If 4K, HDR, high refresh rates, and OLED technology seem like old hat, you may be considering upgrading your TV or monitor to 8K. It's the next big upgrade for display technology, right? It might be expensive, but surely all those extra pixels are worth upgrading to if you can afford it, right?
Yes and no. Is 8K worth it in 2020? It really depends on what you want to do with it now, and whether you're planning to upgrade again any time soon.
It's beautiful, but...
There's no denying that 8K TVs look astonishing. You can be mere feet away and not see a single dividing line between the pixels. People, animals, and vistas all look near lifelike, and even expansive screens that are 75 or even 82-inches diagonally, look crisper than even modest-sized 1080p and 4K screens.
It looks fantastic, but is 8K worth it in 2020? That first depends on whether you want one of the limited models available. Samsung, Sony, and LG all have 8K TVs they launched in 2019, and Dell has an 8K monitor that's first and best in its class. But there's not a whole lot else out there. The TVs at least come in varied sizes (though the larger versions will certainly show off the technology at its best and give you a greater viewing depth to enjoy the added clarity), but there isn't a lot of choices out there at this time.
If you're wondering, can the human eye see 8K? The answer is yes. Although the human eye doesn't work in pixels, there is still a little extra room in the eye's understanding of detail before we're looking at truly lifelike visuals on screens. It won't be obvious, but when they're available, a 16K TV will still look a little better than an 8K one. 4K to 8K is noticeable, although the closer you sit to the screen the more of the detail your eyes can appreciate.
Cost and content
Buying into any new technology is always expensive, but when it comes to next-generation display standards like 8K, the cost is a major factor. You can buy a moderately sized 8K TV for around $2000, but for the larger sizes where you'll be making the most from the greater levels of detail on your 8K display, you'll need to spend closer to $10,000.
It's important to note, however, that these sorts of prices do tend to come down and do so quite quickly once adoption starts to increase. The first 8K television went on sale in Japan in 2015 and although it was designed for professional users, it cost over $130,000. A more than 90 percent price reduction in just five years shows that 8K is getting cheaper all the time. Even if you aren't able to afford it right now, in a year or two it will be that much more affordable again.
Content may be more of a problem for those wondering is 8K worth it in 2020, because there isn't that much native 8K content to watch just yet, although it is improving. There are a few thousand YouTube videos uploaded at that resolution, and Vimeo has supported 8K content for a few years now. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be one of the first majors, extended broadcasts recorded and streamed at 8K resolution, so buying an 8K display before Summer 2020, maybe worth considering if you would be watching that regardless.
There's also next-generation consoles to consider. The Microsoft Xbox Series X will support 8K resolution video and potentially gaming, albeit at limited detail settings and frame rates. The PlayStation 5 will also support 8K resolution, and both systems will be available before the end of 2020.
Although there is unlikely to be any physical 8K media due to the storage demands of such a detailed video source, dedicated streaming services and games consoles will still need to connect to the 8K TV to give you access to the content to display on it in the first place. That's where a next-generation of cables comes in.
HDMI is still the dominant standard among living room equipment, so if you're planning to buy an 8K TV, a high-quality, 8K-ready HDMI 2.1 cable is the way to go. These cables are available up to 10 feet in length and support higher refresh rates and HDR content too.
If you're buying an 8K monitor, however, you may want to consider an 8K-ready DisplayPort 1.4 cable instead. It has broader support among desktop PC graphics cards and offers the best support for higher resolutions and refresh rates outside of the upcoming DisplayPort 2.0 standard. There are also DisplayPort adapters, which give you a little more flexibility when it comes to your connections. A 7.5m active DisplayPort 1.4 cable is recommended for ultimate flexibility without sacrificing performance.
So, is 8K worth it in 2020? If you're an Olympics fan with deep pockets or you just like being on the forefront of display technology, it very well could be. Just make sure you get your high-quality cables from Cables Matters.