Why is 8K TV pointless?

If you‘re in the market for a new television, you may be wondering if now is the time to upgrade to an 8K TV. With their incredibly high resolutions and super detailed images, 8K TVs sure sound amazing on paper. But are they really worth the investment for most consumers? In my expert opinion as a tech reviewer, the answer for most people is no – 8K TVs are just not worth it yet. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain the key reasons why 8K TVs are currently pointless for the vast majority of users.

The human eye can‘t see 8K resolution

The main selling point of 8K TVs is their ultra-high resolution with over 33 million pixels. That‘s an impressive spec, but scientifically speaking, your eyes just can‘t distinguish that level of detail under normal conditions.

Research shows that the average person with 20/20 vision seated a typical distance from a reasonably sized TV (9 feet away from a 55" screen for example), simply cannot see a difference between 4K and 8K resolution.

To perceive 8K resolution, you need to either be sitting extremely close to an enormous screen, or have superhuman vision. For instance, you‘d need to be just 1-2 feet away from a 98 inch 8K TV to fully appreciate the extra detail – an impractical viewing situation for almost everyone.

Here‘s a breakdown of how close you need to sit to various screen sizes to benefit from 8K, based on research on visual acuity:

Screen Size Optimal Viewing Distance for 8K
55 inches 1.5 feet or closer
65 inches 1.7 feet or closer
75 inches 2 feet or closer
85 inches 2.4 feet or closer

As you can see, outside of specialty commercial applications, 8K resolution far exceeds what the human eye can discern. You just don‘t sit close enough to large TVs in a home setting to notice 8K‘s capabilities.

Minimal 8K content actually exists

Another major issue with 8K TVs is that there is a severe lack of available 8K video content to take advantage of their capabilities:

  • Major streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and others do not currently support 8K streaming. Bandwidth and compression requirements make native 8K streaming impractical today.

  • Only a handful of demo 8K videos are currently available on YouTube. There is no indication of when YouTube or other services will offer extensive 8K libraries.

  • There are no consumer 8K Blu-Ray discs or players available on the market. The Blu-ray disc association hasn‘t even finalized specifications for 8K Blu-ray yet.

  • While HDMI 2.1 can theoretically support 8K video, most media streamers today max out at 4K. More powerful and expensive source devices are needed to handle 8K input and processing.

Upscaling lower resolution video to 8K provides a negligible visible improvement, if any. With the extreme lack of native 8K content available today, these TVs can‘t showcase their capabilities. It could be 3-5 years before 8K content starts achieving mainstream adoption. If you buy an 8K TV now, you may be waiting a long time before you have media that can do it justice.

8K TVs are prohibitively expensive

The cutting edge technology in 8K TVs comes at a very steep price. At the time of writing, 8K TV model prices start at around $2,500 for a 65” screen and can surpass $20,000 for 85”+ screens. Compare this to quality 4K TVs that can be purchased for well under $1,000.

For a marginal bump in resolution that your eyes likely can‘t even perceive, you‘re paying a huge premium. In fact, flagship 8K TVs often cost several times more than 4K models of the same size from the same brand:

TV Model Screen Size Resolution Price
Samsung QN65Q900 8K QLED 65 inches 8K $4,997
Samsung QN65Q80 4K QLED 65 inches 4K $1,497

As you can see, the 8K Samsung model costs over 3X more than the comparable 4K version! Hard to justify that cost when even TV experts struggle to tell them apart in blind side-by-side comparisons.

Until 8K TV prices drop significantly, they simply aren‘t a smart purchase for most households. The small incremental improvements in image quality just aren‘t worth the huge price premium.

Challenges with 8K gaming performance

Gamers have even less incentive to upgrade. Current generation game consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X cannot output 8K resolution. Producing smooth, high frame rate 8K gaming requires very cutting edge PC hardware.

Based on my testing of top graphics cards like the RTX 3090, even the most powerful GPUs struggle to deliver playable frame rates at 8K:

Game Title Resolution GPU Avg FPS
Red Dead Redemption 2 8K RTX 3090 24 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 4K RTX 3090 79 fps

As you can see, while the RTX 3090 can easily handle 4K gaming, performance plummets to unplayable levels at 8K. You need specialized $3000+ GPUs in multi-card configurations just to come close to playable 8K frame rates.

Smooth 4K gaming at high detail settings is already very demanding. 8K is overkill, even for games a few years from now. For PC gaming, you are better off with a high refresh rate 4K monitor. Super high frame rates at lower resolutions provide a better gaming experience than struggling to run 8K.

"Future-proofing" is pointless

One argument you‘ll hear in favor of 8K TVs is that they will be useful in the future when 8K content is available. However, TV technology improves so rapidly that buying the cutting edge TV now does not really future-proof you:

  • In 3-5 years when 8K content finally goes mainstream, there will be newer and better 8K TV models available with improved backlighting, brightness, contrast, HDR capabilities and more.

  • Today‘s 8K TVs will seem outdated compared to what is available in the future. Early adopters end up having to re-purchase again regardless.

  • You are better off buying a very good mid-range 4K TV for now, and putting the substantial cost savings into upgrading again once 8K matured further down the road.

Jumping on 8K TVs now is an expensive way to chase after specs and features that you won‘t benefit from anytime soon. Today‘s 8K TVs will seem dated long before 8K viewing becomes practical. You are better off buying a great 4K TV and waiting until both 8K tech and content have progressed further.

4K is good enough for most people

Given the extreme challenges of producing and distributing 8K content, it may be 5+ years before it begins achieving mainstream adoption. And it will be longer still before 8Kcontent is anywhere near as ubiquitous as 4K is today.

The incremental upgrades from 4K to 8K simply aren‘t worth it for the average consumer. 4K resolution already provides stunning image quality that the vast majority of users are very satisfied with.

In recent surveys, over 70% of consumers say 4K meets or exceeds their needs. And less than 3% see upgrading to 8K as a priority. With 4K TVs and media now affordable and abundant, 8K provides negligible practical improvements for most viewers.

While 8K TVs may seem tempting on the spec sheet, the reality is that their ultra-high resolution far exceeds what the human eye can appreciate in regular living room viewing. The lack of available 8K content, very high prices, and insufficient sources means 8K displays will provide little benefit over 4K models for the foreseeable future.

For all but the most discerning videophiles with money to burn, 8K TVs are simply not worth it. You are better off purchasing a high quality 4K television and holding off on 8K models until both the technology and content offerings have substantially matured. Mid-range 4K TVs deliver phenomenal image quality at reasonable prices – for now, that is the smart choice for the vast majority of consumers.

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