8K TV: What we need to know


Samsung’s 85-inch Q900 will strike a US in October.

Sarah Tew/CNET

4K is dead, prolonged live 8K! 

OK, not really. But a day will come when 4K goes a approach of all those reduce resolutions and is transposed by a bigger number, in this box 8K. The initial 8K TV to arrive in a US will be a 85-inch Samsung Q900 this fall.

We’ve seen concept 8K TVs for years, yet a Q900 is a initial we can indeed buy. It’s not a initial in a world, however — that respect goes to a Sharp 70-inch LV-70X500E 8K guard that started shipping earlier this year to Europe (for 11,000 euros) after going on sale in late 2017 in China, Japan and Taiwan. These TVs will roughly positively chaperon in some-more 8K sets in 2019 and beyond, like an 8K OLED TV from LG. Now that a age of 8K TVs is roughly on us, we competence have some questions.

Does this meant 4K TV is already obsolete? Do we need to rush out an buy an 8K TV this year or risk being incompetent to watch your favorite shows? Should we chuck your mint TV out a window in a fit of offend during a appallingly low 4K resolution? 

The answer to all of these questions is “no.” Here’s why.

What is 8K?

A normal HDTV from a few years ago is 1080p, that means it has 1,920 pixels horizontally, and 1,080 vertically. Many digital cinema projectors — a ones in film theaters — have a fortitude of 2,048×1,080. Because it’s common in Hollywood-speak to usually impute to a plane resolution, they call that “2K” yet it’s fundamentally a same as a HDTV 1080p we have during home.


Mathias Appel/HDMI Licensing

The tenure “4K” comes from a digital cinema side, too, with a plane fortitude of 4,096, hence “4K.” However, on a TV side, production efficiencies meant we got double a plane and straight resolutions of 1080p HDTV, so 3,840 by 2,160. Everyone colloquially calls this “4K,” yet a technical tenure is Ultra HD. This has 4 times as many pixels as 1080p HD.

Which brings us to 8K. You guessed it: twice a plane and straight fortitude of 4K, for a whopping 7,680×4,320 and 33,177,600 sum pixels. Not usually is that 4 times a fortitude of 4K, that’s an implausible 16 times some-more pixels than 1080p.

TV resolutions

Resolution name

Horizontal x straight pixels

Total pixels

Other names

Found on




Ultra High-Definition (UHD), Super Hi-Vision, UHD-2

Concept TVs (so far)




Ultra High-Definition (UHD)

Most midrange and high-end TVs




High-Definition (HD)

Smaller, less-expensive TVs




High-Definition (HD)

32-inch and smaller TVs

Do we need 8K?

Not even a little. 

As we’ve explained many times with 4K TVs, there’s a indicate of abating earnings when it comes to resolution. The tellurian eye can usually see so many detail, and additional pixels over what we can discern are fundamentally wasted. To get anything out of aloft resolutions and their proportionally tinier pixels, we need to lay closer, get a bigger TV, or both.

It’s singular that anyone gets a immeasurable adequate TV — or sits tighten adequate to one — to clear a need for 4K resolutions. 8K is extreme overkill… during slightest for a TV. If you’re articulate about large theater-size screens like Samsung’s Wall or Sony’s Cledis, 8K would be amazing. But given 4K is tough to discern when comparing to a 1080p TV, 4K to 8K from 10 feet divided will be flattering many impossible.

Based on a math of tellurian visible acuity, you’ll need to lay unequivocally tighten to an 85-inch 8K shade to get any advantage of a additional resolution. Carlton Bale’s superb home museum calculator, for example, says you’ll need to lay 3 feet or closer (to a shade that’s some-more than 7 feet diagonal) to see all a fact of 8K, and 5 feet or closer to see a full advantage of 4K. In other words, from serve than 5 feet divided we won’t be means to see any advantage of an 8K TV compared to a 4K TV. And that’s during 85 inches. You’ll need to lay even closer to smaller TVs to discern a advantages of 8K.


What about content? 

Without 8K content, an 8K TV is usually a 4K TV with a few thousand dollars stranded to it with masking tape. Samsung talked adult imagination “AI” upscaling record on a Q9S, designed to urge a demeanour of small 4K and 1080p sources on an 8K screen. But to get a many out of all those 33 million-plus pixels, a incoming source needs to be 8K too.

There are 3 categorical aspects to removing any new format ocular in your home: a calm itself, delivery and playback. The Samsung 8K TV and others that will positively follow paint a playback side, that is, a TV or projector in your home. That’s a easy part.

Content is tougher. First off, there are usually usually a few cinema cameras means of capturing 8K. Japan’s NHK has been dabbling, and will expected broadcast a poignant apportionment of a 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 8K. There has been some 8K calm shot during a final several Olympics, so design even more. There are a handful of channels on YouTube that showcase 8K content, mostly inlet documentaries and a like.

Red, one of a categorical camera companies used for Hollywood movies, has several models that can record in this resolution, as do a few others. Interestingly, there have already been underline films shot in 8K. Guardians of a Galaxy Vol. 2 was a first, followed by Mortal Engines, The New Mutants and a few others that are upcoming. Creating 8K calm is some-more challenging, as a cost for these cameras, and a computers and storage means of traffic with hundreds of terabytes, if not mixed petabytes of information, do not come cheap.


The Red Monstro 8K VV “Brain” has a 35.4-megapixel CMOS sensor, can record 8K video during 60 fps, has over 17 stops of energetic range, and costs — prop yourself — $54,500. 


Few standards, lots of megabits

The many formidable partial will be transmission: removing this jot of 8K calm to your home. There is now no standardised approach to get 8K calm to your glossy 8K TV. Presumably, as some-more calm becomes available, a special app within a TV will get we entrance to this high-res media. This is expected what Samsung will have to do for we to be means to see anything in 8K on a 8K TVs. 

Sometime later, substantially approach later, a mainstream apps and companies, like Netflix, Amazon and Vudu will follow suit. Since there’s small swell in removing even 4K widely adopted on wire and satellite, 8K is going to sojourn a rarity, to put it optimistically. At slightest for a while.

8K also presents another emanate for a early adopter: a bandwidth compulsory is going to be ridiculous. Most 4K calm providers suggest we have an internet tie in a 20 Mbps range. 8K, even with all else a same, has four times as many pixels. That doesn’t proportion accurately to a 4x boost in information or bandwidth, but, and this is usually a ballpark guess, a tie requirement in a 40 to 50 Mbps operation wouldn’t be unexpected. Maybe you, dear CNET reader, have that kind of speed, yet a immeasurable infancy of people do not.


A visible illustration of how many some-more bandwidth a arriving Ultra High Speed cables can handle.

HDMI Forum

Interestingly, we’ve already got a earthy tie thing sorted, if any 8K media streamers strike a market. HDMI 2.1 is means of 8K resolutions and more. But before we rush out and batch adult on HDMI 2.1-compatible cables, keep in mind there will roughly positively be a new customary between now and far-reaching adoption of 8K. So those cables competence be obsolete, notwithstanding their stream forward-looking appearance.

Why, CNET, whyyyyy???

To put on my disbeliever hat, augmenting fortitude is one of a easiest ways to offer a entrance of aloft performance. This is expected what Samsung is smoking, entrance out with an 8K TV when there’s radically no calm and no 8K infrastructure. 

LG, with OLED, has been holding all a picture-quality headlines. No doubt this rush to 8K is a approach for Samsung to get some of a headlines back. Given how easy it was to marketplace 4K as “better looking than 1080p,” we can gamble 8K will be marketed as a same.

Resolution is usually one aspect of altogether design quality, and not one of a many critical ones. Improving other aspects, like contrast ratios, overall liughtness for HDR, more realistic colors and so on, offer improved picture improvements yet are significantly larger technical challenges. This is generally loyal for LCD technology, something Samsung is still strongly punishment — all of a QLED TVs are usually LCD TVs with quantum dots

It’s comparatively easy to emanate a higher-resolution LCD panel, yet improving a other aspects of opening for that tech is a larger challenge. This is because OLED is a thing, and because many companies, including Samsung, are researching new technologies like loyal direct-view quantum dot displays, MicroLED and other technologies.


Direct-view quantum dot display.


Don’t wait for 8K

So if you’re meditative about shopping a new TV this year, does this meant we should reason off? Well, if your stream TV works, we should substantially reason on to it regardless, yet new 8K TVs shouldn’t be a factor. For one thing, these early TVs will be really expensive. we wouldn’t be astounded if a pricing is astonishingly high. We’re also many, many years divided from any arrange of widespread 8K content. We arguably don’t have widespread 4K content, and no one is articulate about scrapping 4K to go directly to 8K.

The other aspect is a warning that will be seconded by large 4K early adopters: There is no pledge these early 8K TVs will finish adult being concordant with any destiny 8K standard. There are tens of thousands of 4K TVs that can’t play any stream 4K media content. Why compensate unreasonable amounts of income on a TV that hardly has any calm now, and competence not be means to play any later? Bragging rights, we guess, and if that’s your thing, who am we to mount in your way? Just keep in mind that stream HDR 4K TVs demeanour vastly improved than each first-gen 4K TV and cost a fragment of a price. 

Got a doubt for Geoff? First, check out all a other articles he’s written on topics like why all HDMI cables are a sameTV resolutions explainedLED LCD vs. OLED and more.

Still have a question? Tweet during him @TechWriterGeoff, afterwards check out his travel photography on Instagram. He also thinks we should check out his best-selling sci-fi novel and its sequel

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