With 4K TVs now boringly mass-market, it was inevitable vendors at CES would begin casting about for the Next Big Thing. For now, until some other tech advance presents itself, TV manufacturers have settled on 8K. And with 8K sets launching in 2018, that resolution will be available (technically) later this year, at least in some countries.
But actual 8K content production? That’s going to be pretty darn thin on the ground, though ExtremeTech’s David Cardinal told me he disputes that reading of the situation. Pocket-Lint recently spoke to IHS Markit in Europe, where they were told broadcast TV might not be ready until 2025, with no real window for content production any time in the near future. NHK is going to broadcast in 8K for the Tokyo Olympics, but that’s basically a point of national pride for Japan, not a serious technology push. Also, 8K might be reserved to screens 80-inch and up — a logical consequence of how giant screens need to be for anyone to actually benefit from owning one.
The benefits of 4K resolution are largely a function of screen size and how far you sit from it. 8K… well, you’d best have YeagerVision (TM).
The content question, though, is key to whether anyone wants 8K. While 4K adoption is underway, we haven’t seen tremendous enthusiasm for it. And with related features, like HDR and larger color gamuts, still pushing into market as well, ultimately it’ll be 4K streaming and 4K Blu-ray — meaning, content — that push the market towards these TVs.
Just as 4K didn’t take off in earnest until we had H.265 encoding and much smaller file sizes, 8K probably needs a similar push. We would need a hypothetical H.266 (strictly a working name) to crunch down on file sizes again, we need time for 4K panels to hit lower markets and price points, and we need for broadcasters to actually push a 4K standard out for regular TV (and again, an HDTV broadcast standard, too).
David’s view is that we already have 8K cameras in-market, there’s 8K footage available on YouTube, and we may see a push for 8K in user spaces, which is what he thinks younger viewers care more about, anyway. It’s an odd place to be in if Markiplier’s willingness to stream in 8K might mean more than general support from a broadcast network, but given how much consumer preferences have changed in recent years, David has a point. Still, as with HDR, we might see more important quality improvements from other aspects of TV viewing. Resolution, after all, is but one aspect of the experience.