Will 2021 be the year to buy your first 8K TVs?

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Smart Home | 0 comments


It’s 2021, and 8K TVs – those that are not prohibitively expensive – may finally become a reality this year. It’s far from October 2018, when we at GearBrain first saw an 8K TV, displayed in the corner of a hotel suite in London.

Then, Samsung Q900R shone brightly with its 30 million pixels that recreated footage of a Golden Retriever puppy, drone images of cities and vegetables excavated in sharp slow motion. Of course, it looked good, and Samsung talked at length about how it used artificial intelligence to turn 4K and even HD footage into 8K. Of course, the TV had to do this because there was actually no real 8K content. Other than Samsung’s own demo recording, there was nothing to see.

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The other obstacle, of course, was the size of the 85-inch TV and the price – a cool $ 15,000. It was a glimpse of the future, but one that felt far away, especially as 4K broadcasts were still rare in 2018, and technologies like HDR only just came up in speed.

When will prices fall?

Fast forward two years and by the beginning of 2021, 8K TV is somewhat closer to reality. A report published by Deloitte at the end of 2020 predicted that one million 8K TVs will be sold globally in 2021. And while the average 8K TV retail price is seven times the average TV, Deloitte believes that 8K TVs could drop to $ 1,500 by the end of this year. .

A drop from today’s average 8K retail price of $ 3,300 to less than half that in a single year seems like a high question, but this month’s CES technology show trusts this prediction. Although the prices were thin on the ground, the show was filled with new 8K TVs from all the usual suspects, including Samsung, LG, Sony and TCL.

While many focused on the new mini-LED and micro-LED technologies – explained in more detail here – 8K was a popular CES topic. TCL, the Chinese technology company known for delivering quality TVs at more affordable prices, said the entire 6-Series series by 2021 will have 8K resolution. This commoditization of 8K resolution is good news and helps bring 8K into the mainstream, but TCL’s decision to continue selling last year’s 4K models in 2021 suggests that 8K prices will remain high for now. The prices of these monitors have not been revealed yet, but they will probably be among the cheapest in 2021 and potentially under $ 2,000.

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Samsung and Sony also have new 8K TVs for 2021 with the Q900A Neo QLED and Z9J respectively. Screen sizes are still large, starting at 75 inches, but features like HDR and 120Hz frame rate support mean these TVs will be a perfect match for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 game consoles. The same goes for LG’s QNED Mini-LED 8K monitors, which also start at 75 inches. All three manufacturers have kept pricing and availability information to themselves so far.

So while prices are not unknown at this stage, there is hope that 8K TVs will drop to below $ 2,000 by the end of the year, putting them within reach of more consumers than ever before. But will there be something to look at? Unfortunately, the problem of lack of 8K content is likely to remain.

LG QNED Mini LED TV
LG’s new QNED Mini LED TV technology with 8K resolution

LG

Is there any 8K content to watch?

The short answer is no, not yet. But broadcast attempts have taken place, with more to come, and the film industry is able to convert some very high-definition analog and digital footage to 8K. In fact, films shot on 70mm film have the corresponding resolution of 8K, and some classics have already been remastered to the new format, ready to be shown in their true glory on an 8K TV.

These include 2001: A Space Odyssey, which aired on Japan’s national NHL station in December 2018. The channel has since shown My Fair Lady in 8K, and Deloitte says “dozens” of movies shot in 65mm or 70mm could upgraded to 8K as well, including IMAX content normally recorded on 65mm or 75mm film. Similarly, newer content shot in 6K and then distributed in 4K can be scaled up and remastered in 8K.

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No streaming services currently offer 8K, but Amazon Prime and Netflix have both shot some content using the resolution and then released them in 4K. The good news is that the 8K originals exist and could well be streamed with their original quality in the future. But even if some content is available, 8K streaming will not happen overnight. It will require a huge technological commitment to bring 8K into the home via an internet connection, as even today’s streamed 4K has much lower quality than the 4K content on an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc.

As of the end of 2020, YouTube has an 8K streaming option, but this is limited to TVs with Android TV, and for now it is a very small rollout.

As for broadcasting 8K, there have already been some attempts. In the UK in February 2020, BT Sport broadcast a live 8K football match between Arsenal and Olympiacos, albeit only to a single TV in a spectator box at the stadium itself. In Spain, an 8K broadcast attempt took place in October 2020, and Japan’s NHK had planned to show the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 8K, but the pandemic saw it delay until at least July 2021.

So far, most of the broadcast content is HD with standard dynamic range (SDR as opposed to HDR) and 720p resolution. In some cases, the standard definition remains the norm, and for most viewers, 4K broadcasts are reserved for a handful of elite sporting events and pay-per-view movies.

TCL 6 Series TVTCL’s 6 Series TVs will be upgraded to 8K in 2021TCL

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Video games and 8K

Both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are claimed by their manufacturers to be 8K compatible. However, both Sony and Microsoft have chosen to launch consoles with 8K video output disabled. They say this is because no 8K content is available yet, but when it is, the option will be turned on.

User-generated 8K video

Strangely, it seems that the most common place to find 8K video in the short term will be on smartphones – which do not have 8K screens. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 family can shoot 8K video, which theory can be seen on one of the company’s 8K televisions, but the number of consumers with both devices will likely remain small for much of 2021. In this case, recording in 8K means a video can be cropped significantly (zooms in effectively) while still in 4K or HD resolution.

Finally, 2021 will see a number of new 8K TVs come on the market. Their prices are expected to be lower than ever, and if you’re in the market for a new TV that costs between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000 and wants a screen size north of 65 inches, it might make sense to check the 8K box.

But in addition to early adopters with budget and space for such a TV, we recommend waiting at least another year. In 2022 and especially in 2023, prices should be below $ 1,000 – and perhaps more importantly, before then, there could finally be enough 8K content worth buying a new TV for.

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