...the UHD has been kind of [email protected]
$$&#. There's no HDR or Dolby Vision color accompanying the 2160p picture and there's not even lossless audio.
That's right, the UHD doesn't even retain the original's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track. It's been replaced with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.
Textural qualities then, of course, should be the winners here. But they're not. The image looks fantastic, but comparing it to the Blu-ray, there's very little, if any at all, perceptible increase in detail.
A-B comparing various scenes and stills, including a number of texturally rich shots such as one outside the school at the 13:58 mark of episode one where pavement, the brick façade, and the school's sign, reveal trace improvements in sharpness and crispness, at best, but even conducting a blind test with an assistant (a.k.a. Mrs. Liebman) switching inputs or leaving them alone, it was near impossible to tell with certainty which version was which. This is also making sure any upscaling on the player sending out the Blu-ray signal was turned off (it was). That's also double-checking the proper discs were in the proper players (they were) and even swapping out the BDs that ship with the UHD for the BDs that shipped in the original release, and they're spot-on identical to the point that the player resumed playback on the original disc to where it left off with the ones packed in with the UHD. So, almost no discernible difference here. At all. If one wants to really get into cases, one can find extremely marginal increases in sharpness, such as the cook's watch face when he's sitting across from Eleven at the 26:55 mark in episode one. There's an incredibly slight increase in sharpness on the individual hour ticks. But broad skin and clothing and environment textures? Forget about finding any boost of any significance. Settings triple checked, discs double checked and swapped out where possible and...nothing.
Here's another space for whittling down a numerical score partly for the disc's lack of even carrying over the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track from the other release, never mind boost it to Dolby Atmos or DTS:X or, heck, even 7.1 lossless. A quick compare [of the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track] yields, like the video quality, little difference despite a technical "downgrade." If anything the 5.1 track might actually be a mite more intense.
The blaring alarms to begin the show inside the compound play with the same fluid, airy, surround intensive saturation. Both offer strong low end support depth, though the lossy 5.1 might be a little more punchy and hard-hitting, believe it or not, though again it's possible that can be attributed to player output variance, encode discrepancies, etc. Dialogue sounds indistinguishable between the two.