Today it is practically impossible to enter a store and buy a television that is not UHD, a resolution also known as 4K. The times when Full HD TVs dismantled jaws and awoke whispers have gone down in history, but a new format that promises to leave the current 4K on the floor: the 8K.
Inescapable proof that the battle for the conquest of the best image quality is a war without end, the main manufacturers finalize the launch of the first 8K models. But what exactly does this label mean? What are the advantages? And what is almost equally important: are there content with the necessary resolution to take advantage of it? In Technology from you to you we will try to answer these and other questions.
HD vs FullHD vs 4K vs 8K: all the differences
The 8K resolution is a relatively novel image standard and essentially defined by its resolution. Its name refers to a slightly rounded number of horizontal pixels, which leave their total resolution at 7,680 x 4,320 points. To give us an idea, multiply by four the resolution of the standard 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) and sixteen that of the Full HD TV (1,920 x 1,080).
Given the increased resolution, 8K televisions allow you to display pixels literally invisible to the human eye from an optimal viewing distance. Where a series or movie might look slightly faded or artificial on a UHD screen, an 8K TV will display it with impressive clarity. For this reason 8K panels will come first to large TVs , which require a large density of pixels to preserve the image quality.
Given its huge definition, manufacturers like Samsung promote their future 8K televisions as the closest experience to be able to enjoy our favorite movies with the quality of a 33-megapixel photograph in motion.
The first 8K televisions make use of different panel technologies (LCD, LCD QLED and OLED), but they all have something in common: the use of the new HDMI 2.1 . This revision of the HDMI standard is the only one capable of transmitting data at 8K resolution and 60 frames per second with support for effects such as dynamic HDR. And it is that transmitting all this visual information (in addition to multi-channel sound and other data) is not a trivial job.
Advantages and benefits of 8K
The first and most obvious advantage of 8K TVs lies in its very high resolution. The image clarity provided by its 7,680 x 4,320 pixels far exceeds any consumer technology ever released, which implies an extraordinary definition and greater naturalness. The images are much sharper and more credible, with better defined edges and without the slightest trace of pixels.
Now, although the 8K resolution is strictly a (large) number of vertical and horizontal pixels, TVs designed to work with this format will incorporate a series of important advances that will not be available in other models. For example, and as already mentioned, will make use of the new HDMI 2.1 connector , which provides advanced connectivity features for other devices and support for technologies such as adaptive refresh , which will become a real revolution for the owners of a modern video game console.
Beyond this, the 8K format will be tangentially linked to other advances such as dynamic HDR , which significantly improves other techniques by allowing adjustment of the brightness values of a film not scene by scene, but frame by frame. Sunsets and starry nights will be seen with a chilling clarity. It really gives the impression of seeing a real sky instead of a recording.
Also noteworthy is the fact that at least initially 8K televisions will be included in the highest range. This means that the first compatible models will benefit from functions such as smart TV centers of the latest generation, image processing systems more advanced than the rest and extremely refined designs, perfectly integrated in any type of environment. Because they will also be surprisingly thin TVs.
Contents at 8K: the storm that is coming
Although the 8K format is new, its roots are old. Very old. And they take us to Japan, where the NHK public corporation began to investigate its possibilities in 1995 under the name Super Hi-Vision . The problem is that until now there has been no efficient way to distribute recorded content to this resolution, since an 8K movie can easily occupy more than 200 GB.
Neither is there many cameras. Until 2015, there were not a series of well-defined techniques and standards to work at a resolution that until then was quite experimental. And that however it was already taken for granted as the most immediate future after about 4K that already took off at full speed. The industry, behind everything, is always working on the technologies that will arrive just after the last consumer launches.
This way the things could be thought that we are before a situation not free of irony, with televisions endowed with the last shout in image quality and without contents to enjoy them. Well, this is not quite so. The truth is that although currently many of the movies released at 4K have original masters at 8K, so many of the modern contents already available in UHD will also be at 8K. The second part of Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, was produced directly in 8K with special cameras.
On the other hand, a negligible number of restorations also have a copy at 8K. In other words, many of the classics remastered to 4K from the original celluloid have a digitization to 8K waiting to be launched when there are televisions capable of taking advantage of this resolution. In a way, we could consider that the 4K UHD is analogous to the HD Ready of yesteryear and that 8K equals the Full HD that ended up replacing it.
The issue of television broadcasts is already more complicated. In Spain there are still chains that do not broadcast in Full HD, and do not think that in the rest of the world things are much better. Japan is again the exception, and in fact the Tokyo 2020 Games will be broadcast at 8K to the delight of an audience always eager to enjoy the highest quality image. But of course, to enjoy these emissions will have to live in the country of the rising sun.
The rest of the world will enjoy 8K content thanks to other types of techniques. All television manufacturers with such a TV have also invested in highly advanced processing systems to scale 4K to 8K images as faithfully as possible, so UHD content will look great on a TV with native 8K support.
Also, the 8K format will be digital native. The current Blu-ray discs do not have enough space to store movies that will be around 200 GB easily, so the transmission of content will be mainly through the Internet. Streaming platforms such as Netflix and HBO, which already offer 4K series and movies, will end up updating their libraries to 8K in a progressive way. Others like YouTube currently offer some content through specialized channels.
The first 8K TVs are (almost) here
But despite all that said, 8K TVs are not a thing of the future. At least not from a very distant future. Manufacturers of first order have already announced the first compatible models , so that very soon you will be able to enter any El Corte Inglés store and check with your own eyes the incredible clarity of a format that (almost) leaves the current ones UHD TV
Samsung is possibly one of the firms that will bet more strongly for the 8K. In the fair IFA 2018 unveiled the model QLED Q900R, which will be available in versions of 65, 75, 82 and 85 inches. Designed for large rooms, this model will bet not only for the maximum definition, but also for QLED panels of exaggerated brightness, with peaks of no less than 4,000 nits to capture a dazzling HDR. Its launch will take place before the end of this year, so soon we will bring you news about it.
After Samsung, LG is moving the road that will take its OLED range with an 88-inch model also exhibited at the IFA 2018. For now a prototype, offers the incomparable contrast and absolute black characteristic of the organic panels of the house. It has no price or release date (LG will give more information soon), but it can be assumed that Sony, Panasonic and Loewe could be encouraged later with their own models, since their high-end TVs already incorporate OLED panels manufactured by LG.
Finally we can point out that the Chinese TCL also thinks to step hard. The company has already shown a first 75-inch 8K television and attractive design. Again, we do not know the details related to its commercial availability. What is clear is that it will have to compete with the multitude of 8K TVs that we will see over the next few months, since the Taiwanese firm AUO, which designs panels for other manufacturers, recently announced a 8K panel at 120 Hz that it will probably soon be adopted by other houses still without an announced model.
Are you ready for this new pixel tsunami?