8k Displays are Stupid
If you shop for a display in the next couple of years, your non-8k options are going to be limited. While people are barely discovering that 4k is a thing, display manufacturers are already moving on to 8k panels. Why? Because people buy the BIG number. If 4k is good, 8k must be better, right? No. It really isn’t. 8k displays are stupid and no one should buy one if they have the choice.
History of the BIG Number
There is a long history in advertising of one-upping the competition. Your car has two seats? Ours has four! Your vacuum cleaner has two attachments? Ours has five! Your receiver has 100 watts? Ours has 105! While there are occasionally real reasons why these number inflations are a sign of additional quality or functionality, most of the time they just indicate to uneducated shoppers that more is better. And we have more. So buy our product.
The AV industry is no different. Number inflation is a defining characteristic of this hobby. Watts, channels, DSP modes, streaming services…all the manufacturers care about is being able to say they have the most. Or at least more than they had last year. So even though 4k has barely been introduced, display manufacturers are already trying to convince us that 8k will somehow be better and not stupider.
Why 8k Displays are Stupid
It is easy to argue about some aspects of the home theater hobby. If you are an audiophile, it is practically your whole personality. The whole audio side of the hobby has a lot of subjectivity to it. You may love your speakers while someone online hates them. There are lots of reasons for this (hint: it’s the room), but listening to different speakers is part of the fun. Know what isn’t fun? Pixels. Pixels are boring.
Answer this question: When was the last time you saw a pixel in your home theater? I’m not talking about when you pressed your nose to your display. I’m talking about seeing them from your seat. Can’t remember? If you can, it was years ago. Not only years but at least one or two displays ago (depending on how often you upgrade your display).
The reason for more pixels is so that you can sit closer to your display without seeing them. And there, in a nutshell, is why 8k displays are stupid. If you aren’t seeing pixels now, you won’t see them any less when you get an 8k display.
Side Note: 4k Displays are Dumb Too
With most people sitting way too far away from their displays, very few really have a need for a 4k display. When you are 12 feet from a 55″ 1080p display, there is no resolution advantage to upgrading to a 4k display. You can’t see it and it won’t look any different. No sharper. No clearer. You’ll just have more pixels. And less money.
Now, you may argue that there are real reasons to upgrade to a 4k display. I won’t argue with you. There are new technologies that you can only get on 4k displays. But that isn’t what they are selling, is it? They don’t label their new display a “VRR Capable 77″ OLED” do they? No, the resolution is always the selling point. The number of pixels is king because that is what consumers understand.
When an 8K Display isn’t Stupid
There are real reasons that high-resolution displays exist. Are you a graphic designer? Do you use your display for medical imaging? Maybe your work for NASA and are analyzing images from Mars? I’m sure there are other occupations where people sit very close to a display and need extreme resolutions. For those people, 8k probably isn’t enough. They can’t wait for the 16k displays to come out.
But you aren’t that person. And even if you were, you don’t need that sort of display at home. I’ve been doing this job for nearly 20 years and I haven’t seen a pixel in my home theater since I upgraded to 1080p. I’m willing to bet you haven’t either. So remember when you are display shopping, don’t get caught up on the stupid 8k number. Look for the features that really matter to you and don’t worry about the number of pixels. If you can find the features you’ll actually use in a 4k display, you can save some money over the 8k version. And tell your friends it is 8k. They won’t be able to tell anyhow.