Consumers are demanding higher quality video content at a faster rate than solutions are available to deliver them successfully. In a previous blog, we discussed the hype and hindrance of 4K resolution for consumers and vendors. Since then, an even higher resolution, 8K, has come out, and with it came additional content availability and bandwidth issues. Sound familiar? It should – these are the same problems consumers and content providers face with 4K, but now there’s a bigger monster to feed.

Here is a quick take on what 8K is and what challenges still need to be addressed. 

8K, or super high vision, is now the largest ultra high definition television pixel resolution to hit digital television. It has a whopping 8,000 pixels (hence the name 8K) with a dimension of 7,780 x 4,320, which is twice the number of pixels of 4K. 

Although 8K is relatively new, some companies have already created 8K television prototypes. But executives from NBC, LG, NHK and more, predicted in a panel discussion at CES that 8K would not be used for experimental broadcasting until the year 2020.

Why? 

As great as 8,000 pixels of intense, game-changing Superbowl plays sound, there’s an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed: are we ready for 8K? Content is what the end user, the consumer, wants. But what’s great picture quality if there’s no sports or movies or videogames to see it on? It takes more than just answering the question “is it possible?” to make new ideas happen. But it also takes more than an idea being possible to make it flourish; people have to want it! The harsh truth is: there is not enough justification for content providers or consumers to use 8K resolution…yet. 

Why? 

For content providers, delivering 8K requires new advanced equipment capable of capturing, editing, and storing content with a massive amount of data and high resolution. This means investing in new cameras, sufficient data storage capacity, and editing equipment sophisticated enough to produce video of 8K picture quality. Organizations will find it difficult to warrant such a large expense so early in this technology’s adoption. 

For consumers, it’s simple. There isn’t enough content out there to upgrade from HD quality – and why would they? You could argue that most consumers don’t know about the amount of content available in 8K, they just want to keep up with the “next hot techno trend”, which would be fair. But let’s say they invest in an 8K television, which companies like Samsung and Sharp have already presented in prototype form, and they want to stream video. 8K requires about 24 gigabits per second to stream video content, which significantly outstrips the bandwidth needed to stream 4K and in 3D. It equates to about 350 million (yes million) bits per second. But the average American’s broadband connection is around 7.4 Mbps, roughly 2% of the amount needed to watch a streaming 8k event. The result will undoubtedly be a fast reduction in the quality of the viewing experience as the device throttles back to match the available data throughput. 

Wasn’t that the whole point of 8K – a better quality viewing experience? Yet because bandwidth is limited, picture quality has to suffer? 

There’s nothing wrong with having 8K or 4K resolution in the future. But the idea of offering 8K, without a solid solution to 4K is baffling. There’s clearly a need for video compression solutions to support, deliver, and enjoy ultra high definition resolutions. And while not officially announced, many compression companies believe HEVC development will be the solution to the high resolution challenges in 8K and 4K. 

There’s much excitement about what’s to come from 8K, but encoder companies, like EuclidIQ, have to deliver new innovations in advanced compression technology first to tackle these issues before there can ever be a shift in how content is delivered and viewed.

Do you have a viewpoint on 8K? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

 

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