4K to 8K to 16K: Resolution Advances Over Time

Resolution size and image quality have rapidly changed for consumers in recent years, and even more so for professional uses. While the price tag currently keeps ultra high-definition (UHD) a seemingly nonessential technology for many consumers and businesses, the technology is here to stay. 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) is the current crowned king among professionals, with 100 million TV shipments in 2019 being in this UHD resolution. Only about 200,000 shipments were delivered for its successor, the 8K resolution (7680 x 4320 pixels). But, as 8K TVs and screen companies get more competitive and the prices start to lower, the number is expected to jump to over 6 million by 2023.

8K’s potential in commercial use is possibly even more important - as venues and their projectors are expected to get bigger and compete visually, 8K will not only be an advancement, but actually a necessity. As the size of the projectors and TVs for commercial use increases, the higher resolution UHD will be needed to keep image quality. Then, it can be assumed that as projectors and TVs in venues, churches, corporate event rooms, and even cinemas grow in size, it will be important to increase resolution quality so that the picture quality still looks great scaled to that size. It is a fundamental change here because it begins effecting business.

4K took longer to adopt than previous HD resolutions by the consumer. But there is a general consensus that commercial potential will allow 8K to take over the market quicker than it took 4K to do this in recent years. That being said, moving from 4K to 8K quadruples the amount of data for production. This will cause debate about the return on investment (ROI) if AV companies and corporations decide to invest in 8K systems. Will the regular consumer, or companies hiring AV for that matter, want to pay more for the 8K product to cover the extra costs of production? If they still see 4K as adequate and sufficient for their purpose, probably not. However, once 8K starts to become the norm, its benefits will be easily shown. Live streamed events, camera footage on giant projectors, and corporate events can all be consumed as if the person was right there.

As is typical once technology becomes more widely available, prices will go down and once that happens, 8K will be here for the long run. But it won’t be very long before a newer technology (10K and 16K - which are already being produced) will be on the horizon ready to take over niche early clients and business people ready to adapt.

Written by: Collin Dewyre

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