The unavoidable advancement of technology undoubtedly means that one day, 8K TVs will drive 4K TVs into extinction. Sound a bit dramatic? Ok, so it won't be for a while yet. Still, with the likes of Sony, Samsung, LG and Phillips already selling 8K TV sets, 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.
The best 8K TVs right now
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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
With a minimalist design, the LG OLED77Z2 looks similar to the brand's flagship 4K TV, the G2, with plastic casework spread fairly thinly and evenly over the panel’s rear rather than concentrated in one thicker area. Unlike the G2, which comes with no stand at all, the Z2 comes with feet for tabletop placement but be warned, they are ugly and flimsy and frankly have no right to be tasked with supporting such an expensive TV.
The Z2 boasts four HDMI 2.1 sockets capable of supporting 8K/60Hz signals, should 8K sources materialise at some point in the future. In the meantime, those connections can handle 4K/120Hz signals from the Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and high-end gaming PCs, and gamers will also enjoy support for VRR and ALLM. Moreover, the Z2 has an excellent HGiG mode that gives you more accurate HDR performance from many games and a Dolby Vision game mode – something LG is currently alone in providing. Input lag measures a very low 14ms with 1080p signals, which should lower significantly when gaming in 4K.
This is an 8K TV with a 7680 x 4320 resolution. That’s over 33 million pixels, and because this is an OLED TV, every one of those pixels can be lit and coloured independently of the rest. Colours are well judged, with an overall balance of naturalism and vibrancy. There’s a consistent subtlety of shading that ensures skin tones, in particular, are very convincing. The Z2 takes the same balanced approach to detail and sharpness, with images crisply defined without looking exaggerated. Meanwhile, its 4.2 sound system is clear and direct, especially by TV standards.
Overall the Z2 is an exceptional picture performer, but we should mention – it’s not noticeably better than the (cheaper 4K) 77-inch LG G2. In fact, despite the Z2’s increased resolution, different processor and non-Evo status, you’d be hard-pressed to pick out any differences between it and the G2 with real-world content. If you absolutely must have an LG OLED and 8K, then the Z2 is the TV for you. But while the Z2 is an excellent TV, most people will be best served by either a 77-inch G2 or a 75-inch Samsung QN900B, depending on whether OLED or 8K is the greater priority.
Read the full LG OLED77Z2 review
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 (opens in new tab) 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.
So ultimately, despite many companies expressing optimism about 8K, it's important to be aware that almost no native 8K content is available. If you buy an 8K TV and want to show off it's ridiculously high resolution. At this stage, no streaming services have even hinted at launching 8K content, and it seems increasingly unlikely that an 8K disc format will ever materialise.
For those reasons, it's hard to recommend that most people pay the extra for an 8K TV at this stage. But if you've got deep pockets and want to be as ready as possible for the potential 8K content of the future, then there's no harm in going for an 8K TV now, particularly as many models make current 4K content look better than ever.
How do I choose an 8K TV?
You can now buy 8K TVs from a number of brands, including Samsung, LG and Sony, though due to their niche appeal, there are comparatively far fewer models to choose from. But as an 8K TV is a huge investment in money and space what factors should you be considering when trying to choose?
If you've got 8K on your mind then picture quality is obviously a high priority so it's important to carefully consider the type of display technology being used. Without a doubt, OLED has become the premium TV technology of choice, thanks to its perfect blacks, extraordinary contrast and exceptional viewing angles. QLED, which combines LED (or Mini LED) backlighting with ultra-vibrant Quantum Dots, is a strong alternative, though, largely thanks to being capable of greater brightness and punchier colours. Standard LCD TVs (often, confusingly, sold as 'LED' TVs on account of their LED backlights) are more variable in overall quality but, if you shop carefully, can offer excellent bang for your buck.
For the time being, most of the content you watch on an 8K screen is going to be 4K, so how well the TV upscales should be one of the biggest factors in choosing which model is right for you. A great 8K TV should show make lower resolutions look their very best, with processing that enhances and sharpens the picture without making it appear processed.
Are you planning to combine your huge new TV with a dedicated sound system? You probably should, because even high-end TVs have sound that's passable at best. But if you're determined to keep things neat and rely on the in-built speakers, check our reviews to make sure that they're good – there's no point in having incredible picture quality if the accompanying sound is rubbish.
How we test TVs
Testing a TV is a long and complex process because a modern TV simply does so much. Not only does it need to handle a variety of content resolutions and upscaling – standard-def, 1080p, 4K and, in this case, 8K – and both standard dynamic range and high dynamic range (the latter in a number of formats), all of which need to be specifically tested, is also has a sound system with various advanced settings and a full smart platform. A TV is all-in-one devices in the best sense, but that also makes it a challenging review proposition.
As part of our testing process we manually check that every major app – from Netflix to All 4, Prime Video to Spotify – is not only present, but also outputting in the video and sound formats that it should. Just because there's a Disney+ app doesn't necessarily mean it's working in Dolby Vision and/or Dolby Atmos. In fact, in many recent cases it hasn't been.
We also connect both a PS5 and Xbox Series X in order to establish which advanced gaming features are and aren't supported, and on which of the TV's HDMI ports. Is 4K 120Hz supported? How about VRR? Is there a Dolby Vision game mode? Is there an HGiG preset for more accurate HDR tone mapping? We check all of these things, and measure input lag using a Leo Bodnar device.
We then test the TV's picture quality using a huge variety of content, from old DVDs to the latest 4K Blu-rays and plenty of streamed movies and TV shows in between. Every TV is tested against the best model at its price and size – we have a stockroom packed full of Award-winners for this very purpose.
We don't accept the out-of-the-box settings that a TV comes in either. While we intentionally don't go down the route of professional calibration (you shouldn't have to have your TV professionally calibrated in order to get the best out of it), we do spend hours adjusting settings using a mixture of test patterns and real-world content until we're sure we're getting the best out of a TV so that it has the best chance to shine.
While we almost always advise that a new TV is combined with a dedicated sound system such as a soundbar or AV amplifier, many people still prefer to stick with their flatscreen's built-in speakers, so we thoroughly test these too, using a wide variety of movie and music content and with great attention spent to the TV's many processing modes and individual settings.
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Bath and Reading, where our team of expert reviewers do all of our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. What's more, all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the best 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.