2020.
As you can see, all the pieces are coming together to drive creation of 8K content in 2020 and beyond. But the reality is that almost all content for the next 2 years is going to be in 4K and 2K resolution, so isn’t that a problem? In short, no.
The new 8K TV have very powerful upscaling engines that create an image that has more pixel than the incoming image. Upscaling has been done for decades in all kinds of devices where the incoming image resolution does not match the display resolution. But this term is now obsolete because the algorithms to do this are now much more sophisticated. Maybe a better term is image restoration.