The 8K Association (8KA) announced its new certification program Thursday enabling manufacturers of qualifying 8K Ultra HDTVs to carry the body’s new 8K Certification logo after being verified by an “independent certification program manager.”

According to the 8K Association’s announcement, qualifying 8K TVs must meet the “exacting requirements outlined by the 8K Association.”

“8K Association Certified TVs feature four times as many pixels as standard 4K TVs for impactfully realistic clarity and deliver exceptional contrast and color for striking high dynamic range performance,” an 8K Association’s statement reads.

The 8KA certification will be running in parallel with other 8K logo programs including the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA’s) own logo program verifying 8K Ultra HDTV products that conform to its “8K definitions.”

The 8K Association is providing its certification program to “member companies” who after passing certification will be able to “promote 8K TVs under the 8K Association Certified banner after each TV model’s performance criteria is validated by an independent Certification Program Manager.”

The statement also suggests that some degree of “self certification” is permissible. We contacted 8KA president Chris Chinnock for clarification and to find out if the 8KA’s definition criteria is in agreement with the CTA’s separate 8K Ultra HD definition, which mentions the use of Contrast Modulation (CM) as a necessary component in measuring resolution.

He responded: “We have not revealed the full spec details or the test criteria yet as these remain only for member use…  There is a specific test method for validating resolution but it does not use CM as this requires a definition of the percentage to determine the resolution and there is no clear answer for what values of CM are appropriate for flat panel display with today’s luminance values, use cases and viewing distances (use case dependent).”

Regarding acceptance of self-certification in the 8KA certification process, Chinnock said: “We have a review process that checks the paperwork and test data to be sure the procedures were done accurately.  This is the job of the certification program manager who is not an 8KA or company employee, but an independent expert (or organization).  In addition, we will have a market compliance aspect too.  That means we will buy TVs that have been certified and run the certification tests to validate that the actual shipping product is the same as the one that was self-certified.”

Chinnock said the 8KA does not impose any licensing fee to carry the logo, “but you must be a Principal or Associate level 8KA member in good standing to use the logo.”

The announcement of the 8KA certification program mentioned that the criteria includes minimum performance levels for peak white and black luminance. Chinnock told us: “Peak luminance is 600 nits but we expect most TVs will exceed this.  Black level remains confidential.”

Chinnock said further that he wasn’t fully aware of the CTA’s 8K Ultra HD definition criteria, but “my understanding from talking to others in 8KA is that we are in quite close agreement other than resolution, but the 8KA spec is a bit more comprehensive .”

Asked if the 8KA definitions include support for the Ultra HD Association’s new Filmmaker Mode, which provides simple automatic or one-button activation of settings to place a television into the optimal levels for movie watching, as established by leading Hollywood producers and directors, Chinnock said: “Not Filmmaker Mode, but the TVs must be tested in a reference mode – i.e. cinema or movie mode.  Not all brands will implement the film maker mode.”

We also reached out to Samsung, the CTA, LG and Sony for comment. The CTA and LG chose not to comment, and the others did not reply as this was posted.

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The 8KA was established under the direction of Chinnock, who is principal of Insight Media. Among its earliest members and advocates was Samsung Electronics — the first TV and panel maker to introduce 8K TVs in the United States. In addition, other leading members include: Astro Design, ATEME, AU Optronics, Chili, Hisense, Innolux, Intel, Louis Pictures, Novatek, Panasonic, Samsung Display, TCL, Tencent, UltraFlix, V-Silicon and Xperi. 

Noticeably absent from the list are LG Electronics and Sony, which are the two primary sellers of 4K OLED TVs in the United States (and elsewhere). LG introduced its first 8K OLED TV late in 2019 and has promoted its products as “Real 8K,” using Contrast Modulation resolution criteria as one of the characteristics of an 8K display. This was later implemented in the CTA’s 8K Ultra HD definition and logo certification program.

The 8KA says its membership has now expanded to include “22 leading companies at the forefront of deploying 8K content and technology. Its membership constitutes global leadership in consumer electronics, display manufacturing, ingredient technology providers as well as content and distribution.”

The 8KA’s activities are coordinated through five active work groups, including: Technology, Marketing, Certification, Content & Distribution, and Legal.

“The 8K Association now counts five of the world’s leading panel manufacturers as members. According to the 8K Association’s estimates, these five leading suppliers represent over 70% of the global TV panel manufacturing capacity in 2019. With such strong support for 8K resolution technology among the majority of panel-makers, the momentum behind 8K display growth will continue to increase in the year ahead, ensuring that more consumers will be able to enjoy the performance benefits of an 8K TV in their home in 2020,” according to the 8K Certification program announcement.

Asked if any of the 8KA’s members were producing OLED panels for televisions, Chinnock said: “Yes, but only for small OLED panels, I believe.”

Going forward, the 8K Association said it will be ramping up “education and industry cooperation activities.” These include: promotion and certification of 8K TVs with the 8K Association Certified program backed by robust compliance validation; expanded promotional activity for the 8K industry to create cutting edge demos showcasing the maturing nature of 8K products, production workflows, delivery options and display devices; new initiatives to reach consumers to promote the 8K ecosystem wherever people are engaging around high-quality video content; facilitate the adoption of higher efficiency 8K streaming technologies.”

Further, “the 8KA expects adoption of 8K in content creation, distribution and home penetration to follow a similar growth pattern as the rapidly successful adoption of 4K over the past several years, with 8K displays leading the way. Companies evaluating the impact of 8K or actively engaged in some aspect of the 8K ecosystem are encouraged to consider joining the 8K Association and helping to create the future.”

In advance of CES 2020, the CTA recently issued a few points about the launch on Jan. 1, 2020 of its own 8K Ultra HD definition and logo program:

• Beginning January 1, 2020, manufacturers who signed the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) 8K Ultra High-Definition (UHD) logo license agreement may begin using the logo on televisions that meet CTA’s 8K UHD definition.
• Each company that licenses the 8K UHD logo evaluates its own products against the definition and decides which products are compliant for logo use. CTA does not certify televisions for logo use.

Further information on the CTA’s 8K Ultra HD definition and logo program is available here.

By Greg Tarr

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