LG readies 55-inch 8K TV, and new quantum dot 4K display technology
This year it was 4K — next year, it’s looking like it’ll be 8K and quantum dots. At CES 2015 — now less than a month away! — LG says it will show off a 55-inch 8K TV, and a 4K TV that uses quantum dots to improve image quality and color saturation. In both cases, we are talking about IPS LCD panels, rather than OLED technology, which should mean that both the 4K and 8K displays are reasonably priced. The 8K display is also notable because it’s small — with a diagonal of 55 inches, this thing not only has an incredibly high resolution for a TV (160 PPI), but it will actually fit in most households, unlike the 85- and 98-inch 8K TVs that we’ve seen previously.
Let’s take the quantum dots first. Quantum dots, despite sounding thoroughly futuristic, are actually fairly simple things that are easy to mass-produce. In short, quantum dots are just small specks of semiconducting material that emit light when they’re excited. Depending on the size of the dot, and also the material, you can tune these dots to emit very specific frequencies (colors) of light. In the case of LG, a film of quantum dots is placed in front of the backlight and behind the display, resulting in “picture color reproduction rate and overall brightness [that] are significantly improved.”
Quantum dots, depending on their size, emit light at different frequencies
LG doesn’t say exactly how the quantum dots achieve this, but we do know from previous testing that the overall quality of a display is significantly affected by the quality of the light produced by the backlight (and the various other films and waveguides that sit between the backlight and the display). If the quantum dots help produce a whiter light, or a specific frequency of white that plays very well with LG’s IPS LCD tech, then that could explain why this new 4K monitor has such exceptional color reproduction.
Read: No, TV makers, 4K and UHD are not the same thing
And then there’s that 55-inch 8K TV. With a resolution of 7680×4320, the TV touts around 33.2 million pixels — or 16 times the pixel count of your 1920×1080 TV. While we saw some 8K TVs at CES 2014 from Sharp and Samsung, they were much too large for a normal home (85 inches and 98 inches respectively). 55 inches is definitely on the large side, but I suspect it’s just the right size for enthusiasts who want to enjoy movies or sports (or PC games?) at extremely high resolutions. LG will reportedly start selling an 8K TV sometime this year — meanwhile, despite a year’s head start, Sharp and Samsung don’t yet have an 8K TV on the market. Pricing on LG’s 8K TV is unknown — but its 4K TVs, which went on sale this year, are surprisingly cheap.
A range of large LG TVs
After the industry’s odd foray with 3D, it’s good to see that display and TV makers are back to focusing on image quality, color reproduction, and resolution. We have been in a sad, deep rut for years when it comes to increasing display resolution, but it’s finally starting to improve — first on mobile devices, and now gradually on desktop monitors and TVs. There’s still very little 4K content available, of course, and almost no 8K content — but that’s just how it goes when you’re an early adopter. Plus, when I sat down at my desk this morning and yet again thought about buying a 4K monitor, I’m sure I heard a whisper that said “buy it, and they will come.”
Now read: Why do we have a love affair for curved screens and devices?
Top picture: LG’s 84-inch 4K TV, from 2012. We don’t have a photo of the quantum dots or 8K 55-inch display yet.
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