Is there an 8K television in your future? What about an OLED? IHS Markit seems to think both are strong possibilities at your place. IHS is an international research company that tracks manufacturing information rather than market trends, and given that most manufacturers place their parts orders well ahead, its predictions are always interesting and frequently reliable.
IHS says OLED panel production for televisions rose from 800,000 square metres in 2016 to 1.6 million square metres last year, and by 2024 this will quadruple. The total number of all televisions shipped has been declining for the last three years and according to Jerry Kang, a senior analyst at IHS, more manufacturers are now getting into OLEDs to increase their offerings at the premium end, where the margins are better. There were ten global television brands shipping OLED televisions last year, this year Kang expects it to be 15.
OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode, is an expensive technology that allows every pixel on a TV to turn on or off individually, allowing for deeper blacks and greater contrast versus LCD panels.
There’s another reason television makers are jumping into OLED; it’s the ideal technology to support 8K UHD resolution. The first 8K televisions are expected to go on sale here later this year and are already being sold in some parts of the world, notably China.
Currently 4K UHD resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) is as good as it gets in Australia and it sits at the top of our market. 8K quadruples that resolution to 7680 x 4320 pixels. Sharp has just unveiled a 178cm 8K television in Europe priced at 11,199 euros, or around $18,000. According to the retail electronics industry newsletter Appliance Retailer it’s already on sale in China, Japan and Taiwan, with Russia being the only currently confirmed future market for it. No date has been set for an Australian launch, indeed Sharp no longer sells televisions here. Both LG and Sony have shown concept 8K televisions at trade shows.
The obvious issue is the lack of native 8K UHD content to view on these things, but the same was said of HD (1260 x 720), full HD (1920 x 1080) and then 4K UHD, and in all cases the problem was temporary; supporting industries caught up. Meantime the technology that upscales lesser images to higher resolution is improving.
While IHS expects 8K televisions to comprise just one per cent of the global television market in 150 cm and larger televisions this year, it believes this will rise to nine per cent in 2020 and almost 20 per cent in 2024.
Anyone who has stood in awe in front of a big 4K OLED telly will wonder if picture quality can really get much better. Which begs two questions: Will 8K bring an appreciable improvement over 4K? If so will it be worth the premium that will be charged? If you’re the sort of person who ponders such matters rest assured that a benefit of 8K will be that 4K tellies will become the standard offering in future years. And OLEDs may not cost much more than equivalent LCDs.
Sharp’s vice president of marketing and sales, Sascha Lange, believes an attraction of 8K is that the extra resolution enables comfortable viewing up close, meaning big screens can go into small rooms.
“Ten years ago the standard television was an 81-cm full HD,” he said. “With 4K you could put a much larger screen in the same spot and now for 8K, and we double the diagonal again and people can enjoy a178-cm screen at home.”
His logic is only valid if you enjoy sitting in the front row at the movies.
This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald’s home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.
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