Samsung's $79,999 98" QLED 8K Smart TV has landed at Harvey Norman.

Should you hurry to buy the one unit in stock? (It's at the chain's Christchurch showroom, if you want to take a peek).

First, there's some good news on the pricing front: a special online offer means that if you register for the retailer's website, you get $5 off, taking the price down to $79,994.

I'm guessing that will still make it a tough sell to your partner, however.


But you can still point out that the sheer size is undeniably impressive. At 98-inches (display size is always measured on the diagonal, in Imperial), it's larger than a King Size bed - so you'll need a good whack of wall space, or maybe some extra budget for an extension to your living room.

Samsung is also the first in to offer 8K technology to Kiwis - the Next Big Thing in television technology that offers four times the picture quality of the 4K tellies sold today.

The quality of 8K is stunning. You can stand with your nose to the screen and still not see any pixels.

In a sneak preview, the Herald found the sheer size and quality of the display was so good it almost created a 3D-without-the-glasses effect. Certainly, there's an enhanced depth-of-field effect that takes your breath away - as long as you're viewing content shot at 8K quality.

You can't see the quality of 8K on a PC screen but this graphic gives a feel for its improved resolution on a larger display. An 8K picture is made up of 33 million pixels vs 4m for 4K or 2m for HD.
You can't see the quality of 8K on a PC screen but this graphic gives a feel for its improved resolution on a larger display. An 8K picture is made up of 33 million pixels vs 4m for 4K or 2m for HD.

If 8K appeals, then you don't have to splash out $80,000 - the technology also features in 82-inch ($20,000) and 75-inch ($16,000) models in Samsung's 8K series (the other major TV manufacturers are expected to have 8K models on the market over the next few months).

There's a reason the range bottoms out at "only" 75-inches. Opinion is split on whether humans can even tell the difference between 8K and 4K - but you definitely won't on a "smaller" set.

The obvious question at this point is: Is there any 8K content, outside of Samsung demo reels?

The short answer: nope. Sky TV, TVNZ and MediaWorks haven't even caught up with 4K yet, and probably won't for a couple of years at least. And in the meantime, a super-size screen only serves to highlight the deficiencies of lower-resolution content.


But Samsung points out that Netflix (which, like Amazon's Prime Video, offers 4K today) is already shooting its original programming in 8K - indicating it could upgrade its stream to 8K in the not-to-distant future.

There's been some talk that host broadcaster NHK will shoot some 2019 Rugby World Cup games in 8K, but Samsung says it expects the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo to be the first event shot in the new standard (NHK also experimented with 8K at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but with no 8K tellies had to run its footage in theatres).

In terms of the RWC, it's all by-the-by as Spark Sport won't offer the World Cup in 4K (let alone 8K). The sports streaming newcomer is - quite sensibly - taking safety-first approach and restricts itself to an HD stream, or a quarter the quality of 4K - though still nothing to sneeze at.

Samsung also expects Sony and Microsoft to support 8K with next versions of the PlayStation and Xbox respectively, possibly as soon a this Christmas. That's a fair bet, though neither game console maker has confirmed it yet.

For the got-to-have-it-now crowd - and I admit, I've got that itch - Samsung's new 8K models offer an upscaling option, or enhancing 4K or even HD or SD content to make it look closer to 8K.

Upscaling by various TV makers has had mixed reviews in the past - after all, there's only so much magic you can apply if the source video is inferior.

But Samsung's 8K range have more processing power than any of its TVs that have come before, which helps. And it says it can apply software updates over the internet that add more upscaling smarts.

So if you're in the market for a new TV today, and plan to own it for years, there are a few arguments you can make for "future-proofing" by buying an 8K model today - but the counter-argument is that the price of 8K sets will drop drastically over the next few years (just as 4K started at a premium but now features on sub-$1000 models), so it could work out cheaper to buy a 4K telly today then an 8K model in a couple of years time.

Another selling point is that Samsung has been the first to support Spark's Spark Sport app - though you can also get that on 4K models, or indeed any of the manufacturers TVs made in the past three years (Sony, Panasonic and LG are expected to follow suit, but there's no solid time frame).

A short history of big-screen TVs

When flat-screen tellies first hit the market, the big deal was that most could support a high definition (HD) display made from 1920 x 1080 pixels or the lesser 1280 x 720) - a step up in picture quality from standard definition or SD (704×576).

Then from 2013, the first 4K or ultra high definition TVs started to creep into the market, offering a display made from at least 3840 x 2160 pixels - meaning the picture on your screen is made from more than eight million dots.

Today, 4K is standard with even modestly priced TVs (as is another breakthrough technology, high dynamic range or HDR, which improves tone and contrast).

Now come the first 8K models, which offer 7680 x 4320 pixel resolution - or a picture made up of more than 33 million pixels or four times the quality of 4K.

In The Frame

Samsung also recently showed off the latest models in its "The Frame" series.

These 4K tellies are designed to mimic works of art on your wall - the better to address the partner objection factor (known as the wife objection factor or "WOF" in more primitive times) to a big screen TV dominating your living room.

Models in The Frame range come with optional wooden frames, and display works of art when on standby.

Samsung's "The Frame" TV now features NZ artworks via a partnership with Te Papa. The art appears onscreen when the TV is on standby. A wooden bezel mimics a picture frame. Photo / Chris Keall.

You can achieve a similar effect with most other modern sets is you mess around with a USB stick and screen saver options, but The Frame makes it user-friendly and the wooden bezel and One Box Connector (which allows for flush wall mounting) really set it off.

A sensor allows your art to dim or switch off at night, or when no one's in the house.

The Frame was launched in 55-inch ($3095) and 65-inch ($4095) models.

There are now more modest 43-inch ($2019) and 49-inch options ($2625).

And there's now some local flavour through a selection of New Zealand art available through a partnership with Te Papa.