Week 4, 2016: Getting the most from a 4K TV, now and in the future


Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 4, 2016

Q. I just set up my new 4K OLED TV with my OPPO BDP-103D Darbee Blu-ray player. It look good but the seller said, “It will be a while before true 4K UHD sources are available.” They touched on upscaling my current U-verse TV source, 4K streaming boxes and Internet speeds required for streaming,and 4K quality remastered Blu-ray discs. I would just like to utilize the system’s capabilities and my current sources to view the closest thing to true 4K UHD today. My current Internet connection is 3 Mbps (megabits per second.) Does that play a factor for streaming from Netflix and Amazon?

-Bob Brzycki, New Berlin, WI

A. Netflix and Amazon recommend speeds from 15 Mbps to 25 Mbps, much higher than your 3 Mbps rate. You don’t have nearly enough speed to stream 4K, but we can talk about how to make the most of your current equipment as well as what is on the horizon.

You are off to a good start with the Oppo Blu-ray player. You can connect your U-verse set-top box to the Oppo player so they player acts as a video processor. Not only is it the best Blu-ray player you can buy, it is also one of the best video processors, combining two kinds of processing to make the most of standard definition or high definition sources from the player itself or your set-top box.

The first, and most important processing is Darbee Visual Presence (DVP.) DVP brings new clarity and definition to the picture using a proprietary process that improves the image without creating artifacts or making it look unnatural. It’s like having your cake and eating it too, and it really works. When setting the DVP I recommend using the high definition setting at 35%.

The second processing is Oppo’s 4K upscaler with Advanced Picture Controls. After applying the DVP processing to the DVD, Blu-ray disc, media streamed from the player, or the signal from your set-top box, the Oppo will upscale it to 4K using a processor that is likely much better than the one in the television. You can fine-tune the picture in the player as well as on the TV’s picture controls to make it look its very best. I have a separate video processor in my own system and I was able to achieve a better picture using it in conjunction with the TV’s picture settings, than I was using the TV’s picture settings on their own. Readers can see the player and the Darbee difference at http://tinyurl.com/oppodarbee.

Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Panasonic announced their high-end DMP UB-900 player without pricing, and Samsung announced their UBD-K8500 player for $499, with pre-orders selling for $399. The Samsung will ship in March and you can see it at http://tinyurl.com/samsungultrahdbd. Don’t expect many 4K Blu-ray movies to be available for quite a while, and expect them to be quite expensive compared to regular Blu-ray.

At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show I spoke with an engineer who helped develop the original high definition broadcast standard we use today. He told me they are pretty close to completion of the 4K broadcast standard for over-the-air network broadcasts. Unfortunately it is not compatible with the current system and those with existing 4K TVs will need an external tuner box to receive it.

This all probably sounds very familiar to anyone who went through the conversion to HDTV from standard definition. I’m out of space for today, but will have a lot more to say on 4K in upcoming columns.