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Is 8KTV Dying? It's not looking good at CES 2023

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CES is not only an excellent event to discover all the latest technologies, it is also a barometer. You can tell when a new development is gaining momentum, because every year more and more players jump on the bandwagon. Conversely, you can sometimes see when a given technology falls out of favor as fewer and fewer products and services mention it in their marketing.

To CES 2023a sudden drop in the number of new 8K products has me wondering about the future of this format.

Only two TV players

Scott Ramirez, VP of Marketing and Product Development for TCL Home Theater, at CES 2023.
Scott Ramirez, vice president of marketing and product development for TCL home theater, at CES 2023. The company was mum on all the new 8K sets at this year’s conference. Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

CES may have turned into an automotive tech show in recent years, but make no mistake: it’s still the annual Super Bowl of TV tech. If a TV brand announces a new product, that’s usually where it’s at. So it was hard not to notice that TCL and Hisense had absolutely no 8K-capable TVs or spotlights in their lines. TCL caused a stir when it presented its first 6 Series Mini 8K LED TV in 2021, and it gave us every reason to think an 8K model would be part of the company new Q-series. No. Even though the new QM8 flagship will come in a huge 98-inch screen.

Only 16 months ago, Hisense launched its first 8K TV, the U800GR. But this year the company seemed much more interested in improving its 4K performance, announcing a dazzling new model, the 2,500 nit 85 inch UX.

We could be entering an 8K winter with no clear end in sight.

Even brands like Panasonic and Sharp, which don’t have a huge presence in the US but are still popular in other global markets, made no 8K announcements at the show. Vizio didn’t make any announcements at CES, but it has already indicated it won’t do 8K for 2023.

That leaves Samsung, LG and Sony. All three have made big bets on 8K in the past, but this year LG seemed reluctant to talk about 8K. Its 8K Z Series OLED only deserved a footnote in the company’s press releases, which simply stated that the new Z3 would feature LG’s OLED evo panel technology for the first time in 2023.

Sony has given up on a decades-old tradition and Refused to do TV-related announcements (although it clearly will in the coming weeks or months). Only Samsung really supported 8K at CES 2023. It showed off two new ones 8K Neo QLED TVs (the QN900C and QN800C) as well as its first 8K video projector, the ultra-short throw (UST) 8K premierewith an impressive 150 inch image.

It may be more than a content issue

So why the poor 8K presented at CES 2023? Fall for poor presentation in shopping carts (both online and in-store). Sales of 8K TVs have been disappointing at best. Omdia research firm data published in April 2022 which painted a grim picture: 8K TV shipments accounted for just 0.15% of all TV shipments in 2021, and Samsung – the 8K leader with a 65% market share – sold 18% of TVs 8K less in 2021 than in 2020.

It could be the cost of 8K TVs. They generally sell for a premium over 4K models of similar size and specs, ranging between $1,000 and $2,500, depending on the model.

Perhaps the recent EU decision has had a chilling effect.

Yet buyers have shown themselves willing to spend more money when they see a real benefit. A good example is the rise of OLED television, a technology that once cost thousands of dollars for a 50-inch 1080p model.

Perhaps the recent EU decision on energy consumption, under which many 8K TVs would effectively be banned, caused a paralyzing effect. Buyers may be reluctant to invest in a product that appears to be under regulatory attack, and manufacturers may not yet have a solution.

It may be the smaller screen that ends up saving the larger screen from a total 8K apocalypse.

Ultimately, however, it’s more likely that the build-and-they-come-to-8K approach simply didn’t succeed due to an almost complete lack of native 8K content. This is especially true in the United States where there is no cable, satellite or liveor a subscription streaming service offers 8K programming.

This remains true despite the fact that Hollywood and other film and television industries have slowly adopted 8K for content creation. marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 It was the first feature film shot in 8K – and it was made in 2016.

Mobile to the rescue?

Does this all add up to the death of 8K? No. But we could be entering an 8K winter with no clear end in sight. The vicious chicken-and-egg problem of people who don’t want to buy an 8K TV until there’s a fair amount of 8K content, and content distributors who don’t want to stream/stream 8K until there’s a minimum viable audience of homes with 8K TVs, right? tt appears to be closer to resolution than two years ago.

Ironically, it may be the smaller screen that ends up saving the larger screen from a total 8K apocalypse. Samsung and Sony aren’t just sticking to their 8K guns in the vain hope that TV buyers will suddenly see the light. They are both heavily invested in 8K from a content creation perspective. Samsung on the mobile side, with its fleet of Galaxy S20 and newer smartphones compatible with 8K video recordingand Sony on the prosumer camera side, with a growing portfolio of 8K-capable models.

It just wouldn’t make sense for these companies to keep talking about the benefits of devices capable of 8K recording if they weren’t making TVs capable of displaying those images. Granted, it will be a very small audience that will want to create and consume their own 8K footage, but that might be enough to keep 8K afloat until content and distribution players catch up.

The bigger the better

The TCL Q series at CES 2023.

The other potential savior of 8K is our seemingly endless desire for a bigger screen in our homes. A trend that has never reversed at CES is the growth in screen sizes and the decline in the cost of purchase. 85-inch televisions, once considered huge, are now almost commonplace. You can take a Samsung Q60B 85-inch QLED TV for less than $2,000.

“When considering screen size alone,” said a recent report based on NPD Predictions about the future of technology“Sales of 65-inch-plus TVs are expected to grow from less than a quarter of the market in 2020 to more than a third by 2024.”

And The bigger your TV, the more 8K makes sense. All those extra inches require more pixels to maintain the same pixels per inch as smaller 4K TVs. Once TVs larger than 85 inches become more common, 8K will be hard to resist.

I think 8K will survive eventually, but for now it looks like it will have to take its place on the bench, waiting for its turn in the spotlight.

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