Is an 8K TV worth buying without 8K content?

Thinking of buying an 8K TV? There is very little native content available, so upscaling will likely be your best friend for many years to come. Is upscaling enough or do you have to wait? Let’s take a closer look.

Most content on an 8K TV is upscaled

Upscaling involves taking low resolution content and optimizing it for display on a higher pixel density screen. Older upscaling techniques used a rudimentary doubling of pixels, to simply “enlarge” the image. As this content was never designed for larger, more pixel-dense screens, the results are generally disappointing.

Over the years, upscaling techniques have improved dramatically, with the latest technologies relying heavily on machine learning. This technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify objects and apply context-specific enhancements to the image.

This was achieved through the use of powerful system-on-chip hardware that is now standard on most high-end displays (especially 8K). The higher the resolution of the content, the better the results. Owners of 8K TVs should aim for 4K as a baseline.

This technology not only improves edge sharpness and clarity in ways that pixel doubling cannot, but it also improves lighting and texture reproduction. Different optimizations can be applied to complex textures like grass and skin in ways that old techniques simply can’t match.

This means that the first 8K TVs are considerably better at upscaling than the first 4K TVs. It’s hard to quantify the difference, but if you’re interested in an 8K TV, don’t hesitate to drop by a showroom and request a demo.

How important is native 8K content?

How important is high resolution content? Smartphones are used more than any other device to watch YouTube videos, which says a lot about what we value most when it comes to modern video content. Often convenience of access seems to take priority over sheer image quality, as we’ve reached a point where quality has passed the ‘good enough’ threshold for most tastes.

If you’re old enough to remember the days of long-playing VHS recordings and analog TV shows, you’ve seen a much bigger change in video quality than the jump from 4K to 8K. Many argue that the arrival of HDR video has resulted in a far greater improvement in image quality than the move from HD to 4K.

It will be a long time before we see widespread adoption of native 8K content. Scaling will be the primary way content is consumed on these screens for years to come. No current-gen game console is yet capable of outputting 8K, and even PC gamers had better settle for lower resolutions and higher frame rates, given the marginal difference in quality between 4K and 8K on most screens.

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Scaling techniques will improve as AI-driven systems-on-chips become more powerful and the companies that make them train and refine the algorithms that drive them. It might be worth the wait if you’re not eager to get your hands on an 8K device right now.

Future display technologies are more exciting than 8K

8K technology is interesting, but the underlying display technologies that will be used in future displays are much more interesting. Current 8K TVs use LED-LCD and OLED panels, which each have their pros and cons.

LCD panels rely on local dimming to improve lackluster black reproduction, but can achieve impressive levels of peak brightness. OLEDs are a self-emissive technology, which means ‘perfect’ blacks at the cost of dazzling brightness.

These technologies will likely be replaced by MicroLED, which is still in its infancy, but which claims to solve many of the problems of current devices by being both self-emitting and much less prone to burn-in.

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Is an 8K TV worth buying without 8K content?

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