8K TVs Are Coming - But Should Anyone Buy One?

Image: Samsung

Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG have each revealed Australian prices and availability for their first 8K TVs. Here's everything Aussie videophiles and early adopters need to know - including the lowest price tag.

During its recent 2019 TV launch, Samsung focused exclusively on 8K TVs — saying details of its 4K range will be withheld until April — just to show how serious it is about the new format.

The Samsung Q900 8K QLED TV will land on our shores on April 1, in sizes and prices ranging from big (65 inches, at $9999) to colossal (82 inches, at $17,499). As an added incentive, anyone who preorders a Q900 between now and release will receive a free Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone valued at $1499.

These TVs are able to produce many more pixels than a 4K set, for a theoretically sharper image. They are, essentially, like having four smaller 4K TVs seamlessly arranged into one big screen.

Samsung's 8K TVs are, like its other QLED TVs, quantum dot LCD panels lit by LEDs. They also include all the bells and whistles included in the company's other premium TVs, including HDR10+, ambient mode and a breakout processor box for easy wall mounting, plus compatibility with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and (via a software update after release) Apple Airplay.

Samsung's Best TV Now Comes With A Free Galaxy S10+ Smartphone

Samsung's award-winning QLED 8K TV range is now available to pre-order in Australia. To mark the occasion, the company is giving away a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10+ with every purchase. That's a $1499 smartphone, completely free! Here are the details.

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LG has taken the opposite approach to Samsung, detailing its range of 4K 2019 TVs and speaking only vaguely about 8K. The main thing to know about LG's Z9 is that it will be an OLED panel, which should give it better contrast than the Samsung set but also potentially a higher price.

Elsewhere LG detailed three lines of 4K OLED TVs for 2019, including wallpaper, picture-on-glass and cinematic screen (small bezel) models. At this point it's chooisng not to release the rollable R series in Australia.

The 2019 LG 4K OLEDs support Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos sound, and Google Assistant. Amazon Alexa and Apple Airplay are coming in a later update. The TVs also include HDMI 2.1 ports, meaning 4K content at up to 120 frames per second, automatic low latency and variable refresh rate modes for gaming, and an enhanced version of the Audio Return Channel standard. It's safe to assume that all this would make its way to the 8K Z9 as well.

It may seem that the world is simply not ready for 8K TVs yet, but in truth consumer 4K TVs began showing up seven years ago in 2012, and full HD flat screen TVs were emerging 15 years ago in 2004, so 8K is more or less on time.

However it's true that in Australia, unlike in South Korea, true 4K content is very difficult to come by, let alone anything in 8K. So what's the advantage of having a TV with this high a resolution?

Both Samsung and LG claim their 8K TVs can use advanced processing to upscale HD and 4K images to 8K, inventing detail and removing noise to make vision look clearer and sharper on the big screen.

LG in particular highlights that this process is even more complex in its 8K products than its 4K, comprising a 6-step process of upscaling rather than a 4-step one.

The degree to which the end result will look better than it would on a 4K TV will depend a lot on the specific source images. The risk here is that these TVs, similar to the very first HD TVs, may not fully support the various popular 8K standards when content eventually makes its way to discs, streaming or broadcast in the years to come.


This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald's home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


Comments

    You can't see in 4K, letalone 8K!

    Both Samsung and LG claim their 8K TVs can use advanced processing to upscale HD and 4K images to 8K, inventing detail and removing noise to make vision look clearer and sharper on the big screen.

    I have a problem with this. Particularly the "inventing detail" bit. It's the same problem with any upscaling - essentially relying on some algorithm to guess and create pixels. While it might look good most of the time. It's still a bit dodgy.

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