Can I Play 4K/Ultra HD Discs On My 1080p TV?

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A I’m interested in buying a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player but don’t yet own a 4K TV due to budget constraints. Can an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc be played on a regular HDTV? What quality issues would I run into? —Billy Keener / via e-mail

Q Yes, you can play Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs on a regular HDTV. What will happen is that the player will downconvert the 3840 x 2160-resolution video on the disc to a 1080p format your TV can display. It will also bypass any high dynamic range (HDR) metadata since regular HDTVs aren’t capable of processing that information.

As for quality issues, I personally haven’t noticed any serious artifacts when viewing down-converted Ultra HD Blu-rays on a regular HDTV. I should add that many Ultra HD Blu-rays also come packaged with a standard Blu-ray version. So, even if you do buy movies on Ultra HD Blu-ray while saving up for a 4K TV, chances are you won’t even have to mess around with video downconversion.

SkinnyPanda's picture

Think your going about this all wrong Billy Keener. Why get a 4k ultra Hd player when you don’t even know the capabilities of your future tv. If you get a display capable of Dolby Vision, you would need a player capable of supporting it. Save and get the tv first and purchase a player that would support all your tv capabilities. Getting a player now to use with your 1080p set would provide zero benefits as your not taking advantage of the higher resolution, HDR or wider color support. Chances are by the time you have made your tv purchase, players will be better priced than what’s available now. Put the money towards your tv purchase than purchasing a 4k player right now that would provide zero picture improvements.


africord's picture

I believe the "Q" and the "A" for this Q&A are reversed.

dnoonie's picture

So I'm already collecting UHD BD disks for my new purchases (exclusively unless the HD BD price is bargain basement).

All the UHD purchases I've made have come with a HD BD disk too which is what I least until I get a UHD TV and UHD player.


Michael in Dallas's picture

I bought my first 4K player before I got my 4K TV because of the logistics of having a large screen shipped to the house and the fact that I could pick up the player at work using a discount. I used the player on a 1080 screen for about 4 or 5 weeks. Blurays actually did have more dynamic range and 4K discs did not look bad, but of course you do not see a big difference till you get the 4K screen. In fact they seemed a little too dark. I only have one complaint about the state of 4k right now. Film is such a limited media even when converted to 4K disc. Up conversions of regular blurays often look as good or better than a poorly mastered 4K disc of a film. Films' limitations of grain, color, clarity and sharpness become quite evident on 4K discs. I personally wish that movie makers would switch over to 4K HDR 60 fps video at least and ditch film forever. Everything is shown digitally anyway even in theaters where the new format could be easily presented. To see 4K now in all its clear clean glory, you have to stream 4K Videos from Youtube. The demo videos are spectacular.