Inline HDMI Resolution Upscaler (2016)

If you’re like me and got most of your equipment prior to the 4K revolution, making the jump to the extra pixels might not be the most financially suitable option. At first I was very skeptical of 4K, coming straight off the back of 3D and curved televisions. Now, I don’t mean that 4K doesn’t have a use in filmmaking, but when so many “features” are being thrown at you, you really have to question whether the investment is going to stick around in the long run.

With that all in mind, 4K filming, and definitely online broadcast has cemented it’s place among many homes globally, but the cost is still a factor for many to reap the rewards.

I’m a proud owner of a Sony FS100, and when the older brother the FS700 came out with the add-on of 4K I was slightly disappointed. But, like I’ve previously said (as well as many others out there) you don’t have to jump onto every new piece of equipment just because it’s dated yours. Technology will update and iterate so fast that as soon as you buy that product, it is already outdated, so buy what you can and work with it.

What does all this 4K vs 1080 have to do with anything in this review?

Well the answer is simple. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to record 4K from your 1080 outputs then the Inline HDMI Resolution Upscaler by Digitech Audio Visual might be your saviour.

Now, full disclosure, I bought this product from one of those “deal a day” kind of websites with the full expectation that it would be some cheap product that wouldn’t work. And when I received it, I kind of though of it that way too. It claims to “upscale inline” with the fact it will detect what colours the missing pixels should be. But when you feel the weight of this thing, I mean the HDMI plug weighs more than the circuit box!

It is also important to note that the upscaler only commits to “720p/1080p/30Hz to 4K x 2K (4096×2160) /30Hz”. So whether this causes issues if you’re recording at higher frame rates or interlaced may be something you’d want to consider.

Testing the unit

I was confused to the product claiming no external power needed, but then on the back of the packaging stating the USB micro plug was able to be used for plugging it into the television set for power.

Feeding an output from an Atomos Ninja to Shogun (to compare real capture to expected image)

My initial test consisted plugging it from an Atomos Ninja into an Atomos Shogun to see if the 4K even was recognised, or if it was just a passive passthrough resulting in 1080.

Just a word of warning, the unit itself has no labelling on it, just a gel sticker of the Digitech logo as well as having no lights to indicate connection or activity.

So ready for disappointment, I hooked it up to both recorders, and got: nothing. Black, empty signal. I thought, “a dud. A complete empty shell.”

My next thought was to hook up the USB to my computer, with a little preemptive frustration, as if this caused it to work you’d be relying on a power banks charge for use. But plugging in the USB also didn’t work.

Then it dawned on me that maybe the HDMI plugs were in and out the wrong way – which I imagine being a huge factor for owners considering there are no labels or diagrams.

BOOM! It worked, and not even just in a flickering, “you need the USB power” kind of way, it was constant.

Clearer picture of the codec

Going from one recording to another, I was checking thoroughly for pixels you didn’t want to see – artefacts, banding, discolouration. Remember, this product is not made for filming but simply for people to turn their televisions into UHD.

This was then replicated using my FS100 to the Shogun, and again nothing noticeable that was deterring.

The unit itself also does not emit any audible noise, buzz, or hum. But it would really be one of those extended periods of time tests you’d have to monitor.

The verdict

I haven’t had the chance to do use it in a full day environment. I want to test the way it reacts if it heats up, and if it causes noise because of it, or if the functionality of being a television/BluRay player upscaler allows it to remain functional for extended periods.

I really like the idea of using this to obtain a 4K image, I really do. I think you can always rent a 4K camera, but sometimes using these little devices allow you to get the same end product.

Would I say it is an essential product, or a replacement for 4K enabled cameras? No.

Would I say it is a great way to test out your system’s capabilities to edit 4K? Yes.

Would I use the outputs in the real world? Sparingly. It is definitely not a replacement for the real thing, or even SDI-HD, but it sure is useful for people entering the game with little money for high end gear.