4K Upscaling - What to expect? And why no more 1080p TVs?? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-23-2019, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
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4K Upscaling - What to expect? And why no more 1080p TVs??

Hi all,

I believe this thread could be very helpful to many of us, like myself, that have zero personal experience with 4K content outside of the demo-reels that they play at the local retailer. I came into this situation as I was shopping for a new TV to replace my 8 year old 720p plasma display. Since I don't have any real 4K content, I didn't really care about 4K capability. Sure, I could see that the picture on my 50" 720p set wasn't "super-fine" from a distance of ~9 feet, but I figured 1080p would be more than adequate. However, there are no longer any large-sized 1080p TV's for sale, at least from what I saw. I was really only shopping for size, but 4K was forced upon me. That's sort-of okay though, because it turns out that 4K is absolutely beneficial at the viewing distance I wanted, at least when watching real 4K content. Still, what about the rest of the content, the other 99%?

Fast forward past months of research, price watching, figuring it all out and learning about the new techs, and I've finally pulled the trigger on what is supposed to be one of the best upscaling sets available - a Sony Z9F. A large part of my choice was based upon the fact that I don't watch any 4K content and so I wanted a set that could make my "basic" PS4, OTA sports, and 1080p streaming services look good. However, once the TV was set up, well, I was left a bit disappointed.

It's not like the picture is poor, but it's certainly not as defined and sharp as I had hoped. As I'm learning to "live with it," I'm coming to the conclusion that this is just how it is. Granted, I greatly increased the size of my screen, and the image remained roughly as sharp. Had I increased the screen size but stayed with a 720p TV, I'm sure the image would look awful. That said, though, I feel that the image isn't really any better than a 1080p TV would deliver, at least when viewing 1080p content, so I'm annoyed that 1080p options are no longer available for those of us that only watch 1080p (or lower resolution) content. It kind of irks me to pay so much for something I don't really use, but what choice do I have? Stay with a 50" screen? hehe no thanks

One point I find interesting is that when viewing the various Rtings reviews, I would look at the photos they have of the boats in the upscaling section of the review, and honestly, regardless of what TV's review I was looking at, all of the images basically looked the same, even down to 1080i and below. I guess that's because I was looking at the images on a computer screen, where they are compressed. Perhaps this area of the review is only beneficial for those using a TV sized monitor so that the detail, or lack there-of, is noticeable? Because of those images, I didn't understand what the fuss was all about. However, I decided to "trust the pros" and go with a Sony. Perhaps the high-end offerings from Samsung and LG upscale just as well... I honestly wouldn't know.

The real reason for this thread, assuming it lives on, is for it to be a place where new-to-4K people, such as myself, can come express their thoughts or ask questions regarding the various TV's upscaling capabilities, but also to get real with what to expect. For many of us, we really have no idea what to expect, which is one reason why the subject is brought up over and over in the various "owner's threads."

Honestly, after seeing how (poorly) my Sony X1 Ultimate equipped TV up-scales 1080p images, I wonder if Sony's actually do up-scale as well as they're touted to. If so, then wow, I would sincerely hate to be viewing 1080p content on any of the "lesser" TV's. I get it.. it's working with non-4K content, so it's doing its best. But honestly, I wonder how much different the image would look if it was simply presented in 1080p but "blown up 4x" or whatever.

So I'll start by providing a data-point that may help others in their decision. I have a top-of-the-line Sony model with Sony's highest-end processor, the X1 Ultimate, and there is a huge picture quality difference between an upscaled 1080p image/video and the same image/video presented in native 4K. I tested this by simply watching a YouTube 4K video on my PS4. Of course the PS4 is a 1080p device, so the YouTube video was only streamed and presented in 1080p to the TV, which then upscales it to 4K and voila. I then used the TV's built-in YouTube app to view the same video in 4K, and boy is there a difference!

On one hand, the difference makes me appreciate how bad-ass the TV really is, but on the other hand, I'm left a bit annoyed that that stunning PQ, which I paid a lot for, is something I'll rarely get to enjoy. Basically, I just really wish the TV manufacturers wouldn't have pushed this 4K thing onto us before the content was more readily available. Even though I plan on upgrading to a PS4 Pro for 4K gaming, and will get a UHD disc player so that I can watch the occasional UHD Blu-ray, I'll wish I could have bought a 1080p TV every time I watch sports, regular TV, etc. It also wouldn't have required me to upgrade the rest of my equipment!

Apologies if this turned into a bit of a rant. So, how well does your TV upscale, and what did you expect? With my Sony Z9D, my biggest complaint is that all non-4K content just seems "soft." My 720p plasma, while more pixelated, still looked sharper to my eyes. I think this softness is a result of Sony's algorithm. I am guessing that Sony prefers a smooth image to a pixelated one, sharpness be damned.

Cheers
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-23-2019, 03:04 PM
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It isn't (overly) smoothed on the Sony, it is often sharpened on other models. You also went from a 50 to a 65" set for another factor and you can also play around with the Reality Creation setting (is it on? Could be it's smoothened when it's not on).
But yes native 4K material will and should look better than upscaled 1080 material. A French review site usually includes some images of a similar test to what you're doing and the Sony's usually look the closest to the native material on the right (2019 Samsungs also looking quite alright but a recent video on Youtube with the Q90R vs X950G by HDTV Test felt the Samsung did best on lower res material and Sony was still best for 1080 material):
(edit: reading some more of the other brands' reviews on the French site it seems sharpening is much less these days and in Movie mode it does look soft and maybe smoothened a little)


This is from the 65Z9F review (ZF9 in Europe):




Edit: I think they mixed up the images in the review and this should be the one for upscaling in Movie mode (the one above should be for Standard mode which I assume has Reality Creation on and maybe a few other things)

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post #3 of 24 Old 05-23-2019, 04:29 PM
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Great post! I curious about this as well.

I'm slowly adding to my 4K collection.Most of our viewing is OTA(mostly 720,1080i some 480(not much),streaming and shinny discs.All of them look great on my 60" Panasonic Plasma.


I would like something larger that doesn't run as hot,but don't want to give up the great picture while watching less than 4K content.
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post #4 of 24 Old 05-23-2019, 04:56 PM
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Great post! I curious about this as well.

I'm slowly adding to my 4K collection.Most of our viewing is OTA(mostly 720,1080i some 480(not much),streaming and shinny discs.All of them look great on my 60" Panasonic Plasma.


I would like something larger that doesn't run as hot,but don't want to give up the great picture while watching less than 4K content.
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post #5 of 24 Old 05-23-2019, 05:15 PM
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I wish I could purchase a current 1080p HD display also to replace my 9 year old Sony LCD. I don't see much, if any, UHD/HDR in my future. I've already upgraded all my favorite movies to BD and won't repeat the process again to go to UHD. And all of the rest of my viewing is from satellite which is 1080i/720p and I don't see much of a chance I will ever have access to 4k material. But with 8k or 16k on the horizon maybe I should just grab a 4k display while they are still available. Or just hang onto my 9 y.o. Sony since it still has a very good picture, at least to my eyes.
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post #6 of 24 Old 05-23-2019, 06:28 PM
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my 11 year old, i think, panasonic 60st30 looks much better using direct tv, blu rays, dvds and streaming than my 4k tvs upscaling
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post #7 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 06:04 AM
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There shouldn't be hardly any difference between a blu-ray on a 1080p TV and a blu-ray on a UHD TV. The picture is enlarged 4 times that is all. On large screens like projector stuff blu-ray should look better on a UHD TV.


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post #8 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 06:09 AM
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Yes, 4k is an integer upscale from 1080p. It should have literally zero image quality penalty as compared to viewing on a 1080p TV. And there shouldn't be much lag added since 1080p is a progressive signal and doesn't need to be deinterlaced. I do not have a Sony TV to comment on that though. If 1080p looks bad on ANY 4k set, the manufacturer of that TV has screwed up badly.
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 08:42 AM
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It really seems like the display/hardware market should optimize products around the content that people actually use, rather than just being tech for tech's sake. I don't foresee using much 4K content for the same reasons that people have already mentioned--my content mostly comes from satellite TV (1080i/720p), my library of 1080p blu-ray and standard DVDs, and streaming. And for streaming, my internet connection/wifi doesn't handle 4K very well, so I'd rather stream at 1080p.

Although it seems like upscaling 1080p to 4K should be a relatively simple integer upscale with no degradation, I have the understanding that very few consumer TVs actually handle upscaling that way.
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mithras1 View Post
It isn't (overly) smoothed on the Sony, it is often sharpened on other models. .... A French review site usually includes some images of a similar test to what you're doing and the Sony's usually look the closest to the native material on the right (2019 Samsungs also looking quite alright but a recent video on Youtube with the Q90R vs X950G by HDTV Test felt the Samsung did best on lower res material and Sony was still best for 1080 material)
Interesting. Personally, I feel that I see a bigger difference in 4K vs. 1080p content on my Z9F than is evident in those photos. That said, it's hard to really say because I'm looking at those images on a crappy work monitor versus my beautiful TV from my couch lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markg35 View Post
Great post! I curious about this as well.

I'm slowly adding to my 4K collection.Most of our viewing is OTA(mostly 720,1080i some 480(not much),streaming and shinny discs.All of them look great on my 60" Panasonic Plasma.

I would like something larger that doesn't run as hot,but don't want to give up the great picture while watching less than 4K content.
My advice is to wait out for as long as you can. That said, if 4K TV's start going away, I'd buy before it's too late! I really wish I had been watching the market when that happened to 1080p TV's... I would have bought the biggest one I could find (and probably at a great discount)! I think you have a few years before that happens to 4K, though.

I had no serious interest in a larger TV as I was being a responsible good-boy for as long as I could lol. But one of my buddies joined the "65 inch club" and I guess I caught the bug. Once I started looking at bigger TV's, I apparently just couldn't stop myself haha. If I had a 60" though I would have been perfectly happy without upgrading. In fact, I seriously looked into finding a used 60" Plasma to replace my 51", but it just didn't seem like a good idea given their rocky history. I can say though, happily, that my plasma is a tank and it is still going strong (and bright, with zero burn in) in another room now.

It really does depend, though. Everyone has their own requirements. The HDR capabilities (brightness) of the LCD is pretty sweet. But again, it's only nice if you're watching 4K content.

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Originally Posted by Picasso Moon View Post
I wish I could purchase a current 1080p HD display also to replace my 9 year old Sony LCD. I don't see much, if any, UHD/HDR in my future. I've already upgraded all my favorite movies to BD and won't repeat the process again to go to UHD. And all of the rest of my viewing is from satellite which is 1080i/720p and I don't see much of a chance I will ever have access to 4k material. But with 8k or 16k on the horizon maybe I should just grab a 4k display while they are still available. Or just hang onto my 9 y.o. Sony since it still has a very good picture, at least to my eyes.
I'm totally with you re. the whole upgrade to Blu-ray. It's certainly made me feel old, and has changed my perspective on my hobby of electronics and media, to see a "high-tech" technology come and go before I can even manage to fully adopt it. Granted, it happened while I was in college (which shows how quickly it happened), so I didn't have the funds to jump ship quickly.. but dang.. I feel like I've JUST started buying Blu-rays to use them with my PS4 and 720p TV. Never did I think I wouldn't even have the opportunity to own a 1080p TV and see what the difference really was, lol.

I think that, eventually, 4K is of course inevitable and we will all champion it. However, I just think that the rest of the tech (other than TV's) isn't quite there yet, so it's annoying that all of the displays are 4K compatible and with a price tag to match. Granted, TV's in general are getting cheaper. But surely they would be even less expensive, and have less panel uniformity issues, if they were still 1080p resolution. The dang TV manufacturers need to slow it down lol! 8K TV's are already here, and I won't be surprised if the same thing happens again where we'll no longer be able to buy 4K TV's when 4K (or lower res.) content is still all that's readily available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8mile13 View Post
There shouldn't be hardly any difference between a blu-ray on a 1080p TV and a blu-ray on a UHD TV. The picture is enlarged 4 times that is all. On large screens like projector stuff blu-ray should look better on a UHD TV.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonoMan View Post
Yes, 4k is an integer upscale from 1080p. It should have literally zero image quality penalty as compared to viewing on a 1080p TV. And there shouldn't be much lag added since 1080p is a progressive signal and doesn't need to be deinterlaced. I do not have a Sony TV to comment on that though. If 1080p looks bad on ANY 4k set, the manufacturer of that TV has screwed up badly.
I'm certainly no expert, but I do not think this is the case. I think the manufacturers take the image, quadruple it, but then also apply some processing to it in order to smooth or sharpen it. If I look closely at the display, I can see what looks like shading applied to some pixels. I feel that this is in order to smooth out the image. This makes it look a bit softer, though. Again, I feel that this is done by Sony.. they must think it looks better. And maybe it does?

I could be wrong, though!
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post #11 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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This clip from Rtings's page in which they go over the science behind viewing distances, etc. really says it all. As you can see from the chart, the optimal viewing distance for a 65" 1080p TV is 8.2 feet! I can say that most people sit at least 8 feet from their TV, most sit further. If 65" sets are only just now becoming the norm (and let's be real, they're still larger what than most people actually have), then why the heck is 4K necessary, again!? lol

1080p, apparently, was designed *around* the science, vs. 4K sets which I believe were designed just for tech's sake.

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post #12 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 09:53 AM
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@op
Without 4k TVs, there won't be 4k source material and 4k standards - the upgrade cycle needs to start somewhere.

8k resolution, imo, is just a gimmick until 8k source material is available to the home user.
That is not to say that manufacturers won't try to justify more expensive 8k models with exclusive features ( "better processor/higher brightness/x-teen bit panels etc"), and apparently buy advertising on avs to promote those - it is up to you to determine if the hype justifies the cost.
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post #13 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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it is up to you to determine if the hype justifies the cost.
I wish this were the case, but part of the point of my post is to point out that that isn't the case. The manufacturers are determining what we can buy today by not even offering 1080p sets. I don't think that 4K justifies the cost, but I have no choice. They could certainly do the same with 8K, and probably will. Sure, the 4K tv needed to come before the content came... but it just didn't need to come from what I'm seeing. Larger displays should have happened before 4K, not the other way around. Displays that are large enough to actually make 4K worth it are still cost-prohibitive to most folks out there. So what gives?

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post #14 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
This clip from Rtings's page in which they go over the science behind viewing distances, etc. really says it all. As you can see from the chart, the optimal viewing distance for a 65" 1080p TV is 8.2 feet! I can say that most people sit at least 8 feet from their TV, most sit further. If 65" sets are only just now becoming the norm (and let's be real, they're still larger what than most people actually have), then why the heck is 4K necessary, again!? lol

1080p, apparently, was designed *around* the science, vs. 4K sets which I believe were designed just for tech's sake.

Just be aware that all charts like this are based on averaging. People with better than average vision often prefer a different optimum viewing distance than those with below average vision. Beyond raw vision numbers some people are also more sensitive to subtle image qualities than others, so this also influences what distance individuals may prefer for the best viewing experience. In the end it comes down to personal preferences which can vary widely. Take all vision charts with a big grain of salt. Your own eyes are the best measure of what's best for you.
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post #15 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 12:01 PM
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Hi all,

..........

Cheers
Even my 2015 Sony UHD TV does a superb job with 1080P scaled to 2160P. So the new Sony with the Ultimate X1 should be even better. It sounds like either your 1080P source is the issue, or the settings on your TV are. Or a combination of both. The SonyZ9F should do a superb job with UHD and upscaling of lower resolution content.

Most of the content I watch is UHD(around 55% is UHD) now between my SOny and TCL UHD TV. But I've also been watching UHD content since 2015.
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post #16 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
Just be aware that all charts like this are based on averaging. People with better than average vision often prefer a different optimum viewing distance than those with below average vision. Beyond raw vision numbers some people are also more sensitive to subtle image qualities than others, so this also influences what distance individuals may prefer for the best viewing experience. In the end it comes down to personal preferences which can vary widely. Take all vision charts with a big grain of salt. Your own eyes are the best measure of what's best for you.
But even if you have the best eyes, if you sit ten feet away from a 65" set, you cannot resolve all the detail from 4K.

For me, with my main UHD TV, I sit 3 to 4 feet away for UHD content. Three feet away for Disc based UHD content, and four feet away for streaming UHD content. And then with disc based 1080P content I sit four feet away. And with streaming 1080P content or lower resolution broadcast content I sit five feet away.

I sit at those distances so I can easily see all the detail available. Although you can also easily see defects in the image. Defects that are hard to see from twice the distance.

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post #17 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 12:16 PM
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^^^^^^^^
Not quite sure where you are coming from. I did NOT want to, but I just bought an OLED, a LG 65C8. 4K of course. It replaces my plasma tv that was 1080, my second plasma as it turns out, since BOTH of them crapped out getting stripes up and down em, ruining the picture. 2 bad tvs in 5 years. And they were hotter than the dickens. But a great 64 inch picture. Sammys.
I was not ready to buy 4K, but as you said, that is all that was available. And keeping on looking at a messed up panel was not an option.
SDR material looks great on the new 65C8, not night and day better than the plasma, but wonderful.
4K disc material is much better, native 4K movies on blu ray even better yet, and the Dolby Vision movies are STUNNING!!!!!
I have friends over to watch movies in my home theater, they rarely comment on the sound which is stellar and cost a LOT more to achieve than the picture quality did, but they all comment on the terrific picture.
The source material is the key.
Garbage in garbage out. So I am loving my 4K with everything, but especially with newer, better, brighter discs.
All that to say this, the new 4K OLED was considerably cheaper than either, both of the old plasma tvs and is WELL better!!!! A beautiful picture for less money.
Hope this helps,
God Bless,
Wayne

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post #18 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 12:25 PM
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We watch quite a bit of UHD/4K. Most of it is streaming from Netflix, Prime, or ATV4k i tunes movies.

If people think 4k is no big improvement over 1080P, unless you are sitting close; they are missing a significant part of UHD. Most of the content now on the streaming sources I mentioned, and most UHD Blu rays, include either HDR10 or DV. There is a big difference between 4K HDR and 1080P SDR, even if you aren't sitting within the chart viewing distances.

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Man, this thread came along at the right time for me. While I'm a serious home theater enthusiast like most here, I too am still on 1080p. My Samsung TV is 7yrs old and looks as good today as it did when I took it out of the box.

I have recently purchased a Roku Ultra, Sony UHD Blu-ray player and cables that are all capable of 4K as is my AVR, but our main source of daily usage is DirecTV and that is still 1080p, as I refuse to pay any more money for just a few 4K channels that I probably won't watch anyway.

^ That being said, we are going to buy a new TV by year's end and it will of course be a 4K unit, but until 90% of DirecTV's channels are in 4K, I will be watching 1080i/p sources pretty much exclusively.

My internet is only 12mb which prevents any 4K streaming so the only true 4K content that I would watch would be a 4K Blu-ray.

Thanks for this post.
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post #20 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronwt View Post
Even my 2015 Sony UHD TV does a superb job with 1080P scaled to 2160P. So the new Sony with the Ultimate X1 should be even better. It sounds like either your 1080P source is the issue, or the settings on your TV are. Or a combination of both. The SonyZ9F should do a superb job with UHD and upscaling of lower resolution content.

Most of the content I watch is UHD(around 55% is UHD) now between my SOny and TCL UHD TV. But I've also been watching UHD content since 2015.
I'm puzzled by the OP's experience, too. I suspect something askew in his HT chain, component, setting, cable, connection, etc.

FWIW not long ago I thought our big TV was faltering, or our cat had adjusted something. It was the latter, resulting in cable interference.
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post #21 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlb View Post
We watch quite a bit of UHD/4K. Most of it is streaming from Netflix, Prime, or ATV4k i tunes movies.

If people think 4k is no big improvement over 1080P, unless you are sitting close; they are missing a significant part of UHD. Most of the content now on the streaming sources I mentioned, and most UHD Blu rays, include either HDR10 or DV. There is a big difference between 4K HDR and 1080P SDR, even if you aren't sitting within the chart viewing distances.
Yes. HDR is a big deal since you can see that difference at any distance. So even if you are at ten feet away from a 65" UHD TV, it will still look very good with HDR. Although you still won't be able to see all the detail from that distance.

When I got my first UHD TV in 2015, HDR was one of the main reasons I wanted one.
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post #22 of 24 Old 05-24-2019, 01:12 PM
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But even if you have the best eyes, if you sit ten feet away from a 65" set, you cannot resolve all the detail from 4K. ...
You don't need to resolve all the detail in a higher resolution image to appreciate that it's at least somewhat better looking than one of lower resolution. Hyperacuity relies on sophisticated image processing in the human brain to perceive fine detail to a much greater degree than the resolution of the eye's retina would suggest. Hyperacuity allows us to perceive that a higher resolution image is better than a lower resolution image without us necessarily being able to explain the exact differences that we perceive between the two images.
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post #23 of 24 Old 05-30-2019, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Panson View Post
I'm puzzled by the OP's experience, too. I suspect something askew in his HT chain, component, setting, cable, connection, etc.
After owning my new 4K set for a couple of weeks now, I can say that the (upscaled 1080p) image does now "seem" better. Perhaps I simply expected too much, or maybe I'm just now adjusted to the new Sony "processing." Again, I'm not saying that native 4K content doesn't look incredible. Of course it does. However, 99% of what I watch isn't 4K,

Since I don't have HDR content, and I don't have 4K content, I just really feel that a large 1080p set would have the same PQ when it comes to my 1080p content. I don't think Sony's wizardry is adding much there, which goes against what they say "upscaling to near-4K resolution." meh. 4K still looks wayyy better, even non-HDR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlb View Post
We watch quite a bit of UHD/4K. Most of it is streaming from Netflix, Prime, or ATV4k i tunes movies.

If people think 4k is no big improvement over 1080P, unless you are sitting close; they are missing a significant part of UHD. Most of the content now on the streaming sources I mentioned, and most UHD Blu rays, include either HDR10 or DV. There is a big difference between 4K HDR and 1080P SDR, even if you aren't sitting within the chart viewing distances.
I agree that HDR is a cool factor, but we aren't talking about HDR here. Besides, HDR is available with 1080p (PS4, and could have been much more if 4K didn't get pushed so hard). If I watch my 1080p HDR 49" TV from 8+ feet away (normal distance), what will upgrading to a 4K TV in the same size give me?

Anyway, I guess I've mostly learned that when reviewers talk of a TV's upscaling abilities, they're really talking more about content that is BELOW 1080p. I also don't watch any of that, so I cannot comment on the Sony's upscaling there. Perhaps it really is best, which would be a big plus for those who watch OTA or cable. Eventually I'll hook up the antenna and watch some Sunday Night Football. We'll see how it looks this fall lol!

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post #24 of 24 Old 05-31-2019, 12:02 AM
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Opposite experience for me. I have 4 Sony’s, the upscaling is excellent. 1080p blu rays have never looked better and 4K discs are jaw dropping with HDR and even better with DV. I’m running 4K satellite set top boxes, 4K disc players, and 4K ATV’s. Very pleased all the way around. I don’t watch any commercial content, films/series on HBO/SHO, etc, the movie channels, and some are much better than others. A lot of variables there. Most of the stuff I watch is upscaled and the Sony processors are excellent. SD sucked to me no matter on a 1080p or 4K panel. Hot garbage. Upscaled 1080p blu rays look solid. 1080i/720p content is hit and miss. Some great, others poor. But I can’t expect films from the 70’s and 80’s to be some reference type deal. I’d use 4K cables all the way around and start playing with your calibration settings for your sources. Good 4K HDR or DV discs are better than the theater to me. If you have a sound setup with Atmos, just an incredible experience. Calibrate the thing for your sources. You’ll be much happier.

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