8K TV: Are American Homes Ready?

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Many tech experts are saying 8K TV displays — the next level of high definition — will be superior to even the most elaborate projection systems. And understandably so: 8K TVs offer four times the pixels of a 4K TV and 16 times the number of pixels in a 1080p TV. That doesn’t mean it’s time to get rid of your “old” 4K TV. But it does suggest a potential shift in how homes today can be designed to adapt as 8K technology becomes more prevalent in the near future. Too Early? Less than seven years ago, 4K flat panel TVs entered the consumer market in the United States. And these days, nearly all TVs over 50 inches are 4K — even though 4K content is still relatively limited for many consumers. So why even consider 8K at this point if 4K is still getting up to speed? For some, having more pixels and a more powerful processor to “upscale” lower-definition content will be worth the upfront cost: many displays range from $5,000 to $13,000 and much more, depending on the size and model. “Though there’s not much [8K] content out there at present, 8K displays can let 4K content really achieve its full promise, mainly because of processing speed and pixel density,” says Eric Bodley of Future Ready Solutions, a Florida distributor of connectivity products. “The enhanced sharpness you’ll see on larger screens can almost take on a three-dimensional, holographic appearance.” Build with Future Data Needs in Mind Currently, 8K content is hard to come by — at least in the United States. (In late 2018, television networks in Japan became the first to publicly broadcast 8K channels.) It might be several years before 8K content becomes more widely available. Even then, the main challenge may still be transporting such a large amount of data efficiently enough to render appropriately for the end user. The issue becomes compounded further as household data demands continue to rise. “Data consumption will increase by leaps and bounds in the very near future,” says Bodley. “And copper wire isn’t going to be a long-term solution. It’s time to start thinking about fiber optic cable.” To increase a new home's ability to adapt to tomorrow's data-devouring technology, Bodley recommends builders consider installing fiber-optic cable for future use – even if it’s not carrying data now, it likely will very soon. “I think it's easy to just take one category cable out and pull at least a two-strand fiber. Or, if you really want to be future-ready, [use] four-strand fiber so you have two for networking and one or two for AV. That would be an easy, relatively inexpensive way to hedge your bets on anything you're installing today.” A primary contributor to this post was Ed Wenck, content director for CEDIA, the industry association representing those professionals who manufacture, design and integrate goods and services for the connected home. 

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