CES 2020 Showcased 8K TVs But Critics Remain Skeptical

At CES 2020, 8K was much in evidence with flagship TV sets from LG, Samsung, Sony and TCL. The only content these manufacturers were able to show, however, was from YouTube’s 8K demo reels, featuring animal and nature scenes. The question for some attendees was if it’s worth buying a very expensive 8K TV to watch HD or 4K content. Many of these TVs — such as Samsung’s 8K Q950 QLED model — showed another trend: nearly bezel-less frames, something consumers seem to appreciate, and even want in a 4K version.

Engadget reports that it dubbed 8K as hype at CES 2018 and continues to stand by that assessment. “Aside from NHK in Japan, there aren’t any broadcast plans for producing content at such a high resolution,” it argues. “And you can forget about easily streaming 8K over the Internet, where you won’t find any content outside YouTube.”

It adds that, “the visual difference between a modern 4K set and an 8K isn’t significant.” Being an early adopter of 8K may mean losing out on further developments, pointing out that early 4K TV buyers “didn’t get HDR or Dolby Vision, two technologies that led to a more significant visual upgrade over standard 1080p HD.”

Another factor is NextGen TV — ATSC 3.0 — which launched at CES 2020 in earnest. That new broadcast standard permits 4K over-the-air content but no stated plans to evolve to 8K. “You have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by being an 8K early adopter,” states Engadget, which suggests that “upscaling” is “no longer a dirty word.”

“You can watch a Blu-ray Disc or 4K stream on an 8K television without worrying that you’ll be stricken with a subpar experience,” it asserts. Also, support for new HDMI 2.1 standards and codecs should keep new TVs “relevant for quite some time.”

The Verge agrees that, “the jury’s still out on whether [8K] is the future of TVs, but everyone can agree it’s definitely not the present … [since] 8K content is more or less nonexistent, not to mention very bandwidth-intensive to stream.” It also notes that, with “LG and Samsung now involved in a minor proxy battle over how exactly to measure 8K’s roughly 30 million pixels, it almost feels like we’ve taken a step backward over the past 12 months.”

The reviewer notes that 4K’s improvements included not just “a massive resolution bump over 1080p” but something even more important: HDR, a wider color gamut and increased color bit depth. “Personally, I’m still unconvinced that 8K is even necessary in the first place,” he writes. “Maybe one day 8K will find its own collection of picture performance enhancements, but I’m skeptical that the resolution justifies the upgrade by itself … It’s still not time to buy one.”

8K TV: What You Need to Know, CNET, 1/3/20
TVs of CES 2020: OLED, 8K, Giant Screens and Other Trends of Absolute Excess, CNET, 1/10/20
The 6 Best TVs We Saw at CES 2020 — From 8K OLEDs to a TV That Can Rotate Like a Smartphone, Business Insider, 1/9/20
All Samsung TVs at CES 2020: Bezel-Free 8K TV and Auto-Rotating 4K, Digital Trends, 1/7/20
Samsung Details Its Stunning Bezel-Less 8K TV, The Verge, 1/5/20
Samsung Just Debuted a Bezelless 8K TV That Is 99% Picture, CNET, 1/7/20
Sony’s First TVs of 2020 Include Its Smallest 4K OLED Ever, The Verge, 1/6/20
LG Unveils Eight ‘Real 8K’ OLED and LCD TVs Ahead of CES, The Verge, 1/3/20