Best 8K TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best 8K TVs you can buy in 2021.
One day, 8K TVs will drive 4K TVs into extinction. Sound a bit dramatic? Ok, you can rest assured it won't be for a while yet, but with the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG already selling 8K TV sets (and Panasonic and Philips joining them in the coming months), there's no need to wait for 4K annihilation to get your hands on a next-generation TV with a whole heap more pixels.
They're expensive (at least right now), but 8K TVs offer four times the pixel density of their 4K TV siblings. That makes for a stunningly lifelike picture that represents a massive step up from 4K.
Sadly, there's more or less no 8K content available at the moment. In the meantime, 8K TVs make themselves useful by upscaling 4K, HD and even standard-def content. That means you can expect a gloriously cinematic experience right now, even though 8K content is far from mainstream.
So what should you look for when buying an 8K TV? Good upscaling is absolutely critical - you want all of the content you watch now to look great, which involves the TV doing lots of clever processing. It's also worth looking for HDMI 2.1 ports, too, as they have baked-in support for higher resolutions and frame rates.
Beyond that, you're looking for broadly the same qualities you'd seek in a 4K TV: great colours, contrast, sharpness and detail; a user-friendly and app-packed operating system; good sound and a smart design.
What is 8K?
What we're talking about here is resolution. This means the number of horizontal and vertical pixels. Pixels equal information, so more pixels should mean a better quality image. That's the theory, at least.
In the case of 8K, this means a horizontal resolution of 7680 pixels and a vertical resolution of 4320 pixels (7680 x 4320), resulting in a display that consists of just under 33 million pixels.
By comparison, 4K video has half the number of horizontal lines and half the number of vertical lines (3840 x 2160), equating to a total pixel count of around 8.3 million.
So, yes, 8K has four times as many pixels as 4K (and 16 times the number of Full HD, for what it's worth).
Who is making 8K content?
8K video developments to date have largely been driven by filmmakers and TV broadcasters. From a video-editing point of view, the higher resolution can be useful. While filmmakers may not ultimately deliver an 8K film, shooting in the higher resolution gives editors room to manoeuvre, allowing for cropping and zooming while still retaining a high-resolution image. That said, 6K cameras are currently far more prevalent in Hollywood.
Meanwhile, in Japan, broadcasters have been experimenting with 8K TV for some time. Back in 2015 the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, NHK, ran a series of 8K trials, and in 2016 the company announced it was successfully demoing 8K broadcasts. So successful were the trials, NHK has now launched the world's first 8K television channel. Since 1st December 2018, it has broadcast 8K TV shows on a daily basis, 12 hours a day, and even broadcast the 2019 Rugby World Cup in 8K. Next up is the Tokyo Olympics, which is now scheduled to take place in the summer of 2021.
The Korean Broadcasting Corporation (KBS) is also researching 8K broadcasts, working with LG on content, possible broadcasts and displays – there was 8K experimentation at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. And if you were in Brazil at the time, you could have watched the 2018 World Cup in 8K.
The likes of Netflix and YouTube were, of course, quick out of the blocks when it came to 4K content, and now streaming site Vimeo has jumped aboard with 8K. A recent update adds support for HDR and 8K resolution videos. Naturally, you will need an 8K screen to take advantage, and you might be hard-pushed to find anything truly worth watching.
Rakuten TV wants to become a true global alternative to Amazon Video and Netflix and has ambitious plans to help that become a reality. Along with a rapid expansion into new countries, it seems 8K content is also part of the strategy - the company announced plans to have 8K films on its service by the end of 2019, although all has since gone rather quiet on that front.
How do we choose the best 8K TVs?
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year – and that includes plenty of TVs. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all of our testings. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same price category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoiding any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of in reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
The best 8K TVs right now
This Neo QLED 8K TV is a 75-inch version of Samsung’s third generation of 8K TVs but is the company's first to combine a Mini LED lighting system with the increased resolution of 8K. The results are outstanding, and this fabulous TV achieves an awesome sense of scale but with a crispness of detail that we’d normally associate with a smaller 4K set.
The QE75QN900A also proves that you don’t need 8K footage to enjoy an 8K TV. When watching 8K content, it serves up stunning depth, shading and textures with a skill we've not seen matched, and when viewing in 4K, the results are jaw-dropping.
Samsung has one of the best TV operating systems in Tizen. There's now a Smart Trainer app to go with Samsung Health platform to give you feedback on your home workout sessions, plus a choice of three smart voice assistants (Bixby, Google Assistant and Alexa).
The sleek design features an impressive edge-to-edge glass pane and a Samsung's brilliant One Connect box, meaning you’ll only need one small cable running between the TV and the box with all of your HDMIs. It even comes with a solar-powered remote control.
As we said in our review, this is one of the first 8K TVs we'd actually like to own. We look forward to prices dropping and the technology becoming more widespread – the next class of big-screen entertainment has graduated.
Read our full Samsung QE75QN900A review
While 8K content is thin on the ground if you're happy to spend the money, the Samsung QE75Q950TS not only manages to deliver an incredibly detailed and punchy 8K picture, but it also manages to improve on 4K content substantially.
That's thanks to Samsung's Quantum Processor 8K and its 8K AI Upscaling feature, which succeed in making non-8K content look better than ever: watching a 4K Blu-ray, we can’t recall a sharper 4K picture, with nothing looking artificially enhanced or exaggerated – it simply pops from the screen more than we’ve previously seen.
Blacks are deep and insightful, while motion is handled with aplomb. Away from the picture, the TV itself is stylish, super slim, and the bezels are amazingly thin. And it sounds pretty great, too.
The performance of the Q950TS was one the most convincing we'd seen when it was released in 2020, and while it has now been superseded, its future-proofed features and discounted price makes it a smart investment for those willing to wait for 8K content to take off.
Read the full Samsung QE75Q950TS review
With the dearth of real 8K content likely to continue for a good while yet, manufacturers have an uphill battle to convince consumers that an 8K TV is a sensible purchase in the here and now.
With the ZH8, Sony gets a huge amount right. This is one of the punchiest TVs we’ve tested and one of the best-sounding too. It’s also aggressively priced for an 8K model, significantly undercutting the Award-winning Samsung above.
That said, the ZH8 also lags a little behind its main rival in a couple of key areas, not least of which is its lack of support for the tiny amount of 8K footage that is actually already available.
In short, it doesn't support the AV1 format that YouTube uses for its 8K streams and that other services are expected to use for their own 8K content in the future. That's a big concern.
As such, the ZH8 may as well be a 4K TV. Even viewed on those terms, it's almost worth the full five stars, such is the quality and authenticity of its performance, but the high price (compared to top 4K TVs) and a bit of backlight blooming hold it back to a four.
Read the full Sony KD-75ZH8 8K TV review