What Is 8K If We Already Know What 4K UHD Is?
For all purposes, 8K is probably exactly what you think it is. To be simple,…it is 4K times 2. We will explain in more detail below.
‘8K’ television is an unofficial term to represent a picture image with approximately 8,000 horizontal pixels. This follows the precedent laid down by the well known specifications of 4K and 2K, which both roughly mean 4,000 and 2,000 horizontal pixels respectively. 8K is to be “Super High Definition”. Will this name stick? Who knows! All the labels and nicknames, I know…its ludicrous and confusing to the general consumer. I mean, we started with 2K, then went to 1080HD, we have now moved up to 4K…which got changed over to “4K UHD”. Hang in there as we bring you the latest labels here at WWW.4KADVICE.COM in this early year of 2017.
In a nutshell, 8K would equate to squeezing 8 tiny little pixels into the size of ONE 1080HD pixel.
That is going to make for some pretty amazing resolution, detail and clairty! But, will it ever come to pass? Most likely not. There are several reasons why 8K will probably never be sold to the general public by way of a household electronic. Price will be a major factor, not to mention the minimum size of an 8K TV starts at like 85 inches in order for it to be created. Plus, they recommend you sit close to an 8K TV to receive the greatest watching experience. It just doesn’t make sense for people to buy 8K TVs right now and you will understand why shortly.
In August 2012, the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) ratified a series of standards that they officially called Ultra High Definition TV, or UHDTV. 8K has fallen in line, and also conforms to the UHDTV specifications.
As you can see from the above Header image, 8K is four times the size of 4K, and sixteen times the size of 2K or 1080p. If you were to measure the resolution in megapixels, 8K 7680 × 4320 is 33.2 Megapixels. Is resolution the only advantage to 8K? Actually, no. 8K TV is a totally new paradigm. It is actually mind-blowing in scope.
8K TV Specifications Explained
Here’s a table comparing the current HDTV (1080p) standard with 8K:
|Official name||ITU-R Recommendation BT.2020||ITU-R Recommendation BT.709|
|Resolution||7680 x 4320||1920 x 1080|
|Color Space||Rec. 2020||Rec. 709|
|Color Bit Depth||12||10|
|Audio Sampling Rate||96 KHz||96 KHz|
|Audio Bit Depth||24||24|
As you can see, in addition to resolution, there are three fundamental changes:
- The end of interlacing (4K and 8K only support progressive scanning)
- A superior color space (Rec. 2020 is the color space of the future)
- More audio channels per video
If 8K and 4K are two different things, why are both called UHDTV?
Anyone remember how confusing it was when HDTV first came out in the market? The average consumer didn’t know the difference between 720p (HD-ready) and 1080p (Full HD). Many still do not know the difference, but that’s another matter entirely! One that we do cover within 4KADVICE. Just look around, as we offer an entire education on 2K and 4K devices. Back in 2014, when I first saw a demo showing a 4K UHD Television…I was blown away.
I Was Blown Away At 4K
What blew me away most, is that I had concluded years prior that 1080HD was the best TV watching experience that we were ever going to see. This might have been because when we all made the switch from SD (standard definition) up to HD (including both 720 and 1080)…it was like the Heavens had opened and dropped us out Alien technology that our eyes could have only dreamed of. The picture image was stunning. Watching an HDTV for the first time was so crisp and clear that you could see details on a TV box never before seen. It was so real looking and made TV watching a seriously better experience. Do you remember that? Well, this happened again just a few years ago. They created an even better looking TV with even better resolution and clarity than 1080HD. And its 4 times better!
Below, is a video from a Television Guru who is talking about Ultra High Definition as well as 8K UHD.
I really enjoyed the part where they claim 8K will reduce ‘Channel Zapping’ or Surfing – the tendency of a viewer to change channels when bored. Very interesting. I would love to see a study conducted on this after the ‘newness’ wears off. Fact is that we ALL surf channels. Or, at least most men surf TV like hell. I know I do. My wife HATES this about me. I often tell her: “I am just looking for something good to watch, Honey”.
Also note the part where he uses the words ‘4K layer’ and ‘8K layer’. We might also see the terms UHDTV1 to represent 4K and UHDTV2 to represent 8K. But, this has not happened yet. Perhaps they call things different behind the scenes in the commercial filming world. But, as of today…for the consumer we know that it is called “4K UHD” and soon to be 8K SHD – Super High Definition. Count on this changing if we ever see 8K TVs reach the shelves.
How soon will you see 8K TV in your Home or Cinema?
According to NHK, the pioneers of the 8K ‘Layer’ of UHDTV, the standard will be ready for mainstream use by 2020. As of 2017, this is still their target date. However, will this ever happen? There are some major issues with 8K from a household consumers viewpoint:
- The cost of an 8K TV will always remain super high because of the minimum display size required
- Display size
- Human Eye – How good the picture image is, is limited by how good our human eyes can process the data we see. There is a maximum of how good the TV image will get for humans because we are not Bald Eagle birds with exceptionally stunning eye sight. The fact is that 4K might be the maximum image that our eyes can process. Actually, our eyes can handle a better image than 4K provides, but at a limit. Does this limit reach the 8K level? We do not yet know until more studies are done. What we mean by this is if you look at a 4K TV and then look at an 8K TV…how much better is the 8K going to look than 4K? Eventually, the quality and crispness of what we see WILL be maxed out. For example, a 20K TV if possible, our human eyes would not be able to fully process that resolution. We are only going to see so well. There is an end to how well our eyeballs interpret the picture image. If 4K already looks like you are seeing something live in person (not through a television set), then how much better can it get? And, most importantly, will it be feasible for mainstream consumers to purchase an 8K TV?
Do you need 8K at home or at cinema?
What you can see immediately is that 8K allows us to sit closer. But, this is more of an advantage than a benefit.
Anything smaller than a 42″ display will need to be viewed at one feet. One Feet? No consumer is going to sit 1 foot back from the TV to watch it. This means consumer have to buy displayed MUCH larger than 42 inch. Prices go up the larger the display, which might not make 8K feasible for most. In fact, it will be as good as reading a high-quality magazine printed at 300 dpi. If you go further away the extra resolution from 8K is lost. So, then you ask yourself “What is the point”. You may as well go back to 4K where you can sit 10-12 feet back and benefit fully from it.
The 85″ 8K TV displayed by Sharp at CES, will need to be seen at about 4 feet for it to look the best. The average human eye doesn’t need much better. Ask youself, does anyone feel that sitting only 4 feet away from the TV is way too close? What if you are a family of 10 wanting to watch a movie? How many of you can sit within the 22.2 audio area four feet away from your 85″ 8K TV?
Is Sitting 4 Feet Away From The TV Too Close?
The answer is YES. Realistically in most situations people are not going to sit only 4 feet away from their 8K television set. The lower size displays with 8K will be very handy for medical and scientific applications, but are not practical for home or consumer use. It’s overkill.
What about cinema? As you can see, a 600″ display (about 45 feet wide) should be viewed at a distance of 20 feet. 20 feet is the length of three humans. This is bigger than IMAX. How practical is it? You cannot squeeze a theater full of people (100s) to have them all sit only 20 feet back from the screen to receive the most benefit from it. So, what is the point of it then?
How many people can sit inside the width of a 45 feet wide display? A comfortable airline seat is about 20 inches. Let’s even it out at 2 feet for easy calculation. A 46 foot width can hold 23 people. Anyone outside this range will also not get the full effect of 22.2 sound, even though the cinema owner might convince them: ‘It’s the same thing’.
Only a few rows in front and behind this ideal distance (0.75x height) can actually see a huge difference when compared to 4K. The rest of the public will not know it, even if they have paid for it. Five such rows is 100 people. Food for thought?
What Is Your Opinion?
To summarize everything talked about,… in the real world, 1080p isn’t really 1080p. A lot of resolution is lost in lens, camera, debayering, sampling, transcoding, post production, compression, broadcast and delivery. The same is true for 4K and 8K as well. I have no doubt that 8K is the pinnacle in imaging, and by trying to attain this we are actually cutting down on the errors in the chain. 8K will indeed serve a good purpose for certain applications. But, most likely NOT for consumer household usage. Those are the cold hard facts about 8K.
We do believe that we are reaching our maximum picture quality image with 4K UHD. Perhaps, we can improve the image quality a bit more than 4K, but not a significantly. Let’s get consumers into a new 4K TV since this is where we are at today. Let us leave 8K for another time and place a decade from now and then we will re-visit this idea.
What do you think?
Do you feel 8K TV is even worth bothering about?
Would you buy one if you could afford it?
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