Due to lack of content and high prices, the next-generation 8K ultra-high-definition format will take off pretty slowly, according to estimates by IHS DisplaySearch, a major market tracker. In the second year of availability, shipments of 8K (7680*4320) UHD televisions will hit around one million units, which is comparable to the adoption rate of 4K ultra HD TVs.
Researchers from NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, Japan Broadcasting Corp.) believe that 7680*4320 and similar 2D resolutions are approaching physical limits of human eye’s processing capabilities for two-dimensional images. For video, display, TV and other industries, this means that 8K will be a very long journey as future video formats after 8K will be stereoscopic and will require dramatically higher resolutions to create a 3D effect. However, while 8K will be here for a long time, its take-off will be slow.
According to IHS, shipments of 8K ultra-high definition TVs are expected to increase from 2700 shipped worldwide in 2015* to 911 thousand in 2019.
The first 8K TVs will be introduced in 2018, when NHK starts commercial broadcasting in 7680*4320 resolution and with advanced multi-channel audio. Since in 2018 NHK will be the only company on the planet to broadcast in 8K super hi-vision format, it is clear that not a lot of 8K TVs will be shipped in the first year.
“The biggest inhibitor to the growth of 8K TV will be consumer screen size preferences,” said Paul Gray, principal analyst for IHS. “8K requires a very large screen or the higher resolution becomes invisible at normal viewing distances. The average screen size in the TV market has grown by an inch each year over the past decade, but it is still a long haul before sizes over 70” become commonplace.”
According to the IHS DisplaySearch, a number of new LCD fabs in China are scheduled to come online in the next three years, hence, there will be loads of capacity to make 65” 8K TV displays. Moreover, since prices of 8K TVs are not going to be extremely high in China, expect Chinese consumers to adopt the new TV technology early, just like it happened with 4K UHD.
“We can be confident that a combination of enhanced local panel production and consumers eager for the latest technology will make China the driving factor in 8K television growth,” said Mr. Gray.
If 8K TVs become big sellers in China late this decade, expect services offering 8K content to emerge in the country.
*It is unknown what kind of 8K panels were shipped in 2015, but most probably the number indicates shipments of various special-purpose products for digital signage, professional, military, healthcare and other industries.
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KitGuru Says: It will be extremely interesting to see how TV makers will stimulate demand for 8K UHD TVs among mainstream consumers, who believe that full HD is good enough. There are technological challenges too. To make 7680*4320 content widespread, faster Internet channels, better video processors and higher-capacity optical discs will be required. Moreover, before the new technologies will truly be required, actual 8K content will have to be made. While Hollywood studios like new technologies, they do not embrace them quickly.