Samsung is expected to launch its first 8K TVs at IFA in Berlin. Sony is also rumored to be planning its first 8K TVs. HDMI 2.1 will be the enabler but there are still lots of pieces that must fall into place.
8K LCD TVs incoming
These will not be the first 8K TVs as Foxconn’s Sharp has already embarked on the journey. However, these may prove to be the first “true” 8K TVs. By true, we mean capable of actually receiving 8K signals via a single HDMI cable.
Many leading TV makers have been waiting for the next HDMI standard to emerge before taking the plunge. HDMI 2.1 has significantly higher bandwidth, which allows for 8K resolution at up to 120 frames per second (with lossless compression). Better video compression formats will also be required for 8K video but if a TV has HDMI 2.1, a user can find comfort in the fact that external video players can be connected at a later time.
While some manufacturers may still decide to launch 8K TVs without HDMI 2.1, the annual IFA show in Berlin this September is shaping up to be a significant event and milestone for 8K. Korean ETNews reports that Samsung will begin marketing its ‘8K QLED TVs’ (LCD) after it unveils a 8K line-up at IFA 2018. Forbes reports that Samsung will likely announce several sizes of 8K TVs. At CES in January of this year, Samsung showcased 8K TV prototypes.
Sony is rumored to be planning new flagship Z9F/ZF9 LCD and A9F/AF9 OLED TVs that will likely be announced later this year. The so-called Z9F (in USA) – or ZF9 (in Europe) – is rumored to be an 8K TV. The Japanese company showcased a prototype 8K TV at CES earlier this year. It was based on Sony’s next-generation video processor called the ‘X1 Ultimate’. Sony has also filed for ‘8K HDR’ trademark and logo, FlatpanelsHD reported in December 2017.
Chinese TV manufacturers are also expected to step into the segment soon, according to Digitimes, but may decide to focus initially on home market China.
8K OLED may be lagging behind
LG.Display – LG’s display division – has been talking up its upcoming 10.5G manufacturing plant for years. It will be capable of producing larger and more advanced OLED TVs. However, the plant has been delayed again and again and may not start mass production until late 2019 or 2020.
Earlier this year, LG showed off an 88-inch 8K OLED prototype but considering the price tag on the company’s 77-inch 4K OLED TVs, it appears that LG.Display still has a lot of work to do in order to bring down costs. LG has been showcasing 8K LCD prototypes for years so the company may decide to move ahead with LCD first.
8K OLED may be two years behind 8K LCD, according to Display Supply Chain Consultants and reported by Forbes.
10.5G display production is required to make large-size 8K TVs affordable for consumers. The ‘G’ is short for generation and refers to the size of the mother panel of which smaller display panels can be cut. These factories are typically optimized for production of 65-inch and larger displays, meaning that most 8K TV line-ups will likely start at 65 inches – at least initially. Display panel manufacturers such as Taiwan’s AUO and Foxconn as well as China’s BOE and CSOT/TCL are also setting up 10.5G production. Samsung’s plans are not as clear.
There are still many unknowns but come IFA 2018 you will most likely start hearing about actual consumer-oriented 8K TVs from the biggest brands in the game. Right now, it may be wise to take a step back and observe but 8K – with all of its implications – is the next step in video technology. Get ready.