4K may be the present, but 8K TVs showed us the future at CES 2021

It feels like 4K is just barely getting started and 8K is already one-upping it.
At the all-virtual version of CES this year, most of the biggest names in TV manufacturing like Sony and LG trotted out their upcoming wares. While the majority of the TVs shown maxed out at 4K resolution (which is still gorgeous and is supported by more movies and video games than 8K), there were a few sets that went above and beyond. Companies like Samsung and TCL proved that 8K is real and it’s here — just in time go to along with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, both of which will support it as soon as 8K games start existing. Read more…More about Ces, 8k Tv, Tech, Consumer Tech, and Big Tech Companies

It feels like 4K is just barely getting started and 8K is already one-upping it.

At the all-virtual version of CES this year, most of the biggest names in TV manufacturing like Sony and LG trotted out their upcoming wares. While the majority of the TVs shown maxed out at 4K resolution (which is still gorgeous and is supported by more movies and video games than 8K), there were a few sets that went above and beyond. Companies like Samsung and TCL proved that 8K is real and it’s here — just in time go to along with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, both of which will support it as soon as 8K games start existing.

If you’re unfamiliar with the distinction between 4K and 8K, you can brush up with our explainer, but the main thing you need to know is that it has 16 times the number of pixels as a 1080p display. If that sounds appealing to you, here are some of the coolest 8K TVs shown off at CES this year.

Sony Z9J Bravia XR

Sony's Bravia XR line includes 8K support.

Sony’s Bravia XR line includes 8K support.

Image: sony

First up is the newest 8K entry into Sony’s long-running Bravia TV line, the Z9J. It’s listed at both 75-inches and 85-inches on Sony’s website, promising an 8K LED display with HDR, 120Hz support, and a Google-powered smart TV interface. The nice thing about that is that it won’t be the old Android TV UI; instead, it’ll be the newer Google TV UI introduced in last year’s excellent Chromecast with Google TV.

Sony is also touting a “cognitive intelligence” processor within the Z9J line. This will supposedly use AI to analyze individual elements on screen and make them look “just like the way our eyes perceive the world,” according to Sony. We’ll have to wait and see if that promise is fulfilled. And the same goes for pricing and availability, which Sony did not specify at CES.

Samsung Q900A Neo QLED

No bezel here

No bezel here

Image: samsung

If, for some reason, you absolutely detest having a bezel of any kind around your TV screen, Samsung’s Q900A 8K TV that it showed off at CES might be for you. It’s got all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a high-end TV, like HDR, 120Hz support, and variable refresh rate, with the latter two being especially appealing to those with next-gen consoles. As you can see, it also has next to no bezel around the screen.

Samsung says the new Q900A uses “Neo QLED,” a new display technology that uses extremely small LEDs to give the image more nuance. They’re apparently 1/40 the size of normal LEDs, to give you an idea of just how small they are. Sadly, we don’t know exactly what sizes it will come in, nor do we know how much each model will cost just yet. Samsung’s previous QLED 8K sets are all at least $2,000, so don’t expect it to be cheap.

LG QNED Mini-LED 8K

Those LEDs are so mini.

Those LEDs are so mini.

Speaking of tiny LEDs, LG’s QNED Mini-LED 8K set was announced in late December and shown off at CES. Like Samsung’s model, it uses a massive number of tiny lights to theoretically produce more lifelike images with richer colors and deeper blacks than you’d find on older TVs. It comes in 75-inch and 86-inch models, and includes Google Assistant and Alexa support.

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: We don’t know exactly how much they’ll cost or when they come out yet. It’s probably safe to assume the price won’t be small.

TCL 6 Series 8K

TCL could make 8K affordable.

TCL could make 8K affordable.

Image: tcl

Lastly, TCL jumped on the 8K bandwagon this year by announcing its 6-Series would get 8K models in 2021. For those not in the know, the 6-Series is where TCL puts premium features like 4K, Mini-LED, 120Hz, and VRR into TVs that somehow cost less than $1,000. 

Unfortunately, TCL’s announcement didn’t have much to say about sizes, pricing, or availability for the 8K 6-Series models beyond “later this year.” An 8K TV that goes for less than $1,000 is almost certainly not going to happen in 2021, but don’t be surprised if TCL’s entry into the 8K world is more affordable than most. 

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