8K resolution televisions began appearing as early as 2013 when Sharp showcased a prototype panel at CES. In 2015, Sharp rolled out a “professional use” model in Japan for $133,000, and in 2019 Samsung offers a 65″ model for roughly $5,000 as well as sizes up to 98″. Meanwhile companies like LG, Sony and TCL are following suit with 8K TVs.
Widely-available services such as Vimeo and YouTube currently support 8K resolution, Japanese broadcasters Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai has its own dedicated 8K channel, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be broadcast in 8K, the format is still slowly creeping into the market. This isn’t to say that 8K is widely available on platforms like YouTube – the capability to support the format exists, but it’s largely an elusive quality right now.
A Brief Look At What 8K Is
Let’s look at this in terms of scale. HD resolution equates to 1920 x 1080, or 2,073,600 pixels creating the images you’re seeing. 4K UHD resolution quadruples that with 8,295,400 pixels, or 3,840 × 2,160, and 8K comes in at four times what 4K is, with 7,680 × 4,320, or 33,117,600 pixels giving an incredible definition to images suited to be presented that way. The trick is you need to sit close to an 8K screen to see the extra detail, so buying a large screen is a must to get the most out of 8K.
As this pixel-packed technology ramps up to prevalence, here are our picks for the most promising 8K display televisions coming to the market right now.
The Q900R boasts a sharp, crisp, low-noise image that What HiFi says “simply looks more lifelike.” While there are no “real world” 8K resolution videos right now to test any of these televisions apart from tailor-made demos, the Q900R makes up the difference with 4K videos via an AI upscaler, as do the other 8K TVs in this list.
With neutral coloring, deep blacks and bright highlights, the Samsung Q900R is a great pick for 4K HDR movie watching, thanks to excellent FALD (full array local dimming) backlighting. And compared to past QLED models, the 2019 Q900s handle blooming well. Wide viewing angles and an excellent anti-reflective coating add to the versatility of this premium series. These picture quality attributes pair well with the fluidity of which images dance across the screen, though it may take a little doing in the settings to get it “just right.”
The Samsung Q900R supports HDR10, HDR10+, HLG formats, features four HDMI ports, two USB and optical, and is available in iterations between 68″ and 98″.
Sony Master Series Z9G
While the Sony Master Series Z9G 8K TVs are not “ultra-thin” like OLED, it’s because the TV does what it’s supposed to do best – put out a picture that looks great. The Sony Master Series Z9G 8K HDR TV brings back the Backlight Master Drive fans had been clamoring for since 2017, which if you’re unfamiliar provides an ultra-dense LED backlight structure, a unique local dimming algorithm and optical design that provides viewers with deep blacks and bright whites for HDR-worthy high contrast.
The Sony Master Series Z9G 8K HDR 8K TVs also features the company’s own version of an upscaler via the 8K X-Reality Pro image processing algorithm and X1 Ultimate processor. According to an interview with Tech Radar it “uses a dual database system to upscale pixels on an object-by-object basis.”
Color presentation on the Sony Master Series Z9G 8K HDR TV is well-defined and doesn’t distort when changing viewing angles. Reviews do note that the built-in sound system is a little lacking, though it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a good soundbar or better yet, an AVR-based home theater audio system.
LG Nano Cell 8K LED TV
The LG Nano Cell 8K LED TV debuted at CES 2019 and is one to watch out for in terms of future development. According to Tech Radar, the LG Nano Cell 8K LED TV has a direct LED lighting system behind the screen, rather than around the edges, in order to better give an accurate contrast. Much like the Samsung Q900R, the LG Nano Cell 8K LED TV also employs an AI upscaler, partly due to a lack of native 8K content but also to make lower resolution video look its best.
The LG Nano Cell 8K LED TV employs the company’s Nano Crystal technology and shows off a fairly compelling picture. Though as Tech Radar points out, this TV isn’t ready for the market just yet. What LG showed off at CES 2019 was an early version that will still undergo some level of revisions before hitting the retail channel. Still, the LG Nano Cell 8K LED TV has a lot of potential and represents a renewed focus on larger screen sizes by LG.
LG Z9 Signature 88″ 8K OLED
This promises to be one of the most stunning TVs ever seen, 8K or not. LG’s forthcoming OLED 88″ floored AVS Forum editor Mark Henninger at CES 2019 with its replication of “emissive display and the infinite blacks” originally perfectly rendered by digital cameras and CGI, and easily immerses viewers into the cinematic experience. At 88”, the LG Z9 Signature 88″ 8K OLED does cinema justice.
According to LG, the Z9 Signature 88″ 8K OLED will feature LG ThinQ AI, LG’s open platform compatible with smart and AI products, Google Assistant and Alexa capabilities, is Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos-enabled, and will feature the LG α9 Gen 2 Pro Intelligent Processor. A conversation with Technical Evangelist Tyler Pruitt of SpectraCal reveals the potential of the LG Z9 Signature 88″ 8K OLED to include the ability to create your own tone curve mapping and full bandwidth HDMI 2.1.
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