Should I be selling 8K to my clients?
Lest anyone thing I am a flip-flopper, one of the things that I have done a 180 on during the past year is 8K. I started off the year a bit sceptical and did a mid-course correction a bit later on with a much more positive point of view.
As the old year closes and the new year begins, here is my latest, updated take on where 8K is now and what the time frame might be for when you might want to think about suggesting and provisioning it in real-life installations. As always on this subject, it isn’t exactly a simple answer.
So, where is 8K now?
Depending on where you trade, it is here. Now. Sharp has been selling its first 8K sets in Asia and Europe, and Samsung has rolled out its first 85-in 8K TV in the UK, US and elsewhere. With CES and then ISE just around the corner, you may expect more brands to enter the 8K fray.
Content material? Japan has already started their 8K, satellite delivered, programme service, kicking things off with an 8K remastered version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 2020, things will go full blast in Japan with coverage of the Tokyo Olympic Games. However, I suspect that most readers here live in the UK, EMEA or North America. There, 4K is still limited to some satellite and cable services; 8K is not on the horizon at this time.
That brings us to the question of the hour…
Should I suggest 8K sets for my clientele? And what will they view when they get them?
Let’s answer the second question first: the extremely powerful video processing and upscaling engines in all of 8K TVs I’ve seen to date to their job with aplomb. 4K content looks better than you’ve ever seen it, and so does everything else the set is fed.
The answer to the former question is a bit more interesting. The price is clearly high: USD $15,000 for the 85-in Samsung model now on sale. For hints on how and to whom to sell 8K HiddenWires turned to Tom Campbell, Corporate Director for Video & Audio Center, a leading retail and custom installation chain based in Los Angeles.
“Campbell set his targets at what he calls 'early, early adopters'; those who just have to be the first to have new technology.”
Having sold more than a few of the sets, Campbell set his targets at what he calls 'early, early adopters; those who just have to be the first to have new technology. Beyond that, the image quality is also a big selling point, particularly given the high standards of V&A’s clientele, many of whom are in the content and entertainment world (their newest store in an upscale shopping mall literally next door to the Fox headquarters and production studios.)Campbell also likens this stage of the 8K market to the early days of 4K, and before that, HD format introductions. How did you sell those products when the programme material was still limited, if not non-existent? Reach back and look what you’ve done before, and you may well find the answers as to how, and to whom, to sell 8K. As a comfort factor, Campbell told us that having an 8K set on their sales floor has not impacted their 4K sales at all. To some, seeing 8K was convincing enough to make the sale, but it appears not to have caused prospects to “sit it out and wait”.
At the end of the day, 8K isn’t for everyone yet, but when properly demonstrated it definitely has appeal to a critical “rainmaker” segment of your client and prospect base. Use the built-in demo playback if the manufacturer provides it, and feed a demo set with content from a known source such as an UHD Blu-ray player.
IN parallel, know the story about the benefits of 8K but also have answers ready for questions from doubters and reassure them that a 4K set may well be what they are best with now. Somewhere along the line they will be back for an 8K set, and the 4K set will more to another room. If you down sell 8K too much, it will only make the next sale more difficult!
8K isn’t for everyone, and may never will be for some. For those who get the advantages, want to be “first on the block”, understand the lack of native content and, of course, can afford it. 8K’s time is starting to appear.
Michael Heiss is a technology consultant and journalist, CEDIA Fellow, CEDIA ESC 2 Certified, and US correspondent for HiddenWires magazine. You can contact Michael via the HiddenWires LinkedIn Group or follow him on Twitter @captnvid.