Time flies. It’s been seven years since we crossed the 1080p Full HD chasm to 4K, and now, we’re leaping into another level of realism as TV manufacturers start to bring their 8K TVs to market. Samsung’s the first to have 8K TVs in stores in 2019, but other big-name players are expected to follow suit in the near future.
“Why in the world do I need an 8K TV?” is probably the question you’ve in your mind right now. In this article, I’ll explore some of the reasons for buying an 8K TV; and, for those who’ve decided to take the plunge, how to go about choosing one.
From just a resolution standpoint, 8K UHD simply has more pixels than 4K UHD. More specifically, 8K has 4 times the linear resolution of 4K, or 16 times the linear resolution of Full HD (1080p).
In the simplest terms, much like how a 24-megapixel digital camera is able to produce a sharper and more detailed image than a 6MP camera, an 8K TV is able to produce a sharper picture than a 4K TV, with smoother gradients and enhanced realism.
For 4K TVs, I recommend a size of at least 55 inches. For 8K TVs, I’ll bump this up to 65 inches — better yet, 75 inches if your budget and living room space allow.
There are a couple of reasons why I suggest such big screen sizes. For one, a bigger screen allows you to better take advantage of the resolution jump. To use another photography analogy, what’s the point of upgrading from a 6MP camera to a 24MP camera if you only print 4R photos? Shouldn’t you print larger so that you can see the extra details and still maintain a sharp image? The same logic applies to 8K TVs.
The other reason for going big has to do with viewing distance. Based on this popular graph on the internet, if you’re currently sitting about 2.5 m away from your 65-inch 4K TV, you’ve to move closer to 1.2 m for a 65-inch 8K TV. Which isn’t exactly practical for many people. Put another way, getting a bigger TV allows you to sit at a more comfortable distance.
The problem with this graph is that it focuses on the ability of the eye to see and distinguish fine details (pixels). Due to differences in visual acuity between different people, I actually recommend that you base your screen size and viewing distance choices on which combo gives you a SMPTE’s (Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers) suggested viewing angle of 30 degrees, which I personally find to be both comfortable and immersive enough for the wide variety of activities one would do on a TV (e.g., watching TV shows and movies, playing games, surfing the web).
Here are the suggested viewing distances based on common 8K TV sizes currently in the market:
While I always recommend getting the biggest TV the budget allows, you should also consider if there’s enough space in the room to accommodate it. And if you’re going to wall-mount the TV, is the wall big enough?
To give you an idea, here are the dimensions of the four 8K QLED TVs that Samsung are selling in Singapore:
In Samsung's case, you need to find a space that's at least 1.5 m wide, and that's for its 65-inch 8K QLED TV. If you're using the stand, you've to check that your TV cabinet has a depth of at least 31 cm.
Additionally, you should consider if there are points of entry that could pose a problem during delivery, such as the size of the lift and the space around your doorway. For HDB lifts, you may have a problem fitting an object that’s longer than 2 m. And older HDB blocks are going to have even smaller lifts. Even if the TV can fit into the lift, if your unit isn’t on a floor with a lift landing, the movers may charge you extra if they need to use the stairs.
The good thing is, TV salespeople at big-brand retailers these days are pretty experienced when it comes to such matters. When in doubt — just ask!