tv in living room

There’s nothing worse than purchasing a TV that’s advertised as having a 4k resolution, just to find out that the UI (user interface) is rendered in 1080p. This is the case with some Android TVs, including my Philips 4K Android TV. Nevertheless, there is a way to force the TV to render the UI in 4K using wireless ADB.

Note: 4K content will work as advertised, but the homepage, menus and the overall interface will be rendered in 1080p. Depending on the year and model of the Android TV, there might be an option to change the resolution straight from the menu, but this isn't always the case. In addition, newer TVs should render 4K in UI out of the box.

Why do manufacturers lock the UI in 1080p resolution?

It all has to do with performance. Rendering the user interface in 4k will use more resources and might slow down the device, thus affecting the user experience. If you do decide to force 4K, that’s something worth considering.

How to connect your PC with your Android TV using wireless ADB

Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is a versatile command line tool that lets you communicate with a connected Android-powered device, in this case, an Android TV. The program has many functions, including changing the resolution of the targeted device, sideloading apps, uninstalling unwanted apps and more.

Step 1: Enable developer mode

To enable developer mode, go to Settings>About and tap Build Number 7 times. You’ll then see a message that reads, you are now a developer. 

Step 2: Enable USB debugging

To enable USB debugging, go to Developer options located in the main menu and switch on USB debugging. If your device also has a Wireless debugging option, turn that on too. 

Note:Android TV doesn't need to have a wireless debugging option for wireless ADB to work.

Step 3: Download Tiny ADB and Fastboot from xda-developers

Once you’ve downloaded the program, install it and launch the ADB&Fastboot app.

Step 4: Make sure your Android TV and PC are connected to the same Wifi network.

Wireless ADB won’t work if both devices are not connected to the same Wifi network.

Step 5: Locate the IP address of your TV

To locate the IP address, head over to Settings>About>Status and you’ll see the IP address. 

how to find ip address on android tv

Step 6: Connect Android TV to PC

With the ADB&Fastboot command opened, type in the command below

adb connect (ip address)

It will look like this.

how to connect android tv to pc through wireless adb

Once you’ve made the connection you will get a message similar to the one below asking you to approve the connection.

wireless ADB prompt

Step 7: Change the resolution

To force 4K on the UI, type in the command below and press enter.

adb shell wm size 3840x2160

To revert back to 1080p, type in:

adb shell wm size 1920x1080

Step 8: Change the pixel density

Forcing 4k resolution might make things appear too small. To fix this, play around with the pixel density, preferably with values from 300 to 600. The correct value will depend on the size of your TV. 

android tv scaling

To change the pixel density, run the command below. Feel free to try a different value.

adb shell wm density 420

Any noticeable problems?

  • App icon scaling on the top row might be affected. But everything else works as it should.
  • Depending on how old the TV is, you may experience sluggish performance.

To fix these issues, you might want to test different resolutions or change the pixel density. In my case, the TV performed well with 4K, but I opted to use a resolution of 2560 x 1440, which is still higher than 1080p, but less strenuous on the GPU/CPU.

What other resolutions can you try?

Almost all TVs sold today have an aspect ratio of 16:9. Take a look at the list below for resolutions that work with this aspect ratio.

  • 640 x 360 (nHD)
  • 854 x 480 (FWVGA)
  • 960 x 540 (qHD)
  • 1024 x 576 (WSVGA)
  • 1280 x 720 (HD/WXGA)
  • 1366 x 768 (FWXGA)
  • 1600 x 900 (HD+)
  • 1920 x 1080 (FHD)
  • 2048 x 1152 (QWXGA)
  • 2560 x 1440 (QHD)
  • 3200 x 1800 (WQXGA+)
  • 3840 x 2160 (UHD)

Note: Don’t go any higher than the rated resolution of your TV. There is a possibility of bricking it. But for the fun of it; if you had an 8K TV or a TV with a resolution higher than 4K, here’s what you could play with.

  • 5120 x 2880 (UHD+)

  • 7680 x 4320 (FUHD)

  • 15360 x 8640 (QUHD)

  • 30720 x 17280 (HHD)

  • 61440 x 34560 (FHHD)

  • 122880 x 69120 (QHHD)

Disclaimer: Please follow this guide at your own risk. 

Other useful links

  • https://www.makeuseof.com/how-to-use-adb-on-android-tv/
  • https://medium.com/@naren/nvidia-shield-tv-4k-ui-2930f6a254b8

Kenyon Ndezi is a recent graduate, writer, creator of kenyonndez.com; and the owner of Neonbuild.com, which is a company focused on building apps for small businesses and individuals. Follow along and get inspired!

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