8K TVs are still a hot topic of discussion around the globe. The CES 2021 saw big names like Sony, TCL, LG, and Samsung come out with new models to woo the audience. The prices for 8K TVs are also expected to become affordable, creating more interest around the high-resolution TVs.
So, is it time to buy an 8K TV and enjoy 7680 x 4320p videos?
If we look around, the scarcity of 8K content is clearly visible. 8K enthusiasts believe we will see more TV shows and series going 8K, giving 8K TV owners ample viewing options.
However, Deloitte predicts less than 0.1% of all content in 2021 will be created in 8K. You may have to come down to shooting your own 8K videos to make your new TV useful. Additionally, Deloitte found viewers cannot easily tell the difference between an 8K and 4K video.
Let's go through the available 8K content you might watch on your TV right now.
Upscaling Existing Content
8 TVs can upscale HD and 4K content to 8K resolutions. It's easier to upscale 4K to 8K as the number of pixels has to be scaled four times. You will need to upscale HD content sixteen times to make it 8K.
8K TVs use varying technologies, including AI, to upscale HD and 4K content as natively as possible. However, viewers will find it difficult to distinguish even between 4K and upscaled 4K in TVs less than 80-inches.
You will have to almost stick your face to the TV screen to tell the difference if you buy a 65-inch 8K TV.
Commercial Streaming and 8K Movies
Only a few movies and series have been natively shot in 8K. You will find two or three shows like Money Heist (4th season) on Netflix and Homecoming (2nd season) on Amazon Prime. The movie Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was also shot in 8K.
Unfortunately, these movies and series were released in 4K with lower resolutions.
According to PC Mag, commercial content max out at 4K resolution. Apart from a few shows, all content on Netflix or Amazon Prime is in 4K at the maximum.
The same applies to Blu-ray discs, even for Ultra HD ones- 4K is the maximum you can reach.
You can't find enough series or movies to quench your thirst for 8K content. Viewers will have to wait for a few more years before we can expect 8K to go mainstream.
Additionally, streaming in 8K will require high-speed broadband of at least 40MB per second. Speed and data limitations of existing internet may not suffice to support 8K streams.
Cable and Satellite Providers
Are traditional providers ready to serve 8K TV content?
NHK made the news back in 2018 by broadcasting 8K content over satellite in Japan. They were to show the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 8K, which got canceled due to COVID-19. However, the channel still produces many series and shows in 8K.
Providers like NHK look promising, but their future is not very certain. NHK has already consolidated its 8K channels into a single channel and is also expected to cut funding.
No cable or TV broadcaster apart from NHK offers 8K content. Some providers like Rakuten TV promised to go 8K but haven't been able to achieve their target.
Things are pretty similar around the world and even in the US. In 2020, only 81.8 million Americans owned a 4K TV out of 353.6 million new TV installations. The number of 8K TV owners are still very low and doesn't make up a significant audience base.
It will take many years before you can expect your local cable TV to broadcast 8K content.
4K, 6K, and movies shot on film can be remastered and converted to 8K resolutions. Old movies that used 70mm films have an equal resolution of an 8K video. A few movies have been remastered to 8K, like My Fair Lady and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Netflix also shot some seasons of series like House of Cards and Mindhunter in 6K and 4K for remastering.
8K fans may expect many more movies to go 8K. But the momentum seems to be missing, and we are only left with a handful of remastered content.
8K Video Games
X Box Series X and PlayStation 5 can run 8K games in technical terms. However, you still need to wait for 8K titles to load up on your gaming console.
CNET believes the majority of games coming out in the coming years will be in 4K at the maximum. Plus, many games that will advertise themselves as 8K will not be real 8K.
Moreover, the consoles may also be unable to perform satisfactorily while processing 8K games. You will experience stuttering and unstable performance running your games in 8K.
PCs with the latest GPUs are more powerful and reliable when it comes to performance. However, you will need a cost-prohibitive rig to even expect smooth frame rates at 8K from your games.
That leaves gamers to choose a lower resolution for consistent performance.
YouTube and Other User-Generated Content
A search for 8K videos on YouTube will leave you unhappy. You will only find a handful of videos, that too of animals or landscapes, shot in 8K. The trend is similar on all video-sharing platforms, whether it's Vimeo or DailyMotion.
In short, you are not going to get much interesting content to watch.
In the absence of 8K content, you might need to shoot your own videos. Of course, you will need an 8K camera, or at least a high-end smartphone. Plus, you will also need to shoot things that are actually interesting to watch!
Does it make sense to buy an 8K TV to watch home videos?
8K enthusiasts will still need to wait for more years to get their hands on enough 8K content. Watching your own videos can keep you entertained only for so long. It's not time yet to buy an 8K TV if you want to enjoy TV shows and movies in ultra-high 8K definition.