TVs have come a long way since the bulky black-and-white boxes families gathered around in the mid-’50s. First color, then flat screens, then new ways of producing images. TVs became thinner and lighter, and display resolutions kept improving.
In less time than most analysts predicted, the first true 8K TV was unveiled in 2013. If you want to watch content at the highest and clearest resolution possible, the Samsung 85-Inch Neo QLED 8K is an excellent choice.
A large display that produces stunning visuals is excellent, but the TV can only do so at its full potential if 8K content is available. That is the biggest stumbling block today, as there simply isn’t enough content to justify 8K resolution.
It’s a contentious issue, especially for early adopters, and while the TV can upscale 4K content to 8K, it’s still 4K at its heart. The only way you can view anything is when the content was filmed in 8K, or the broadcast or streaming is in 8K. That creates two problems in the creation process: filming and post-production of 8K footage are incredibly expensive, and you’ll need an ultrafast internet connection to stream it.
With only a very small percentage of streaming users having both the right TV and connection, it simply isn’t worth it for the streaming platforms. No streaming services currently offer content in native 8K. Some YouTube channels provide 8K videos, but most are only technical demonstrations.
If you play video games on a console, you might want to get an 8K TV for the increase in quality. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. As with films, no video games are currently coded in 8K resolution, so you’ll get no benefit from such a TV. And while Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X can output in 8K, the functionality will only be unlocked with future updates.
To understand why 8K content is so rare, it’s important to know how it differs from its nearest resolution, 4K. The most common resolution is 1080p, which has 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. A step up from that is 4K, which has 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. The term 4K comes from the resolution of digital cinema, but in TVs, it’s technically ultra high definition.
A TV with an 8K resolution has twice the number of pixels as a 4K in each direction, measuring 7,680 pixels horizontally and 4,320 pixels vertically. In total, an 8K TV has over 33 million pixels, compared to the 8.2 million pixels of 4K and 2 million pixels of 1080p.
Typically, the entry-level dimensions of 8K TVs are larger than those of other resolutions and coupled with their expensive cost, they need to be sturdy on their feet. A good-quality 8K TV has a solid base or a wide-set stand to prevent it from toppling.
The better solution, though, is to mount the set on a wall. Look for a TV that's compatible with the mounting system of the Video Electronics Standards Association. VESA is a universal specification that ensures the bracket perfectly fits on the TV’s backplate.
If you splurge on an 8K TV, there's a good chance you have a home theater system or some gaming consoles. Nobody wants to struggle with cables when switching playback mediums, so a good-quality TV has multiple input connections, such as the 8K-capable HDMI 2.1, an optical audio port, multiple USB ports to charge devices and a DisplayPort.
Amazing visuals are one thing, but it’s better when you can automate actions through your TV. A good-quality 8K TV has a Wi-Fi receiver and smart functions so you can stream content through built-in apps. If the TV is compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can use your voice to control other smart gadgets in your home.
The price largely depends on its manufacturer, size and additional features. An entry-level 65-inch TV costs $1,500-$2,000, while a large display from a top-tier maker costs $2,000-$2,500.
A. Technically, it can, but it’s a complex issue. Beyond a certain viewing distance, it’s almost impossible for the human eye to differentiate between individual 4K and 8K pixels.
A. It’s difficult to determine, as it depends on the size of the TV. Sony, one of the world's largest electronics manufacturers, recommends a minimum viewing distance of 1.5 times the TV's vertical measurement. For example, the viewing distance for a 55-inch TV is 3.2 feet, while the minimum distance for an 85-inch TV is about 5.2 feet.
What you need to know: This TV has striking visual clarity using Samsung’s quantum matrix technology of hyper-focused light cells.
What you’ll love: The incorporated multi-layered neural networks can upscale any content to an 8K resolution. The TV’s built-in speakers have dynamic object tracking to follow the on-screen action sound, and it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
What you should consider: With a price tag of nearly $5,000, it could be well beyond the reach of many.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: To deliver the best possible visuals, this TV uses TCL's AiPQ Engine to enhance content intelligently.
What you’ll love: The internal mini-LED technology creates uniform brightness and contrast across the screen by tweaking up to 240 individual zones. It has an Ethernet port, three HDMI inputs, optical audio and one USB port.
What you should consider: Some users said the construction isn’t as sturdy as expected.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: With a native refresh rate of 120 hertz, the visuals are smoother with no motion blurring.
What you’ll love: It incorporates Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to create a theater experience, and through the AI Picture Optimization, it can upscale any content to 8K. It has two HDMI 2.1 ports, and two regular HDMI connections and comes with a voice-controlled Roku remote.
What you should consider: Some users said it doesn’t support Apple AirPlay as the stand-alone Roku boxes do.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.