How much is too much for an 8K TV?
Plenty of TV makers have debuted 8K displays, but as of right now, 8K still remains out of reach for many consumers. Plus, with so many fantastic and relatively affordable 4K LED and OLED options available right now, the hefty price tags that often accompany premium 8K displays can be tough to justify—particularly when there’s little to no 8K content actually out there to watch yet. And 8K TVs are only going to get cheaper over time, so why spend money out the ears right now when so many other great TVs cost a fraction of the price?
It was for all of these reasons I wasn’t sure what to expect with the exorbitantly expensive, LG Signature OLED 8K ZX, a TV that retails for a cool $20,000 for the 77-inch model I’ve been reviewing and $30,000 for the 88-inch version. But after weeks with this mammoth screen, I feel my TV viewing experience has been spoiled by this stellar television—at least until something comparable enters the market for a price that I could stomach (or even afford, for that matter).
Let’s just go ahead and tackle the elephant in the room straight out of the gate: Yes, $20,000 is an obscene amount of money for a television. So while this is a consumer-ready display, the consumer for whom this TV is actually an option is either stupidly rich or a literal king. Here’s what an SUV-priced display will get you, though: a picture so crisp and clear, it looks as though you could reach right into your screen and touch the image you’re watching. If I had a dollar for every “holy shit” muttered during multiple viewings of an American Ballet Theatre production of The Nutcracker, I’d have—well, still not enough money to throw down for a Signature of my own, but you get the idea.
Gizmodo was shipped a USB to view a clip of the ballet in 8K (the TV has several USB ports, which we’ll get into a little further down). That was great, as there’s virtually no other 8K content to speak of at present. YouTube technically has a limited selection of 8K content, but as for major streamers like Netflix, Disney+, or HBO Max? Hell no. In fact, HBO Max only just caught up to its peers on this front with the release of Wonder Woman 1984 in 4K. And with 4K still very much a novelty for many at home, why on earth would studios opt for the nuisance of shooting in 8K?
Nobody wants to shoot video in 8K, it’s expensive and requires special equipment that I’m not convinced anyone is able to rationalize just yet. Add to that the data demands and gadget requirements that aren’t even attainable for many consumers, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense right now. It could be many years before we’d get enough 8K content to warrant an 8K display. Even then, much of the detail that makes one of these displays so beautiful is lost on viewers who sit across the room from their televisions.
Yet in a world where I could afford this OLED? Reader, I’m almost ashamed to say that I would love to have it. It produces a truly breathtaking image. LG declined to comment on exact specifications for color gamut, but said that it’ll be approximately the same as the DCI-P3 color space. The company also wouldn’t comment on peak brightness, but you absolutely will not need to worry about this TV failing you in the brightness department, particularly when set to vivid (though the vivid setting will require some calibration if you want the colors to be true, but you can probably afford a pro calibrator if you’re buying this set). The ATSC 3.0 standard is also included here for the broadcast TV folks. Its webOS smart TV operating system was fairly straightforward and worked just fine for navigating apps, though I generally deferred to my dinky old Apple TV 4K for content navigation. But who on earth buys a $20,000 television solely because they love the operating system that much, anyway?
Gamers—sorry, wealthy gamers—will appreciate that all four of its rear HDMI ports support 4K at 120Hz, 8K at 60Hz, enhanced audio return channel (eARC), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), as well as three USB ports on the TV’s side.
Gaming was a delight on this monster display. Red Dead Redemption 2 played beautifully, even if it wasn’t taking full advantage of all the visual goodies offered by an 8K display. It was honestly distracting for how immersive the picture seemed on this enormous screen, and I often found myself staring at the landscape and game detailing on several occasions rather than focusing on tasks and missions. As for other content, this TV made virtually everything look better. Heck, even a mid-2000s season of Real Housewives of Orange County somehow looked superb on this TV—and that’s really saying something. Both Tenet and Soul looked terrific, though nothing quite matched the magic of The Nutcracker, which looked so real it was if the ballet was happening directly in front of me in my own living room rather than on a stage in New York City’s High Line Hotel.
That’s due in large part to the OLED’s tens of millions of self-lit pixels and 1 billion colors. LG says this TV produces a picture that’s four times sharper than 4K UHD and with 16 times the detail of HDTV. The TV’s magic is really in its upscaling capabilities, though. With so little 8K content available now or in the near future, an 8K set lives and dies by its ability to upscale lower-quality content. LG’s done a solid job, and its alpha 9 Gen 3 AI 8K processor uses deep learning algorithms to upscale content from lower resolutions like 4K. I’d need to set it side by side with other 8K sets to get a true sense of its upscaling performance, but 4K and lower quality content didn’t seem to suffer while being played back.
As for its design? It’s nearly perfect in that there’s nothing gaudy or gimmicky about the TV’s frame or the included minimalist legs that shipped with the 77-inch model, which can also be wall-mounted. Bump up to the 88-inch display, however, and your only option for displaying the screen is on its sculptural metal stand. I will say that the LG’s leg orientation is extremely wide, about 60 inches when the legs are situated on either of its farthest edges like they’re supposed to be. I was able to screw them in closer to the middle, but LG insisted this isn’t how they’re supposed to be oriented. (It makes things less balanced, which probably isn’t great if you’re spending $20,000 on a TV and worried about stability.) As with other monster displays, you’d need an extra, extra-wide stand for this TV.
As for LG’s Magic Remote, I can’t say I was the biggest fan at first, as I’m accustomed to using either my Sony wand or dinky little streaming remotes. But I grew to love the pink cursor and my ability to just point to whatever I needed rather than manually scroll past apps or content. It’s a fantastic remote. The one thing I’ll say about the TV itself is that this big boy was heavy. It weighs just under 100 pounds, and I’ll admit that moving it was a harrowing experience that took the full strength of two adults to safely get this display in place.
So, ultimately, who is this for? Well, certainly not me, that’s for sure. Spending the same amount of money that you might spend on a brand new, very nice vehicle isn’t something I can begin to wrap my head around. But again, this is a TV for people who have the kind of money to blow on a stunning 8K TV for which almost no content yet exists. That said? I’ve never been so sad to ship a TV back. It’s got a monstrous price tag, but it’s such a gorgeous TV I can almost—almost!—see why.
- A premium 8K OLED that’ll run you a cool $20,000 for the 77-inch model, or $30,000 for the 88-inch model.
- Gaming on this display—which I’d argue is probably more TV than most people even need—was a dream.
- Even older, low-resolution content looked great on this display, but newer releases like Tenet and Soul looked fantastic.
- Very little 8K content exists yet, but the limited 8K content I was able to see looked so real it was breathtaking.