4K was, unsurprisingly, a big topic at NAB. Everyone knows it’s coming, though we disagree on how and when to prepare. But this year we saw even more about 8K (resolutions with roughly 8000 horizontal pixels, such as 7680×4320). At their introduction a few years ago, these super-high resolutions were dismissed as more than anyone could want or use. Now, opinion has shifted. In fact, at this year’s NAB I heard a number of people arguing that there’s no need to upgrade to 4K, since it will quickly be replaced with 8K and another upgrade cycle.
I completely disagree. Consumers and AV-pros will need to upgrade to 4K. And 4K will be much more than just a pit stop on the way to 8K.
The confusion here is caused by the gap between cutting-edge tech demos and the real thing. Did we see 8K demonstrations at CES? Yes. Will Japan broadcast the 2020 Olympics in 8K? Yep. Does this mean you’ll go straight from your HDTV to an 8K model? Not likely.
There is a long series of chicken-and-egg events that have to line up just right before crossing the chasm to a new resolution standard can occur. Infrastructure must be completely changed. Displays need to be upgraded. Content needs to catch up. Consumers need to be willing to make the change. For 4K, this process has been in process for 2-4 years.
For 8K, the process has barely begun–if at all. In other words, the infrastructure for 4K is still being developed. 8K is pretty far from catching up. Tech demonstrations are one thing; industry adoption is a completely separate issue.