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I’m starting to believe in 8K TVs, and Hisense’s latest move makes me hopeful for an affordable future

The topic of 8K TVs has become complicated over the past few years. At one stage, many brands including LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL, and Hisense jumped on the 8K TV bandwagon, embracing the new technology in an attempt to future-proof their TVs. So, if 8K TVs were meant to be the next big thing, what happened?

The main factor is price. You’re often paying double for one of the best 8K TVs compared to a 4K equivalent, For example, Samsung’s 2024 flagship 8K TV, the Samsung QN900D, is roughly $4,999 / £4,999 / AU$6,499 for the 65-inch model. The Samsung QN95D, its 4K equivalent, is £2,899. (The QN95D is a UK-only model, and its US/Australia price would roughly be $2,699 / AU$4,099). Also, there’s the ongoing lack of available 8K content, with a limited number of YouTube videos being the exception. As a result of these factors, 8K TVs lost popularity amongst consumers and companies began to move away from the tech. 

I never really bought into the 8K TV hype when I used to work in AV retail, mainly for the reasons stated above. However, after testing the Samsung QN800D, a fantastic mid-range 8K TV, that skepticism turned into belief – I’m starting to get 8K TVs. Still, there’s no getting over the fact that 8K TVs are expensive. 

Recent developments suggest that this could change in the future. Hisense, maker of some of the best TVs including the Hisense U7N and the Hisense U8K, have joined the 8K association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to future investment and development of 8K technologies. But, why is this such a big deal?

Could affordable 8K TVs be on the way? 

Samsung QN900D showing image of lizard

The Samsung QN900D (pictured) is the best 8K TV of 2024, but it carries a high price tag. (Image credit: Future)

Hisense TVs are popular amongst consumers and critics alike for offering solid picture quality and features at a fraction of the price of some competitors. I tested a budget and premium mini-LED TV side-by-side, with the budget model represented by the Hisense U6N, and the premium represented by the Sony X95L. Although the X95L was clearly the superior TV thanks to its richer contrast, deeper blacks, and more natural textures, the U6N offered solid performance across the board at a $1,200 / £700 cheaper price than the X95L (X93L in the US). 

If Hisense can achieve this in the world of 4K TVs, why not 8K TVs? The company joining the 8K association could signal the arrival of more affordable 8K TVs, ones with similar features to more premium options from major rivals such as Samsung. 

In a statement, David Gold, president of Hisense USA and Hisense Americas, said: “We are eager to contribute to the 8K ecosystem and collaborate with other industry leaders to accelerate the integration of 8K technology into the home entertainment experience.” So it appears that Hisense is keen to get 8K TVs into more homes – hopefully by selling them at lower prices. 

8K TVs – should they stay premium? 

Hisense has dabbled in the world of 8K before, with the Hisense U80 (pictured) – but this was still at a premium price. (Image credit: TechRadar)

My excitement for cheaper 8K TVs does come with reservations. 8K TVs, particularly those from Samsung, are designed with not just 8K in mind, but also 4K. The aforementioned Samsung QN900D and QN800D both use AI upscaling on 4K sources, and this processing gives an incredible boost to textures, detail, color and high dynamic range in pictures. 

Samsung’s AI technology is strengthened by the quality of the mini-LED backlighting used in its TVs. Part of this is the number of local dimming zones used – the more zones the better, as I discovered during a mini-LED backlight demo. 

Hisense sometimes makes performance sacrifices, such as the number of local dimming zones used in the TV, to achieve low price tags. But can this be done at the 8K level, where there isn’t as much room for picture quality compromise? This isn’t Hisense’s first foray into 8K TVs, with the U80G from 2021 and the recent ULED X 8K displayed at IFA 2023, among its contributions. But both those sets were premium models, which begs the question: Does Hisense believe 8K should remain premium? 

Final thoughts 

Ultimately, Hisense’s commitment to the 8K association signals that it is looking to an 8K future for both TVs and projectors. Hisense has provided budget alternatives to higher-end 4K models that offer unbeatable bang for your buck, so if there’s a chance the company can do the same with 8K TVs, then sign me up.  

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