I'm OK, you're… 8K? 8K broadcasts coming in 2020

NHK's 8K display at NAB 2014
IDGNS Boston

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“I dunno, that 4K TV just doesn’t have enough pixels,” said no one ever. But that isn’t stopping the march of progress—8K resolution is coming. Just not for a little while, and with plenty of technical hurdles to clear along the way.

At the NAB 2014 show in Las Vegas, Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed off massive 8K video displays and a giant 8K video camera, which the company is researching as the next logical step in the quest to crank out as much resolution as the human eye can possibly detect.

NHK's 8K display at NAB 2014 IDGNS Boston

NHK shows off an 8K display at the NAB trade show earlier this month.

An 8K display has four times the pixels as a 4K display, for a whopping resolution of 7680 by 4320 pixels, which NHK Senior Research Engineer Dr. Hiroshi Shimamoto explains is the most the people can see. “8K is enough for the human eye, and then no more resolution is needed,” he said.

Such high-resolution video obviously means huge file sizes, so NHK is also researching the most efficient way to encode and transmit that data. So far it’s using HEVC, also known as H.265, which is currently being used in 4K video-encoding applications.

NHK plans to have test broadcasts by 2016, but the company doesn’t expect 8K TVs and broadcasts to make it to homes until 2020. So start saving your nickels now if you want to be an early adopter—maybe you can see Season 8 of House of Cards in high enough resolution that you’ll be able to make out tiny devil horns sprouting from under Frank Underwood’s perfectly coiffed hair.

Nick Barber of IDG News Service contributed to this report.

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