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[OP]
Newbie
Apr 25, 2008
89 posts
18 upvotes

Why 4k vs 1080p?

Hi all,

Just looking to get thoughts on why to get 4k vs 1080p tvs. I can't find much that is just 1080p, but when I do some light research old articles come up about how upscaling content to 4K isn't great. The in-laws are looking for a secondary tv and don't use Netflix/Youtube/other services with 4k. The main viewing is using a cable box.

I'm happy to suggest they go 4k with some of the pricing, but wanted to get others thoughts and comments for quality on the 4k tv with 1080p content.

Thanks in advance!
13 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2017
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Looks good. I run 1080 and down content on a 4K via PC (don't think there is any upscaling), and BD on a Oppo BD player that upscales to 4K (looks bad wirh DVD). Also have some 4K on the IPTV PVR but that's only as good as the content and compression (or rather, lack thereof).
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
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Apr 18, 2009
3530 posts
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Toronto
i'd say depends on the size of the tv you are getting, and the price difference between 1080p and 4k

if it's under 40 inches, i would stick to 1080
Sr. Member
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Nov 29, 2011
956 posts
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Milton
If getting a TV now I'd say 4K is more about just future-proofing.

4K is also about more than resolution, it can also be about colour with HDR, and often the 4K blu rays will have Atmos sound or other upgrades over the 1080 blu rays. But that will also depend on your actual setup.

As others said, viewing distance is a factor, if it's a smaller TV and/or you are far enough away, it won't really matter between 1080 and 4K.

But I would agree, there just really isn't that much great content out there. I just got a 4K TV not too long ago, and realized DAZN for sports is worthless, it's apparently not even 1080 but the feeds are just garbage on the TV to where I cancelled and just use other streams. 4K on streaming services is often more compressed and really doesn't look much if any better than the 1080 blu ray I have.

Like you mentioned, a lot of 4K content is really just upscaled from 2K (1080) sources. Unless something is either initially created in 4K, or they go back to a suitable source (eg. film) and remaster something in true 4K, then you won't see much visual difference. There's the colour grading but enough examples of them messing that up. Overall not enough places seem to be putting much effort into their 4K releases.

If your in-laws are just sticking with a cable box though, I'm sure down the road you'll have more content coming in 4K so would be more worthwhile. Just not something you'd probably see much immediate benefit for. If it's a TV they only plan to have/use for a couple years, go 1080. If it's ideally meant to last a decade, go 4K.

If they use Netflix the 4K option is a few bucks more too with very limited offerings. At least Disney+ includes their 4K offerings in the same price point.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
18374 posts
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Toronto
It is probably a bad idea to get a 1080p TV in 2020 as a primary TV. With certain combinations of 4K sources and/or 4K AV receivers, there can be compatibility issues if the end of the chain is a 1080p TV. I've run into this problem myself where a 4K source device connected in a chain to a 1080p or 720p display has given me no picture. I was informed there was an HDCP problem, and instead of just connecting at 1080p, it gave me no picture at all. This has happened to me twice, with two completely different setups. Both were 4K source --> 4K receiver --> non-4K TV.

BTW, 1080p content if good quality looks good on a 4K TVs, if the 4K TVs have good upscalers. Actually, even if it doesn't have a good upscaler, it usually looks good. The problem is when you have content below 720p (like 480p DVD). With a poor upscaler the quality may be poor. Typically the bigger name brand 4K TVs have decent upscalers but the noname brand TVs often have poor 4K upscalers.

Also, typically, the upper and mid tier TVs now are all 4K anyway. Typically the 1080p TVs available now are lower tier. They're not inferior because they are 1080p, but because they cut corners on everything else too to reach that lower price point.
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
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TONS of content is 4K nowadays especially via the streaming services, you'd be silly to get a 1080p TV this day and age unless its a free hand-me-down.
Sr. Member
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Nov 29, 2011
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Milton
Ecsta wrote: TONS of content is 4K nowadays especially via the streaming services, you'd be silly to get a 1080p TV this day and age unless its a free hand-me-down.
I would agree to get a 4K TV, but to say there is "tons" is misleading, at least with respect to Netflix. Unless you care about Netflix originals (which have long become tantamount to shovelware on a game console for the most part), it is a really bad offering, even more so that they charge an extra $4 for it. Sure you'll get Hotel Transylvania 3 or Space Force in 4K, but not Mission Impossible Fallout, Matrix, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, or Saving Private Ryan. All movies with decent 4K releases. Most new non-Netflix originals are not even added in 4K, such as Venom for a recent example.

Prime Video isn't much better, it's 4K content is mostly Prime originals and a random assortment of other stuff, most of which no one would care about, but at least it's only $8/mo and includes Prime shipping.

I would acknowledge though that Disney+ is much better. Not only is the bulk of their library or core library 4K, including all Marvel, Pixar, Pirates, Star Wars, animated, etc, they don't charge extra for 4K and it's still only $8.99 versus Netflix's $18.99 (or $14.99 for HD).

So overall it will depend on which services you use or what you watch. If you only have Netflix or Amazon and expect to find a lot of non-original 4K content you'd actually recognize, there isn't much of it. I am really disappointed with Netflix to the point I'll probably downgrade back to the HD tier until they can prioritize 4K beyond their own originals.
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Jan 17, 2009
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evosero wrote: I would agree to get a 4K TV, but to say there is "tons" is misleading, at least with respect to Netflix. Unless you care about Netflix originals (which have long become tantamount to shovelware on a game console for the most part), it is a really bad offering, even more so that they charge an extra $4 for it. Sure you'll get Hotel Transylvania 3 or Space Force in 4K, but not Mission Impossible Fallout, Matrix, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, or Saving Private Ryan. All movies with decent 4K releases. Most new non-Netflix originals are not even added in 4K, such as Venom for a recent example.

Prime Video isn't much better, it's 4K content is mostly Prime originals and a random assortment of other stuff, most of which no one would care about, but at least it's only $8/mo and includes Prime shipping.

I would acknowledge though that Disney+ is much better. Not only is the bulk of their library or core library 4K, including all Marvel, Pixar, Pirates, Star Wars, animated, etc, they don't charge extra for 4K and it's still only $8.99 versus Netflix's $18.99 (or $14.99 for HD).

So overall it will depend on which services you use or what you watch. If you only have Netflix or Amazon and expect to find a lot of non-original 4K content you'd actually recognize, there isn't much of it. I am really disappointed with Netflix to the point I'll probably downgrade back to the HD tier until they can prioritize 4K beyond their own originals.
The original content is the best part of the streaming services.. If you expand beyond streaming services, there's plenty of movies being remastered and released in 4K (and sometimes HDR / DolbyVision) that are amazing and even better if you have a quality sound system. It is 10000% worth it to get a 4K TV, hell you would probably pay more to get a 1080p TV since they're so not sought after at this point.

If OP is really set on a 1080p TV, IMO his best bet is to get a used 1080p plasma someones selling because they upgraded. Phenomenal quality only matched by OLED (even some people prefer plasma) and it can be had fairly cheap.. Assuming you don't mind having a 42" heater.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
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evosero wrote: I would agree to get a 4K TV, but to say there is "tons" is misleading, at least with respect to Netflix. Unless you care about Netflix originals (which have long become tantamount to shovelware on a game console for the most part), it is a really bad offering, even more so that they charge an extra $4 for it.
I agree with the other poster. The original content on Netflix and Amazon is one of the biggest reasons to get those services.

For example, IMO, Amazon’s The Boys is one of the best shows out there. Netflix’s Daredevil was also totally awesome.
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
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Photos look gorgeous in 4K, way better than 1080p. That was the main reason for me to go with 4k when upgrading our main (living room) TV (bought a high end Samsung LCD, Q80R). I have >15,000 photos in my collection, all scaled to 4k. Streaming them from an Android box running Openelec with Kodi, as a music slide show.
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Jun 1, 2006
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Practically all TVs are 4k. You are hard pressed to find a brand new 1080p to buy. You can get a used or hand me down 1080p TV. All the big manufacturers like Sony and Samsung only make 4K TVs. Even budget brands like RCA are making 4K TVs

Even if you could find a 1080p TV, there is no price difference between would it and a 4K TV because the prices of 4K TVs are now the same as 1080p TVs years ago.
Have a nice day!


Deal Addict
Mar 18, 2015
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May be it's my eyes but the 1080p content on my 4k tv looks pretty good to me. No one else complained either; family or friends.

I wouldn't hunt for a 1080p tv on purpose.
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 25, 2008
89 posts
18 upvotes
Thanks everyone for the replies and insight.

Ended up getting a TCL 6 series which is 4k. For $500 as a secondary tv in the basement, with the comments about picture quality, eventual future proofing and fairly insignificant price difference between new 4k/1080p made the decision easier.

Thanks again all!

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