4K and 8K Resolution: The Next Steps in TV Evolution?

Article by Chris Price | 738 words

With 4k resolution TV’s just starting to gain a foothold in the home theater market, the industry is already looking ahead to 8k. Television manufacturing companies are making resolutions for the new year. No, they’re not trying to lose weight to look better in a bikini: they’re giving their products sharper resolutions to provide consumers a better viewing experience.

This Year’s New 8k Resolutions

The “high-definition industry” is one of the most difficult fields for any investor. This is because simply improving upon the capabilities of products that stock consumer electronics stores is not enough to be successful. HD DVDs were expected to be the successor of standard DVDs, but Blu-ray dominated the industry. You’d be hard pressed to find an HD DVD player anywhere apart from an online store today. Plus, the “Useful or frivolous?” question is being posed by 3D television stockholders. And as for the future of television resolutions, a similar issue comes up when dealing with 720p, 1080p, 4K and 8K as potential manufacturing standards.

Resolution Comparison

Credit: Rtings.com

You’re probably familiar with 240p, 360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p from YouTube video settings or DVD and Blu-ray specs. While 480p quality is typical in DVDs, Blu-rays tend to be either 720p or 1080p. The more pixels there are, the clearer or “sharper” the picture. This is because the quality, clarity and depth of electronic screens is determined by the number of pixels used to detail the screen’s picture. 4k is roughly equivalent to 2160p, offering four times as many pixels as 1080p. 8K offers even more pixels and detail;

Best 4k TV’s

Some, such as the research company Fraunhofer, believe the future of broadcasting lies in 4K definition. Though others claim you don’t need a 4k resolution TV, others are reluctant to dive headfirst into this assumption because 8K definition could shortly make its mark on the industry. Nothing’s worse than mass manufacturing an expensive product that can be considered out-of-date within a short period. In particular, LG is pushing to skip over 4K as a standard and go right into 8K.

The 8k TV Samsung broadcasted at 2014’s annual consumer electronics show (CES) measures 98-inches and has also put high definition idealists on edge.

8k TV vs 4k: The Problem of More Pixels

Nonetheless, there is a substantial problem that’s keeping 8K (and 4K) production in this limbo stage where it’s currently unwise to produce either.

Television manufacturing companies have to account for the market, not just focus on upping their own products’ capabilities. You need to account for the fact that a number of TV shows and video games just plain aren’t available in ultra HD. Unless television show producers jump on board with broadcasting ultra HD content, an 8K TV won’t look any better than a typical HD TV.

And with Sony’s 85-inch 4K TV price going for $24,999, it’s not surprising that investors and collectors aren’t willing to spend that much on a product whose capabilities can’t even be utilized. Plus, once retailers begin selling 8K TVs, 4K ones could drop substantially in price. This forecast could encourage consumers to just wait a year or so before buying 4K TVs to potentially save thousands of dollars.

Finally, even if we do make these high definition TVs affordable and offer plenty of content in those resolutions, some professors of ophthalmology, the medical study of eye treatment, question whether or not anybody could actually perceive the difference. As NBC News has noted after interviewing various experts, the difference in quality would only be apparent if you were near a screen larger than sixty inches, which is hardly realistic for most households. Sony claims, though, that you’ll believe the difference if you see a 4K television yourself.

HD vs. 4K

While the resolution difference looks obvious in this image, note how close it is to the “screen.” Would we see any difference in how we usually watch TV? Credit: GeForce.com

The TV Market Plan in Japan vs. the US

Japan’s largest broadcasting organization, NHK, released a video showcasing their 8K 120 Hz television not long ago. The country is hoping to leapfrog 4K and go directly into 8K testing.

Manufacturers in the US, on the other hand, may have an unwritten agreement to slow down this process. By starting with 4K and then slowly moving to 8K, television manufacturing companies and their respective broadcasters could squeeze out more revenue from consumers. The technology’s there: it’s simply up to big companies to decide when and how to take the plunge.

The unpredictable nature of the US market and the unknowable future of multinational corporations (and their possible influence in said areas) will ultimately decide whether technological innovation hits living rooms anytime soon, whether it be a 4k or 8k resolution tv.

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