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While 4K television is rapidly becoming the standard for consumers purchasing new screens, especially those over 40 inches in size, some manufacturers are pushing the resolution boundaries even further with 8K TVs. According to Steven Bosch, Marketing Specialist at LG Electronics South Africa, not all 8K TVs are “true 8K” and buyers should do their research before purchasing an 8K TV, especially given that they currently come with a hefty price tag.

When 4K was introduced, it quadrupled the total number of pixels from standard high definition (HD) TV (which is 1920 x 1080 pixels, whereas 4K is 3840 x 2160). Now, 8K is doing the same with 4K, with resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels, which equates to roughly 8000 horizontal pixels – hence the name.

“Essentially, 8K has 16 times the number of pixels as the original 1080-pixel HD TVs,” says Bosch. “But beyond this, 8K TVs also need to have more than a 50% contrast modulation (CM) value, according to the International Committee for Display Metrology (ICDM), which sets these standards. We challenge any manufacturer out there to meet the standards as well as LG does.”

These standards for 8K TVs were agreed upon by the ICDM members in 2016, yet some argue that not all 8K TVs are meeting the CM requirements.

“CM is a measure of the clarity of distinction between black and white, which you need for sharper images. ICDM standards dictate that the threshold for text-displaying screens is 50%, and image-displaying screens at 25%. LG’s NanoCell 8K TV has 90% CM – well over and above the requirement of 50% for 8K screens, and we’ve seen some manufacturers build 8K screens that are measuring as low as 12% CM,” says Bosch.

Thankfully, brands are required to report on their CM percentages, so consumers can easily find out how the prospective “8K” TV stacks up before purchasing.

Another factor to consider is whether the TV uses LED technology or OLED. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Displays, which require more energy to power, require a backlight and have to have a thicker screen. Because of the backlight, the contrast and colour quality are not as good as OLED screens. OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. These screens produce their own light using organic compounds and thus don’t require a backlight. This makes for better picture contrast, thinner screens and improved energy efficiency. LG has recently released an 8K OLED TV.

“Some brands use abbreviations that make it seem like their TVs use OLED technology, but they are actually still LCD based,” says Bosch. “Make sure you check which technology a screen uses before making your final choice, especially if picture quality is of top importance to you.”