While Samsung may not be having the best week when it comes to mobile phones, it’s having a far better time when it comes to another sector it dominates: TVs. The Korean company unveiled its 8K QLED TVs at a media event in Johannesburg today. The TVs do an excellent job of upscaling 4K content to take advantage of the 33 million pixels (7,680 x 4,320) on offer, and there seems to be an ever slimmer difference between QLED and the OLED standard other manufacturers favour, but with almost no native 8K content available we have to wonder why anyone would buy one.
We first laid eyes on Samsung’s 8K offerings at IFA in Berlin last year, and while we were impressed with the resolution and colour accuracy, there wasn’t much to see on them besides the looping sample videos… that’s still the case. There’s precious little 8K content available online, no one in South Africa is broadcasting in 8K (heck, neither the SABC nor DStv even offer 4K yet), and no streaming service offers the format, either.
Similarly, there are no 8K Bluray players available locally, and almost nothing to watch on them if there were. Even 4K is only just starting to take off, making buying an 8K-capable TV feel not just like a weird flex, but a foolhardy one. If you’re buying an 8K TV you’re going to need to have full pockets, but an empty cranium. But hey, at least it’s not 3D, right?
Samsung’s AI Quantum Processor 8K takes care of the heavy lifting, and makes it possible to do the impressive upscaling from 4K content. The 8K QLED TVs also inherit some of the existing 4K QLED range’s best features, like ambient mode (that displays a static image on the display you can match to your living room, or wherever you’ve put it), the single invisible cable that lets you hide a box (called the One Connect Box) that houses the multitude of available ports out of sight, and will get Bixby 2.0 when it launches later this year.
If you buy an 8K QLED TV, Samsung will send you a team of professionals to install it in your house/office/yacht. We’d hope so, given the starting price for the 8K QLED range is R76,000 (that’ll get you the 65in version). To soften the blow, customers who order a 2019 QLED TV between 24 April and 5 May 2019 will receive a Samsung soundbar. The biggest 8K QLED TV you’ll be able to buy is 98in… but Samsung says it can’t confirm pricing on that model.
Sure, 8K will likely eventually become as commonplace as HD… but by the time that happens, the price of 8K TVs will have plummeted (at the moment, top-end TVs obey a Moore’s Law-like rule of thumb of halving in price annually). Until then, buying a TV you can’t get the best out of for the sake of being “future proof” is ludicrous. But you know what they say about fools and their money, right?