Sony & Samsung Fight For 8K TV Dominance, But Here’s Why It Doesn’t Matter
Stephan Jukic – April 27, 2019
Maybe it’s a bit soon to say that 4K TVs are going the way of the HDTV in terms of new premium releases, because the 4K UHD market is still alive and well and growing almost exponentially. However, what we can definitely say is that 8K has arrived for real, it’s become a consumer market thing and that we’ll see more of these TVs in the coming months and years because of brand competition alone, even if consumer demand doesn’t quite skyrocket.
Right now, the big contenders in this still tiny market are Sony and Samsung. Both have invested heavily in 8K display technology and both are or have already launched their own ultra-premium 8K HDR televisions for 2019. Samsung’s model, which we reviewed very recently, is already available for anyone willing to spend the money on one of its 65 inch, 75 inch or 82 inch editions and Sony’s own 8K TV is coming later in the year. Interestingly, the Sony edition will feature 8K display panels from LG instead of Sony’s own native technology. This of course strongly suggests that we can soon look forward to some serious 8K TV display presence from LG as well.
The Samsung Q900 QLED 8K TV we recently reviewed impressed us deeply. It came with its share of defects, largest of which was the fact that it costs much more than any average 4K TV despite there being no native commercial 8K content to justify buying it just for this reason. Despite this though, the Q900 performs superbly in almost every way and, especially in how well it upscales lower resolutions to smoothly, sharply fit across the whopping 16+ million pixels that fill its screen. This is something we loved and we hope to see more of the same with Sony’s 8K models as they arrive.
Moving back to the Sony release, it’s called the Z9G and it’s expected for June of 2019. The Z9G will include all the usual trimmings that go into Sony’s latest and best ultra-premium 4K UHD TVs. These include Picture Processor X1 Ultimate processing technology, Pixel Contrast Booster for more color and contrast in bright areas, Netflix Calibrated Mode and IMAX Enhanced with DTS audio.
What makes the Sony 8K television most impressive though is that it will be one gargantuan OLED TV, and not an LCD model like the Samsung 8K edition. This is particularly interesting because (as we noted in our review of the Q900), the Samsung edition’s deepest flaw was its surprisingly low native contrast ratio. The presence of Samsung’s new Wide Viewing Angle technology gives the Q900 excellent viewing angles but in doing so, it takes away from some of its brightness, color rendering and its contrast delivery in particular.
Sony’s version of an 8K TV will suffer none of these problems specifically because of its OLED panel, which offers perfect, total black levels, infinite contrast and doesn’t need to reduce display performance in the process. OLED also naturally offers wide viewing angles by default. In other words, The Z9G looks like it might offer something even better than what Samsung’s 8K innovation has already delivered. We’re excited to see just how much of an improvement the Z9G delivers.
That said, while the Samsung Q900 is definitely expensive by any normal consumer market measure, the Z9G takes price to a whole new stratospheric level. The 98 inch monster is going to be retailing for a truly whopping $70,000. Even by OLED TV standards, this is insane. Yes, OLED TVs have traditionally always been especially pricey things, and Sony’s in particular are known for their high post-release price tags but with the Z9G Sony has really pushed the envelope on consumer market ultra-luxury home theater. For more budget-minded consumers (and in order to more effectively compete with Samsung or any other potential rival outside the market for ultra-rich buyers) Sony is also releasing a smaller 85 inch Z9G 8K OLED edition for a mere $12,999. This is still crazily expensive but brings the Z9G closer to the prices of its Samsung rival and in fact makes it cheaper than Samsung’s 82 inch edition of the Q900, which currently sells for just over $14,000. That said, Samsung still manages to outdo Sony on the 8K TV front with further size and price options in the form of both 75 inch and 65 inch Q900 editions that are much more accessibly priced.
Despite all of these competitive games, Sony’s effort at 8K resolution definitely looks like the winner of the bunch in terms of overall performance. We haven’t reviewed it yet but with both 8K resolution and OLED display packed into a single monster television, we can almost certainly expect a level of picture performance that puts Samsung’s LCD Q900 to shame in certain crucial metrics of picture quality. OLED technology tends to do this and in an 8K TV with cutting edge processing technologies, we expect even more from it.
Ultimately, we’ll have to see what happens when Sony actually releases its Z9G for sale. Price aside, it will almost certainly be spectacular across the board. We don’t say this to cheer for Sony technology; it has simply consistently been the case in their 4K OLED TVs to-date. We can only assume that the product engineers at Sony will put a particular effort into making their first consumer 8K OLED TV even more incredible.
For now, those of you who might be interested in Sony’s 8K OLED Z9G edition as your preferred choice for just finally having to have an 8K TV in your homes, you’ll have to wait until June of 2019. Right now, if you don’t mind the somewhat inferior LCD technology (which still produces incredible picture quality), the Samsung Q900 8K HDR LCD TV is already available and its smallest edition, the 65 inch model costs less than $5,000 –making it an outright bargain compared to the smaller of the two upcoming Sony Z9G models.
With all of these things said, we do have to note that going for an 8K TV right now is not the best value per dollar spent choice you could make for your home theater budget.
Sure, these two TVs are stunning as hell but like we mentioned above and in our review of the Samsung Q900, there is essentially no consumer 8K content available anywhere yet. Even if you look on YouTube, the one place where someone’s uploaded 8K scene videos might be available, you’re out of luck because at least for now, on the Samsung Q900, the YouTube app doesn’t yet support 8K video playback!
In other words, anyone who buys an 8K TV right now would just be throwing away extra cash for the thrill of showing something off. Their content viewing would meanwhile consist of 4K or lower resolution entertainment that they could have viewed with exactly the same quality on a 4K HDR TV with a much lower price tag. Samsung’s Q90R is a great example of a better alternative: except in its display resolution, it offers even better ultra-premium performance than the Q900 8K QLED from the same brand but costs quite a bit less.