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The Inevitable Changes of Auto Styling, Men's Pant Sizes, and Home Theater

Many people resist change...and the truth is, the older we get, the more the resistance stiffens.

Longtime A/V enthusiasts have not forgotten the march from VHS tape to Laserdisc to Video CDs to DVDs to D-VHS tapes to Blu-rays to UHD discs. And last night, I saw multiple ads for Samsung 8K TVs. Some are saying, "Stop the madness, already." The "Bring it on!" group, meanwhile, are downright giddy about what's around the corner, visibly ready to pounce.

Why the disparate attitudes?

Before I get to that, I can't resist a comment or two regarding 8K.

Remember, 8K with all the trimmings means more resolution, more frame rates, more color bit depths, more color sub-sampling, more dynamic range (HDR) and more, more, and more. There is easily ten times more video processing going on to bring you watchable 8K/HDR images than what went on inside the box just a few years ago. In ISF class, we teach that the best video processing is no video processing. A pixel-for-pixel match, source to display, is as good as it gets.

HTFormat-Logos

What you see at CEDIA, CES and now Best Buy are carefully mastered 8K clips straight off a hard drive. Gorgeous to be sure.

What you will see when you get your brand new 8K display home is up-converted 720p or 1080i (ABC or CBS and affiliates) from your set-top box if you are watching prime time, loaded with artifacts, and, because you bought the 85-inch model, you will see most every one of them. 4K UHD discs will look much better (if you bother to even watch those), but still subject to up-conversion molestation. Now try to stream something coming in at a much lower bitrate, requiring even more work from the pixel re-arrangement team. Ouch!

Until we have real 8K content, most everything you will watch would have looked better on your "old" 4K display, and at one fifth the price.

Now about that attitude disparity...

Those who are grousing about the all-too-rapid changes to our home theater systems are likely ticked off about the cost of keeping up with the Joneses. Every iteration may call for a new receiver, new disc player, new cables. I get that. My demo room goes through that on a regular basis.

The "can't wait" group are often the better-heeled amongst us, and they all have the same mission—be the first kid on the block, at all costs.

Where should you be ? Wherever is comfortable.

To me, watching the art of filmmaking displayed in its best possible rendering is worth a lot. Ditto for concert videos and prime-time TV, but they are just icing on the cake. If you like to upgrade frequently and have the resources, when it's time, donate your old system to a good cause (your local senior retirement center?) or just give it to Aunt Martha. You'll likely be pleased with that decision every time the theater is powered up.

Comments (3) Post a Comment
Mel Carlton Posted Jun 3, 2019 7:28 PM PST
Very well said... It's like telling a lie. Once you do that, you have to keep telling other lies. Once you upgrade for more pixels, the cycle begins... A new AVR, new cables, new signal sources, and so it continues!
Bevan Posted Jun 5, 2019 8:07 AM PST
I like to point out to people that there are limits to human 20/20 vision, and 8K goes beyond that limit. It all depends on the size of your screen and how far away you sit on whether or not you'll notice the improvement. When 1080p first came out, I read an article stating that you can't see the difference between 720p and 1080p on a 32" TV when sitting about 6 feet away. Of course, we have bigger TVs now and projector screens are certainly big enough to show the quality improvement of 1080p and 4K. But, I read another article about seeing the difference between 1080p and 4K in a home theater, and it said that if you sit 1 screen length away, you'll notice the difference; but at 2 screen lengths away, you will not. So, in my home theater with a 130" screen, with seating at 11 feet and 16 feet, I'll notice an improvement from 1080p to 4K; but I doubt I'll see the difference going from 4K to 8K.

In my opinion, 8K is a marketing ploy to make more money; selling people something that they don't need. Plus, we don't even have 8K content to buy, so the up-conversion will fall short of its potential. Now, HDR is a noticeable improvement, but we're talking about pixel count here. As far as I can tell, Blu-rays (1080p) are finally mainstream and common in most households while some people have transitioned to 4K. Presenting an 8K upgrade option to the higher end crowd feels like too much too soon. The people I know with 4K systems have only had them for a year, maybe 2 at most.
Terry Paullin Posted Jun 17, 2019 7:18 AM PST
Bevan - I agree with everything you said in the first paragraph, except maybe the last sentence.You WILL see the difference going to 8K when we have native content - partly because of the higher resolution, but even MORE because of HDR. I still advise all to wait a couple fortnights on 8K until we get to second and third generation processing.

You are right about 8K skirting the edge of visual acuity (for most of us).

Manufacturers were grabbing at straws with curved screens and 3D, but hit a home run with higher rez (4K) and HDR.

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