Sharp Corp. announced this week that it will begin to ship 8K ultra high-definition flat panel TVs and monitors by the end of October. Initially, sales are targeted at certain industrial and commercial markets – with the company saying the very first shipments are headed for broadcast stations and movie studios. This is the first step in commercializing the technology that the company has been working on for years now.
See more on the company’s 8K ambitions…
It was about a year ago in Fall 2014 when Sharp, the financially troubled Japanese manufacturer, showed a prototype of its 8K technology, which it dubbed “Super Hi-Vision”. The next step beyond today’s 4K ultra HD TV, 8K has 16 times the resolution of full high-definition screens. Sharp has not only successfully built an 8K set, it has created the necessary manufacturing capability to mass-produce them.
The first model will be an 85-inch “professional” screen that, according to the Nikkei, is set to sell for somewhere between ¥15 million – ¥16 million ($123,304-$131,524). Sharp says it expects 8K to follow the typical technology adoption curve – meaning prices will come down as demand for the sets increase.
Orders for ‘Dozens’ of Sets
The company says it has already received orders from Japanese broadcaster NHK for dozens of the new sets. The NHK likely needs these to monitor wide-scale 8K broadcasting trials in Japan, expected to start sometime next year.
Beyond broadcasters, the company says it sees multiple industrial applications for the technology, such as, for example, museums with a need to display high-resolution images. Also, the company anticipates that the medical community will be drawn to the technology as well, with applications like surgeons using the sets to check micro-sutures, which are hard for the unaided human eye to inspect.
China First to Market
Sharp, however, is not the first to market 8K in Japan. BOE Technology Group out of China has been delivering 8K monitors to Japanese hospitals since the beginning of this past summer.
Sharp, as well as other Japanese TV makers, are rushing to develop the 8K technology in advance of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which is expected to be a showcase for Japanese technology manufacturers.
Plans for Consumer Market
The company says it will begin shipping consumer versions of the 8K sets some time in 2018. According to Sharp, they believe that consumers will at that time finally be in a position to upgrade their sets they originally purchased in 2010 – which should help drive the adoption of 8K.
Not clear at this point is when and how the company will introduce 8K Super Hi-Vision sets to export markets, such as the U.S. In the spring of this year, Sharp officially exited the Canadian television business. Then in July, the company announced it would pull out of the North American market, closing its New Jersey-based operations and licensing its brand to Chinese manufacturer Hisense Co, Ltd. to build and market televisions in North America using the Sharp brand name.