The first 8K TV is here. Now available for purchase at a price of € 11,990 ($ 14,732, £ 10,520, AUS $ 19,216), the Aquos LC-70X500E from Sharp is the first 8K television to be released in Europe and around the world.
An 80-inch version, the LC-80XU30, has been on sale in Japan for some years ( we have even reviewed it ), but the global availability of this new model marks nothing less than the beginning of the 8K era.
The LC-70X500E was presented at the IFA World Press Conference in Rome, and the venue was deliberately chosen, it was now or never. IFA 2018 is expected in Berlin at the end of August to watch 8K televisions announced by the main television channels.
But wait. 8 K? What about 4K? Is not it supposed to be the latest and the best in televisions? Why are we obsessed with 7,680×4,320 pixels TVs? Do we really need 8K TVs?
Anyway, more 8K TVs will come in 2018
8K content may be virtually non-existent, but we're about to see all the major brands launch an 8K TV.
"Can the other TV brands resist the temptation to offer a premium 8K television? Of course they will not," said Paul Gray, Director of Research and Analysis, Technology, Media and Telecommunications, IHS, speaking with TechRadar at the IFA Global Press Conference.
CES 2018 saw a series of 8K televisions shown, including Samsung Q9S 8K QLED TV 85-inch Sony 85KT 8K TV and LG 88-inch 88-inch 88-inch OLED TV display . The three were prototypes … but not for long.
But these TVs are just an appetizer. Then comes TV background wallpaper.
"People want bigger screens at home," said Sascha Lange, Sharp's Vice President of Marketing and Sales, who believes that the only limitation on TV sizes is the resolution, hence the 8K boost. "The pixel density of a 64-inch 4K TV is exactly the same as a 32-inch Full HD TV," he said. "And a 120-inch, 8K TV also has exactly the same pixel density as a 32-inch Full HD TV."
That powerful concept, and others, like The Samsung Wall would allow broadcasters to capture, let's say, a complete soccer field. You can sit near your 150-inch 8-inch screen TV and turn your head to see the action, as if you were there.
"Today, even a 70-inch screen does not fill a wall: you can easily get a 120-inch screen on a wall in any home," says Lange. "People want bigger screens and they have space, and now technology is here."
How big do we want our TVs?
Sharp can see a clear trend, and it's for bigger and bigger TVs.
The biggest demand for better screens and larger screens comes from China, where the average size of a TV is 54 inches. In the USA UU It is 50 inches, in Europe it is 49 inches, and in Japan it only measures 40 inches.
In fact, 55-59 inch TVs are the largest TV sales size in Europe at the moment, and it is a sector that has grown almost a quarter in the last year.
IHS Markit predicts that 8K screens will represent only about 1% of the 60-inch and larger screen market in 2018, but a huge 9% by 2020. That's a big part of the TV market, and it's easily the most lucrative. 8K is about cash.
OK, sales of 70-inch and larger TVs represent only 0.4% of the European TV market, but if you're in the market for one, what would you buy?
"The Sharp 8K TV and the 77-inch OLED TV are very similar prices," says Gray, who is not sure of the commercial future of this television as the main product. "People will buy 8K televisions as monitors, like multiple 4K screens, like white boards, but as high-resolution TVs, probably not, this is a hybrid prosumer product."
So, how big should an 8K TV be?
"If 40 inches was the starting point for 4K, then 80 inches has to be the starting point for 8K," says Gray. That suggests that the LC-70X500E is small. "But there are other reasons for having a 65-inch 8K screen, such as the ability to read characters in China, and the fact that smart TVs care about graphics as well as video."
The 8K frame rate problem  The video is consecutive images, or frames, displayed on a screen in rapid succession. The more you have per second, the softer the image will be. It is expressed as frames per second (fps), although there is no internationally accepted frame rate, so PAL and SECAM (Europe and China) differ from NTSC (North America and Japan).
The Sharp 8K TV can display a maximum of 50/60 fps (for PAL / NTSC), but that's a technology that reaches a maximum of 4K.
"If you double the resolution, then you should double the frame rate," says Gray. "Otherwise, all you get is fuzziness from the recorded camera very accurately!"
So going from 24/25 fps for HD to 50/60 fps in Ultra HD 4k, we should go to 100/120 fps for 8K.
"Broadcasters have totally added to that because the sharpness of the movement is more important than anything else," says Gray. In short, watching video in 8K without 100/120 fps does not make sense.
Unfortunately, there is no way to get high frame rates on any type of TV. Not even the next HDMI 2.1 standard will change that, although it will support 8K resolutions.
Therefore, the LC-70X500E includes eight HDMI ports, four of which must be used simultaneously to obtain an 8K signal. The new 8C-B60A from Sharp, the world's first 8K camcorder, can capture content from 8K to 60 fps and connect to the LC-70X500E.
Sharp also says that still images in 8K can be viewed from a USB memory or hard drive. The LC-70X500E will also increase from 4K to 8K. However, if you want to watch 8K live TV broadcasts, you will have to move to Japan and tune in to NHK satellite TV transmissions in 8K resolution.
8K could rejuvenate 360 and VR
"The application that is asking for more resolution is VR Headset because VR will only work when it becomes completely unconscious of the pixel structure," says Gray.
It also suggests that broadcasters could use high resolutions to offer completely new immersive ways of watching television by capturing in 8K and zooming in specific areas.
"360 with 4K is an interesting opportunity for short content & # 39; snacks & # 39 ;, especially for live coverage where you want a sense of presence, such as at the Olympics," says Gray. "You could move with the remote control, like having a periscope, to look around the stadium." That kind of viewing options requires an 8K capture.
8K TVs may seem useless to some, but they will help sell bigger TVs, which are becoming more popular, will present 8K as a creative capture format, It will probably rejuvenate virtual reality, and could completely change the way we watch television.
"There is a whole new grammar of creative production and the language that will have to be used," says Gray of the 8K era. "The storytelling will be different, with much longer shots and more time to absorb everything, as well as the best virtual reality experiences."