Skip to content

Perfect Visibility

8K TV is a joke. But that means it also points to the fact a 4K TV is likely to be the longest lasting television purchase you'll make since the cathode ray era.

Seamus Byrne
Seamus Byrne
5 min read
Perfect Visibility

OK, this headline could apply very well to crisis discussions today. We need as much visibility as possible of that invisible virus in order to corner it and starve it of opportunity.

I’ll link to one of the best discussions on the question of contact tracing apps below. We can’t let the government just say ‘trust us’ on this stuff. An app could help in the coronavirus endgame. But it could also be a farce and a deeply troubling civil liberty intrusion if it’s not designed and managed appropriately. And this government doesn’t have a good track record with running tech properly…

Instead, I’m going to just divert our minds and talk consumer technology this week and give you my favourite rant of recent years.

8K TV is a joke. Don’t buy it.

But here’s the positive and exciting corollary to this idea:

A 4K TV is likely to be the longest lasting television purchase you’ll make since the cathode ray era.

There’s two reasons 8K is just the TV industry desperately trying to give us another reason to buy another TV upgrade and not ‘the next amazing thing’ in our viewing experience.

One: the maths on the optimal viewing distance to an 8K TV is 0.75x the width of the screen. If you have a 60-inch TV - pretty sizeable - that means your seating position should be exactly one metre from the screen. That’s incredibly close.

For 4K, optimal is double that. Two metres. For HD screens, it’s four metres. That window between 2-4M is the zone where 4K is our ideal picture quality and a good match for the typical home.

Two: OK, let’s just say TVs jump up to a typical wall dominating scale of 100-inches. And suddenly optimal viewing is 165cm for 8K and you live in a small apartment where that’s about the distance from you to the screen anyway… what are you going to watch on it at 8K resolution?

When 4K arrived I was told by film studio experts that they were now mastering and restoring older films at 5K resolution as a nice archive resolution that gets the best from film reels scanned into digital and suits cinema projection as well as then scaling to 4K for home.

Maybe they’re shifting gears again. But unless you’re planning on buying all your movies on some fancy new disc format that can handle the storage capacity required for 8K films…

4K is coming into its own as broadband gets better and Blu-ray now widely supports it too. The latest 4K TVs now have all the superior bells and whistles that are more important than resolution too. The latest Dolby Atmos features and High Dynamic Range and improved colour depth and contrast ratios.

4K as a screen you can buy is now optimised beautifully. It’s ready to be our new long term format for stable, wonderful home TV.

If you keep worrying about waiting because the next fancy thing might launch soon, I’m saying it’s already here. Let yourself have it.

Even if 8K content arrives tomorrow, 4K is optimal for almost every home. If we move into a new era where our TV becomes a stand up touchscreen experience and we’re viewing at arms length the majority of the time then, yes, 8K will have a purpose.

Next month is the typical month when TV makers launch their latest models. As they start pushing 8K as the ‘flagship’, 4K TVs are going to drop in price and create the perfect era for screens that won’t ever feel outdated - they’ll last as long as their build quality allows.

And right now, having a nice television feels like a worthy investment in household happiness.

On Byteside

Alex Abrate, Founder of Level Up Dice

The Game Table podcast: Seamus catches up with the founder and CEO of the best makers of gorgeous luxury gaming dice in the world: Alex Abrate from Level Up Dice.  •  Share

Nico King, Chaos Theory Games

High Resolution podcast: Chaos Theory is a fascinating game developer that focuses on marketing and ‘games for good’ work, helping charities and educators use games for engagement.  •  Share

Hacks, remakes and fancy new phones

Byteside podcast: When are Zoom hacks not actually Zoom hacks? Why do games seem to have a better handle on doing remakes than film? That + more on this week’s show.  •  Share

Michal Blicharz and IEM Katowice's coronavirus moment

High Resolution podcast: Michal ‘Carmac’ Blicharz on that moment when IEM Katowice was told it couldn’t open its doors, plus the nature of esports during the coronavirus crisis.  •  Share

TV Links

TV size to distance calculator

Don’t take my word for it on the distance stuff. Here’s some science talk about optimal viewing.  •  Share

LG 55-inch OLED C9 TV

This TV is particularly amazing. And it’s around $2600 at JB Hi-Fi. Fairly expensive compared to some but this is in the ‘best you can get’ territory right now, which makes that price pretty solid. There’s great 4K TVs around $1500 too.  •  Share

Shiny New Toy Season

iPhone SE vs iPhone 11: which to buy?

A good quick compare to help decide on the new entry iPhone, the iPhone SE, or the full fat version.  •  Share

Dell XPS 13 (2020) review: the best Windows laptop gets better

The 2020 Dell XPS 13 is still the Windows laptop to beat, says The Verge. If I’m asked what laptop someone should buy, I usually point people in Dell’s direction. It’s hard to go wrong and their service support is excellent.  •  Share

LIDAR: peek at the future with iPad Pro

Really good deep dive on how the new LIDAR system built into the newest iPad Pro works and where its potential goes in the future.  •  Share

The 'Rona Round Up

Hairdryers, incense, and garlic water: Facebook is still letting people spread fake coronavirus ‘cures’

Facebook said it would fix its dangerous coronavirus misinformation problem, but a new report reveals how badly it’s failing.  •  Share

YouTube sees 75% jump in news views on thirst for virus updates

Which is why it’s so important that YouTube gets on top of its own misinformation problems!  •  Share


Wanted: An exit strategy from the overt surveillance of smartphone contact tracing

Good piece on why we need clarity not just on how it works, but also on how this kind of tracking system is removed at the other end of it all.  •  Share

Metadata retention laws “abused” by enforcement agencies

Because, yes, every time we give them too much power… what do you know, someone abuses their access to it and stamps all over civil rights.  •  Share

Australian Federal Police officers trialled controversial facial recognition tool Clearview AI

They’ll use whatever they can get, however they can get it, whether it’s legal access to data or not.  •  Share


Seamus Byrne Twitter

Founder and Head of Content at Byteside.

Related Posts

Sonos Ace: excellent headphones for Sonos devotees

For a debut set of headphones, Sonos has leapt to the top-tier consumer range alongside Sony. If you own a Sonos soundbar, it's a particularly attractive option.

White Sonos Ace headphones with carry case and cable accessories on a white background.

HTC Vive XR Elite: How far have we come?

HTC's latest is another big leap forward for VR fans, but why is it still not enough for everyone else?

The VR headset and pair of controllers floating on a white background.

Hisense laser projector range covers every angle

Projectors are easier to use than ever and the Hisense range is a testament to how quickly you can be enjoying the big screen when you buy one.