Introduction

Those who bought a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, hoping to use it with an old 4K non-HDCP 2.2 TV that is purchased before 2015, may find that the player refuses to output 4K when playing a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc.  This article provides a little background information, and a way for people to solve this problem.  However, it takes money and time, and have a limited chance of success, depending on the equipment you get.  I’m not responsible if you followed this article, wasting money and time and still cannot solve the problem.

Background

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players require HDCP 2.2 to be supported by the TV, otherwise it will restrict the output to 1080p.  HDCP was created to protect the content owners, not consumers.  HDCP 2.2, like the old version before it, will prove to be useless against pirates but only succeed in frustrating consumers.  If you purchased your TV before 2015, there is a very significant chance that your TV does not support HDCP 2.2.  (By the way, Netflix 4K also requires HDCP 2.2.)

A second issue is HDMI 2.0.  Old 4K TV did not support HDMI 2.0, this means they cannot accept 4K 50p/60p.  However, old 4K TV with HDMI 1.4 can support 4K 24p – that is sufficient for most 4K movies, if the HDCP 2.2 issue is solved.

(A few words about HDR – HDR is not an issue at all.  Old TV did not support HDR, but once the HDCP 2.2 problem is solved, the UHD Blu-ray players will convert the HDR content to SDR for output to TV without HDR, with possibly a minimal loss of subtle details in the darkest and brightest areas.)

The Official Solution that Does Not Exist

Officially, consumers are expected to ask the TV manufacturers for HDCP 2.2 upgrade.  However, in most cases this hardware upgrade is not provided at all, even if users are willing to pay for it.  It seems there have been HDCP 2.2 upgrades that were announced for some TV models but never materialized.  There are also cases that the upgrade for a particular TV is provided only in some parts of the world but not others.

If your 4K UHD Blu-ray player is restricted to 1080p

If your 4K UHD Blu-ray player is restricted to 1080p, check your TV manufacturer web page and see if it supports HDCP 2.2.  If you cannot find this information, call your TV manufacturer to confirm, and ask if there is a HDCP 2.2 upgrade for your TV if it does not already support HDCP 2.2.

In case your TV does support HDCP 2.2, but the player does not output 4K, one or more of the followings may be true:

  • You used the wrong HDMI port of the TV – on some TV only one of the HDMI ports support 4K, e.g. HDMI (MHL) port.
  • Your used the wrong HDMI port of the player – advanced players have two HDMI output ports, one for video and one for (pure) audio.  For display purpose, only use the one marked for video.
  • Player setting – check that the player is set to output 4K.  Try 4K 60p, 4K 50p, and 4K 24p.
  • TV setting – try different HDMI settings of the TV for the HDMI port you are using – if you use a Samsung TV, try disabling UHD Color
  • HDMI cable problem – try different cable – a more expensive cable is not always better than a low cost one, and a cable not specified for HDMI 2.0 does not imply it must fail to support 4K.  Just try several of them.

How to play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on TV without HDCP 2.2

If your TV does not and cannot be upgraded to support HDCP 2.2, not all hope is lost.  You need to find a product that bypass the HDCP 2.2 problem for you: (1) a HDMI splitter that defeats the HDCP 2.2, or (2) a HDCP 2.2 to HDCP 1.4 converter.

Defeat / Strip / Crack / Workaround HDCP 2.2

A HDMI splitter that defeats the HDCP 2.2 presents itself as a HDCP 2.2 device to the player, so the player can output 4K, but strips the HDCP signal from the video before reaching the TV.

I’m quite certain this type of product is not legal for the manufacturer to make as they are violating the HDCP legal document they signed.  Therefore you may probably never see a HDMI splitter advertising the ability to defeat HDCP 2.2.  However, I know for a fact that they exist.  A few products have this feature, and may need a secret way to enable it, e.g. holding a certain button for a number of seconds.  Some products may also come in different batches that enabled or disabled this feature.  Your only way to know is to ask the seller.

Convert HDCP 2.2 to HDCP 1.4

A HDCP 2.2 to HDCP 1.4 converter presents itself as a HDCP 2.2 device to the player, so the player can output 4K, but converts the HDCP signal to the old 1.4 standard that is supported by old 4K TV.

I don’t know how legal such a product is but apparently they are easier to find, and there are cases of success using this type of product (such as LINK-MI HDCP01 HDCP 2.2 to HDCP 1.4 Converter, which is known to work with LA9650 TV and UB900 player – note that the company support for this product is reportedly clueless).  On the other hand, there is also a report of failure even with a highest-priced product.

The price of a converter ranges from USD30 to over USD200.

HDMI / HDCP is inherently complex and there have been many compatibility issues among normal devices and TV.  When we consider unusual products as described above, the chance of incompatibility in making an unsupported configuration work (4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray with 4K output to non-HDCP 2.2 TV) rises very much.  No matter what product you buy, check out the return policy first – it is best to buy from a place that allows you to return it if it does not solve your problem, and/or is just incompatible with your player or TV.

Set the player to output 4K 24p

After procuring the product and setting it up correctly, if the player is still not outputting 4K, player settings need to be adjusted to 4K 24p:

  • Panasonic UB900 – Player Settings -> HDMI: (1) Set 4K (50p / 60p) Output to Off and (2) HDMI(AUDIO) Output Mode to Audio Only

After settings are changed, you may need to turn off/on the TV again and/or reinsert the HDMI cable.

If it still does not work, verify the correct HDMI ports are used, TV and player settings, and try different cables as described in the previous section.

If anyone has followed this article, please leave a comment sharing your success (or failure) story, stating the TV model, HDCP 2.2 product, player model and player/TV settings.

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