The next battle for the rights to bring pictures into your living room has kicked off at IFA, Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show this week with the two biggest rivals – LG and Samsung – unveiling 8K televisions at the event.
Old standard-definition TVs had a resolution of 720×480 pixels for NTSC and 720×576 pixels for PAL broadcasts. With the switch to digital came high-definition TVs which all had a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. In recent years we’ve had 4K (UHD) TVs which clock in at 3840×2160 pixels, and now comes 8K TVs at 7680×4320 pixels. That pushes the pixel count from the around 2 million of HD and 8 million of 4K to a whopping 33 million in 8K.
LG came out swinging first with an 88-inch OLED 8K HDR TV set, while Samsung hit back with a whole series of QLED LCD 8K HDR sets ranging from 65-85 inches and unveiling some specs including 4000 nits of brightness, 8K AI upscaling, direct backlighting/local dimming, the full 100% of the DCI-P3 spectrum, and one HDMI 2.1 port.
Both are also expected to showcase the still effectively ‘concept’ MicroLED sets, with LG hitting back at Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ with their own bigger 175-inch microLED set being showcased at IFA.
Of course the debate will rage about the point of these TVs at this moment in time. While the public has embraced 4K fairly quickly, rising from 3% of U.S. households in July 2016 to 25% by January 2018, 4K content still remains fairly limited.
More importantly, major TV and film production has only really just begun adopting 8K, with most still on 4K – and a lot aren’t even doing that across the entire production process (which is why some 4K Blu-ray discs are just 2K upscaled). 8K on TV’s under 60 inches or so is effectively indistinguishable from 4K for most viewers at average viewing distances – meaning its main use will be only for those who can fit (and afford) a wall-sized TV.
LG’s 4K OLED line-up currently tops many review lists of the best TVs on the market this year according to reviewers at tech blogs like , Digital Trends, CNET, Forbes, PC Mag, and Toms Guide, while Samsung’s QLED topped one at Tech Radar and Panasonic’s OLED at TrustedReviews.