I don’t recommend 8K TVs, but I just told my dad to buy this one

(Image credit: Samsung)

Anyone who knows me, or who reads my work here on Tom's Guide, knows that I have opinions about TVs. That's sort of my job.

One of the opinions I hold strongly is that 8K TVs, for all their visual splendor and premium features, are not ready for prime time. I frequently tell people not only to avoid buying an 8K set (even the best 8K TVs) but to spend their money on premium 4K TVs instead, because 8K isn't worth the money.

So why did I just recommend an 8K TV to my father?

Let's start by reviewing why I tell people to avoid 8K TVs. This is largely about two factors: content and price. There's just no 8K content out there. Not in movies, not in streaming, not in games. And with 8K models commanding a premium over even the best 4K sets, it's not worth the extra expense. And so, my general advice – which I have no problem sharing with friends and family – is to not even worry about 8K TVs.

So, back to my dad. 

My father has been finishing the basement of my parents home for the last couple of years. The crowning jewel of this rather significant undertaking is a home theater, complete with a pricey sound system, a rack mount of home theater equipment, comfy couches and a recently built snack bar, complete with a mini fridge full of snacks and a SodaStream for fizzy drinks. I even helped revamp his home Wi-Fi setup to better serve his smart TV and streaming needs.

So when it came time to purchase a TV, he was already armed with a laundry list of TV-related advice that I had given him over the months that this project has been going on. 

And once he started shopping, I had plenty of suggestions. I knew the dimensions of the room, so I helped him settle on the perfect screen size, with his choice between the best 75-inch TVs and the best 85-inch TVs (check out our guide to what size TV should you buy if you're having trouble deciding). We've had conversations about HDR formats and smart TV operating systems. We've discussed the nuances of OLED vs QLED TVs.

The 8K TV my dad bought

As he weighed his options and looked at sets from local retailers, he was nearly set on the new Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV, an editor's choice product, a Tom's Guide 2021 Award winner and our current favorite among the best TVs on the market. The 85-inch version is selling for $3,999, and it's a really spectacular TV.

But then, something caught his eye. At his local Costco he spotted a 2020 Samsung Q850T 8K QLED TV, sized a just-right 82 inches, selling for $2,999. 

So my dad called me up.

"Son, I know what you've said about 8K TVs, but what do you think about this one?"

I looked at the price for the Samsung Q850T 8K QLED. I looked at the specs. It has HDMI 2.1, a 120Hz QLED panel, 4.2.2 channel sound and even Samsung's excellent Object Tracking Sound+. It's missing Dolby Vision support, like all Samsung TVs, and it uses direct full array backlighting instead of localized dimming, but on the whole, it's a great looking TV.

I looked at reviews, and my own notes from product briefings with Samsung. And then I surprised myself, as well as my dad. "Go for it."

On sale for about $3,000, this 8K set was a full grand less expensive than the 4K 85-inch Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV that I had initially recommended, and that he had gone to buy. The size difference, a mere 3 inches, is hardly significant, and the feature set will be extremely similar, especially for any of his regular uses. 

But the biggest reason is price. Precisely because 8K TVs have struggled to find an enthusiastic market, this set was on clearance, and steeply discounted. My dad was able to buy it for less than some of our favorite 4K models. He even got an extended 4-year warranty for free because he bought it through Costco.

Alas, Costco now lists the Samsung Q850T 8K QLED as out of stock, but you can get get it at Amazon or Best Buy for $3,799, which is still $200 less than Samsung's 85-inch 4K QLED model for 2021.

Bottom line

Why did I tell my dad to buy an 8K TV? Not because he cares about 8K resolution, he doesn't. He will never own a PS5 or an Xbox Series X, let alone worry about games that run in 8K.

Ask me any day of the week, and I'll still tell you that you don't need an 8K TV. But if you pay attention, and find a great sale, an 8K TV makes for a fantastic 4K TV, and when the price is right it's definitely worth buying.

My dad did not buy an 8K TV. He bought a fantastic TV that happens to support 8K resolution, and he got a smoking deal on it.

Brian Westover

Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.