4K - Worth it?

Going back in time I remember the switch from SD to HD, that is from video to DVD; and, I was a very early adopter. I bought a nice expensive Denon player, that died a year and a day after purchase.

This new format went hand in hand with higher resolution screens, rendering (sic) my videos as soft focus, as well as demonstrating the superior sound available via DVD.

In due course I replaced all my videos with DVDs and then ripped them to my SAN for backup and resilience.

The came BluRay.

BluRay was better, but not by a country mile. By buying the Oppo 105D I got Darbee processing, something that is NOT available on the now discontinued later models - although they may have a different upscaling solution, and this bought the quality to within a sliver of my BRs on my Phillips ultra widescreen HD TV.

My decision here was to simply buy high octane blockbusters on BR and stick with DVD for everything else.

And now we have 4k. My understanding is that whilst hollywood shoots in 4k it masters in 2k:
4k vs 1080

Obviously many people today are streaming at lower resolutions and with lower quality soundtracks, and I am happy to ignore the market place, in the same way that I don’t listen to low resolution MP3.

I can see why hardware and software companies like new standards. I am FAR from convinced that this is a good move for a movie buff.

Q: Does a 4k TV render DVDs poorly?
I would hope that there would be upscaling in the TV or BR player to obfuscate this.

Q: When NOT sitting and concentrating do can people really tell the difference between BR and 4k, or even upscaled DVD?

Q: Anyone partaken in a blind (sic) watching test?

Frankly, I hope that this will not become an issue for me for many years, as I feel no need to replace my TV or BR player, but it is always sensible to plan for the inevitable.

Thoughts and opinions gratefully received.


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I was looking in a couple of shops, curry’s and Hughes electrical. Every TV looked great, some better than others most used the same feed of 4 k programming. Neither shop had the ability or perhaps the customer service to show a normal SD or even HD broadcast. I have virgin media and it’s not exactly awash with 4 k programmes. When i get round to buying I will read some reviews which hopefully will look at the up scaling ability and then shop around.

I don’t think there’s an issue with 4k tvs rendering dvds poorly, but they do show up the lower resolution of the format.

I’m surprised that you only found the difference between dvd and blu-ray a slither. There really is more between the two.

The biggest advantage with 4k discs is particularly the HDR they offer. The 4k resolution is good on very large screens, or if you sit close, but it’s the dynamic range of the image that’s a big difference.

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What about 8k?..

The first question I can’t answer.

Regarding whether the difference is evident to the viewer, so much depends on the size of screen and the viewing distance. 4K on a 37” TV viewed from 9 feet away (my general purpose TV screen) almost certainly not. But on a 12ft wide screen (160” diag for 16:9 format) viewed from 12 ft away (my movie screen), equivalent to the 37” viewed from 32 inches away, then almost certainly yes.

But whether the improved detail and sharpness of true 4K compared to HD is any more immersive or enjoyable to watch is debatable: By the nature of the product, I think it depends on the film itself: a great story, portrayed well, can be totally engrossing even when the video quality is far from perfect, and I doubt it would be any more enjoyable or emotionally stimulating as such in 4K - but in 4K might be better (=nicer) to watch.

In my own case, I have an HD projector, and it will stay that way until it dies - when my choice of replacement will depend on what is available: 4K (or even 8k) if by then down to the same or not much more than the £600 or so that my current projector costs, otherwise probably just HD. As for TV, my 37” is HD capable, though most channels not available in ahD where I am, and I frequently forget to select the HD broadcast of those that are because although I can tell the difference, with most material it doesn’t make much difference.

It does make a difference a mentioned above in dynamic range, clarity etc… But as always it’s also about available content. If I need to change I always change the next sensible highest standard. So the last time Imoved to 4K TV…, but because of the lack of content so far, I haven’t been bordered to ensure the whole chain including AV receiver is at the latest standard. Given the evolving technology I will do, so that I can enjoy the increased quality…

I’m staying with 1080P and Blu-Ray via a very decent Pioneer 50" Kuro and Denon DVD3800BD Blu-Ray player for now. Viewing distance is around 3.5m so it’s a good set up. I just can’t justify moving on a perfectly good monitor unless It breaks down. Plus my HDMI 1.3 leads are buried in the wall and I’m not sure they can handle full fat 4K/HDR from a disc or streamed.

I recently bought a 65” Samsung Q9 LED TV (4k) and the detail is bonkers. I play games and watch Netflix/Prime. You can tell instantly if something is 4k as its as if a veil has been lifted and you are on the film set. Sometimes this spoils the immersion until you settle into the program! My 50” 1080p TV which was considered decent in 2014 is incomparable.

I recently needed a cd player to watch some concerts that we have dvd’s. I went with a 4K player, simply to be ready if I go that way. My Samsung HD is about 2 years old and its out second TV–(came with the house, I would never have bought it myself). Someday may upgrade to 4/8K, but not until the source material is there. Even Hi Rez audio is just starting to pick up momentum and its been here for how long? The pic is very natural and great for what we do with it.


Thanks for an interesting post, although I have to say that my recollection of the history is a little different!

Video tape, VHS, was barely SD. IIRC, a good VCR could resolve about 280 horizontal lines whereas SD is 576 lines in PAL or 480 lines for NTSC. S-VHS could resolve about 380 lines (I think) but there were no prerecorded tapes (or they were extremely rare and non-existent in the UK). Laserdisc, however, could reach the S-VHS resolution if you used the S-VHS output which some players had; but nobody really bought into that, except me!.

DVD is a SD format which resolves 576/480 lines (PAL/NTSC). With the introduction of HDMI it became possible for DVD to be upscaled to 720p (“HD Ready” as it was called). As you know, Bluray is 1080p (full HD) and 4K is 2160p (aka UHD).

As for mastering, films are shot in various formats but the digital intermediate is sometimes 2K, sometimes 4K and sometimes something else. For instance, the recent release of 2001, A Space Odyssey has an 8K digital intermediate which was made from the original film stock and the resulting 4K picture is very good indeed. Other films, such as The Shallows, have a 2K digital intermediate upscaled to 4K for the UHD release (which still looks surprisingly good). If you look under Technical Specs on IMDB they often have the resolution of the digital intermediate which can be helpful. 4K releases also get thorough technical reviews on AVForums.

My answers to your questions are as follows:
Does a 4K TV render DVDs poorly? I would say yes and no. It depends very much on the quality of the DVD. I rarely watch DVDs nowadays because some can look pretty bad but I watched The Wall recently and was surprised at how watchable it was; it’s just a shame it’s never been released on BR.
When NOT sitting and concentrating can people really tell the difference between BR and 4k, or even upscaled DVD? Yes, easily. I don’t agree that Bluray was not better than DVD by a country mile. I would say it was quite a major step up and more so than the step up from Bluray to 4K. However, with HDR and better colour (in addition to the increased resolution) 4K is noticeably better than BR.
Anyone partaken in a blind (sic) watching test? No, but (to paraphrase) I’d be willing to take the Pepsi challenge any day of the week!

So, if I tried to give a percentage improvement (which is purely subjective and may be nonsense) I’d say that if the jump from VHS to DVD was a 100% improvement, then the jump from DVD to BR would be about 60% and from BR to 4K about 25%. I think that as resolution increases the increase in perceived improvement increases less, so 8K probably won’t be worthwhile (IMHO!).

Anyway, I hope that helps and doesn’t make me sound like too much of a bore!

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There’s more to picture quality than the resolution.

A top of the range old Sony HD tv will perform better than a current bottom of the range sharp 4K tv.

The same principle applies to hifi, a CDS2 playing redbook is way way way better than a SBT playing HiREs. And an old 3 MP Fuji pocket camera with fujinon EBC lens will produce better image than current budget level 12MP Fuji camera.

If you spend your time worrying about image quality when watching films, I’d suggest you start watching more interesting fims.:grinning:


You omitted to say that the jump from nothing to VHS was infinite - so now I think you can plot the rest!


Aren’t you forgetting something.

16mm/8mm for the films that aren’t available on VHS, DVD or BlueRay

Thanks for the replies guys.

Yes: my historic summary was somewhat low res; 4k is also about dynamic range; there are a host of ways films can be shot and mastered.

WRT BR vs DVD my comment was that BR vs Darbee processed DVD gets pretty close; yes, you can see the difference but it is not at a VHS vs DVD level.

In the shorter term home shooting of 4k videos is one easy route to 4k content, this has no real interest for me. My main concern is historic films and TV shows that I want to be presented in a reasonable way.

I suppose the question which is floating around in the back of my head is, ‘Is there any gain to be made by swapping out my functioning gear rather than waiting for a failure’. Like all these things this is highly subjective and individual.

For me I am not seeing an overwhelming ‘adopt now’ argument. Hopfully, when I come to change 4k will either be de facto or dead.


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For us, 4K has proved very worthwhile indeed. It depends very much on size of screen vs. distance you sit away from it. We needs be sit a fair way back, so we use a big screen to compensate. The quality of the picture from our 77" LG OLED is quite astonishing with good 4K material, and as count.d notes, HDR is of maybe more value to picture quality than the extra resolution. Yes, it’s more demanding of good source material of course, but even standard transmissions in SD are perfectly watchable.

In the past I’ve been an advocate of discs over streamed, but just lately I’ve been buying and renting movies from Apple to watch via a 4K Apple TV, and the results challenge the best 4K BluRay discs for both picture and sound quality. £3 a pop for a 4K HDR Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound movie!


That’s a massive screen Tony, glad it performs well on sd, as although there is more hd around it’s still not the norm.

I’ve used every iteration of AppleTV and the 4k model is excellent - they’ve finally allowed us to view movies in ‘24 fps’ which previously stuttered at PAL/NTSC rates despite being encoded as ‘24 fps’.

Like you, impressed we’re now getting videos with Dolby Atmos/Vision, as their older policy with audio was compressed lossy AAC audio or DD 5.1, never had the DTS option. They;ve needed to up their game for years but I think it may be too late.

And I find the 4K HDR content on Netflix (on my LG OLED TV) outstanding for approx 25 Mbps feed… yes not so much content, but it is increasing…

Having your TV calibrated really helps, as well as using 10 or 12 bit colour… makes such a difference compared to having over saturated vivid colours… looks good in the Curry’s show room, but less convincing at home. You can also start to better appreciate the colour balance used in the film mastering… or part of the creative process… just like with audio.

If you’re talking about swapping out the TV itself, by all means get an LG OLED. I had plasmas forever, but the LG OLED’s are amazing. I have a 55" that we watch mostly, in a relatively small space. (Do size your tv appropriately; many people sit too far away / get a screen that is too small. You really do want it to fill a good bit of your visual field when you’re watching.)

Our other tv is a 60 inch plasma from 2008. We only use it to watch (American) football…or the kids watch it when they are here…so I’ve been too cheap to replace it with a 65" LG OLED.

Also, if you get one, you’ll want to turn off “Tru Motion” (motion interpolation) effects. Read up on it . . . but when you first get the TV and that feature is on, everything looks like it’s shot live; it’s a very weird effect that gets tiresome.


Agree about turning off Tru motion and other video processing … it’s just adds artefacts into the experience… the only processing I would suggest is auto resolution/auto sharpening, but keep subtle… this can work well in HDR in low luminosity objects, and it can add a bit of artificial definition that is otherwise lost in the codec compression…
Also agree about OLED performance… I used to be a plasma fan boy, and OLED was the first technology I found that bettered it.
Not sure about size of TV… it depends on use case. If you are in a dedicated TV room, then yes get the largest you can get… if it’s more a shared living space such as a lounge, then a too big a screen can be be too intrusive and dominating … and be unpleasant for those not directly engaged in the TV viewing activity…
It’s a misconception that 4K is all about size, it’s not, it’s about higher definition codecs providing better colour gamut and dynamic range definition… and that is equally important, on mid sized screens…it’s not the size that counts, but the quality and resolution.


Agreed, and I’m not advocating that merely “bigger is better.” There are some online guides that are useful re seating distance vs. screen size.

We don’t have a tv in the parlor; only a hi fi. The tv’s are in rooms that don’t really get used for other things. I really like the ‘no tv in the parlor’ concept.

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