8K TVs are coming, but ignore the hype
Samsung’s 146-inch 4K MicroLED set, The Wall, is already being sold to corporate customers. But eventually, anyone will be able to order that TV in a variety of sizes. As you can tell from its name, Samsung is preparing for a future where a TV could in fact take over your entire wall. And that’s also where the benefits of 8K will really matter.
LG, meanwhile, has dominated OLED TVs for the last few years. (Even Sony’s OLED TV relies on LG’s panels.) But that doesn’t mean they’re ignoring MicroLED. During a brief demo at IFA, LG’s 173-inch MicroLED TV looked bright and vivid, but there wasn’t much movement on screen. We also don’t have a price for that TV yet, and LG isn’t saying when it’ll be available. It’s most likely just a concept demo to show that it can still compete.
With its 88-inch 8K OLED TV (which we first caught a glimpse of at CES), LG is going a step further than Samsung since it’s not relying on aging technology. That set also looks very impressive, with all of the benefits you’d expect from OLED. But yet again, LG isn’t offering many details about it. Still, it’s a sign that LG will be able to rely on OLED for many years to come — something Samsung can’t really say about QLED. But it’s unclear if OLED will scale beyond 100 inches easily, which is why LG will still need MicroLED.
“Certainly the advantage of higher resolution is more obvious as screens get larger,” Rubin said. “That’s one way in which 8K will be even harder to justify than 4K in the earlier years of pricing premiums. That said, MicroLED has broad applicability as it represents a “best of both worlds” solution — the contrast levels of OLED and the brightness of LCD.”
Even if 8K TVs were affordable and readily available, it’ll still be years before there’s enough native content to warrant the upgrade. Netflix only started adding 4K shows in 2014, and it took a while for it to build up a decent library of content. On the production level, 8K will also introduce a whole new set of problems. Studios will have to buy new cameras, and invest in enough computing power and storage to handle those massive files.