Watching 4k Ultra HD on a 1080p Display – High

At slightest in theory, Ultra HD Blu-ray players are designed to be retrograde concordant with observation on any HDTV or 1080p display. However, many veteran reviews usually concentration (for apparent reasons) on loyal 4k High Dynamic Range, Wide Color Gamut playback, presumption that’s what many readers are meddlesome in. Those who might need a downconversion should know that a routine has some drawbacks.

Despite my prolonged story as a videophile, we have not nonetheless finished a jump into 4k Ultra HD. As a projector owner, a ascent routine is too costly and too daunting, and would need me to reinstate not usually my projector nonetheless also (at a minimum) my Lumagen video processor and a prolonged HDMI wire commissioned above my ceiling. Also, I’m not assured that stream 4k projector models are in adequate of a finalized state to be value their vast cost tags. (The unhappy irony of Ultra HD is that it works a lot improved on brighter prosaic panels than on vast projection screens.)

Nevertheless, I’ve recently taken a tiny step into a UHD waters by purchasing an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, even nonetheless we don’t have a UHD arrangement yet. My primary seductiveness in this is that we wish to be means to watch Ultra HD discs that have Dolby Atmos soundtracks not accessible on a customary Blu-ray editions. (Frustratingly, some studios have motionless to make Atmos a UHD disdainful feature, even nonetheless there’s no technical reason it can’t be enclosed on unchanging Blu-ray as well.) My tipping indicate occurred with a new recover of ‘Blade Runner‘, that not usually has an disdainful Atmos lane nonetheless facilities a new video master pronounced to be a important alleviation over a aged Blu-ray from 2007. Warner Bros. has comparison not to emanate a remastered Blu-ray chronicle to go with it, and in fact a customary Blu-ray enclosed in a UHD package is a same front from 2007. If we wish to watch a new video send or a Atmos track, a usually approach to do that is on a UHD disc. Sony’s new UHD for ‘Starship Troopers‘ has also held my eye for identical reasons.

My primary Blu-ray actor is an OPPO DBP-103, that has served me good for several years and follows in a prolonged line of before OPPO Blu-ray and DVD players in my home theater. When formulation to upgrade, my initial desire was to demeanour during OPPO’s UDP-203. Unfortunately, it’s a tiny pricy during $549 and, critically for my needs, it reportedly does a bad pursuit of downconverting High Dynamic Range video to Standard Dynamic Range, introducing banding artifacts into tone gradients while doing so. The OPPO might be a good actor for local UHD playback, nonetheless does not seem to accommodate a needs we wish to use it for.

As it turns out, this isn’t a singular problem. Downconverting UHD video to unchanging high-definition is a lot some-more formidable than usually scaling a pixel fortitude from 2160p to 1080p (which is flattering easy, all things considered). The tough partial comes in converting HDR to SDR. My reading on a theme suggests that no dual players do this utterly a same way, and that many of them have issues with it, possibly from banding, black vanquish and detriment of shade detail, or even pixelation and posterization artifacts on some models. The cheapest UHD actor on a market, a Samsung UBP-K8500, seems to have a horde of problems, and my past knowledge with crappy Samsung Blu-ray players put me off a code anyway. The Panasonic DMP-UB900 might be a best for this usage, nonetheless a $599.98 cost tab is a lot some-more than we wanted to spend.

Ultimately, we staid on a Sony UBP-X800 when Amazon recently had a cost rebate on it down to $211, that we got Best Buy to price-match. (It’s now behind adult to $248.) This was an volume we felt gentle profitable for this project, and a X800 is pronounced to do a decent pursuit (if maybe not exceptional) of converting HDR to SDR. It also offers a few video environment options for adjusting that conversion, that would hopefully concede me to dial it in to my liking.

Sony UPB-X800 Box

I don’t intend this essay to be a full examination of a UBP-X800, nonetheless we will indicate out that it’s a unequivocally tiny and lightweight actor that, usually in terms of earthy construction, feels low made. The front tray is intensely flimsy, and a physique of a section is weirdly designed so that a whole front row has to flip down to eject a tray. we can’t suppose what a indicate of that is, solely maybe to save a few pennies on pattern and construction by repurposing a framework from an comparison DVD or CD player.

Sony UPB-X800 Unboxing

I theory this is a box of “You get what we compensate for,” that is satisfactory enough. we knew what we was removing into. The tiny 2-inch tallness of a section indeed valid unequivocally accessible for me, in that it authorised me to trip a whole actor into a tiny space in my apparatus shelve on tip of my aged Laserdisc player. That worked out nicely.

Sony UPB-X800 Disc Tray

The actor comes customary with a horde of streaming apps that we have no idea of using. (I have a Roku for that.) Its menus are a tiny confusingly organized. The basement are accessible by a Setup menu on a player’s home screen, nonetheless some-more modernized controls can usually be accessed by pulling a Options symbol on a actor remote while a front is playing, that seems kind of stupid. Honestly, we consider a actor might have too many settings. Some of them are invalid or even detrimental, and it defaults out of a box to withdrawal on some video estimate and audio Dynamic Range Compression facilities that we had to immediately spin off. Again, this is all flattering common for a inexpensive front actor and amounted to some teenager annoyances.

Disc Playback

Without purchasing any new software, we already happened to have a integrate of Ultra HD discs on hand. The SteelBook editions of ‘Guardians of a Galaxy Vol. 2‘ and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ came with UHD copies that we didn’t formerly have a use for. Both cinema incited out to be good exam cases for comparing UHD downconversion to local 1080p Blu-ray. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ has an contentment of unequivocally dim scenes, while ‘Guardians’ is superfluous with vibrant, popping colors. we was means to roughly sync adult playback of a Blu-ray for any film in my OPPO actor with a UHD in a Sony actor and flip behind and onward between them.

At a Sony player’s default settings, 4k UHD discs looked significantly defective to a local Blu-ray copies when played on a same 1080p screen.

I’m creation that judgment a possess divide so it stands out for emphasis. A 1080p Blu-ray looked better, much better, than a 4k UHD book of a same film when a UHD was downconverted to 1080p. The unchanging Blu-ray had richer contrasts, some-more colourful colors, and even seemed crook and some-more detailed. That’s a conflicting of what’s ostensible to happen, isn’t it?

However, as we said, that was during a player’s default settings. After that initial impression, we had to start tinkering. The Sony UBP-X800 has 3 settings associated to HDR. In a Setup menu from a home shade is an choice for “HDR Output,” that offers a choices of Auto or Off. Because my projector doesn’t support HDR, changing this finished no difference. Either way, a actor detects a miss of HDR in my projector during a HDMI handshake and turns it off.

Of some-more use are dual facilities in a Options menu. (Again, these can usually be accessed while a film is playing.) “Video Settings” offers a options of Direct, Brighter Room, Theater Room, Auto, Custom1 and Custom2. The vigilant of this is to establish a volume of ambient light in your room. Direct and Brighter Room both assume a lot of ambient light, and siphon adult a liughtness of a picture, hence soaking it out and flattening contrast. Theater Room resulted in a dimmer picture, nonetheless with improved black levels, contrast, and no white clipping. This looked a best of a preset options. (I haven’t extensively played around with a Custom settings yet, nonetheless a controls seem to be flattering wanton and are generally focused on mixed forms of Noise Reduction that we will never use.)

Having staid on Theater Room, subsequent is a menu called “HDR Conversion,” that offers a shifting scale from 1 (“Narrow”) to 5 (“Wide”). The default value is 3. The owner’s primer states: “A design is some-more identical to HDR when incomparable value is selected, nonetheless lowers altogether brightness” [sic.].

Raising a settings in this menu to 4 or 5 resulted in an even dimmer picture, combined a delicate gray cover over a image, and even malleable it. These looked terrible. we would never use these. The lowest environment of 1 finished a design brighter, nonetheless also caused some apparent white writing and looked a bit harsh. On my screen, we found that 2 was a best concede that constructed a many healthy looking image. Barring some-more contrariety later, this is where I’ve left it.

With all that done, we did some-more flipping behind and onward between a dual discs and… sadly, a 1080p Blu-ray front still looks better. It has somewhat nonetheless discernibly improved contrariety in both brights and darks, and some-more colourful colors (though sharpness now seems about even, or during slightest closer to it). What we will contend is that a downconverted UHD design is ideally watchable during my final settings. If we usually had that to decider by, I’d substantially consider it was fine. However, in approach comparison (and presumption all other factors are equal – such as both discs entrance from a same video master), a unchanging Blu-ray still has a motionless edge. Nothing I’ve been means to do so far, on this player, was means to make a downconverted UHD front demeanour entirely homogeneous to, most reduction higher than, a Blu-ray.

The Dilemma

I wish to stress that a formula we got are specific to playback of UHD Blu-ray discs on this actor (the Sony UBP-X800) when interacting with my projector (a JVC DLA-RS40). A opposite player, such as that Panasonic model, might have higher HDR downconversion to SDR. we can’t contend since we haven’t been means to exam that yet. Moreover, even this actor might get opposite formula on a opposite display, generally a prosaic panel. A lot of variables can have vital impacts on this process.

I also need to be unequivocally transparent that these commentary are usually for downconverting HDR to SDR. we have no doubt that a same discs, watched around a same actor nonetheless noticed on a local 4k Ultra HD arrangement with High Dynamic Range and Wide Color Gamut, will demeanour higher to their Blu-ray counterparts. It was never my idea to infer that. At a moment, I’m usually endangered with how they downconvert to 1080p SDR, since that’s a underline we need, and we know that I’m not a usually chairman out there with an seductiveness in examination UHD discs on a 1080p display.

At a finish of my testing, a end I’ve come to is that downconverting UHD to 1080p is a lot some-more formidable than usually scaling a pixel resolution. Specifically, converting HDR to SDR is unequivocally difficult, and we can’t rest on all Ultra HD Blu-ray players to do it equally well. I’m not even certain that there unequivocally is a perfect HDR downconversion in any player. (There might be, nonetheless a lot some-more contrariety is needed.) At a moment, when given a choice and when all other factors are equal, a unchanging Blu-ray looks higher to a 4k UHD front on my 1080p screen.

This leaves me with a quandary over what to do with those comparison titles that have Dolby Atmos soundtracks exclusively on UHD, while a normal Blu-ray has usually 5.1 or 7.1 audio. I’d have to take a tiny strike in video peculiarity to get a strike in a audio. we might need to decider that on a case-by-case basis. As we said, a downconverted UHD design is still unequivocally watchable. Unfortunately, it might bug me meaningful that a other Blu-ray could demeanour even better, and listening to a 5.1 soundtrack by a Dolby Surround Upmixer underline in my receiver also produces flattering good results.

Someday we will go all a approach to 4k UHD in my home theater, nonetheless I’m not prepared for that yet.

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