That 4K TV you’ve been repeatedly looking at online? It’s nice and big, means you have an excuse to upgrade your Xbox One to a One S, and unlocks access to those 4K Blu-ray movie releases. It’s also already out-of-date in Japan.
On Monday, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK launched a satellite channel that will broadcast content in 8K, meaning you won’t get the full visual experience with one of those “so last year” high-end 4K TVs anymore. Not all content broadcast by NHK on this channel will be 8K as there isn’t much of it about yet, so those who actually own an 8K-capable TV will have to make do with 4K content intermixed with crisp 8K visuals when available.
NHK has rolled out the new channel just in time for the Rio Olympics kicking off on Friday. They refer to 8K as Super Hi-Vision, which means a combination of 7,680 x 4,320 resolution visuals with 22.2-channel surround sound if you also own the kit to support that. As far as I know, it means Japan will be the only country where you can watch the Olympics in 8K. In fact, I’m sure most viewers around the world will have to “suffer” standard HD Olympic coverage.
It’s going to take a very long time for the 8K revolution to happen. We’re only now getting used to 4K TVs being an option, and that’s only happening because the prices have fallen to the point where they can be considered on the edge of affordable. 8K means going through that process again, only with content even more scarce than when 4K first arrived.
8K is not worth waiting for right now. If you’re in the market for a new TV and have a healthy budget then 4K should definitely be where you look. Netflix offers 4K streams and other services will surely follow. Considering a TV should last you a decade, 4K future proofs your viewing pleasure. 8K? That’s something for the late 2020s.