TV makers are gearing up for Summer Olympics in Japan in 2020, and even as Ultra HD/4K starts to carve out a sizeable slice of the video and TV market, work is well underway for the anticipated, next big jump in video resolution, 8K. At CES 2019 in Las Vegas in January, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TCL, LG, and Haier showcased their sets. A non-profit organization was also formed by a handful of makers, which set goals in several areas tied to 8K, including the promotion of 8K TVs and content, educating consumers, procuring 8K content for its members, and working on some initial tech requirements for 8K input signals and minimum specs for image quality. Subsequently, Huawei announced its plans for an 8K TV with an integrated 5G connection, thus leapfrogging the usual smart TV and on-demand media with a high-spec cord-cutting behemoth.
The moot point is, are the ecosystem and consumer ready for it? No doubt, 8K televisions have four times more pixels than 4K, the screens are brighter with more color contrast and sharper edges. But the prohibitively high price, lack of 8K content, lack of infrastructure for 8K content to be cost-effectively made and distributed, and the huge amount of data bandwidth that 8K content will take up as it moves around the consumer’s home, putting additional strain on wireless networks that are already struggling with most families’ multiple devices, are the glaring issues. On the other hand, UHD television is heading toward mainstream adoption. It is expected that 8K-ready devices will account for just 3 percent of active UHD TVs by 2023. And, global 8K sales will likely amount to 11 million units a year, up from 400,000 in 2019.
Having said this, Samsung, for instance, is betting heavily on 8K. Having started selling its QLED 8Ks in Europe, Korea, the United States, and Russia last year, it plans to launch it in 60 countries in 2019. Sharp is another vendor who has released 8K TVs in the market. Have these two brands jumped the gun or are they rightly aiming for a leadership position as 8K becomes the new norm in the high-end television market? Only time will tell!