Chalk this up to new tech growing pains, and take it as a heads-up to early Ultra HD Blu-ray  and 4K TV adopters: Recently, HD Guru received a letter from a distressed reader who had purchased Samsung’s UHD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player to go with a new Philips (U.K. version 49PUS7809/12) 4K Ultra HD TV.

After connecting the 4K Ultra HD player to the TV and inserting a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc (The Martian from Twentieth Century Fox) into the player, an image appeared on screen identified as “1080p resolution” by the television set’s signal information readout.

Confused and understandably annoyed that he wasn’t getting the picture he had paid for, the reader said he tried to manually force the resolution up to the 2160p setting (automatic is the default) with the K8500’s resolution controls but got a blank screen.

Now frustrated, the reader, who is in England, contacted Philips’ U.K. tech support and found little help. The set was said to be fully capable of playing 2160p up to 30fps. The player was set to output 24p, which should have been fine.

A litany of potential problems was discussed including: type and length of HDMI cable used and chroma sub sampling output on the Samsung UHD-K8500 player. Philips’ tech support advised that the chroma sub sampling had to be “set properly on the engineer’s menu” to output 4:2:0. Seeing as the base specifications for the Ultra HD Blu-ray calls for 4:2:0, that was not very likely the problem.

Read more of the Ultra HD Blu-ray growing pains issue after the jump:

The reader then went to Samsung’s (U.K.) technical support line and after a 45-minute communication breakdown with the tech assistant came away without a solution.

Our reader contacted us, but unfamiliar with Philips’ U.K. television models we were puzzled. Fortunately, the problem was posted on an online technical forum and a knowledgeable Samaritan had the answer: the menus on some Ultra HD Blu-ray titles are authored in 2160p at 60 fps.

Many better-performing 4K Ultra HD TVs sold today will handle 4K/60p frame rates and this will not be a problem for them, but some 4K Ultra HDTVs are only capable of handling up to 4K/30 fps signals.

If one of these sets senses a 2160/60 fps signal, the image is automatically converted down to 1080/60p, which the TV can display and reports that resolution level in the on-screen display.

However, as soon as the actual film starts, the Ultra HD Blu-ray player then changes the resolution to output 2160p/24, which the Philips TV can handle on the No. 1 HDMI/HDCP 2.2 input. Both the player and TV then automatically switch the output and display to 2160/24p.

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As it turns out, there was no problem with the player or the television, it just took a few seconds into the start of the feature on the disc to see that a 4K Ultra HD image was, indeed, playing on the screen. But who knew Ultra HD Blu-ray menus are authored as 4K/60p? Not many.

For U.S. readers, the Philips model 49PUS7809/12 will not be found in stores here and won’t be a problem. Philips TV’s are licensed, manufactured and sold by a different company – P&F USA — for U.S. distribution. The Philips TVs in the U.K. are manufactured and sold by TPV for distribution in markets outside of North America.

Still, many 4K Ultra HDTVs sold in the U.S. over the past several years also will not support 4K/60p frame rates and might encounter the same problem. So, when you get a Samsung UHD-K8500 or another Ultra HD Blu-ray player coming in the future, remember this obscure bit of technical trivia and you’ll know why your new Ultra HD player is reading 1080p when it should be 2160p. It might save you a big headache.

By Greg Tarr


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