Buying an 8K TV in South Africa – Limited content, but upscaling makes it worthwhile

8K TVs are becoming increasingly available in South Africa and these displays are truly impressive.

MyBroadband has reviewed 8K TVs in the past and we found that the quality of the video content was awesome.

LG South Africa Sales Head for Home Entertainment Lance Berger explained to MyBroadband that 8K TVs offer this incredible picture quality because of the 33 million pixels they display.

He added that one of the major benefits of buying an 8K TV today is that it will future-proof your home entertainment system for years to come.

“As the replacement cycle of a TV is approximately every 7 years, LG 8K TVs also come with peace of mind that the TV you are buying today is future proofed for the viewing technologies set to come in the future,” he said.

He also noted that all of LG’s 8K TVs come with HDMI 2.1, which offers a number of important technologies to gamers.

8K content

One of the reasons that many may be cautious about purchasing an 8K TV is the fact that there is not much 8K content available.

When MyBroadband asked MultiChoice for comment regarding its plans for 8K content, it said that its primary focus is on balancing a good viewing experience with low data consumption.

It appears to be the case that 8K content is unlikely to be widely streamable in South Africa any time soon. Additionally, as it stands, there are only a few movies that have been filmed in 8K quality.

However, Berger noted that great 8K TVs have the ability to upscale the quality of 1080p and 4K content, meaning that this content will still look much better than it would on a 1080p or 4K display.

MyBroadband experienced this phenomenon when testing the Samsung 8K QLED Q950TS, with our team noticing major improvements in the quality of upscaled content when compared to traditional 1080p or 4K display.

Streaming in 8K

Another major consideration that could affect the viability of mainstream 8K TV uptake is whether it is possible to stream 8K content on South African networks without buffering.

We asked several mobile and fibre ISPs about this.

MTN noted that 8K content and device support is not mainstream yet, and said that the bandwidth requirement for 8K would be a function of the compression used by the content, as well as the video frame rate.

“Serving this type of content from a mobile network will require significant capacity,” said MTN.

However, it noted that 8K content could be served from an LTE CAT 6 or greater home gateway or a 5G home gateway – depending on the quality of coverage.

Vodacom also noted that its 5G network can support 8K streaming, whereas its 4G network could only support 8K streaming for certain customers and during periods with low network traffic.

“8K content is widely reported to require a typical bitrate of 80Mbps – 100Mbps using the H.265 codec,” said Vodacom.

“Streaming in 8K would therefore require a significant amount of data and, as a result, will likely initially only be attempted by subscribers with uncapped data with speeds in the range of 100 Mbps.

Fibre ISP Vox Telecom said that while 8K content delivers 4 times the number of pixels when compared to 4K content, this does not mean it requires 4 times the bandwidth. This is because of improved compression efficiencies.

Therefore, Vox Telecom said that while 4K streaming requires speeds in the 20-40Mbps range, 8K requires 40-80Mbps – roughly double those of 4K.

Vox Telecom believes that any fibre package of 100Mbps or higher should support 8K streaming easily.

It also noted that because it has its own distributed Netflix and YouTube caches, the growing number of 8K viewers on its backbone and international network is minimal.

Now read: New DStv Add Movies package launched

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Buying an 8K TV in South Africa – Limited content, but upscaling makes it worthwhile