Buy a FHD TV (more expensive) or Budget 4K (cheaper) for mainly 1080p watching? How bad is the upscaling?

jxb111

Novice Member
Hello all, these forums have so much interesting information thank you! I have a rather specific scenario question, so figured I would make a post as I'd like to ask for your advice.

We're looking to buy a 50" for predominantly 1080p watching. In 2021, it appears that only one Full HD model is still being sold in the UK at 49/50", the Sony KDL50WF663 at £449.
  1. Is it worth buying this Full HD Sony WF66 for £449, over a budget 4K that is cheaper?
    The LG 50 UN7300 is selling for £399 and the Hisense 50 U7Q is at £449. We're in no rush to buy a TV and prices may even fall a bit further in the next months.

  2. What is the upscaling like on today's budget 4K TVs?
    Even if watching upscaled 1080p is a little bit worse, is it that noticeable, and hence we could buy the 4K TV anyway (because it's cheaper and gives the option to watch 4K streaming services in the future?


Previous TV situation/ habits:
  • Been living with my partner's parents for a long time, so we did not watch much TV on their old 40 inch Full HD TV.
  • When we did watch, 60% SD Freeview broadcast, and 40% Netflix
  • Most of our watching comes from watching 1080p on my laptop. 1080p videos, 1080p sport, 1080p youtube, etc.
  • We have now moved into our own place so are looking to buy our first TV, 50" size, lower-tier prices.
  • We do not currently own a TV.
What we're looking for:
  • No soundbar, DVD, Blu-Ray or games consoles
  • Our TV watching habits will probably change once we have a TV in our own space and start using the TV as a primary entertainment source
  • On this forum I've discovered that there are some HD Freeview broadcast channels which I never knew about! And that catch-up apps work well on TVs too
  • I imagine once we get a TV, our former SD Freeview watching will be replaced by either watching HD Freeview or watching catch-up apps. And some of the 1080p laptop stuff will be moved to watching 1080p on the smart TV.
  • Hence mainly on our new TV we will be watching 1080p stuff
  • If we got a 4K, in the future we do not intend to watch 4K Blu-Ray or do gaming
  • If we got a 4K, then perhaps we'd subscribe to Netflix UHD and similar UHD streaming services, however it's not super duper necessary or important.
  • Viewing distance is about 2.1-2.4m depending on where we put the sofa.
  • My eyesight is -0.25 and things far away are a tiny bit blurry. I only wear glasses when driving. I watch TV without glasses, and on the old 40" the text was sometimes a little bit blurry, though I could still make things out. So perhaps I won't notice the imperfections from upscaled 1080p.
  • Ultimately whilst I understand watching 1080p on a Full HD will be 'better' than watching upscaled on a 4K, how much more noticeable will it actually be, given my eyesight and viewing distance? And since a budget 4K is cheaper, and allows the option to watch 4K streaming in the future, should we just go for the 4K?

  • IPS and VA doesn't matter TOO much. We're not heavy TV watchers and we're buying lower-tier TVs anyway. 60% leaning towards IPS and 40% VA. We live in a one bedroom apartment, two of us watching head-on, only in the evenings and on weekends. The TV space is not overly bright during the daytime since it's north facing and not near a window, though I guess IPS would still be better for daytime watching. Plus IPS would be better on those occasions with guests. In the evenings we're comfortable watching with the lights on, or with the lights off, no huge preference. I tend to watch a fair amount of 1080p sports, but from what I currently understand from reading these forums lower-tier IPS and VAs are both not great for sports clarity anyway.
Thanks a lot!
 
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Dodgexander

Moderator
With the intent to enjoy 4k in the near future, and watching mainly HD you should be okay with a 4k model. The biggest concern now when buying a TV and future proofing really is HDR picture quality, so ideally you want to aim for one with adequate HDR hardware. The only way to get that sub 55" without spending extortionate money would be the Sony XH9505.

Of course you can spend less, but I'd recommend if you do to invest in an external device for smart TV so you can disable HDR on the TVs HDMI port to avoid the issues associated with using HDR on a cheaper TV.

I figure from the TVs you're looking at so far that the XH9505 may be over budget, but as I say to other people with the same predicament, I do think its money well invested, since in the future if you want to enjoy 4k and HDR content on your new TV you may be disappointed you didn't spend the extra on a TV like the Sony XH9505.

Regarding panel types, it kind of ties in with HDR too. If you are shopping with a limited budget IPS doesn't matter so much since no TV is going to display HDR without problems anyway, but once you start looking at HDR and the future of video you basically have to go for a TV with a VA panel unless you go for an OLED. The unfortunate thing about this is they have narrow viewing angles, and TVs that have special filters to increase viewing angles on VA panels are larger than 50". For example, the 49" Sony XH9505 doesn't have the wide viewing angle filter the 55" and higher versions have.

To cut a long story short, there's not much value today in cheaper TVs and you'll find considerably better value for money buying 55" than 50" if looking for something more premium. Here's a link from my best buy guide to another user asking about low tier models:

In the guide, there are also models separated by panel type. So if you do decide on a low tier model, look for the ones that state they have wide viewing angles such as 49" Sony's or LGs. They will be listed under the spoiler: LCD TVs with wider viewing angles, but worse contrast, blacks and dark room/scene performance.
 

jxb111

Novice Member
Hi @Dodgexander thanks for your reply, and also all of your other replies on this forum. I've been reading the different threads with people asking similar things about cheap 4K TVs.

We decided to go with a 4K as that also allowed us to have more options than just that one FHD Sony WF66 to choose from. And allowed us to go up to a 55".

Since then I've just been watching out for sales, changes in prices of things like the U7Q XH9005 or Nano86, looking at the sony refurb centre etc. In the end we bought an ex-display model Sony 55 XG9505 that was wall mounted in a store but still had the plastic wrap on the TV for £570!

Thanks
 
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tvdavid

Well-known Member
that is a great tv.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
Hi @Dodgexander thanks for your reply, and also all of your other replies on this forum. I've been reading the different threads with people asking similar things about cheap 4K TVs.

We decided to go with a 4K as that also allowed us to have more options than just that one FHD Sony WF66 to choose from. And allowed us to go up to a 55".

Since then I've just been watching out for sales, changes in prices of things like the U7Q XH9005 or Nano86, looking at the sony refurb centre etc. In the end we bought an ex-display model Sony 55 XG9505 that was wall mounted in a store but still had the plastic wrap on the TV for £570!

Thanks
Wow, great find. That is essentially the same hardware as the new XH9505.
 

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