Samsung was teasing about new home electronics earlier this month, and just as we expected, Samsung is pushing 8K at IFA 2018. We’ve got all the available details, and it is literally big for U.S consumers. At CES, LG presented the first 88-inch 8K OLED TV.
The Samsung Q900FN QLED 8K TV is a massive 85-inch television built with the LCD-based QLED technology of Samsung. Besides its impressive diagonal, this new TV features remarkable technical achievements that represent a discontinuity with existing 4K models, like the Samsung Q9FN and others.
8K has four times more pixels than 4K televisions (and 16x more than 1080p/FHD), and produces a sharpness with unmatched potential in today’s Samsung line-up, which is already leading the market. However, the display also supports HDR10 (branded as Q HDR 8K) and achieves 4000 NITs of peak brightness, which will make HDR scenes stunning, especially coming from a non-HDR TV set.
The TV also has a full-array dimming, which is like what current high-end Samsung LCD TVs have. It means that the LED lights are right behind the LCD panel, and not at the edge of the screen. With it, the level of control over which area gets brighter is significantly improved when compared to lower-end LCD TVs.
Samsung says that this TV can reproduce 100% of the DCI-P3 color volume, which is excellent. The TV connects via a single thin cable that provides power and A/V signal at the same time.
Samsung has included the Ambient Mode to avoid having a huge black rectangle on your wall. It is a TV low-power state with an image on the screen (“painting” mode). Originally created for the Samsung Frame TV which looks like an art-piece when in standby mode. Samsung’s Frame is smart enough to sense when someone is around and show the background image then. It also has a light sensor to adjust the image settings to make the screen look more like a printed piece, rather than an active screen.
No 8K content? Upscaling to the rescue
Perhaps, the most obvious question for 8K TVs is: where is the 8K content? Well, there isn’t much native content for now even if 85” to 110” 8K TVs have been seen in trade shows since 2015. NHK in Japan has been testing 8K since 2014 and was the first to deploy 8K broadcasts it in 2016, but perhaps the 2020 Olympics is when 8K might pick up steam in a significant way.
This means that people will primarily consomme 4K content on this TV when it becomes available around October. Samsung’s solution is an AI-Powered 8K Upscaling technology to noticeably improve the clarity of the image, to an 8K-level. Samsung presented a similar upscaling tech at CES 2018.
The idea of Upscaling is not new: it is possible to improve the image quality by filtering the original lower-resolution source and add details using various algorithms. Some techniques make edges cleaner; others can create details. Typically, the issue was that they tend to work on specific aspects of the image, but not on every aspect of it, leading to a slightly artificial look sometimes."AI EXTENDS THE IMAGE UPSCALING CAPABILITIES WITH DEEP-LEARNING"
What’s newer is that AI can be used to do this. AI extends the image upscaling capabilities with deep-learning, which is presumably the closest thing that fits Samsung’s description of how its technology works. The AI learns how to upscale images by looking at millions of image pairs (low-resolution/high-resolution). From that data set, the AI is then capable of matching the low-resolution pattern with the most likely high-resolution ones, or something that is very close.
By doing so, the image upscaling isn’t focusing on one specific aspect such as edges, or noise, but all aspects can be improved using a single, unified, orthogonal AI technique. We will have to see how will it works in the real world, but on paper, it is the most efficient way to do this today. You can look at something similar which is done with photos, in which an AI interprets people’s faces, form extremely blurry images.
Many companies are doing this for static images such as Deepsense.ai or letsenhance.io, and there’s ample literature on this topic. Since the goal is to turn each 4K pixel into four 8K pixels, the technique should yield outstanding results.
Prices have not yet been announced (today’s most expensive QLED are ~$19.999), but from a technological point of view, these QLED TVs should be much more affordable than their OLED counterparts from LG. As usual, using LCD-based technology has some trade-offs, especially when black levels are concerned. However, LCD can get brighter, and that’s an advantage for HDR sometimes. In the end, it’s not always about the TV you “want” but the one “you can afford.”