Since native 8K projection imagers don't exist, 8K is currently accomplished using a lower-resolution imager and pixel shifting to display an 8K equivalent image. Pixel shifting will likely be the only 8K projection option for years, regardless of the type of sensors being used (LCOS, DLP, or LCD). These devices will need to make one pixel, or micromirror, do the work of four when using a native 4K imager.
Let's look at the only available 8K pixel-shifting projectors you can currently purchase. Then, I'll cover some of the upcoming pixel-shifting solutions expected.
JVC e-shift Technology
JVC initially developed e-shift as a solution for delivering 4K images without the need to use a native 4K sensor. JVC's e-shift technology was created before they were able to build a native 4K LCOS imager for use in the JVC DLA-RS3000. JVC is the first company to offer a non-cinema-based projector that can display resolutions higher than 4K. However, JVC's proprietary 8K e-shift feature, which shifts each pixel diagonally 0.5 pixels distance to increase projected resolution, was only available on the higher end NX9/RS3000 which sold for over $25,000.
JVC has just introduced three new 8K pixel shifting projectors featuring JVCs new 0.69" native 4K D-ILA imagers. The most affordable DLA-NZ7/RS2100 starts at only $10,999 SRP and uses the previous generation pixel shifting technology called e-shift.
The other two models, the DLA-NZ9/RS4100 and DLA-NZ8/RS3100, are equipped with the new and improved JVC 8K/e-shiftX D-ILA sensor. This new version of e-shift called e-shiftX moves the imager in four directions (up, down, left, and right) at a speed equivalent to 240 Hz. The ability to offer faster pixel shifting makes it more difficult to visually differentiate a native 8K projector from a pixel-shifted 8K Projector. To learn more about the new JVC 8K e-shiftX projectors check out review of the new NZ9 flagship model.
Texas Instruments XPR Technology
DLP XPR technology is a Texas Instruments pixel-shifting technology that leverages the immense speed of their DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) to process pixels faster than the rate of the video signal. This speed is how DLP can utilize one imaging chip to create multiple colors and pixel locations.
The only difference between how a DLP imager and an LCOS or LCD imager perform pixel shifting is that, unlike LCOS and LCD imagers, a DLP imager uses light from a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) instead of a traditional pixel to display the image that is projected onto the screen. Each technology has its pros and cons but they achieve similar results when it comes to displayed image resolution.
As of the writing of this article, Texas Instruments has not announced a consumer 8K-capable DLP device. In theory, 8K could be achieved by combining their existing 1080p to 4K DMD chips with a newer and faster 8K XPR technology. TI could also be working on a version of XPR based on an unannounced 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) DMD device.
Existing DLP 8K Solutions
Digital Projection INSIGHT LASER 8K DLP
Introduced in 2016 for the professional market, the INSIGHT LASER 8K is intended for commercial use in simulation and visualization projects, museums, and elite entertainment venues. These are applications that require the highest resolution available.
The INSIGHT LASER 8K "Version 2" DLP technology consists of 3 x 1.38" DarkChip™ DMD™ and Digital Projection's ColorMax™ technology, designed to improve the projector's color accuracy and depth black levels.
You are not likely to see this projector in any home theater room except for a small number of enthusiasts with money and real estate to spare.
The insight projector is an actual proof of concept regarding the blending and shifting of multiple DLP imagers to create an 8K displayed image. My point is that technically there's no reason that TI couldn't do something similar with their existing consumer DLP chips.
My guess is that it won't be long before we have some additional announcements about 8K DLP technology from Texas Instruments. I also won't be surprised to see even more 8K projectors announced from other imaging chip manufacturers. As I said at the beginning of this article, 2022 seems to be the year that 8K breaks out in a big way.
Hisense 8K DLP Prototype
This past January, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Hisense showed a prototype 4K pixel-shifting DLP projector capable of displaying 8K on-screen. Hisense is not a DLP chip manufacturer. DLP imagers are primarily manufactured by the folks over at Texas Instruments. Hisense had signage in the display area stating that their prototype featured a DLP imager using XPR technology. Hisense was not clear if the prototype used a new native 4K DMD or a 2K DMD using some new type of XPR technology that allowed it to display an 8K image.
Why is shifting an effective solution for 8K?
The ultimate picture quality goal for any pixel-shifting technology is to achieve results perceptually on par with 1:1 pixel-mapping. We are in the early days of 8K projector development with only a handful of e-shift 8K projectors and no native 8K projectors currently available. But like 4K e-shift projectors, these new 8K e-shift projectors appear to produce a very detailed image with no visible effects of pixel overlapping.
Barring any upcoming technological announcements, pixel-shifting technology appears to be the best path to affordably mass-produced 8K projectors. Shifting has already been implemented successfully in 4K LCOS, DLP, and even LCD projectors. I'm not expecting to see native 8K consumer imaging chips anytime soon, and by soon, I mean in the next few years. I think pixel density is the most significant challenge out of all the potential bumps on the road to native 8K projection. Without addressing this issue, production costs for native sensors and their supporting technologies (lenses, light source, cooling, etc.) will be through the roof. These production costs will likely make producing native 8K projectors a significant challenge to mass-produce.
So that's the status of 8K projection so far in 2022. If there are any changes, updates, or announcements from any manufacturers in this field, we at Projector Reviews will let you know.
I hope you found this article informative and entertaining, and I appreciate you reading it through to the end. This is not the only article around 8K technology that I'll be writing in the coming weeks. You can expect to see multiple articles on topics such as:
The state of 8k content in 2022
Can you see the difference between a 4K and 8K projector?