Ready or not, the first publicly available 8K TV will hit the market this fall.
The Q900 will be Samsung's best QLED TV for 201
8. It's not quite The Wall but it's still huge in every way. The Q900's 85-inch screen has more than 33 million pixels, four times the resolution of traditional 4K televisions. I also expect a huge price – my best guess is $ 8K – but Samsung will not release price information until the TV goes on sale in October.
The appeal of 8K, according to Samsung, is that larger screen sizes require higher resolutions to estimate them. Whether 8K TVs actually look sharper than 4K TVs, but remains to be seen. Even with screen sizes that are so big, all these pixels could be so much overkill.
As we have explained often with 4K TVs there is a point where the yield decreases when it comes to resolution. The human eye can only see so many details, and extra pixels beyond what you can see are basically wasted. To get something out of higher resolutions and their proportionally smaller pixels, you need to sit closer, get a bigger TV, or both. Many sources exist today in 4K resolution, including Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Vudu and 4K Blu-ray Discs but there are basically no 8K movies or TV shows available right now. The exception are a few YouTube videos, but Samsung could not confirm that the Q900 can play them. For most things you'll see, the Q900 has to rely on scaling up standard HD and 4K content to reach the higher pixel count.
Following the release of Q9S at CES which will be featured in the following video, Samsung says it has completely overhauled the Q900's scaling for 8K. It uses a new 8K Quantum processor and Artificial Intelligence to improve texture, smooth jagged edges, and reduce noise and blurring. "A database analyzes millions of sets of low- and high-resolution content and uses machine learning to develop algorithms used for upscaling," Samsung says, and can update the TV over time with improved formulas.
Now Playing: Look at this:
Samsung's 8K 85-inch TV uses Artificial Intelligence
That sounds pretty cool, but if the past is any indication, Upscaled 4K or 1080p will still look worse than native 8K content. Suppose you can tell the difference.
Based on the mathematics of human visual acuity, you need to sit very close to an 85-inch 8K screen to take advantage of the extra resolution. Carlton Bale's outstanding home-camera calculator, for example, says you need to sit 3 feet or closer (to a screen that is more than 7 feet diagonal) to see all the details of 8K and 5 feet or closer to see the full benefits of 4K. In other words, from a distance of more than 5 feet, you can not see the benefit of an 8K TV compared to a 4K TV.
Having not tested Samsung's 85-inch 8K TV next to a 4K resolution, I can not say with certainty if that's true. But based on earlier low resolution comparisons of 1080p versus 4K TVs, I expect any increase in sharpness to be at best low.
Beyond upscaling and resolution, the Q900 will be Samsung's brightest TV. It can highlight 4000 Nits in HDR nearly doubling that of the current Q9 and especially in combination with the Q900 should lead to punchy HDR local complete local dimming . The number of dimming zones is "slightly" higher than the Q9, but as usual, Samsung has not given a number.
The Q900 has all the other extras of the Q9, including the ambient mode, the external OneConnect input box with an "invisible" connection, HDR10 + compatibility and all smart TV Fixins.
On the other hand, Samsung can not confirm that the Q900 has HDMI 2.1-capable inputs, something I would expect on the first 8K TVs because it delivers higher bandwidth than HDMI 2.0. One of the features of HDMI 2.1, for example, is the 8K resolution at 60 frames per second. Samsung's spokesman said the problem was that the HDMI test specification was not ready yet, so he could not comment further. I would not be surprised if it eventually gets certified (and can handle this higher bandwidth). We will see.
The only 8K TV Samsung has announced for the US is the 85-inch Q900, but other global markets would get smaller 8K QLED televisions – 65, 75, 82 and 85 inches. Further details were not available immediately.
The 85-inch Q900 is so large that it does not face much direct competition in the high-end TV market. The competition's flagship televisions, namely the Sony Z9F and the LG C8 OLED TVs, are a maximum of 75 and 77 inches, respectively. For that reason, it will probably be the best available TV in its size, regardless of whether 8K makes a visible difference. At least until LG's 88-inch 8K OLED comes out.
IFA 2018: The main announcements of the biggest tech show of the summer.
TV Dissolving Confusion: 1080p, 2K, UHD, 4K, 8K and what they all mean.