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We've been hearing about TVs with 8K resolution for years, but 2019 is the first time you might actually buy one and stash it in your home. Resolution refers to the amount of pixels—tiny squares that your TV is packed with that create light and color, so small you likely have never seen them. The more pixels you have, the more realistic the image can be, and 8K resolution is the highest pixel count yet.
To be fair, you could buy one in 2015 for $130,000, but the idea that anyone actually would have was flabbergasting. Following up on last year's first-ever 8K OLED TV, 8K TVs almost seem almost ready to become mainstream in 2019—as much as multiple-thousand dollar flagship TVs can be considered mainstream, anyway.
Every year, each TV manufacturer has one "best" TV that it offers up as the paragon of whatever fancy tech/R&D milestones the company has managed to hit, and this year, one shared milestone is 8K resolution. These TVs undoubtedly look incredible—but should you buy one?
Are you paying a ton for 8K?
One of the big buzz topics when 4K hit the scene was whether or not you could even tell the difference. This is a complicated topic, but the general consensus amongst AV geeks was that 4K was nice, but it wasn't worth paying oodles more for. Nowadays you can get 4K resolution in just about every TV on the market—even the really affordable ones.
This year, Samsung's "flagship" TV—the Q900—is an 8K "QLED" model. It's available in five screen sizes:
• 65-inch, $4,500
• 75-inch, $6,500
• 82-inch, $9,000
• 85-inch, $15,000
• 98-inch, $70,000
First off, wow. Some of those sizes are absurd, right? Owning a 98-inch TV that costs $70K is right out of my childhood fantasies. And yet, if you have the scratch (and the mansion-sized living room), you can buy that this year.
What's much more interesting, however, is the 65-inch Q900. At $4,500, it's priced pretty normally for a top-tier TV: Last year's Samsung flagship, the 65-inch 2018 Q9FN, was around $4,000 when it launched.
However, in larger sizes (like 80+ inches), this disparity increases exponentially. The 82-inch Q90 (the 4K version of the Q900) is $6,000, meaning you're paying a 50% premium in the 82-inch size. However, bigger sizes are also where going from 4K to 8K is most noticeable—which brings us to the next point.
Can you see the 8K difference?
This one's a little trickier to quantify. No TV is ever going to look worse with more resolution, but appreciating an 8K TV means either having a huuuuuuuge screen (one so big that you'd see pixels if it were lower resolution), and/or having content that's actually created with 8K in mind. Considering we still haven't even made the jump over to 4K cable programming, I'm willing to bet that's a long way off.
On the other hand, these 8K TVs are top-tier models, so they're going to be incredible in terms of their contrast (how bright/dark they get), color vivacity, and so on. They're smart, meticulously designed, and stuffed with every possible codec and pass-thru chip you'd need for a home theater centerpiece. Any 8K TV you buy this year is going to look amazing, for sure.
Naturally, we can't really confirm anything until we get one of them into the lab.
So should you buy an 8K TV?
Unless you live a "price no object" lifestyle, honestly, I wouldn't right now. 8K TVs look incredible, but the value just isn't there. There's a bunch of great 2018 4K TVs you can buy still, and lots of great upper-tier 2019 TVs on the way this year that might not possess the majesty of an 8K TV, but will still knock your socks off.