Late in 2017, I decided it was time to retire the 10 year old HD Panasonic Plasma and dive into a 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) system. Apple had just released its Apple TV 4K and the reviews looked very favorable. My engineering goal was not merely 4K/UHD but also HDR in the form of Dolby Vision (DV). So I started my research for real. “Apple TV, 4K Mania: HDR10, Dolby Vision & HLG Explained.”
What an adventure it all turned out to be.
The Audio Video Receiver (AVR)
My previous system used a Denon AVR, but it was a 2007 model and was limited to HD. I’d need a new AVR. After much research I selected a replacement Denon model AVR-X1400H. The specs looked like just what I needed: including plenty of UHD HDMI 2.0a input ports, all supporting the various HDR formats: HLG, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. I was very, very happy with the previous Denon, and this new one looked like a good buy. I was right.
The 4K/UHD TV
All my TVs over the previous decades have been Sonys except for the Panasonic Plasma I bought in 2007. When I heard about Sony’s new OLED line announced at CES in early 2017, I was ecstatic. For various technical reasons, I wanted an OLED TV, not a backlit LCD TV, even if the backlighting were Quantum Dots. Besides, many articles I read suggested that if one is coming off a Plasma with its amazing black levels, only an OLED (with its self-emitting pixels, like a Plasma) would satisfy.
There was just one problem. Even the smallest Sony A1E model at 55 inches was beyond my budget, about US$4,000. I wanted to spend what I had for the Plasma. So I spent the summer of 2017 stewing about what to do. Fortunately, by the fall, the price had come down. Plus, Sony offered me a media discount, and that landed me at the price point I wanted. I sprung for it in October, 2017.
All I had to do was replace the old components with the three new ones. In addition, I discovered that Apple was strongly recommending new HDMI cables, capable of 18 Gbps. (The Belkin Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable is about $30. I tried it, and it works great.) Here’s the story on the the Premium High Speed HDMI cables needed for HDMI 2.0a/b.
Once the system was set up, I started writing up a storm.
- 21Nov17: 4K/UHD TV and Apple TV 4K Buying Tips
- 28Nov17: Most Everything to Know About Apple TV 4K
- 30Nov17: How to Get 4K/UHD and HDR Content on Netflix with Apple TV 4K
- 20Dec17: How to Set Up Your Apple TV 4K
- 02Jan18: Understanding Apple TV 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision
- 16Jan18: Post CES 2018 Update on the State of 4K/UHD HDR Formats
Elusive Dolby Vision
By and by, into the new year, as I became familiar with my new system, I became aware of the fact, thanks to my Sony rep, that I would need an update to the A1E’s software to actually enable Dolby Vision. I did the update over the internet on January 18, and I thought I was done.
Far from it.
I also discovered that Dolby was rolling out some new Dolby Vision software, and not only would my TV need an update, but also the Apple TV 4K. In the midst of tvOS 11.2.x, I would eventually need tvOS 11.3.
To make the final leap, I’d need to enroll in the tvOS Beta Test program. I explained how to do that on 31Jan18: “How to Sign Up for Apple’s tvOS Public Betas.”
Eureka. I was now seeing titles on Netflix badged in Dolby Vision. But it was clear that my Apple TV 4K still wasn’t set up for Dolby Vision in Settings > Video and Audio > Format. All I could achieve was 4K HDR @ 60Hz. Essentially HDR10. WTF?
Next page; The investigation