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Forced to sit 5.5' from TV. Have 40", want to go bigger. 4K or not?

Yet another "to 4K or not to 4K" question, I know. But I think this is a very specific set of criteria causing my confusion, so, thank you for bearing with me.

Recently completed a little screening room in the darkest, quietest, sweetest spot in my NYC railroad apartment. However, it leaves me stuck with a <span id="INSERTION_MARKER">5.5 feet viewing distance (actually about 68"). With my 40" LCD it isn't bad. But the TV is old and I want to go more immersive. According to online charts and ratios, it seems 40" is almost pushing as big as I should go before I start to see pixels at this distance on the FHD screen. But I think I can probably get away with 50", or 55", FHD. Anyway, after one of these size/distance relationships, the advice goes, I'd benefit from 4K. And I understand that. But what about without the content, since it's basically still non-existent? Would upscaling blu-rays or 1080p media (or for that matter, less than 1080p, like typical Netflix streams) to a 55" 4K screen, viewed at 5.5 ft, look as good as 1:1 1080p picture on a 1080p screen - of the same size - at the same distance? Basically I'm wondering if I'll benefit from the extra pixels of UHD with upscaled content. I know it won't be a 4K-quality image. But will it look worse than 1080?

If folks think I could do a 50" or 55" FHD at this distance and not notice (or mind) pixels, I'd do that, because they're much more affordable, and I think I've got a few years before 4K and/or OLED really land within my reach.

Thanks for any advice.


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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by cool yeti

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IMNSHO, you *will* mind seeing the pixels

Perhaps not right away, but you will eventually become annoyed seeing them constantly. Been there, done that.
For this reason, your primary issue is the viewing space/seating distance, not resolution per se.

Moving to a newer, slightly larger 1080p HDTV on sale- one with better picture quality/contrast/detail/black levels than you enjoy now is a better target vs 4K IMO. Maybe a 50" vs a 55 if possible to better suit your viewing space.

Start talking about upscaling Netflix content and you will most certainly receive at least a few snarky comments(!) Wink

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re: you *will* mind seeing the pixels

In reply to: IMNSHO, you *will* mind seeing the pixels

"For this reason, your primary issue is the viewing space/seating distance, not resolution per se."

Really? I think that the way content plays over a given field of pixels is my primary concern. My seating distance is a part of that equation, but it is fixed, and immutable. What can be changed is the number of pixels, and their respective densities within that field.

<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">"Start talking about upscaling Netflix content and you will most certainly receive at least a few snarky comments(!)"


<span>So - if I'm understanding - upscaling FHD quality content (or less, like typical Netflix streams) to a 4K canvas is snark-worthy; so upscaling to 4K does not yield equal or improved IQ compared to playing FHD media on an FHD device? Great. This is what I'm trying to find out.

And so you're saying my best bet is to get a larger HD TV, but that I will eventually become annoyed at seeing pixels constantly?

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Just to confuse,

In reply to: re: you *will* mind seeing the pixels

I am going to throw something else here (just for fun). If you have 3D tv, the best effect is when you sit very close to the tv.

On upscaling, that might depends on how high upscaling we are talking about. So going from 1080 (blu-ray disc) to 4K may not be so bad, but Netflix..I wonder. More often then not, I don't get HD on Netflix. When I do get HD, I don't know if it's 720 or 1080.

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Netflix only serves up 720p/1080i, not 1080p

In reply to: Just to confuse,

Upscaling their SD content is obviously a non-starter, and IME, upscaling even some of their true HD offerings will not be w/o peculiarities in PQ, especially given the variety of devices performing this upscaling. YMMV.

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Review the first article Bob provided above

In reply to: re: you *will* mind seeing the pixels

With more time on the track, viewing a wider variety of content on different display/input devices, will lead you to understand how the resolution and 1:1 pixel matching you are concerned with isn't the most important factor. PQ is mostly involving all the other stuff(!) Wink

You hit the nail on the head though. Upscaling on junky discount 4K HDTVs in the marketplace now won't look very good. Also, at that distance you will also be privy to all sorts of observations that you would not necessarily spot at a more reasonable/typical seating distance.

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In reply to: Review the first article Bob provided above

Very good! I think you all have helped keep me in the land of 1,080 horizontal pixels.

re: the Geoffrey Morrison cnet article Bob linked above:

Most of the piece was making a case against getting a 4K TV. But there were a couple thoughts which seemed contrary to the flow of the argument:

"The closer the screen is to your eyeballs (or the bigger it is), the more resolution you need. That's all I've been saying from the beginning."

"Presuming points No. 2, 3, and/or 4, quality upconversion can add some detail to 1080p content, making it appear a little sharper than nonupconverted 1080p on a like-size 1080p screen. Again, this is presuming you're close enough to see it."

So, arguably I stand corrected, and that did answer my initial question (although I find it somewhat noncommittal ["can add some detail"], and probably contributed to my coming here in search of further opinion). Anyway -- looks like it's going to be a nice (good specs!), hopefully inexpensive, reasonably sized 1080p.

Thanks again folks... <div>

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My apology.

In reply to: thanks

I use that link because a) I have it handy and more so b) it has the chart that gives us a heads up on sizes, distances and such.

Now if you were using this a a PC Monitor, my answer would change big time.

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re: so it will have to be 50 or larger?

In reply to: So it will have to be 50 or larger?

Thanks for the links. I'm familiar with them. I don't think they contain the answer to my question.

re: so it will have to be 50 or larger?

I think so. I've done the showroom visits with a tape measure, and find that 50 or 55 is the best for me considering these parameters. If I went 4K, and had 4K content, I could go larger. 55", according to my tests, is questionable as far as seeing pixels at 5.5 feet. Sometimes I noticed, sometimes I didn't. (I know the content and TV settings in-store are all jacked, but I wasn't distracted by that.) Hence my hesitation with just enthusiastically getting a bigger, newer 1080 TV. I haven't seen 4K playing a 1080 blu-ray alongside an FHD of the same size, playing the same blu-ray. If the 4K - upscaling the blu-ray - looked "the same" in image quality as the 1080 TV, then I'd be compelled to consider going that route, because all things being equal, I could use the pixel density at my distance.


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There is no exact answer.

In reply to: re: so it will have to be 50 or larger?

If you have 20 YO fighter pilot vision, it could matter. There's more going on in the 4K sets so if you go there, be sure to get the last HDMI 2.0a

Also, some 4K sets could only eek out 30Hz at 4K. Beyond the pixels, get into the specs.

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In reply to: There is no exact answer.

Copy that. I will (I do!) get into the specs.

Thanks for your time and wisdom.


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