Japan starts 8K TV broadcasts in time for Rio Olympics

The country will have the world's highest resolution Olympics coverage

Japan began the world's first regular 8K television broadcasts on Monday, five days ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games.

8K refers to broadcasts with a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. That's 16 times the resolution of today's full high-definition (FHD) broadcasts and four times that of the 4K standard, which is only just emerging in many other countries. (See chart below)

The format used by NHK, which it calls "Super Hi-Vision," also features 22.2-channel surround sound.

8k uhd 4k shd fhd and sd Wikipedia

Video image resolutions

Public broadcaster NHK launched a satellite channel that will broadcast a mix of 8K and 4K content as it prepares to launch full-scale 8K transmissions in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The channel will be on air daily from 10am until 5pm, with extended hours during the Rio Olympics.

A look at Monday's schedule reveals programming focused on the arts, sports, music and documentaries -- not dissimilar to early HDTV channels. Highlights of this year's Rio Carnival, the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, and Japan's Aomori Nebuta festival were among the 8K programs. A J-pop concert and program on Japanese botanical drawings was also broadcast.

Tim Hornyak

A float from Japan's Nebuta festival is displayed in 8K at an open house May 26, 2015, at the NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories in Tokyo.

Japan's early lead in 8K broadcasting is thanks to NHK and its Science and Technology Research Laboratories in Tokyo.

The broadcaster was instrumental in the development of high-definition TV, starting broadcasts in an early analog format in 1989, and has been working on 8K for two decades. It first demonstrated 8K in 2002, when many homes hadn't even transitioned to high-def TV.

The engineering challenges associated with 8K are significant. Cameras, mixers, recording equipment, monitors and other studio gear must be built to handle uncompressed 8K video in real time, at data rates that can easily reach 100Gbps.

Compression equipment then needs to take that signal and encode it into more efficient streams for broadcast, again in real time. The resulting satellite signal is several tens of megabits per second, and consumer receivers and televisions are required to decode it.

Tim Hornyak

At an open house at NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories in Tokyo on May 26, 2015.

For now, consumer reception equipment isn't available, so NHK has set up several public viewing areas at broadcasting stations across the country.

It hopes the test broadcasts will be replaced by regular directy-to-home transmissions in 2018, in time for full coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags tvtelevision

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?