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Similar to past eras of home video, custom integrators are expected to guide the residential technology market into the realm of 8K. However, there is still apprehension regarding content-related issues.
We have witnessed significant advancements in home video, progressing from the early days of NTSC TV format to the current era of 8K video. Over the past 60 years, the evolution has taken us from black-and-white images on small screens to the envy-inducing DVD resolutions of the 1990s. Moving through 720p/1080i, 1080p HD video, and transitioning to 4K about a decade ago, recent years have seen a surge in the availability of 8K televisions. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) played a role in this evolution by introducing an 8K display definition and logo program in 2019. Today, major TV manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG, and TCL offer a variety of 8K products at different price points, expanding the options for homeowners seeking 8K compatibility in both TVs and video walls.
Providing a perspective on the 8K landscape, John Bishop, president of b/a/s/ bishop architectural-entertainment services, suggests that despite manufacturers expanding their offerings of 8K products, there isn’t a significant demand from the public just yet. He points out that 4K didn’t gain much demand initially when it was solely a resolution issue before the introduction of HDR (High Dynamic Range). Bishop emphasizes the importance of a visible benefit to drive sales, citing the impact of HDR in the case of 4K. He notes that in cinema, a majority of theaters still use 2K projection, and resolution debates are not prevalent until premium large-format spaces like IMAX, where the distinction between 2K and 4K is noticeable only in the closest rows.
Bishop notes that the absence of native 8K content somewhat hampers the performance of 8K displays, leading to the reliance on upscaling lower-resolution video. However, he highlights a concern regarding the upscaling process, suggesting that it may result in data losses that could diminish the quality of the upscaled content.
Bishop suggests that the enhancement in 8K TV quality might face a slowdown, and in the projection category, the arrival of the next-generation format is distant. He notes that the presence of 32 million pixels in 8K TVs doesn’t necessarily drive significant improvements due to challenges in handling such data at the signal level. Furthermore, Bishop indicates that the projection sector is not currently exploring 8K native chips, and even in cinema exhibitions, there isn’t a compelling need for 8K content support, except for specific applications like digital signage and microLED displays used in custom art installations.
As hardware solutions supporting 8K content continue to advance, there is already a substantial infrastructure in place to facilitate the playback of this next-generation format in American homes. Brandon White, the director of product development for Vanco, emphasizes their proactive role as a connectivity provider for luxury residential AV and commercial AV systems. Vanco offers products like the HDMI 2X2 Switching Splitter with 8K HDR pass-through, which can split one source at a time into two displays, allowing simultaneous switching and splitting of two 8K sources. Additionally, Vanco introduced Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cables in 2019, supporting resolutions up to 10k. White underscores the importance of HDMI’s larger data pipeline for resolutions up to 8K and 10K, as well as faster refresh rates, especially in applications like gaming and eSports where ultra-high resolution and industry-leading refresh rates are crucial for the user experience.
As the market evolves and trends like video walls gain popularity, Brandon White, the director of product development for Vanco, anticipates the emergence of 8K video walls as increasingly viable display solutions for homeowners. Vanco is committed to staying abreast of these developments and providing dealers with legitimate solutions as new trends materialize. Looking forward, White suggests that as the public becomes more informed about next-generation formats like 8K, the demand for this format could rise. He points out that if the growth in the commercial market is indicative, similar trends may manifest on the residential side, driven by increased adoption of 8K and Ultra HD, coupled with smart home integration creating more intuitive experiences. White emphasizes Vanco’s commitment to having high-quality, high-value solutions ready to meet evolving consumer needs.