Consumer Reports Asks—and Answers—Is UHD Worth Buying Now? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 125 Old 10-22-2013, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
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As you can read in Mark Henninger's report about his visit to Consumer Reports' TV-testing facility, CR is nothing if not thorough in its evaluation of televisions. So it was with great interest that I read an article on CR's website asking—and answering—the question, is Ultra HD worth the extra money to buy now?

 

The setup and testing procedure were beyond reproach. A Sony XBR-65X900A was fed native UHD from a Sony FMP-X1 media player, while an Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player fed 1080p to two high-end plasma TVs (Panasonic TC-P65VT60 and Samsung PN60F8500), a mid-level LG 55LA7400 LED-LCD TV, and a Sony XBR-55X900A UHDTV to take a look at upscaled 1080p. All TVs were calibrated to CR's usual test standards, and the Blu-ray signal was passed through a distribution system.

 

Claudio Ciacci, CR's Electronics Testing Program Leader, obtained Blu-ray copies of the titles on the server (Sony's "Mastered in 4K" versions if available) and cued up several of them on the Sony server and Oppo Blu-ray player to the same points. He watched from a couple of feet away and also from a distance of about seven feet, and he paused on the same frame in several cases to closely examine the differences in detail. The results are documented in revealing photos in the article. He also looked at the other UHD material on the Sony server, which had been shot with 4K cameras.

 

The bottom line is that native UHD on a UHDTV does, in fact, look sharper, and a UHDTV with a good upscaler can improve 1080p, at least from close up. But from a normal viewing distance, the difference in perceived detail is minimal. This reinforces my growing conviction that the most important quality improvements of UHD are not in the realm of resolution—at least with smaller screen sizes—but rather in greater dynamic range, wider color gamut, and greater color bit depth, none of which are settled in terms of content creation, delivery, or display.

 

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post #2 of 125 Old 10-22-2013, 06:38 PM
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The only real compelling reason to get a 4k set at this point is if you are a 3d buff. 3d on a PASSIVE 4k set can be lights out great,not so much with the active sets...
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post #3 of 125 Old 10-22-2013, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guapote View Post

The only real compelling reason to get a 4k set at this point is if you are a 3d buff. 3d on a PASSIVE 4k set can be lights out great,not so much with the active sets...

+1

I totally agree. 4K passive 3D is the best reason I can think to get a 4K set. I had a plasma with active 3D and it was dim with lots of ghosting. My friends 1080 LCD with passive 3D has great 3D except for the res loss. 3D like this but without the loss of resolution would b fantastic.
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post #4 of 125 Old 10-22-2013, 07:49 PM
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I think just like 1080p isn't really much better than 720p on a 32 inch set from across the room, we won't really see UHD shine until 84 + is the norm screen size.
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post #5 of 125 Old 10-22-2013, 08:06 PM
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Don't see the point till I go to a projector on a massive screen

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post #6 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 04:38 AM
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I have not been impressed with the 4K sets I have seen with the exception of the massive 84" Sammy which costs a cool $40k.The move to 4K is not like from SD to HD, not even close. I will wait till the standards have been fleshed out , added to the displays and there is a 4K media player, mayer in 2015. Then I will wait for an affordable OLED before I move into the 4K world. Problem is, knowing the industry, 8k will then be on the horizon. They never seem to learn from past mistakes.
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post #7 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 05:39 AM
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You have to love this kind of honesty and straightforwardness. I expected nothing less from CR.

"What we found may surprise you."

Well, probably won't surprise any unbiased, thinking person, anyway.

"But there's a caveat: These differences were not present on all movies, and were visible only when viewed less than 2 feet from the screen, and even then only on certain scenes. When I moved back about 7 feet from the displays, differences between 4K and HD content were not discernable to any meaningful degree."

This is code for: "No, there's not really a discernable difference in the slightest at any reasonable distance where one would actually use the television."

But the thought of these poor guys pausing media on a half dozen screens diving in- back and forth- and saying to themselves "wait I see something...no, I don't it's really the same as the 1080" are nothing if not simultaneously sad and hilarious.

Now, where's the next 5 articles essentially conjured up by those with a vested interest in the propagation of this "technology" that are virtual textual glasses of UHD kool-aid?


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post #8 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 06:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Devedander View Post

I think just like 1080p isn't really much better than 720p on a 32 inch set from across the room, we won't really see UHD shine until 84 + is the norm screen size.

That's it right there. The biggest UHDTV that CR tested was 65".

Note that upscaling 1080p showed significant improvement, particularly with diagonal lines. But you gotta be close enough to see it and/or have a really big panel. For some time now I've thought that the quality of upscaling would be an important consideration. When *big* UHDTVs become price competitive with present HDTVs, what then? How many people will replace (again!) their Blu-Rays with 4K, assuming there's a physical media for it? The Sony media player is strictly proprietary and a dead-end, IMO.

Passive on a UHDTV will be nice, but an insufficient reason, for me. (No matter how fond I am of passive 3D on my 65" 1080p LG). I probably have more 3D Blu-Rays than most, but obviously the vast bulk of viewing is in 2D.
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post #9 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 06:16 AM
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I do not think it's definitely better. Its display also changes nothing better. Everything is arranged so ridiculous.

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post #10 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 07:14 AM
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I have a 65" inch 1080p and sit w/in 8 feet, so after many visits to my local BB to see the Samsung and Sony 65" versions I'd be happy with them for their debatable resolution upgrade at my distance and possible color upgrade depending on how things shake out. I use HTPC and enjoy looking at my photo albums, etc., and higher res would be great, and it would be nice to see some improvement on HD movies via upscaling.

That said I do not intend to make a purchase until HDMI 2.0 is fully fleshed out and there are inputs all the way down the food chain such as input devices and AVRs, not only for the full 4K at 60hz content but also as I understand it 4K content will use a newer HDCP protocol that is only supported in HDMI 2.0 (I read this hearsay on the avsforums elsewhere, so don't quote me on it but it sounds logical). So given all that, I delay my purchase until all that shakes out and I know what I'm buying into.
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post #11 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 08:01 AM
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4K/UHD is going to have a lot going against it, even in projected screen sizes, because of the limitations of the HDMI 2.0 standard. Read Joe Kane's article in the current Widescreen Review for more specifics. Basically HDMI 2.0 didn't even match DisplayPort 1.2. We should have gotten a bigger increment. A part of me wonders if this is so they have more excuse to push 8k in a few years.

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post #12 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 08:14 AM
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So I ask, is this chart valid and real world?
For living room where mostly 8' or further why waste the money on 4k is beyond my thought process
resolution_chart.png

For my basement HT I will buy a 4k/UHD/whatever marketing name it is called in 2015-ish, but that's a 130" diag screen.
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post #13 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post

So I ask, is this chart valid and real world?
For living room where mostly 8' or further why waste the money on 4k is beyond my thought process
resolution_chart.png

For my basement HT I will buy a 4k/UHD/whatever marketing name it is called in 2015-ish, but that's a 130" diag screen.

Going by the graph, and the fact that I cant tell by your picture, will you be getting full or marginal benefit from going to 4K?

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post #14 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimeran View Post


Going by the graph, and the fact that I cant tell by your picture, will you be getting full or marginal benefit from going to 4K?

My basement HT screen size currently is 102" 16x9, and 130" 2.35:1, my 1st row seats eye point is 10'6", so I'm close to full benefit on scope movies, that's why it makes sense for me.
For avg joe in their living room, even at 70" screen unless you sit closer than 8', which most don't, it's a waste of $$$.
fwiw, my HT layout as reference
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post #15 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 09:38 AM
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So the real question is not "Is UHD Worth Buying Now?", but rather "Is UHD Worth Buying when you sit further than 8 feet away or screen size less than 70 inches?"

eek.gif
What, stop the marketing hype that more pixels is better/needed?

The cash cow from Analog to Digital - and all the 480p to 720p to 1080p transitions fueled the video industry 2000 thru 2013
but really..... to 4k? 8k?

Why bother going from 1080p to 4k/8k when for 95% of consumers they don't need it, their home/living area is not suited for it.

Sure, the industry mindset is "Can't stop, that is what driving sustainability and growth in the video industry, 3D non-withstanding."

I basically concur with Scott's statement:
Quote:
This reinforces my growing conviction that the most important quality improvements of UHD are not in the realm of resolution—at least with smaller screen sizes—but rather in greater dynamic range, wider color gamut, and greater color bit depth, none of which are settled in terms of content creation, delivery, or display.
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post #16 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

This reinforces my growing conviction that the most important quality improvements of UHD are not in the realm of resolution—at least with smaller screen sizes—but rather in greater dynamic range...

Dynamic range of what?

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post #17 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 11:12 AM
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Dynamic range of what?

When it comes to displays, dynamic range means the ability to display more highlight and shadow detail. Bit depth is directly tied to dynamic range, both in audio and in video. Higher bit depth equals a lower noise floor, which translates to more headroom before clipping occurs.


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post #18 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 11:16 AM
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As CR points out, eventually the cost of the panels will reach near-parity with 1080p sets, and it will be easy to decide which way to go on your next upgrade.

The real question is about media distribution. Will 4k in packaged media ever even exist, or is this always going to be a downloaded/streamed format? I think there may be significant overlap between the market for high-end displays and the market for physical media.

Broadcast standards are unlikely to change anytime soon, if ever within the reasonable future. So it's what you can download and store, and what you can buy... and one wonders if this is the factor that will ultimately determine the fate of UHD.

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post #19 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by rdclark 

The real question is about media distribution. Will 4k in packaged media ever even exist, or is this always going to be a downloaded/streamed format?
.

We will see 4K blu-ray in the near future smile.gif


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post #20 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 12:52 PM
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4k will be commonplace in 10 years
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post #21 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post

So I ask, is this chart valid and real world?
For living room where mostly 8' or further why waste the money on 4k is beyond my thought process
For my basement HT I will buy a 4k/UHD/whatever marketing name it is called in 2015-ish, but that's a 130" diag screen.

Nope the chart is not real world. Some people who debated the benefits of 720P vs 1080P used a very similar chart to argue about sitting distances/screen sizes versus video resolution a few years ago. With UDTV you can observe differences on a very small display from 10 feet away, just like you noticed PQ improvement with a 32" 1080P display from ten feet compared to a 720P display.

Probably smallest UDTV will about 39" when UDTV's become more main stream.
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post #22 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 01:16 PM
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i haven't seen UHD content yet, but i can honestly say until UHD content is available and affordable i'm not interested. the extra pixel count doesn't make up for the type of displays currently supporting UHD. that is to say, when i compared the sony 55" UHD in store to say an ST60, the ST60 was much better. i'll take quality pixels over quantity. but when UHD meets plasma(likely never) a good full array dimming backlight, or oled, then i could be interested again if the other benefits of UHD can be seen(color depth, etc)

1080p imo, is a 'good enough' resolution for my comfort. that is, in order to require more resolution, i need to sit closer, and i'm already sitting closer than i sometimes find comfortable (120" screen at about 13'). not to say UHD is a waste, i'm just saying i won't be paying a premium for it

as for the chart, it's a useful GUIDE, but nothing more. note that it says FULL benefit. to me that means ppl are likely to see some benefit are greater differences. not to mention some ppl see better than others. i would also be interested if UHD had a large effect on moving resolution, as that's something most displays still struggle with. 1080p is great imo, but if it drops down to half that when the camera pans, that's not good at all and very noticeable. in that sense, maybe some overkill will be a good thing. i mean i don't need a dedicated graphics card and 4core processor and 8gb's of ram to play 1080p videos on my HTPC, but having that overkill gives me more reliability. even when some other program is slowing down the machine it still works.
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post #23 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 01:22 PM
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Sorry for the ignorance, but would 4k support 1080p picture in picture?

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post #24 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnAV View Post

Nope the chart is not real world. Some people who debated the benefits of 720P vs 1080P used a very similar chart to argue about sitting distances/screen sizes versus video resolution a few years ago. With UDTV you can observe differences on a very small display from 10 feet away, just like you noticed PQ improvement with a 32" 1080P display from ten feet compared to a 720P display.

Probably smallest UDTV will about 39" when UDTV's become more main stream.

I'd love to see some scientific double-blind studies on where people can actually observe a difference (I'd also love it to be done with HD audio). Me, I can turn my BD player from 1080p to 720p and I can see the difference, but just barely. And that's on a 73" TV at 10 feet.
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post #25 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post

I'd love to see some scientific double-blind studies on where people can actually observe a difference (I'd also love it to be done with HD audio). Me, I can turn my BD player from 1080p to 720p and I can see the difference, but just barely. And that's on a 73" TV at 10 feet.
Based on what I've seen, it comes down to this...

If you were to perform such a study using test patterns that are designed to maximize the distance at which the difference is discernable, 4K's benefits would be quite clear, even at normal viewing distances.

If you perform the same test with a bunch of movies, the difference will simply not be visible.

No matter what content was viewed, differences in visual acuity will complicate the results. Some people will see a difference where others do not.

The theoretical benefit of 4K resolution is greater than the practical benefits.

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post #26 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

As you can read in Mark Henninger's report about his visit to Consumer Reports' TV-testing facility, CR is nothing if not thorough in its evaluation of televisions. So it was with great interest that I read an article on CR's website asking—and answering—the question, is Ultra HD worth the extra money to buy now?

The setup and testing procedure were beyond reproach. A Sony XBR-65X900A was fed native UHD from a Sony FMP-X1 media player, while an Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player fed 1080p to two high-end plasma TVs (Panasonic TC-P65VT60 and Samsung PN60F8500), a mid-level LG 55LA7400 LED-LCD TV, and a Sony XBR-55X900A UHDTV to take a look at upscaled 1080p. All TVs were calibrated to CR's usual test standards, and the Blu-ray signal was passed through a distribution system.

Claudio Ciacci, CR's Electronics Testing Program Leader, obtained Blu-ray copies of the titles on the server (Sony's "Mastered in 4K" versions if available) and cued up several of them on the Sony server and Oppo Blu-ray player to the same points. He watched from a couple of feet away and also from a distance of about seven feet, and he paused on the same frame in several cases to closely examine the differences in detail. The results are documented in revealing photos in the article. He also looked at the other UHD material on the Sony server, which had been shot with 4K cameras.

The bottom line is that native UHD on a UHDTV does, in fact, look sharper, and a UHDTV with a good upscaler can improve 1080p, at least from close up. But from a normal viewing distance, the difference in perceived detail is minimal. This reinforces my growing conviction that the most important quality improvements of UHD are not in the realm of resolution—at least with smaller screen sizes—but rather in greater dynamic range, wider color gamut, and greater color bit depth, none of which are settled in terms of content creation, delivery, or display.

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Thanks for posting this. I agree with your last paragraph especially as it regards gamut and bit depth. IMO, if panel makers and sellers want to increase the speed of adoption beyond the normal replacement cycle they have to have more than just a claim of better resolution since the average J6P and family buy sets that are too small or set too far away to really see a significant difference. Using something like 10 bit Rec. 2020 for the upcoming 4k blu-ray which would allow sellers to do side by side comparisons to 2k sets showing original 1080p blu-ray. If the improvement is as much as I hope, that should speed up sales.

Finally, one thing I rarely see mentioned in 4k threads is that 4k sets allow someone to increase screen size substantially without a reduction in "apparent" resolution. Two years ago, I went from a 65" Panny to a 70" Sharp Elite. The Elite's picture looked soft compared to the Panny. I equate softness with reduced resolution. I attribute the softness to the increased pixel size. Seating distance didn't change. Adjusting the sharpness settings in a Lumagen Radiance and the later addition of a Darbee fixed the softness issue.
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post #27 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 02:03 PM
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4k will be commonplace in 10 years[/quo

By then it will be 8k.
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post #28 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 02:11 PM
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We will see 4K blu-ray in the near future smile.gif

Were have you been lately? Antartica? The North Pole?

I know the format will exist. That doesn't make it automatic that the studios will support in in a meaningful, ongoing way. There was some doubt about Blu-ray itself, after all -- and still is, in some quarters.

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post #29 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 02:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post

I'd love to see some scientific double-blind studies on where people can actually observe a difference (I'd also love it to be done with HD audio). Me, I can turn my BD player from 1080p to 720p and I can see the difference, but just barely. And that's on a 73" TV at 10 feet.
There have already been some revealing double blind tests concerning lossless/uncompressed audio versus high-bitrate lossy compression, and the conclusion was no perceptible difference could be discerned. I don't have the link available, as it's been a while, but it was conducted during the era of the HD format wars (HD DVD vs Blu-ray).
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post #30 of 125 Old 10-23-2013, 03:07 PM
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Not sure I agree with all of the comments about improvements having to be much better to make a big difference. 1080p was not that much better than 720p to most people who viewed it. And 99% couldn't even tell the difference between 1080i versus 1080p in blind or non blind tests. The big switching group was from 480i/p to 1080i/p. And we are not going to have that kind of phenomenon except in the 3D domain...as several people suggested. I agree that passive 3D will be the major feature of 4K adoption. And like all past tech launches...everyone will magically see a "Huge" difference (with passive 3D) when prices drop to $500-$3500 on sets ranging from 42"-65". That's just the way many folks are wired. They perceive the biggest differences in things they can afford.

OP question?
Was Darbee processing engaged on the Oppo during the tests? And did it influence the results?
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