Technology is not the biggest barrier to the future of 8K TVs

Big screen woes
Barriers to 8K

I know Ultra HD is hardly the de facto TV standard right now, but a new report from industry analyst IHS is anticipating global sales of 8K TVs to hit an all time high in the run up to the Japan Olympics in 2020 as 8K broadcasting takes hold.

Any excitement around such estimations obviously needs tempering though - in 2015 the figures for global 8K sales is just 2,700. IHS reckons that seed will grow over the next four years to hit 911,000 units in 2019.

Considering we're only really at the start of the push for 4K in consumer TVs, and its global sales for the first quarter of this year were already at 4.7 million units, the fact 8K is going to struggle to get close to 1 million in the next four years does make it look a little limp.

But it's not just the technological barriers to producing 8K screens in volume which is going to hold back the next step in TV resolution.

Production is well on its way to seeing the tech problems, and hence pricing, tackled. China is looking to get its 8K fabrication facilities tooled up in the next three years, making 65-inch 8K panels far easier to produce.

No, the real problem is one of physical scale.

Screen dreams

"The biggest inhibitor to the growth of 8K TV will be consumer screen size preferences," says IHS analyst, Paul Gray.

You already need a pretty big screen to get the most out 4K resolutions to see the difference between it and traditional HD. The jump up to the 7680 x 4320 TV resolution then is going to require a real heffer of a panel to be able to deliver the necessary real estate to deliver on the promise of 8K.

"8K requires a very large screen or the higher resolution becomes invisible at normal viewing distances," explains Gray. "The average screen size in the TV market has grown by an inch each year over the past decade, but it is still a long haul before sizes over 70 inches become commonplace."

There's also the fact our room sizes aren't increasing in size to match TV panel growth. Sure, the 55-inch panels are the big hitters at retail now, with most people upgrading to 4K also opting to go for a boost in screen size too, but there's a physical limit to that.

I honestly don't think an 85-inch 8K screen would even fit in my little Bath apartment...