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Updated , Mehdi Azzabi

4k vs 1080p and upscaling: Is UHD worth the upgrade?

4k vs 1080p resolution

The benefit of 4k/UHD over 1080p seems obvious on paper – 4k has four times as many pixels as 1080p, which means it should have a clearer picture – but a UHD TV only improves the picture quality if:

  • You are watching native 4k content
  • You sit close enough to notice the difference

A 4k UHD TV doesn't improve the picture quality of lower quality content like 1080p Blu-rays.

Update 2017/06/05: In 2017, only budget or small TVs are still being made with a 1080p resolution. So even if you don't care about 4k (for example, if you sit far away or don't have access to 4k content), you will still need to buy a 4k TV if you want the better picture quality found on higher end TVs.

4k TV

What it is: A TV with 2160 rows and 3840 columns of pixels.

Who should buy it: Most people buying TVs today.              

See the best 4k TVs we reviewed

1080p TV

What it is: A TV with 1080 rows and 1920 columns of pixels.

Who should buy it: If you sit far, have a small screen, and if you're only looking for a budget TV.

See the best 1080p TVs we reviewed

  4k 1080p
Sizes available Great Great in the past, limited today
Height in pixels 2160 1080
Width in pixels 3840 1920 
Availability Great Limited
Content Availability Average, but growing fast  Excellent
TV Sizes Available 40" to 100"+ 32" to 55"

Native 4k vs Native 1080p

Vizio M Series 2015 4k resolution

Vizio M Series 2015 (4k TV)
Input: 4k Resolution

Vizio E Series 2015 1080p resolution

Vizio E Series 2015 (1080p TV)
Input: 1080p Resolution

The two photos above illustrate an identical image at different native resolutions, which means the file resolution and the TV resolution are exactly the same. The first photo is a 4k image displayed on a Vizio M Series 4k TV, and the second is a 1080p image displayed on a Vizio E Series 1080p TV.

The 4k image is smoother and has more detail than the 1080p image. Look closely and you’ll see that the edges around objects in the 1080p picture are noticeably more jagged. The difference is because the higher pixel count of a 4k screen allows for a more natural representation of the picture, with smoother outlines for distinct objects and added detail in the image.

If you’re underwhelmed by the difference, it’s because there are diminishing returns at higher resolutions. With 4k, you do get more detail than with 1080p, but the upgrade isn’t as staggering as the one between SD and HD.

It’s important to note that this comparison uses a real 4k image. 4k content is more widespread now, but most of what you watch will probably be lower-resolution content upscaled to UHD, which will look different from native 4k and 1080p.

Winner: 4k.

1080p Upscaled to 4k vs Native 1080p

Vizio M Series 2015 1080p resolution

Vizio M Series 2015 (4k TV)
Input: 1080p Resolution

Vizio  E Series 2015 1080p resolution

Vizio E Series 2015 (1080p TV)
Input: 1080p Resolution

To present lower-resolution material on a 4k TV, the TV has to perform a process called upscaling. This process increases the pixel count of a lower-resolution image, allowing a picture meant for a screen with fewer pixels to fit a screen with many more. It’s important to remember that since the amount of information in the signal doesn’t change, there won’t be more detail present.

The first image is a 1080p picture upscaled to 4k on the Vizio M, and the second is a native 1080p image on the Vizio E.

The Vizio M’s upscaling resulted in a bit of added smoothness, but overall the two images look very similar. There isn’t any more detail in the upscaled picture than you can see in the native 1080p picture, so whether or not it looks better is entirely subjective.

Not every TV upscales the same though. Some 4k TVs might produce an image that is a too soft. This doesn't mean that 4k is inherently worse since most TVs do not have this problem, but it is important to make sure the model you're buying doesn't have any issue with this before going through with the purchase.

Winner: Draw.


HDR is a new format for transmitting video signals to televisions that enhances the dynamic range of content and allows them to use a wider range of colors. This has quite an impact on picture quality when it is done well, making content look a lot more life-like.

While 4k isn't a requirement for HDR support (see HDR vs SDR), we've yet to see a 1080p TV with HDR support. Because of this, if you're interested in upgrading to HDR, 4k UHD is the only option.

Winner: 4k.

Viewing Distance

Having a 4k TV and genuine 4k content isn’t enough. There are limits to what the eye can perceive, so if you sit too far from your TV (the distance depending on the TV’s size), you won't be able to see all the detail in the image. That means that if you sit too far away from a 4k TV, the picture will look like what you’d get on a TV with a lower resolution screen.

Viewing distance 1080p vs 4k Ultra HD

This chart illustrates the dividing line for normal 20/20 vision. To use the chart, check your viewing distance on the vertical axis and the size of the TV on the horizontal one. If the resulting position is above the line, you probably won't see a major difference between a 1080p and a 4k TV.

That doesn’t mean you won’t see any difference at all – it just means it won’t be significant. You should also know that this chart assumes lossless media. Nowadays, retail stores only use such media on their 4k TVs, while their 1080p TVs display highly-compressed media. This makes in-person comparison hard and is done to boost sales of pricier sets.

Learn more about the relationship between the size of a TV and the viewing distance.

Winner: 4k. While 4k won't give you much of a benefit after a certain distance, it will always be better from up close. Because it gives you a lot of freedom, it is the safer choice.

720p vs 1080i Broadcast Signal: What Is the Difference?

Samsung Q9F 720P motion

Samsung Q9F
Input: 720p60 Resolution

Samsung Q9F 1080i motion

Samsung Q9F
Input: 1080i60 Resolution

In the US, there are two standard resolutions for TV broadcasts: 720p and 1080i. Much like 1080p, the number refers to the vertical resolution of the screen, 720 and 1080 pixels. The letter, though, refers to either Progressive Scan or Interlaced Scan. Every TV sold today uses Progressive scan, but that doesn't mean they are not compatible with a 1080i signal.

In an interlaced video signal, the image is separated into even and odd horizontal lines. Alternating frames resolve even and odd lines, meaning that each individual frame of the signal (a video being a series of frames in quick succession) is only half of the image. Progressive scan, on the other hand, resolves the entirety of the image on every frame, so it is a bit more costly to distribute.

In the end, 1080i and 720p end up using about the same amount of bandwidth, even if 1080i covers over twice as many pixels. This means that still images look sharper on 1080i, but it isn't perfect. As you can see in the pictures above, 720p looks much clearer with motion. This is why sports channels use 720p since fast moving content will often look striped or looks like it is vibrating vertically with 1080i, which is distracting. Since it is very similar in logic, an interlaced video will also suffer from similar artifacts to chroma subsampling.

A frequently updated list of HD US channels with their respective resolution can be found here.

Winner: 720p for sports, 1080i for still images.

4k vs 8k

8k prototype TVs have appeared at conventions over the past few years, and questions about its usefulness are often asked. Reasonably so: even at a field of view filling 6ft, a very large 75 inch TV will not show a discernible difference between 4k and 8k. That is over 40% closer than the recommended seating distance for that size! 

8k does have value in other applications such as Virtual Reality headsets that have your eyes an inch away from the screen, as well as computer monitors in uses where screen real estate is important. Movies have started to be filmed in 8k today as well, but that is mostly for freedom during production. None of them will get published in that format. It's very hard then to justify its value for TVs. Unless a strong shift in the way content is produced that makes you sit closer to your TV than you currently are, there is no need to wait for 8k to arrive.

Winner: 4k.  While 8k is technically superior, the difference with 4k is minor for a TV. 


If you're shopping for a TV today, a 4k TV is worth buying over a 1080p TV, provided you sit close enough to see the extra detail and are watching native UHD content. If you're only watching 1080p or even smaller resolution content, it won't give you a boost in quality. If you currently own a good 1080p TV and don't sit close enough to notice the pixels, it isn't worth spending money as you will probably not benefit much from the upgrade unless you spend for fancy features such as local dimming, OLED, and HDR.

Nowadays though, it is difficult to find anything other than a 4k TV. 1080p is usually reserved for cheap budget options and all the better TVs will have a UHD resolution. Premium features named earlier are not found on lower resolutions anymore.

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Questions & Answers

I just went to the local big box and saw a 80" 4K. With real 4K content the results are astounding! If you can't tell the difference between 1080p and 4k, you need a change of lenses. It was pretty obvious to both my wife and I that side by side the 4k was much sharper and life like. Amazing!
Be careful when comparing them in a retail store. Not only you are closer than the distance at which you would normally sit, but the store's don't use the same footage on their 1080p TVs as they do on the 4k TVs. Their 4k material has a higher bit rate than anything you can get your hands on, and their 1080p material is usually just a cable feed or something low quality like this. If you can, either ask them to plug in the same 4k feed on both TVs, or the same 1080p feed.
Are some TVs better at upscaling from lower sources to 4k than others? It seems at dealers that Sony's upscaling looks better than that of cheaper brands.
Yes, some TVs are better at it, and that's why we've added an upscaling score to our reviews. We didn't test our 2014 Sony TVs for their upscaling capabilities, but we will be testing the 2015 Sony lineup when it releases in May.
Can we watch 1080p content on a 4k tv (Samsung UN50HU8550) without upscaling it?
No, the TV always upscales the content to 4k.
Will 1080p games on PS4 scaled to a 4k display look just as good as 1080p on a native 1080p display? Will scaling 1080p to 4k produce more aliasing?
It is the opposite. 1080p to 4k reduces the aliasing. Some like this, but some don't because this isn't a real anti-aliasing like found on the PC graphic cards. It is a dumb one, just a low pass filter (blurry filter).
I recently purchased a 4k TV. We sit about 3-5 ft away. My question is do I need to purchase a Blu-ray player with UHD 4k Upscaling? (I also have a Playstation 4 connected)
No, you don't need to. The TV can upscale the content by itself.
Will a 1080p TV be obsolete in a year or two or three like standard definition TVs became?
In the future, yes. In 2016, there are no high end 1080p TVs anymore, only cheap ones. 4k content is also more widespread. Most TV shows are now filmed and produced in 4k. Distribution of 4k content is still a problem though, but it should improve within a few years.
That said, don't worry, a 1080p TV will still work in the future even on 4k content (the same way a SD TV works today).
Update 08/12/2016: Updated to current state of the market.
Would it be beneficial to use a 4k HDTV over a 1080P HDTV if I were using it as a PC Monitor?
Yes, but keep in mind that you need a computer/graphic card that can output at 4k. Also, some 4k TVs accept at maximum 30 frames per second via HDMI, so moving the mouse will feel jerkier.
I don't know why, but I can reproduce 4K videos off Youtube on my 1080p tv and it looks amazing. Do you have any clue why? And is it possible that I can play 4K content disc on a 1080p tv?
Yes, this is normal. Downscaling higher bit rate media can offer improved quality over lower bit rate media. YouTube 1080p has a bit rate of 6 Mbps, whereas YouTube 4k is about 15Mbps and Blu-ray 1080p is 20Mbps. Therefore, YouTube 1080p < YouTube 4k < Blu-ray 1080p. So even though the YouTube 4k is downscaled to 1080p on your TV, it still contains more info than YouTube 1080p.
I have read consumer complaints that sending an already upscaled 4k signal to a 4k TV creates a worse picture than if a 1080p signal had been sent to a 4k TV. Any truth to that? Don't 4k TV's have a "4k off" feature built into the menu so that an outside 4k upscaler can be used instead of the TV's internal 4k upscaler?
It depends on how good the upscale of the device is. Some are better than the one in the TV, and others aren't. A 4k TV will recognize the incoming upscaled signal as being 4k, so there's no need to disable anything.
Why is there a huge price difference between 4k 65" and 84" TVs?
Because of the size difference, primarily. The bigger the TV, the more costly it is to produce and to ship. The cost is exponential to the size. Also, the volume of sales is smaller for a bigger TV, so they need to compensate by increasing the price to amortize the costs.
So I mainly use my current 60" 1080p TV for my PS4 and Neflix. Would it be worth getting a 4k display, seeing as the PS4's output will have to be upscaled? We sit roughly 5-7 feet away.
If you're happy with your current TV, you might as well stick with it. There's still not much 4k content) available, and upscaling isn't going to make your PS4 games look better. If you do decide to upgrade to 4k, make sure you get one that is good at upscaling, like the Samsung JU7100.
Does 1080p content tend to look better on a 1080p TV than it does when upscaled on a 4K TV? It seems to me that the upscaled 1080p image will have processing artifacts that will compromise the image in comparison to the same image shown on a 1080p TV. I'd be interested in your impressions on this issue. Thanks!
It will usually look a bit crisper on a 1080p TV. 4k TVs do tend to smooth out the edges of objects, although the Vizio M and the Samsung 4k TVs we have reviewed this year have been good at minimizing that effect. They can display 1080p content almost as crisply as a native 1080p TV can. The Vizio P, on the other hand, does have quite a bit of smoothing.
Upscaling artifacts are not a big concern.
Will you notice a difference watching 4k content on 1080p HD tvs? I've noticed some new release Blu-rays are trickling out that are "mastered in 4K" "for expanded colour and clarity" but also only 2D copies not 3D. They are only 1080p, so will I really see a difference if its only a 1080p TV?
Given the same media, at a normal viewing distance, no, you won't see a difference between 4k and 1080p. Up close though, upscaled content will look blurrier but with less aliasing. As for 'Mastered in 4K' Blu-rays, you will see a difference both on a 1080p and 4k TV. While they are in fact the same 1080p resolution as normal Blu-rays, they have a higher bitrate (35Mbps vs 24Mbps for normal Blu-rays) as well as an extended color range. So even if you just have a 1080p TV, it is better to buy them.
So I saw on YouTube that there is a way to make a 1080p TV in to a 4k TV provided it came out once the 4k TVs were being mass produced. The premise was that it was cheaper for TV manufacturers to build the same panels as opposed to many different ones with different resolutions and the only difference is the memory in the TV. This upgrade is supposed to be given once you connected a flash drive with at least 4GB of space formatted to FAT32 or another format (I can't remember). It's supposed to use the memory from the flash drive to essentially unlock the extra pixels that are duplicating or not being used at all. Is this possible?
No. Panels all have a set resolution, so there's no way to free up memory and increase the resolution of your TV.
I'm replacing my square SD Sony, circa 1999, that is still working. (I've always bought Sonys because they last so long; however, now TVs are like computers and get outdated quickly).
I plan to buy a 2015 TV of about 55" (give or take 5") which I will sit fairly close to. Should I get a very good quality 2015 1080 TV, or will it be more cost effective in the long run to get a 4k 2015 TV now? Seems like it would be better to spend the $ now on 4k since that's the future and I could maybe have the TV longer, but my concern is that now there still seem to be competing approaches & competing content packages/many variables as to common platforms and other details still be agreed to by TV manufacturers and 4k content providers.
In other words, to use an old analogy, I don't want to buy a 4k TV this year that is "Betamax" and yet a year or two later, the Industry (TVs manufacturers & content providers) have instead gone to "VHS," whereby I have to buy a new 4k TV again relatively soon. Also, is it best to wait on getting a High Dynamic Range (HDR) TV, since there seems to be no single standard for HDR? Thanks so much!
The basic 4k/UHD standards have been set. As long as you get a TV with HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 support (and all 2015 4k TVs support these standards), then you'll be set for enjoying 4k material. You're right that HDR still doesn't have any standard, so there's no reason to go out and get an HDR TV.
We haven't seen any 2015 1080p TVs that have great picture quality, so you would be best served by getting a good 4k TV. The Samsung JU7100 and the Vizio M-series are our two favourites so far this year.
I currently have a 65 inch Samsung LED DLP. The TV is 18 feet away. I realize I probably won't see the better resolution if I buy 4k TV, but will a 4k TV have better contrast, vivid color, or darker black levels than a good LED 1080p TV?
Resolution is separate from those elements, so TV being 4k is not a guarantee that it has better picture. That said, we haven't seen any 1080p 2015 models that have truly great picture quality. That's a choice made by the manufacturers to push people toward 4k TVs, and for that reason, if you want the best picture quality you can find, you'll need to buy a 4k TV.
I just purchased an LG 55" 4k 2015 model and the picture looks fine while seated eight feet away. However, when up close, it's very blurry. I checked out 4k in the store and they don't appear to be blurry when right in front of them. I am concerned about this and wonder if I got a bad set.
You need to watch genuine 4k content to get the most out of a 4k TV. Lower resolutions won't really look any better on a 4k TV, so if you're not watching 4k video, it makes sense that your image will look blurry from close up. The TVs in stores were likely playing 4k material.
Which brand upscales better?
Mid-range and high-end Samsung, LG, and Sony TVs are all about equally good at upscaling. Cheaper models vary a bit.
I am trying to decide between getting a 65" 1080p TV (Samsung UN65J6300) vs a 6o" 4K (Samsung UN60JU6500). Both TVs are identically priced. We sit about 15 feet away. I realize that the 4K will not provide additional detail at that distance, but will the picture quality be better with the smaller 4K TV, making the overall watching experience better?
No, the resolution is the primary benefit to going with the JU6500, and since you won't be close enough to take advantage of the extra detail, you should stick with the J6300. What's more, the JU6500 has judder when playing movies, so it's actually a bit worse for overall viewing experience.
It is worth getting a 4K TV if the picture size is only 42"? I am under the impression that 4K does not improve the image, if the picture size is less than 50".
It all depends on your distance. If you sit very close, then yes 4k is worth it for a small TV. But if you sit at a normal living room distance, no.
I purchased the 70" Sharp Aquous Q+ series TV. The advertising states that it can display 4K content. Is it worth paying more for Netflix to stream 4K content, or should I purchase a UHD Blu-ray player?
Your TV isn't actually a 4k TV. It's a 1080p TV that can accept a 4k signal and downconvert it to 1080p. In other words, 4k content and devices aren't really useful for you.
Also, if every you're looking to get a UHD Blu-ray player, you should know that right now, the only players being sold as UHD are actually regular 1080p players that are upscaling the content to 4k. Real 4k Blu-ray players are coming later this year, so if you want real 4k Blu-rays, you'll need to wait until then.
I want a high-end TV but would not use any "Smart" features. Can these be disabled/turned off/whatever so that I would soon forget they're even there? Are any brands better than others at allowing me to ignore "Smart?" I can get a dumb plasma, I know. Thanks!
You don't need to connect them to the WiFi if you don't want. On most TVs, you won't even know they are smart unless you press the smart button on the remote. The exception is the new Sony TVs, which boot up to Android.
When upscaling the image, why is there all of this processing going on? A 4K resolution should be exactly four times more density, so why not make the current pixel take up four pixels instead of processing the image and essentially guessing what should be there with image filters and anti-aliasing algorithms? I know it needs to upscale to fill in all of the extra pixels, but I have never been a fan of all the image processing that goes on. Are there modes in which we will be able to turn off that processing?
There's no direct 1 pixel to 4 pixels upscaling option on any TVs that we reviewed so far. Don't know why, maybe because they want to advertise that they 'improve' the picture? Upscaling is done automatically by the TV internal hardware/software and there is no option to control it or even disable it, at least not on reviewed TVs yet.
Which is a better value purchase, the Vizio M-series 70" or Sharp 70" UH30U?
The Vizio M. It has deeper blacks, better 1080p playback, and much less input lag. It has a bit more blur, but it's a minor tradeoff when compared to all the benefits you get.
Is upscaling via an HDMI 2.0 port better than using a regular old HDMI?
There's nothing inherent to the HDMI 2.0 spec that makes it upscale better, but some TVs have different upscaling on different ports, so it's possible that an HDMI 2.0 port on a given TV would upscale differently than a 1.4 port on that same unit. It's the TV's chipset that really matters.
Trying to decide between a 55" 4K or 1080P TV, and between Blu-ray or DVD w/HD upscaling. Thanks for your help.
Blu-ray is definitely better than upscaled DVD. The bit rate for Blu-rays is higher, and it is already 1080p; DVDs need to be upscaled, and won't look as good as Blu-ray when they're upscaled.
As for whether to get a 4k or 1080p TV, that will depend on a few factors. If you'll be sitting at a maximum of 7.5 feet away, and you'll have access to a 4k video source, you might like to have a 4k TV. If you'll be sitting father away, or if you won't have access to 4k content, there won't be much point to getting a 4k TV.
Does the process of upscaling content, in my case from say an Xbox One, cause more input lag on a 4k TV when compared to a 1080p TV?

Now that we measure input lag on both 1080p and 4k resolution, we found out that for some 4k TVs, a 1080p input as lower input lag and for some 4k TVs a 4k input has lower lag.

So to answer your question: It really depend of the TV models and brand.

I am trying to decided between the Samsung UN40J6300 which is the best 1080p set you've recommended, or for about $70 more get the Vizio M43-C1 which is a 4k. The smart features are important to me as is good picture quality. I feel like the Samsung is a better overall TV, but the Vizio is 4k. I think that I'm just concerned that if I get the Samsung 1080p TV it will be obsolete in a few years. Which way should I go?
You don't really need to worry about 1080p becoming obsolete. There will continue to be 1080p material available for several years to come, so your TV will always be usable.
Given that you want good smart features, and you're looking at pretty small TVs (so 4k resolution won't be that noticeable), the Samsung J6300 is the better choice.
I'm wondering whether to get a good 2014 Full HD model or a 2015 4k model. Like Samsung UN46H7150 vs. Samsung UN48JS8500. Will the picture quality be better on the H7150?
We haven't reviewed the JS8500, but we expect it would have picture quality that is at least as good as the H7150. The H7150 is a really great TV, though, and especially now that its price is a bit lower. If you don't care about 4k, the H7150 is a better buy.
Hello. I recently purchased a 4k UHD Upscaling Blu-Ray player, and I have a Samsung 55" 1080p Smart TV. Will Streaming 4k video and playing a 4k disc be upscaled and improve the picture quality on the 1080p TV, or do you also have to have a compatible 4k UHD TV as well? Thanks!
You need a 4k TV. Since the Blu-rays are at 1080p and your TV is too, the player can't enhance the resolution - the content already fits. Streaming services, likewise, will max out at 1080p to match your screen.
PS4 will be updated to support 4k later this year. Will 4k movies work on PS4 when the update is released?
We haven't seen any confirmation of this kind of an update. Provided a software-based solution is developed, then yes, your PS4 would be able to play 4k streaming video. If it's a hardware solution being added to new consoles, then no, your console won't be able to.
I am trying to decide between the Samsung UN75J6300AFXZA and Vizio M70-C3. Which TV would be better for sports? I am a huge football fan. I can't decide if the larger 1080p or smaller 4k TV would make for better picture. Viewing distance would be 10ft-12ft.
Also, I notice that there are no reviews of Sharp TVs. Should I stay away from this brand? If not, I would also consider the Sharp LC70UH30U. Any help you could offer would be great. Awesome website.
The Samsung J6300 is better for sports. The TV is better at upscaling, and at handling interlaced content, and those are both important for broadcast in general, and for sports in particular.
We reviewed the LC-70UH30U earlier this week. It is a good TV overall.
Some prices of 4k TVs have come down within the last few months to be within $100 or so to a similar sized 1080p TVs. The 60" Vizio M 4k TV cost my step-father about $1,200 from a big box store this weekend, and the highest rated 1080p TV on this site as of 6/22/15 is the UN60J6300, and that's about $1,300.
So, removing cost from the equation, and assuming the spread between the two keeps narrowing, does it make sense to play it safe and buy the 1080p, or buy the 4k and take a risk that it's a fad and is short lived, a la 3D TVs? I am very curious what you would do. Thank you.
There's no real reason not to get a 4k TV. 3D is mostly a fad because the glasses are uncomfortable and inconvenient, and not everyone likes the look of 3D. 4k is just a more detailed version of what you're already used to, so it is here to stay. 4k content will take a few years to be mainstream, but it will happen eventually.
That said, the J6300's overall picture quality is better than that of the Vizio M. The J6300 has better upscaling and less motion blur, so it's better suited to displaying 480p, 720p, and 1080p signals. It's not a significant difference though, and it can't play 4k content, which does look very nice.
If you don't care about 4k at all, get the Samsung J6300. If you'd like 4k and don't mind the weaker upscaling (the motion blur of the M-series is only a problem for video games), get the Vizio M.
I got a 4k TV (M55-C2). Why does my system info say 'System Resolution: 1080p,' but my manual refers to a maximum resolution of 3840x2160. How does this TV display 4k?
The '1080p' you're seeing is the resolution of the signal the TV is receiving. To watch genuine 4k, you'll need to use a source that is sending a genuine 4k signal.
We have a list of some 4k sources here.
I know very little about all of this stuff, but my question is, what exactly would you be upscaling, and which 4k TV would be best for video games?
TVs can only display in their native resolution. That means that signals with lower resolutions can only fit on the TV if the image is upscaled. So, any TV show, movie, video game, photo, or other image source that has a signal with a lower resolution than 4k would need to be upscaled to fit a 4k screen.
Check out our article on the Best Gaming TVs to see our choice for the best 4k gaming TV.
I am an avid gamer and want the best possible visuals/performance for my budget. I currently have a calibrated 55" LG 1080p set from 2010. I have an Xbox one and plan on getting a ps4 as well. Would you recommend getting a 55" 4K set (such as the Vizio M) or just a better, bigger 1080p set? I sit fairly close to the TV so, will the upgrade in picture quality be significant? Or barely noticeable such as the graphical difference between Xbox one and ps4? Also, do l need to buy an ultra-expensive HDMI chord to max out the power? Thanks!
Consoles can't output at 4k, so you should just get a larger 1080p TV instead. The only difference you will see very close on a 4k TV when playing 1080p games is less aliasing. You don't need a super expensive HDMI, a cheap one will do just as well.
Shouldn't people consider waiting unless they really need a TV? 4K HDR TVs are being pushed to release in a year or two. If you're planning to upgrade to 4k and you're willing to spend the money, unless you really need a TV, I would wait and buy a 4k HDR set.
There's always something new on the way, and you're right that waiting until you absolutely need a new TV is the best way to ensure you're getting the latest stuff.
But that also means waiting much longer than many people are wanting to wait for a larger screen, higher resolution, etc. There are pros and cons to each. People who are on the bubble and for whom HDR is the reason they plan on upgrading should definitely wait until the HDR spec is determined. There's no guarantee that anything released before then will have "true" HDR capability.
Wonderful website. I looked high and low for a site like yours. Buying a TV can be quite difficult, you are fabulous and really appreciate all your great knowledge. I do nothing but watch TV. No gaming, no internet - just regular viewing. I want quality picture and good sound in a 48" - 55" set. Can you please advise me as to brand and models you would suggest? Thanks so much. Donna.
The Samsung UN55J6300 is a good pick. It's our top LED TV for this year, and has great overall picture quality.
If you'd prefer something less expensive, the Vizio E55-C1 is the best budget option we've seen in that size range, and the picture isn't much worse than what you get with the 6300 (main difference is that low-resolution video doesn't look as good).
Both sets have decent sound for TVs, but not great (there are few TVs that have legitimately good sound). We recommend getting a soundbar or speaker system if really good audio is something you want.
Upscaling question: I have a Samsung UN65JS8500, a Marantz 5010 AVR, and an Oppo BDP-103. All are capable of upscaling to 4K. For Blu-ray viewing, which would you recommend do the upscaling? For watching TV content (DirecTV HR-44 Genie), between the Marantz AVR and Samsung SUHD TV, which would you recommend perform the upscaling? Thanks in advance for any advice you can share. Very helpful site!
Unfortunately, since we haven't tested those other devices, we can't say how their upscaling matches up to the JS8500.
Your best bet would be to try them all out for yourself and see what you most like the look of.
I know there are many variables, but do you have an opinion? Will be buying a 65". Viewing distance 9'-10'. Typical programming is satellite and Blu-rays. Debating whether better to get mid-level 4K TV or high-end 1080P, assuming dollar-outlay will be somewhat similar. We replace TVs every 5-7 years. Thoughts?
If by mid-range TV you include the Samsung JU7100, then go for it. If your budget only allows less expensive models than that, go for a higher-end 1080p TV instead.
If I purchase a 1080p TV today and five years from now all content is 4K, will the 1080p set downscale the 4K content? If so, how do you think it would look?
It depends on the TV. Some might be able to, whereas others won't be. More likely, the source devices (cable box, game console, etc) would be able to in that scenario. That said, there is almost no chance that all content will be 4k within five years, so there's no need to worry about that.
Our internet speed is 7 Mbps. I am leaning towards purchasing the 65" Vizio C1 4K UHD over the same size and priced Samsung 65" J6300 HDTV. Our couch is 8-10' from where the TV will be wall-mounted. Should the bit rate affect my decision? Other variables? Thanks.
That's really the main variable here. Netflix recommends 25 mbps for 4k streaming, and other providers are in a similar range. If you won't be buying UHD Blu-rays when they release next year, then go for the Samsung, as there's no point to 4k TVs when you're not watching 4k material.
I am thinking about a Sharp 1080p LC65LE654U. How is it for performance?
Unfortunately, since we haven't reviewed that model, we can't comment on how good it is.
Does it matter if your processor only uses HDMI 1.1 and not 1.3 for 4K?
No, because neither HDMI 1.1 or HDMI 1.3 can deliver 4k video. You need HDMI 1.4 for 4k @ 24p, and HDMI 2.0 for higher frame rates.
Is a 80" 1080p TV image better compared to a projected image of the same size (using a projector on to a screen)?
Most of the time, TVs are better. This is particularly true for contrast, as the light from a projector generally makes the blacks look grayer.
Great info on your site! For 4k, is it better to get the best quality or does size matter more? For example, is it better to get a 60" Samsung JU6500 or a 55" JU7100 for the same money? Keep in mind, I will probably be stretching what I can see in 4k, sitting about 8ft from the set.
Generally, size is better, however, the JU6500 has judder when playing 24 fps movies. Watch the video here and see if the judder bothers you. If not, get the JU6500. If it does, get the JU7100.
This is a great site!! I think I already know the answer, but have to ask. Will we see any more mid- to high-end 4K TVs in the 40" - 42" range? I use a Samsung 40JU7500 as my computer monitor and absolutely love it. However, I've not seen any other models like the JS9000 or 4K OLED TVs in a size under 48". I suspect the 40" market isn't nearly as popular as the larger sizes, so the chance of any new 40" 4K TVs probably isn't good. I want to be wrong. Please tell me I'm wrong. But, I'm afraid I'm right.
We almost certainly won't this year. At this point, the only new models we really expect in that size range are ultra-budget models in time for Black Friday. For the most part, the main brands concentrate on the 55"+ range for high-end models.
Hi. We sit 11 feet from the TV. So, based on the info I got here, I gather that I need to go 75" on a 4k purchase.
I was zooming in on the Sony XBR75x910C. However, I'm coming from a 55" Samsung LED. So I do have some reservation that this thing is gonna appear HUGE in our living room! Plus I gotta convince my wife that we need something that big! Lol!
So because of that, I also had my eyes on the LG OLED 65". For the same price! I seem to be reading everywhere that it's got the best pic! Plus, one salesman at Best Buy told me to watch out for the Sony because of bleeding edges! Whatever that means!
Now, after reading your wonderful explanation, it sounds like I should be going with the bigger TV, the Sony, because of my seating distance! Is that what you'd recommend? Thank you for your time!
It depends. If you really want to watch 4k video, then yes, you'll need a large 4k TV. It doesn't take too long to adjust to having a much bigger screen, so don't worry too much about the imposing size.
But if you're more interested in the best overall picture, then the LG OLED would be the better choice. You'll get great contrast, next to no blur, and a wide viewing angle. You won't have the light bleeding, either (which is basically just imperfect backlight uniformity that makes spots along the edges brighter than the rest of the TV).
You really can't go wrong with either option, so pick based on whichever of those features matters most to you.
When I bought my Samsung 6000 1080p 55" TV, it was my understanding that best viewing was from a distance greater than 10'. If that is true too for 4k, why would anyone opt for paying more for something they cannot see a difference in?
It's a little different than you're thinking. For 1080p, the ideal distance for 55" is anywhere from 7 to 10.5 feet. For 4k, the ideal distance for 55" is 3.5-7 feet.
So if you're sitting much farther than 7 feet, there's really not much point to a 55" 4k TV. At 7 feet or closer, though, it does make sense.
We talk more about the relationship between size and distance here.
My viewing distance is 10-12'. Should I buy a 1080p TV in 75" OR a 4K in 65"? Both will comparable in in my budget (~$2,000).
Get the 75" 1080p TV. In terms of seeing more detail, the larger screen trumps the higher resolution in this case.
Hello I have a 10 year old Panasonic 50" plasma that works fine , we now want a 70" or 75", we are afraid it will not look close to as good as our plasma, I know LED has come a long way, still, I would like an opinion on a 1080p TV that looks better or very close to our 50" plasma ?? Thank you in advance
None of the current LCD offerings are better in all respects. To get better picture quality you need to go with an OLED, but an OLED in the 70"-75" size is prohibitively expensive. Your best bet for a LCD display is the Samsung KS9000 which is available in 75". For a dark room though, the blacks won't be as deep and you will notice the picture quality degrade from the side. For a bright room when viewed directly in front it may be an improvement.
Is Samsung brand the only TV with 4k?
No. Nearly all major brands now offer 4k TVs.
Will 4K Blu-ray players (when they are released) be compatible with current 4K TVs, thus should I wait to buy a 4K TV until 4K players are available?
They will most likely be compatible, but there is no way to be sure until they are released.
Thanks for the great info. I currently have a 51" Samsung Plasma TV and would like to upgrade to a larger screen size of 65", as I am remodeling the room.
My viewing distance is roughly 10 feet and the room is well lit, with a large window on the side wall. Most of the content would be HD satellite or Blu-ray content and some gaming on PS3.
Should I go for a 65 inch UHD TV, or should I opt for a FHD TV, considering the dearth of 4K content? Or should I wait for a couple of years before upgrading when 4K content would have more presence? Please do suggest some high-end as well as medium budget options too. Thanks.
You won't be able to see the full detail of 4k at that distance. The difference in the amount of detail you see is definitely worth it at eight feet (so if you can move a bit closer, get a 4k TV), but 10 is borderline. If you have the room in your budget for a 4k TV and you would watch 4k material, then you might as well get a 4k TV. If you don't care about 4k or would rather save money, get a 1080p set instead.
Our favorite 4k TVs can be found here, and our favorite 1080p TVs are here.
Hi. I'm looking to buy a 48" (121 cm) R562C BRAVIA Internet LED TV (full HD 1080p). And if my cable box is 4K, can my TV still play the content? If so, will there be any difference in my viewing? I mean better or worse?
Your TV will be able to play content off the cable box. There probably won't be any big difference in the picture quality, though, as it is being downscaled to fit a sub-4k TV.
I've been looking at buying a Vizio M55-C2 4K TV or a comparable 65" 1080p TV. I will primarily be watching Netflix, Hulu and other streaming TV and movies as well as playing Xbox One games. Would the 4K M55-C2 be recommended for gaming and tv/movies or should I go for the larger screen, 1080p TV since the prices could be similar? If a 1080p, 65" is recommended, what is the best one to get for tv, movies and xbox one gaming? Thanks!
If you sit more than 8 feet away from the TV, you might not notice the improvements of a 55" 4k picture over a 1080p TV and should go for the bigger screen. If your viewing distance is close enough and you plan on watching 4k content, you will appreciate the Vizio M even if there is a bit more blur than ideal. For a bigger 1080p TV, the Vizio E will give you a similar picture quality with better motion handling.
Why do some 1080p BluRays not upscale to 4K on my Samsung JU7500? Mad Max Fury Road BR plays in letterbox, while my Deadwood BRs fill the screen. I use a Samsung BD-J7500 player that has upscale capabilities. Thanks for your help!
Since the JU7500 does a great job at upscaling lower resolutions, you can just turn off any kind of upscaling from the BD player and let the TV do the work. If you think your BD player can do a better job at upscaling, change the aspect ratio until the picture fits your screen.
I am considering purchasing a 4k tv. I mostly use tv for Hulu and Netflix that I watch on my Apple TV. Since most hulu/netflix content is not 4k, will purchasing a 4k TV be worth it? Will the TV automatically upscale shows I watch from my Apple TV?
It is not worth it if you don't plan to watch 4k contents but if you ever decide to buy one anyway, everything you watch on your Apple TV will be upscaled and look good on a 4k TV.
I have a Sony STR-DG720 home theater receiver, which only has an HDMI 1.3 output (presumably inputs too). It works great for showing HD from a PC based Blu-ray player, and apparently allows broadcast and DVD signals to pass-through fine for up-scaling on my 1080p TV. My question is: Will an HDMI 1.3 signal be compatible with a UHD TV at all? I know that I won't get 60FPS, and maybe not even 30, since it's not v1.4, but will I get a better picture, up-scaling, anything? I'll definitely have to upgrade to something with HDMI 2.0 when content becomes more available, but I'd like to take advantage of the larger screens now. However, UHD would be less tempting if I had to shell out another $300-$400 for a new receiver at the same time, just to enjoy current content. Any advice would be appreciated.
Don't worry about it, it will work with your current setup. The TV will do the upscaling instead of your receiver, since your receiver can't do it. You just need to upgrade your receiver when you have access to real UHD content.
Better option for gaming: Higher end Samsung 65" 1080p set or mid-lower end Vizio 55" 4K set? I know 4K content is far from vast so it's probably not absolutely necessary at this point but, I just want my games to look better!
If you will be playing console video games, then 4k doesn't matter at all because even the PS4 or XBox One is 1080p max. Therefore, get the better 1080p TV.
I have a Sony bdp 790 Blu Ray Player that has 4k upscaling and a Sony 4K tv and a Sony STR DN 1060 receiver. The receiver and tv are hdcp 2.2 compliant. Would it benefit any to put the bluray hdmi plug into the hdcp 2.2 compliant port or will it upscale regardless of which hdmi port it is plugged in to?
HDCP 2.2 is for copy protection only so your bluray player will upscale regardless of what HDMI input it uses. Once 4k bluray players hit the shelves, then HDCP 2.2 compliance will matter. No need to worry about this with your current setup.
I buy a lot of movies on Amazon streaming service and have a 4k TV. Should I continue to buy streaming movies or spend the money and buy the 4k disc?
4k Blu-ray discs have a bit-rate that can go up to 100mbps, which is 4 times better than 4k streaming. So if you don't mind losing flexibility, 4k Blu-rays are definitely higher quality.
If I buy a 4K camcorder, can I display and edit the video in video editors in my laptop? How can I check the graphics card to see if it will be able to handle it or not? Thanks.
You should be able to display and edit the video, but it will be downscaled to your laptop's screen resolution (you'll still be able to export it as a 4k video, though). Note that it will be quite demanding of your computer, so it will be a slow process.
I currently own a Vizio 42" 3D TV. I also have a Vizio 3D Blu-ray player. I love 3D. If I purchased a 4K set, would I be able to play my 3D content? Would it present as 3D with the glasses? Thanks!
No. Vizio's current lineup doesn't support 3D.
I saw a criticism of your reviews on the topic of Upscaling in the comments on another site. Essentially, they say that your comments on which TVs/Displays better handle Upscaling is purely subjective, not based on any real data. How do you judge the quality of Upscaling? Is there an industry consensus? (PS- I really enjoyed the detailed information you provided on all the Displays/TVs I considered- thanks!).

Yes it is true that the upscaling scores is subjectively assigned. We base our judgment on the pictures taken at each resolution and we compare to the native resolution picture. We also compare our results based on our experience with all the other TVs that we reviewed in the past.

There is a mathematical way to determine the quality of upscaling, but it only works if you can analyze a digital output of the upscale TV signal and compare with the native signal. Unfortunately, consumer grade TV do not have a digital video output. This analysis cannot really be done precisely from a photo taken of the screen unfortunately so that why we do it subjectively at the moment.

You can learn more about this specific subject here.

I am interested in the KS8000. I have a small apartment but the living room is a decent size. I have thoroughly looked at your recommendation table but are there exceptions to the rule? I think a 65 inch will overwhelm the room on wall. Is it possible to get a 49 or 55 inch and still benefit from 4K in general? The viewing distance is about 9 feet.
A 65" is recommended for a 9 foot viewing distance. You can go smaller and still benefit from 4K.
I bought a 4K TV set (Sony X930D 65") and the picture looks worse than I anticipated. I know the content at the store was 4K and it tries to upscale my 1080 content, but while watching a lot of sports it looks blurry. Would a 65" 1080 TV also look blurry for sports? What about a smaller 4K TV - would that give me a better picture when upscaling 1080? Thanks!
First check to see if a native 4K image looks perfectly sharp, to see if it's a problem with the TV itself. Also reset your TV settings to make sure a softening filter or something like that is not being applied.

A 1080p image on a 1080p TV will look less blurry but more jagged than a 1080p image on a 4K TV. It's a matter of preference whether one looks better than the other. A 1080p image on a smaller 4K TV or a 4K TV that is further away will also look sharper, but will obviously be smaller.

That said there are many different upscaling algorithms that all look different. Many of the picture modes on a Sony TV use different upscaling algorithms, so some will produce images that look sharper than others. There is also a sharpening filter that will make the image less blurry, and a Reality Creation filter on Sony TVs that affects the sharpness and noise of the image. Experiment with different settings to see if there are any you prefer.

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