As the broadcasting world slowly adjusts to 4K content, Sharp has thrown the cat among the pigeons and released an 8K TV.
But with 4K programmes and films still thin on the ground, is Sharp’s surprise release just a thirst to be first, or should you start saving for one? We take a look at exactly what Sharp has to offer, and whether this could be the shape of things to come.
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Everything you need to know about Sharp’s 8K TV
- What’s it called? There’s no fancy naming gimmicks here. It’s simply called the LC-70X500
- What’s the resolution? 7680 x 4320 pixels. Twice that of a 4K panel and 16 times the number of pixels on a Full HD TV.
- How big is it? Sharp is planning a full range, but the first will have a 70-inch screen. It’s likely you’ll need a large TV to really see the benefit of 8K.
- What will it cost you? Sharp isn’t saying, probably because the price would dominate the headlines rather than the fact it’s the first 8K TV. TV prices tend to skyrocket if the panels get any bigger than 70 inches, so we can at least be a little optimistic that buying this TV won’t require you to sell a kidney.
- When can you buy it? It goes on sale in China and Sharp’s native Japan in March 2018. There’s no word on a UK launch yet, but Sharp is releasing an 8K computer monitor here.
The big question remains: should you buy it?
Is this the death of 4K TV?
The short answer is ‘no’. The long answer is ‘no – you absolutely shouldn’t throw away your 4K TV’.
If you spend any time channel-surfing, you won’t see much 4K content hanging around. Sky and Virgin have only just released TV boxes capable of 4K, and broadcasters such as the BBC are only still dipping their toes into the 4K water.
Your best option for 4K content is streaming services. Netflix’s original programming is available in 4K, as are some shows on iPlayer including Planet Earth II.
4K Blu-rays are another option, as long as you have a player that supports them – an ordinary Blu-ray player won’t work. Find out which UHD Blu-ray players come out on top in our tests.
4K TVs have been around for a fair few years now and have become affordable, but the response from content makers has been as slow as a snail in quicksand – so there’s no chance that ITV will be rushing to get Corrie filmed in 8K.
Who is going to buy this then?
UK broadcasters may not be bringing a lot to the table when it comes to UHD content, but on the other side of the world, Japan has been quick off the mark. Japanese national broadcaster NHK is ready to roll out 8K programming next year.
By announcing the device at IFA in Berlin it’s obvious that Sharp wanted global attention, but in reality the TV is very much for an eastern market.
That won’t stop other people with a surplus of cash from buying the LC-70X500 of course. It’s nice to have the latest thing, if you can afford it, and the picture may look excellent if you’re watching Full HD or 4K shows. It also upscales what you’re watching to 8K – or rather, we’d expect it to be a rough imitation of it.
Sharp’s push into 8K isn’t just for TV either: it is releasing 8K cameras and 8K TV receivers, so when the content is ready you will actually have a means to watch it.
Did Sharp jump the gun? Yes and no. This makes more sense for Japanese customers and, at the end of the day, with any new technology someone has to go first. Just don’t bank on 8K becoming the standard any time soon.
Fortunately there are plenty of great TVs around that you can buy right now. Browse all of our Best buy televisions.