Last month I travelled to SamsungForum 2019 for Asia Pacific, held in lovely Singapore. During the event, Samsung demonstrated its latest products, due for release this year.
Across the electronics portfolio, Samsung has new products in a long list of categories like Washing Machines, Fridges, Vaccum Cleaners, Soundbars and more, but it was the TVs that were the star of the show.
With the exception of ‘The Wall’, the biggest and best TV Samsung have, is the monster 98″ QLED 8K TV (Q900R). While smaller sized 8K TVs are already for sale in Australia (if you have deep pockets), but their biggest is not.
I can confirm that the 98″ Samsung QLED 8K TV will available in Australia later this year. Samsung says they’re not ready to reveal exact pricing or a specific release date, that’ll be announced closer to the date of release.
Seeing the display in person, I can tell you that the image and scale of a display was unbelievably impressive. As we continue to grow the size of the displays we hang on our living room walls, the pixel density is something that needs to be considered.
Seated around 3-4 metres from the TV, in HD you could acceptably watch a TV around 50″. Thanks to 4K, we’ve been able to increase the size of the display from 50 to around 65″. Beyond that, 75″ – 100″ we really need the next jump in video quality to 8K to continue an acceptable experience.
As the TV sizes increase, a higher percentage of your field of view is consumed by the TV, making for a more immersive experience. Basically you see (and notice) less of the walls and windows around the display and let your eyes consume the content as if you were in the movie, game or TV show.
For those who’ve never seen 8K content on an 8K display, let me assure you, the jump is substantial. While native content will be hard to come by in 2019, expect more of the chains in the end-to-end production chain to be upgraded to 8K.
In Hollywood, many studios are already using 8K cameras like the Red Ranger, and the associated edit suits are being upgraded with the necessary hardware to meet the brutal demands of editing in 8K. The output from those studios will change from 4K to 8K over the next couple of years and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others will need to also get ready for a step change in bandwidth requirements.
The final piece of the puzzle is your internet connection at home and that could be the biggest hurdle if you don’t have a substantial NBN connection. While there’s a lot of work being done on new 8K codecs to reduce bit rates without loosing visible quality, expect to need a connection that has a minimum speed that delviers between 50Mbps and 100Mbps to play with 8K.
With most households now featuring 2-3 TVs, as they each get upgraded, it’s clear those with a fibre future, limited only by the price you want to pay, rather than a hard technology limit, are positioned far better to deal with an 8K future.
While Japanese broadcaster NHK already have an 8K channel, the broadcast spectrum in Australia is very different and given our best quality over the air is 1080, its unlikely we’ll see 8K anytime this decade.
In terms of content creation, the cost of cameras capable of capturing 8K will certainly come down to the prosumer, then consumer level in DSLR and even smartphones over the next few years. Until then, there’s always upscaling which actually work incredibly well in upscaling 4K content to ‘near 8K’ quality.