Earlier this year, the NANO956NA, a 55-inch 8K TV set produced by Korean chaebol LG saw its price cut to £679 in the UK (that’s about US$940 or AU$1282).
It was by far the cheapest 8K display (television or monitor) available worldwide, but that discount — on a product launched less than a year ago — gave us a tantalizing glimpse of how mainstream 8K is hybrid work landscape in 2022.
The price may even fall again for Black Friday 2021, like now it costs 40% extra with UK-based retailer Currys.
An exciting new (year) resolution
8K is one of the most hyped technologies of recent times in the world of display and AV. The resolution, which is 16 times higher than that of Full HD (1080p), promises to take movies to a new level, especially when combined with other features like HDR10+.
While businesses and users are still adapting to 4K, a technology unveiled nearly 10 years ago, it’s in the entertainment industry that 8K is making the greatest strides. That explains why a total of one 8K monitor has been launched worldwide so far (the grandiose 4-year-old Dell UltraSharp 32 8K, also known as the UP3218K).
Being the only one on the market means it can (and will) command a high premium; this is still a $4,000 (£2,890, about AU$5,455) monitor, which is about 10x what a 4K or Full HD monitor of this size would sell for. Compare that to the LG NANO956NA, which is not only the cheapest 8K television out there, but also the cheapest 8K display.
There’s also a very good practical reason why LG’s model is a bargain and that’s because it comes with HDMI 2.1 ports, while the UP3218K – due to its age – has none. You need to plug it into two DisplayPort connectors to enjoy 8K resolution, something you get in dedicated graphics cards (like the RTX3080) but not in more modest configurations.
The LG is a 55-inch desktop behemoth capable of displaying over 33 million pixels and has a full 40W 2.2 Dolby compatible audio sound system and a host of other features including Bluetooth 5.0, four HDMI 2.1 ports, three USB ports, Wi-Fi, an Ethernet connector and even an optical SPDIF audio port plus a solid five-year warranty.
Keep in mind that the NANO956NA doesn’t deliver the same kind of image quality you’d expect from a professional, accurate monitor. It can do spreadsheets and video conferencing but will struggle with Photoshop.
HDMI 2.1 brings 8K to the masses
You’ll need a compatible device to get the most out of this TV: that means a PC or laptop with at least an Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 graphics card, one paired with the must-have HDMI 2.1 port that provides a much more elegant (and affordable) solution than two DisplayPort cables on the back of the Dell.
Which brings us nicely to the second part of the equation. There are now a number of laptops that offer HDMI 2.1 at a very reasonable price; the Dell G5 5515 Ryzen Edition retails for under $1,000. Granted, it runs on the slowest compatible GPU, the Nvidia Geforce RTX3050 4GB, but paired with a 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 5600H CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, WiFi-6 Wi-Fi and a full HD screen, it remains a very capable workplace.
2022 could therefore be the emergence of a new generation of home offices running on 8K for less than $2,022. Combined with Microsoft’s FancyZones, it clears the way for virtual desktop in abundance that could very well climb into double digits without resorting to multiple monitors and the kind of logistical nightmare (stand, cables, power, etc) that come with it.
Remember that a single 8K monitor can replace four 4K or 16 Full HD displays, and 55-inches – if you have enough desk space – is the perfect diagonal size to handle whatever a busy office day can throw at an employee who needs the pursuing a hybrid work dream (including, in the UK, free terrestrial and satellite TV). Make sure you feel like it standing desk can support the weight of a 55-inch screen.