Just as you were getting on board with the idea of 4K and adjusting your eyes to the bright new resolutions and possibilities, Sharp Corporation has revealed that it’s bringing 8K to Europe. Not only that, it’s coming as soon as March 2018.
At IFA 2017 in Berlin, Sharp took the opportunity to present its brand new line of 8K TVs and monitors, known as the AQUOS Series. The series will be released in China, Japan and Taiwan between October and February before finally landing in Europe in March.
Information on the 70-inch 8K monitor coming to Europe is still quite thin on the ground at the moment, but we do know it’ll have 4 HDMI input ports. While one of the ports will be dedicated to 8K, the others will support 4K and 2K output and enable up-scaling to an 8K resolution.
So, yes, eight is a higher figure than four, which immediately sounds more impressive, but what will 8K resolution actually bring to the table? From a pure specification standpoint 8K displays offer 4 times higher resolution than 4K displays, which should mean sharper, brighter and more realistic images.
From what we saw on the show floor, 8K resolutions are indeed impressive. The videos on show, which ranged from slow-motion blossoming flowers to Animal Planet-inspired footage were incredibly realistic with a fantastic depth of colour and sharp details. Unfortunately, there was no display which allowed us to compare it directly with 4K footage but we were impressed nonetheless.
Sharp has been pushing 8K displays in Japan for a while now for industrial use but at IFA 2017, it made it clear that it’s serious about its intentions to extend the technology to consumers worldwide and re-take complete control of its TV and display business.
8K display technology is set to be one of the main areas of Sharp’s business over the next few years and it’s going to be releasing everything from cameras and editing software, to storage systems and displays in an effort to establish an ecosystem which will feed into a host of industries as well as consumer lifestyles.
This creation of an ecosystem is something Sharp hopes will encourage the growth of 8K content. Rather than simply offering displays to watch 8K content that doesn’t exist, it wants to offer an efficient means to create and use this content.
Something that’s greatly helped Sharp in Japan is the fact that the country’s public broadcaster NHK has promised it will start broadcasting 4K and 8K footage, something which it hopes to have rolled out more fully by the end of 2018 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
When asked at the press conference just how many 8K TVs Sharp anticipated it would sell worldwide by the end of 2020, the company's European CEO Bob Ishida said that no specific numbers had been forecast at this stage. Given that 4K has only seen a significant surge in interest in the mainstream in the last year or so, we think avoiding numbers at this early stage is probably a good idea.
Though the planned release window is March 2018, at the moment there's no word on where the sets will be available to buy or exactly how much they'll cost. We'll update here with this information when it becomes available.