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8K - What Is It?



If you’ve spent any time looking for a new TV, you’ve probably already heard of 8K, which claims to offer the highest-resolution picture you can get. Coming straight on the heels of recent upgrades to picture quality, 8K Ultra HD TV is indeed a ground breaking new format, offering a whopping four times the resolution of 4K. The problem is, not only are these new 8K TVs considerably more expensive than their 4K brethren, there is also virtually no 8K content available to view on them yet.


Current 8K models are ideal for any AV enthusiast interested in the ultimate entertainment experience. But, as we saw when HDTV first came out in the late 1990s, hardware typically hits the market well before the content. In fact, even though 4K Ultra HD TVs have been selling for about a decade, 4K content is still catching up.


So, why the slow uptake? And, more importantly, is it worth spending the cash on this new technology now or should you wait for more content? Here’s everything you need to know about 8K TV.


What is 8K?

8K Ultra HD TV is the newest TV format, quadrupling the resolution of 4K. By the numbers, that’s 7,680 horizontal and 4,320 vertical pixels on a screen for a total of approximately 33 million pixels (which is simply the picture elements that make up a TV picture). Compare that with 3,840 x 2,160 and 8 million pixels for 4K TV and it ends up being quite a difference.



The more pixels, the sharper, more detailed and brighter the picture. With 8K resolution, you can sit closer to a massive screen and not see the individual pixels that create the image. That, in turn, gives you a more realistic, theatre like experience.


8K resolution also means “better circles and curves,” such as a sun setting on the horizon. By having pixels smaller and closer together, “you don’t have jagged edges at all, so a circle is more accurate. Colour pops off the screen more in 8K too. Not only are colours more saturated in 8K, they’re more accurate as well. Flesh tones, for example, are more refined.


Why is 8K taking so long?

The arrival of 8K TV happened well before there was any native 8K content. Despite some technology statement broadcasts from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and some 8K experiments in the UK with rugby there’s virtually no professionally shot 8K content available to show off the overachieving pixels. You can find plenty of user-generated 8K content on YouTube and Vimeo, though.


The 8K Association, a cross-industry trade alliance, says the Blu-ray Disc format won’t extend to 8K because of the industry shift from physical media to internet streaming. For their part, streaming services are still getting up to speed with 4K TV shows and movies.

So, with virtually no 8K content available now the benefit of buying an 8K TV today is to future-proof your TV. Though, in reality, by the time 8K content is readily accessible, there’s a good chance you’ll already be shopping for a new TV.


8K: Up-scaling and beyond

When it comes to the content front, the extensive number of professional 8K cameras being used by filmmakers to ensure the highest resolution possible, this content will eventually find its way into the market in parallel with the increased number of 8K products.


Expect 8K to be part of next-gen gaming systems too. Sony and Microsoft have said PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X consoles will be upgrade-able in the future to support native 8K video at 60 to 120 frames per second. And it’s encouraging to see that the heavyweights Amazon Prime Video, Google, IMAX and Roku are part of the 8K Association.


Though you can’t watch your favourite shows and movies in 8K on Amazon Prime, Netflix or Disney+ today, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the benefits of an 8K TV. All 8K TVs have advanced processors that allow them to upscale 4K, and HD content, to 8K resolution, so everything you watch will be automatically upgraded with extra colour and definition. The better the quality of video you start with, the better it will look in 8K. By most accounts, 4K movies and shows look better when upscaled on an 8K TV.


Conclusion

8K resolution is a significant leap forward in terms of pixel density and image quality, but its adoption is still in its early stages. Although limited due to the availability of 8K content, filmmakers and content creators may benefit from its high resolution and post-production flexibility.


As with any new technology, the adoption of 8K will depend on factors like content availability, cost, and consumer demand, but it certainly has the potential to revolutionize the way we consume and create visual content in the future.

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