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.