Should you be worried about 8K TV?

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Is your new 4K TV already obsolete? The short answer is “Nope.”

Just when you thought you could take a breather and buy a new 4K TV, it seems like 8K is just around the corner.

Already Japanese broadcaster NHK, along with Sharp, Sony, Samsung, LG and others, has shown or announced plans for 8K TV and/or 8K broadcasts. New 8K compatible video standards are being rolled out now. And every year at the annual CES where new models are introduced, concept TVs with 8K resolution are on display.

What is 8K?

Typical HDTVs have 1,920 pixels across, and 1,080 pixels vertically (aka 1080p). Ultra HD “4K” TVs have 3,840 pixels across and 2,160 vertically.

8K TVs will have 7,680 across and 4,320 vertically, for a total of over 33 million pixels. Which all seems impressive, except…

Tech demos vs. real products

Another important aspect to keep in mind is there’s a big difference between a tech demo and a real product. Sharp showed an 8K TV at CES… 2012! That doesn’t mean it planed to sell it (and no, I don’t count a $160,000 TV as “selling it”). Sony and Panasonic have announced plans to have 8K TVs ready by 2020, but again, these are going to be the price of a Porsche, not a Kia.

Or to put this another way, if SpaceX unveils a rocket tomorrow that can go to Mars, it doesn’t mean we’re going to Mars tomorrow.

8K in the future doesn’t matter today

Eventually we will absolutely have 8K TV. It’s the inexorable march of technology. Do we need it? Nope. Does anyone want it? Maybe.

Increasing pixels is the easiest technological “advancement” when it comes to TVs (this is partly why we got 4K so soon after HD). Making the actual 8K TV isn’t hard, but creating and distributing 8K content sure is. With HDMI 2.1 we have a consumer cable that can do this resolution and more. So there’s that.

And even when we have 8K, your 4K TV will work fine and still play all HD and 4K (and probably HDR) content. Will there be a time when all new content is 8K? I guess, maybe, but that’s decades away.

So should you worry about 8K? Nope.