While most Australians are coming to terms with why they bought a 4K television and making the most of the streaming revolution and ultra-high definition content, your TV is now outdated.
New 8K technology lands in Australia on April 1 and our first question is whether you should care.
Announced in January, 8K models — which have four times more pixels than their 4K cousins — are being launched by Samsung, Sony and LG.
Samsung are set to be first to bring them to Australia while the others will be playing catch up in the second half of the year.
Samsung’s new QLED series launched in Singapore yesterday and the demonstrations were certainly impressive, with greater contrast, detail and brightness than we’ve ever seen before.
All this advancement comes at a price though — the cheapest Samsung 8K 65-inch TV will set you back $9999, while the 75-inch will cost $12,999 and the enormous 85-inch model will retail for $17,499. There is also a 98-inch option launching later this year and if you need the price on that, you can’t afford it.
It’s a lot of money, especially when you consider what you actually get for it. Yes, an 8K TV is amazing, but there is basically zero 8K content in Australia.
For years, streaming services have struggled to provide even 4K content (Netflix, Stan and Foxtel only recently started producing 4K content on a mass level) and none of the major content providers have been making any noise about creating 8K content.
Netflix’s former chief product officer once told Digital Spy he wasn’t interested in the extra pixel density. “8K is only interesting if you’re going to sit too close to the TV,” he said.
This is another problem — 8K only becomes worthwhile once the screen is 65-inches or bigger and even then, you have to sit very close to the screen to see the difference, which is not how most people choose to watch TV.
Even if 8K content was available, Australia’s generally dismal download speeds would make it virtually unwatchable.
According to the Ookla Speed Test Global Index released in December, Australia has an average fixed broadband download speed of 25.88 mbps (megabits per second). Streaming 8K content on YouTube, which has offered super high definition nature videos since 2015, currently requires a minimum of 50mbps.
This problem promises to be somewhat alleviated when the NBN rolls out across the country, which is expected to be completed by 2020. The NBN promises download speeds of 100mbps for its top tier customers but many have reported much lower speeds than this and the cost of top tier plans can be prohibitive for many Australians.
Yesterday in Singapore the obvious question of “but where is the 8K content” was asked and Samsung was ready.
Jeremy Senior, Head of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Australia said the new TVs will use Artificial Intelligence to upscale any content and make it look better than before. The televisions use a new processor and machine learning to assess the footage, fill the gaps and sharpen the image.
The proof was in the pudding — media was invited to watch a weather bulletin on a 4K TV and an 8K TV sitting side-by-side and it was a dramatic difference. The 8K TV had much cleaner lines and text compared to the 4K model and when it comes to watching 4K movie footage on an 8K television it’s an even bigger improvement, not that the 4K models looked bad at all.
It’s a difference potential customers will be able to see for themselves, with Samsung confirming side-by-side comparisons will take place in a retail environment to try to convince people that 8K is the way to go.
With the Apple iTunes TV and Movie store coming to 2019 Samsung televisions it will also mean access to their large library of 4K content so you won’t have difficulty finding content to make the TV shine.