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8K TVs Are Coming: Should You Skip 4K and Wait to Buy 8K?

Probably not, since you won't be seeing content or reasonable prices for 8K TVs in the near future.
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8K TV price

The prices of 4K televisions, or Ultra HD TVs, have dropped dramatically over the last few years. You've probably either bought one, or are thinking about buying one. Indeed, according to Strategy Analytics, it's expected that 48% of North American households will own a 4K TV by 2020.

But perhaps you've heard about all the 8K TVs on display at CES this year and thought that maybe you should just hold out for a set with this new technology. Sadly, our research says you'll be waiting a long time for a decent price.

Here's why you probably shouldn't skip 4K TVs in order to wait for 8K.

8K TVs Exist, But Only Kind Of

Measuring 7680x4320 pixels, 8K TVs have a total of 33,177,600 pixels — four times the amount of a 4K. But while companies have been showcasing 8K demos at CES since 2012, they haven't really brought them to market. Admittedly, Sharp is selling an 85" set in Japan for $133,000 and Changhong has a 98" set for the bargain price of $55,000, but these sets aren't being produced in large numbers.

SEE ALSO: Buying a TV Is Easy When You Know These Terms

With Japanese broadcaster NHK having announced its intention to broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in 8K, Samsung and Panasonic have pledged to bring 8K sets to market in the country in time for the games. That is probably a more realistic timeframe for when we'll see the first mass-market 8K TVs.

8K Price Tags Will Be Massive Until at Least 2025

When the first sets arrive, they'll probably be closer to the $25,000 price tag we saw on Sony's original 4K TV from November 2012.

But don't expect to see any remotely reasonable prices until a year or so later. UHD TV prices didn't start decreasing until 2013, when Sony's set dropped by half. While that was still out of the price range of most shoppers, we did see our first deal that year on an off-brand 4K set — Seiki's 50" UHD TV at $1,300.

If 8K follows a similar trajectory to 4K TVs, then the sets that debut in 2020 for the Olympics could take another five years to drop to non-premium prices.

It wasn't until April 2014 that we spied our first name-brand 4K deal: a 65" Sony hit $3,498. During the Black Friday season that year, we saw a name-brand 50" 4K TV drop under $1,000 for the first time.

Using that timeline as a guide, any consumer-level 8K release that debuts in 2020 could take another two to three years to drop to somewhat palatable prices — and probably another two years or more to become as cheap as 4K is now, compared to 1080p. That means it could be another seven years from now until 8K pricing is no longer at a premium price.

Judging From the 4K Rollout, 8K Content Could Take Even Longer to Debut

Even if you're able to afford an 8K TV by 2020, you probably won't have anything to watch on it. The transition from standard TV to high-def took many years, and the transition from 1080p to 4K is taking just as long. If you do buy an 8K TV when the prices finally drop, history indicates that you might still be wanting for content that can actually take advantage of that higher resolution.

It's far cheaper for manufacturers to produce 4K TVs than for a television network to overhaul its equipment and make shows in a higher resolution.

For example, 4K TVs right now are almost as cheap as 1080p, but you still can't get 4K content on broadcast or cable television, while DirecTV offers only one 4K channel via satellite. As far as streaming goes, you need to have an internet connection of at least 25mps, and even then it's slim pickings. Amazon and Netflix offer only a small selection of 4K content (most of it original programming). And while Vudu offers a slightly better selection of 4K movies, there's not as many as are available on Blu-ray — which is only about 100.

The one notable exception to the content rule is gaming: There's actually a ton of 4K content available for current-generation consoles. Both the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X were designed with an eye towards gaming in 4K. So even if the long timeline for available sets and affordable prices hasn't deterred you from waiting for 8K, then perhaps the state of gaming should; while you wait for the next generation of TVs, you could miss out on a generation of great games.

Bottom Line: There's No Reason to Skip 4K Just to Wait for 8K

All this is to say that, Tokyo Olympics or no, by 2020 your 4K TV will actually be more relevant. The reason for this is it's far cheaper for manufacturers to produce 4K TVs than for a television network to overhaul its equipment and make shows in a higher resolution. As such, 8K isn't something you need to worry about anytime soon.

What do you think readers? Have you made the 4K plunge, are you eager for 8K, or are you going to stick with 1080p for awhile? Let us know in the comments.


Senior Staff Writer

Stephen has been covering consumer electronics and technology for 20 years, and has been with DealNews since 2013. His insights have also been published in The Village Voice, Paste, CMJ New Music Monthly, The Big Takeover, and many other national and regional publications. He runs The Agit Reader, a music webzine.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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14 comments
encorez
50 - 60 GB downloads for 4K movies... 6 - 10 GB for Blue ray and only 2 GB for 1080p...... we do not need 8K yet.... please.
Dreadalus
No, because I skipped HD and waited for 4K. But the ancient Sony tube TV that was just replaced last Black Friday had some kind of built-in line doubler, so it was less painful than it might've been.
DeletedUser169775
I can barely tell the difference between a 4K TV and my grandfather's old vacuum tube TV. Then again I'm blind, so it that could be it too.
ski522
What a joke, most people can't even tell the difference between HD and 4K unless the set is 60"! This is turning into nothing more then camera megapixel wars...nothing more then desperate LCD manufactures trying to keep their revenue numbers up!
CinciShopper
McDruid,

I have seen that chart many times. My interpretation is that there is an advantage even at very close distances. I think everyone should go into their local electronics retailer and see one first hand before making a judgement based on anything you read on the internet.

4k vs 1080p? I think it is definitely worth it. 8k? That has a lot of challenges before it is ready for prime time. I personally wouldn't buy a new TV right now at 1080p because 4k is here to stay. It's not a fad like 3D was and that is where the innovation is for the manufacturers.

A bigger factor IMO that we are not even talking about here is High Dynamic Range TV's. Check that out too if you haven't heard of it.
mcdruid
According to various calculators, such as this one (http://www.rtings.com/...-to-distance-relationship), You'd have to sit within 6 feet of a 4k TV to be able to tell the difference between it and a 1080p.
CinciShopper
(continued from last posting) There is a ton of 4k content out right now. Most of it is on YouTube. The biggest limitation right now for 4k like the article mentions is bandwidth in getting it to your home but I don't seem to have a problem with it coming in crystal clear from either YouTube or Netflix. (which was only $4 per month more than my old subscription and still less than HBO.) I would hate to see what sort of bandwidth you would need for 8k since it's over 33 megapixels per frame for a 16:9 image.
CinciShopper
True there isn't a lot of content out there but I think the biggest benefit in purchasing a 4k TV is that they upconvert 1080p to 2160p resolution. The difference in picture quality is noticeable in all 4k TV but it is especially noticeable in TVs that are 65 inches or larger. I am of the opinion that 1080p is perfectly acceptable for TVs 60 inches and smaller but anything larger should be purchased as a 4k set. I have seen a couple of 70 inch 1080p TV's that actually look grainy during certain circumstances because the pixels are getting fairly large at that size.

Conversely you don't see very many 1080p 32 inch TV's because the screen is so small that 1080p doesn't make any real difference in picture quality. They are mostly 720p unless you get a higher end model.
joe1512
Thank goodness! I am getting sooo tired of the grainy pixellated garbage that my 4k TVs deliver. Definitely feeling a huge need for 8k! ;-)
Adam B (DealNews)
While a TV might have enough pixels to display 8k of resolution, there is going to be very little content to take advantage of it for a long time. 4k has this problem now, but there are people filming at that resolution so it's at least possible to bring people the full resolution images. For example, iMax films are either filmed digitally at 4k*, or filmed on analog film and scanned in for post processing at 4k.

4k is enough resolution for a screen 100 feet tall, where is the incentive for filmmakers and producers to go to 8k? Especially if the hardware price is going to keep the market size small?

Mainstream cinema films some content digitally at 4k, but their screen size is smaller so they have even less incentive for larger raw capture resolution.

(*iMax is actually higher resolution than the 4096x2160 of 4k because of the different aspect ratio, specifically 4096×3072)
ibex333
All this 4k/8k stuff is nonsense. Sure, it looks great when everything comes together and when it works, but the fact is, there's VERY LITTLE 4k content out there. You got this big turd of a TV sitting there, and you end up mostly consuming 1080p content on it. Yes there are some 4k PS4 games, and Xbox 4k games are a future prospect as well, but again, overall, it's very very little... 4k content on Netflix costs EXTRA. It is not included in the regular subscription. So you are essentially wasting your money when you buy a 4k TV. 4k PC monitor makes more sense, but not for games. If you want to game at 4k you have to be somewhat wealthy.
kinghiggs
Grammatical pet peeve. Must. Interject.
Quote above (comments can't use quotation marks or dashes):
33,177,600 pixels, four times the amount of a 4K.
If it can be counted, it's number, not amount. If it has to be measured some other way: volume, weight, etc., then it's amount.
PythonX
I'm holding out for 64K
B from C
Is 8k going to be shackled with unreasonable DRM requirements the way 4k was? D.O.A.
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