What is the future of TV? 8K resolution, if you ask Sharp. At IFA, the company – and partners – had a booth full of 8K displays, ranging from 32 to 85” sizes.
8K TVs everywhere
8K resolution equals 7680x4320 pixels, or more than 33 million pixels – four times as many as 4K resolution.
The largest 8K TV from Sharp was an 85” mammoth. Besides the extremely high definition, it featured 120Hz refresh rate, 12-bit colors, and HDR support with up to 1000 nits peak brightness.
To make 8K resolution possible, Sharp has employed so-called IGZO, which is a special kind of semiconducting material for the transistors that has 20-50 times the electron mobility of convention a-Si. This enables Sharp to address all 33 million pixels individually at up to 120 times per second.
The Sharp TV brand has been licensed by Hisense in the US and UMC in Europe but the Japanese giant, today owned mainly by Foxconn, appeared to have some say at IFA. Foxconn is planning to build a 10.5G LCD plant to manufacture 8K LCD panels.
The company – and partners – showcased several other 8K displays, too. One was the “world’s first 70” 8K HDR” TV with 12-bit colors and up to 1000 nits peak brightness. It was hidden in a frame but if you took a peak underneath you could see a TV that was at least 10cm thick.
At IFA 2017, Sharp even announced that it will launch a 70” 8K TV/monitor in “China in October, in Japan in December, in Taiwan in February 2018, and in Europe in March 2018”. This was not it. The consumer product appears to be significantly thinner. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR.
- “Sharp is also complementing its 8K TVs by accelerating development of 8K broadcast receivers, 8K cameras, and other 8K products to lead the world by establishing an 8K Ecosystem,” the company announced.
Other 8K display exhibits at Sharp’s booth included the “world’s first 70” 8K HDR LCD Virtual 8K CG Museum” and this one:
8K PC monitor
Sharp had brought a prototype of its first 8K LCD PC monitor. The company has managed to cram in 7860x4320 pixels into a 27” panel.
That is quite an achievement but check out the cabling. We counted a total of 16 cables. Good luck connecting it to your PC.
The LCD panel has 120Hz refresh rate and also supports HDR, the company said. It surely looked impressive but at the same time very contrast-poor. That’s the thing with 8K. You get more pixels but not better pixels.
”Better pixels” leads us to our next observation, and perhaps the most important. While all of the 8K displays looked super-detailed from a distance, the pixels started to look “alive” when examined more closely. They were kind of shimmering or flickering.
This was visible starting from perhaps 1 meter away and did not appear to be related to content compression or artefacts. Even Sharp’s 120-inch 4K panel suffered from the shimmering pixels.
We have seen lots of 8K prototypes from Sharp in the past. The first one in 2011, which we called “jaw-droppingly impressive”. These prototypes did not suffer from shimmering pixels so something has changed in the meantime. At one point Sharp started selling HD LCD panels with sub pixels divided into two in order to be able to claim “4K resolution”. It could be that Sharp is doing the same with 8K – just a guess.
If this is the 8K future that Sharp has imagined, it may be too little, too late. Sharp’s 8K TVs were big and beautiful but the 77” OLED TVs on show at IFA looked better in almost every imaginable way. That is a tough reality to face for a company touting its displays as the “ultimate reality”.