Striking differentials in 8K TV picture quality at CES 2019 showcased the awesome potential for 8K - and showed the serious pitfalls of processing massive amount of data into space, light and time.
The best pictures at CES were fantastic and created buying lust - even among the financially challenged press corps. The worst TVs were soft and fuzzy, artifact ridden, and were downright fatiguing to watch.
All Digital TVs (DTV) are simply machines that turn bits into pictures. The first DTVs in 1982 digitized our old analog TV pictures that used either 525 or 625 TV lines.
To better understand this long progress that has evolved to 8K TV, just visualize how we see TVs in space, light and time. Let’s break it down:
Space – The number of visible lines or pixels on screen
Light – How bright the picture is, and how many colors are visible on screen
Time – How many pictures are flashed per second – “temporal resolution” or pictures per second (PPS)
To start at the beginning, how did analog bring pictures into our home:
Space – Either 525 or 625 horizontal lines top to bottom
Light – Tube TVs (CRTs) were only 100 Nits bright – but had unlimited steps between black and white
Time – Either 50 or 60 pictures per second (PPS), unchanged since the 1930’s
Standard Definition Digital Rec.601
Space – 640x480, or roughly 300,000 (.3K) pixels to process
Light – 100 Nits – 220 steps from black to white to process at 8 Bit – CRT TV’s phosphor-based colors
Time – Same 50/60 PPS as 1930’s
High Definition Digital Rec.709
Space – Up to 1920x1080, or roughly 2,000,000 pixels (2K)
Light – 100 Nits – 220 steps at 8 Bit – but somewhat improved to 1990 CRT colors
Time – Same 50/60 PPS as 1930’s
Ultra-High Definition – 2012 specs BT.2246-1
Space – Up to 8K – roughly 33,000,000 pixels
Light – Up to 10,000 Nits – at 10 Bit roughly 1000 steps, at 12 Bit roughly 4000 steps
Time – Up to 120PPS – “temporal resolution” is finally improved – and sports are awesome!
Processing 8K TV Data – The Beauty and the Beast!
Creating perfect analog pictures with digital bits will never happen. However, more bits provide the possibility to create pictures that are closer to analog and will look beautiful at very close viewing distances – but only if processing is superb!
The Beauty - Evolving from .3K to 8K provides the potential for smooth artifact free pictures if processing deploys sufficient power and speed coupled with intelligent algorithm engineering.
The Beast - 8K reveals poor processing like a jeweler’s loop reveals defects in diamonds.
The Beauty – Even a 1000 Nit TV is 10x brighter than our old TVs – and with 200x more steps and 8K pixels, we can control color and light transitions that are life like and relaxing to watch.
The Beast – Brighter TVs reveal motion artifacts and poor color transitions that induce user fatigue.
The Beauty – We have been watching 60 PPS since 1939. HDR’s space, color and light have revolutionized watching movies in our homes. 120 PPS will do the same for sports!
The Beast – Double the number of PPS increases the cost of processing and the challenges for engineering intelligent algorithms.
The 8K CES Conclusions
For those readers who like to skip to the bottom of a story, here are the quick facts:
1 – There is far more to 8K than just less visible pixels. Improved control over motion in space, plus precision modulation of light and color produces visibly improved “digital to analog conversion”.
2 – If video processing is superb in time, space and color, then 8K pixels enable visibly smoother transitions and deliver more analog like pictures.
3 – Motion artifacts may still occur, but they are one quarter the size and therefore less visible.
4 – 8K 120 PPS will redefine “temporal resolution” and revolutionize watching sports on TVs.
5 – At first, only the Tier One TVs will be awesome with 8K. Many TVs will look worse with 8K. We will get what we pay for in 8K!
CES 2019 showcased what the planet’s best engineering teams can accomplish with 8K’s spatial resolution. They showcased vastly improved space, color and light. I can’t wait to see what these amazing people will do with 120PPS TVs at CES 2020.
I left the CES 2019 show discovering that I need new TVs once again……….it was enormous fun and a most entertaining show!
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