There has been a lot of talk around 8K at the Consumer Electronics Show, including but not limited to LG's monstrous 88-inch 8K panel, Sony's 10,000 nit 8K prototype, and HDMI releasing a 2.1 spec that should handle it all quite easily.
The biggest question, of course, being 'If I barely have 4K content, why would I want an 8K TV?' Samsung's answer is the Q9S, an 85-inch 8K-resolution TV with "AI technology based on machine learning that analyzes content and automatically upscales low-resolution images into 8K picture quality."
Sounds like magic, feels like magic, and it honestly looks like magic.
The AI demo really was unbelievable, especially since they were displaying it next to an actual 8K TV and it looked identical. According to Samsung, three main "proprietary algorithm" features that help transform any 4K content to work on their 8K screen.
Firstly, a "database that studies and analyzes millions of images in advance" transforms low-res content. The TV can then determine which filters work the best and convert the source. Next, image processing is increased 64 times, to "offer natural images in high-resolution, without compromising gradation in the picture." Lastly, picture quality (e.g. black, blooming, brightness) are categorized by scene to create sharper edges.
It sounds like lofty claims but Samsung has always been one to create a grandeious language (looking at you QLED) for marketing purposes, despite the fact that their tech can absolutely go toe-to-toe without the jargon.
As of now, the Q9S doesn't have a release date, price, or even any specs. But that's actually not a bad thing. Samsung claims the longer the AI runs, the better it gets at upscaling. One of the booth attendants said the same television show could look different just hours after watching it once the AI upscales the content and submits it to a database. Samsung has confirmed that they are feeding the AI a constant stream of SD, HD, and 4K content to improve the algorithm.
Samsung basically says the AI will find edges, recreate them, and then pump up the color profiles on a frame-by-frame basis. Our gut feeling is it has a lot of the same technology found in today's flagship smartphones that are detailing edges and creating fake bokeh for a 'professional-grade' camera look, but that's just a hunch.
At the end of the day, this is exciting news. It really gives use cases for an 8K TV, which are in short supply right now. However, it's not the next big step in TV the same way OLED, HDR10+, or MicroLED might change the world, but it is a glimpse into how AI will continue to shape the world.