A World Cup in Qatar at the gates of Christmas, an Olympic Games in two years in Paris and the end of the season with the highest sales of televisions, when manufacturers take the opportunity to offer the models that have been left in the warehouse before renewing the range is a favorable combination to think about the appliance that still presides over homes, despite the progress of consumption in individual screens. Is it time to buy an 8K TV? Some analysts believe that they are not yet interesting and consumers, who are expensive for some specific contents for this resolution almost non-existent. However, other experts, manufacturers and content producers consider that they significantly improve the experience to bring it closer to the vision of a human retina. These are the keys to decide.
An 8K TV should offer an average horizontal resolution of 8,192 pixels (color or grayscale points), according to the Digital Cinema Initiatives model. This means twice the resolution of a 4k television and four times more than Ultra High Definition (UHD) televisions.
But that great resolution has some major drawbacks. The one that weighs the most on consumers is the price. According to 8K AssociationFor the best viewing of an 8,000-pixel television, a 65-inch or larger screen located at a distance of 2.5 meters is required. This means having a device 165 centimeters diagonal, 144 wide and 81 high. This recommendation places these televisions among the highest priced on the market. For that screen size, there are 4K offers between 600 and 3,000 euros. However, for the 65-inch 8K, the price ranges from 1,900 to more than 4,000 euros.
The second obstacle is the lack of 8K content. Except in Japan, where there are more widespread broadcasts in this resolution, the offer of productions with these characteristics is very limited and is reduced to a few platforms such as Vimeo either Youtube.
But the latest generation televisions have sophisticated technologies that turn a regular broadcast into an experience close to high resolution. One of them is duplication, which doubles the number of pixels received, but it is the formula that provides the least value. The most used is that of the K-neighbors, a computer system that analyzes the colors and brightness of the pixels that are around it to create the additional ones necessary for the higher resolution screen. The most complete is the artificial intelligence assistance formula, which generates the necessary color points based on learning about type objects and the comparison between high and low resolution images to create the most realistic content, “hyperrealistic”, as defined by the 8K Association.
The higher resolution also requires more data traffic, something most homes are not prepared for, where fiber connections are still in the fifth generation of routers while the seventh is coming, the one that will make high-quality online services more effective. The latest generation televisions have a new HDMI protocol (2.1) that provides twice the transmission speed than the existing ones, especially relevant for games and downloaded content.
For the director of FF Pictures, Florian Friedrich, 8K compensates: “It is better than people and many experts believe.” According to Friedrich, the precision of small details approaches the vision of a human retina, the images are realistic, the improvements achieved by the computer systems are evident even with broadcasts in HD and the defects due to “flickering” (changes in light intensity over short time intervals) and profiles are minimized.
On the contrary, María Rúa, an analyst at Omnia, reiterates that it is still early days: “8K was presented in Las Vegas and nobody wants it. The technology is there, but the consumer is not interested”, she stated in the presentation of the last meeting of the 5G Forum, held in Seville.
Pere Vila, president of UHD Spain, has the opposite opinion: “There is room for 8K. It will be a slow process, but it is taking off. We are in a process of giving our televisions more capacity to reproduce more pixels, colors, brightness, contrast, frames per second. There is an important jump”.
According to Vila, the experience for the viewer improves substantially and also for the creator of special content, such as in 365-degree applications. “If you can produce with a higher quality tool, you will do it”, he assures him to defend the next generation televisions in the immediate future based on the growth in supply and demand. And he adds one more reason: “4K won’t play 8K, but 8K will play the lower formats. It’s not just a question of the number of pixels, but the contrast, the dynamic range of light, the number of frames [marcos] per second, the audio, the colors…”.
the president of UHD UK predicts that the television will survive the coexistence of other screens such as the appliance where you can see special products. “You can use the mobile to get information, but to watch movies or sporting events or documentaries, TV is better.” And it also augurs a change in production systems, where higher resolution will even allow models to be produced remotely, lowering costs.
But consumers have the last word and their response is still lukewarm to the new televisions. The opinion of the OCU (Organization of Consumers and Users) is very clear: “The latest evolution in the world of televisions, 8K, is neither suitable for all budgets nor is it very useful, at least in Spain. Its main problem is that, for the improvement in image quality to be noticed, almost all models with this technology are 65 inches and up, which increases their price. The second drawback is that, at the moment, there is no content with this resolution that allows you to take advantage of it, and less so in Spain. In our country, 4K is yet to settle, appearing only in certain soccer matches and in content on payment platforms; therefore, much less 8K. Our recommendation is to wait.