CES: Samsung Unveils 8K QLED TVs, Offers Its Take on the Content Challenge

Samsung press event for CES 2019 - Getty -H 2019
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Samsung Electronics America Senior Vice President Dave Das announces the new Samsung  QLED 8K television during a Samsung press event for CES 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 7, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs from January 8-11 and features about 4,500 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 180,000 attendees. 

At CES in Las Vegas on Monday, Samsung unveiled a line of 8K QLED TVs, ranging in size from 65-inch to 98-inch models, while also offering its strategy to address the pretty much non-existent amount of available native 8K content.

Japan public broadcaster NHK recently launched an 8K channel, but the U.S. has a different strategy with its new broadcast system known as ATSC 3.0, which is designed to bring together internet and live over-the-air signals with options including mobility for delivering VOD content, 4K resolution and high dynamic range. But the new U.S. broadcasting system wasn’t designed to (and can’t) send a native 8K signal to your TV.

Addressing this gap, Samsung senior vp Yoon Lee noted that the company's new 2019 displays apply artificial intelligence technology to "sharpen" and "restore pixels" to images, effectively up-resing the pictures on the display.

Meanwhile, streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix are currently focused on offering 4K and high dynamic range, not 8K. To this point, BA Winston, head of video playback technology at Amazon Prime, took the stage during Samsung's press conference to say that his company is working on more robust streaming, so that "now more people can enjoy 4K and in the future 8K."

The other issue is the content. Without an 8K business model and infrastructure, 8K currently isn’t a priority for most content creators.

More immediately, in order to expand entertainment options with its new TVs, Samsung announced it will offer iTunes Movies and TV Shows and Apple AirPlay 2 support on 2019 Samsung Smart TV models beginning in the spring. Support on 2018 Samsung Smart TVs will be made available via a firmware update.

CES runs through Thursday.