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Old March 19th, 2008, 10:20 PM   #1
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Flat screens and artifacts

I'm currently in the market to buy a 50" large screen tv, either plasma or lcd. But while watching the Blu-Ray demos they have in the store, I'm rather amazed and disappointed at how much artifacting I see in the film grain that's been compressed. It got me to thinking that maybe getting the highest resolution tv (1080p) maybe isn't the best idea after all. That getting a 720p might hide the defects imbedded in Blu-Ray, not to mention the uprezzed SD dvds.
Anybody else wrestled with this or had some real-life experience with the big screen and playback?
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Old March 20th, 2008, 12:16 AM   #2
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Lynne,

I'm constantly disappointed in the state of HDTV today. No matter what the content and what the source.

For every "wow" picture I seem to be able to display, there are 50 that disappoint me.

I think as long as producers are trying to A) protect legacy delivery systems, B) deliver HD content via landline or satellite links, or C) unsure of the actual nature of the HD signal requirements END to END, we'll all struggle with less than optimal pictures.

It sounds like you're "looking for" and finding issues in "grain" - but that could be a matter of anything from the film stock the scene was shot on, to how the film's telecine transfer took place.

Also, I think it's fair to say that large screens generically are designed to be viewed from an appropriate distance - not from up close. (even a theatrical film looks horribly GRAINY if you stand too near the screen!)

So I think the bottom line is that you need to look at your proposed VIEWING DISTANCE first. And pick a screen size that handles that properly rather than just going for the biggest you can.

FWIW.
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Old March 20th, 2008, 08:41 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
So I think the bottom line is that you need to look at your proposed VIEWING DISTANCE first. And pick a screen size that handles that properly rather than just going for the biggest you can.
I think you're right. But I also wonder how many people can tell the difference between and HD and ED screen at typical viewing distances. I remember reading a study about this a few years ago which said the majority of people couldn't tell the difference in typical living room setups.

I got my Panasonic plasma 3-4 years ago when HD was still rather pricey. I settled for an ED (854x480) screen then, and am still happy to watch my DVD's on it. And it continues to impress guests as well.

Of course I'll eventually want to upgrade, but not until BluRay disks get a *lot* cheaper. I think regular DVD's actually look better on my screen than an HD screen because there's less scaling taking place.
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Old March 20th, 2008, 09:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynne Whelden View Post
I'm currently in the market to buy a 50" large screen tv, either plasma or lcd. But while watching the Blu-Ray demos they have in the store, I'm rather amazed and disappointed at how much artifacting I see in the film grain that's been compressed.
Don't trust the in-store displays. They are never set up correctly (typically high sat, superbrighht) and share a feed which is not optimal in any way.

My advice is to avoid the superstores and visit an AV specialist that will demo some specific setup(s) for you. Ideally you bring your own HD reference HD-DVD/BD disc (and they play it 1:1).

George/
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Old March 21st, 2008, 08:48 AM   #5
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I appreciate all the feedback. You're right about superstore displays...you're standing within inches of the screen. Even if you wanted to watch it at the "appropriate viewing distance" you couldn't because the aisle's not that wide. But still, I appreciate looking closely at the image. If it doesn't look "that bad" close,then it certainly won't look "that bad" further away.

I don't have any BR gear at this point so I'm dependent on what the store can provide. And I'm relying pretty heavily on reviews too. The Pioneer Kuro seems to garner lots of praise along with Samsung's 71 and 81 series. But then, do I really want to plop down $3k or more on a set that will be displaced by Sony's new organic screen in a year or two? Which is why I'm leaning towards a grand compromise--buy not "the best" but "the best compromise" at this stage. But what might that be?
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Old March 21st, 2008, 10:12 AM   #6
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Hey Lynne,

So you want the most "bang" for your bucks, and not spend it on the best system within your budget but rather compromize and spend less. Suposedly putting the difference towards newer technology that may be around in a few years (or not feeling so bad when it comes out sooner?).

Are you sure you're not kidding yourself? Newer and/or better technology will come out every 3-6 months. If you start waiting, you'll never "get there". You mentioned the new Sony technology, but who knows how that will turn out in a few years and what else there is then? And would you buy the latest, new, technology if it came with a few "bugs" (or lacked features) or would you wait for "version 2"?

Displays aren't just about technical specs. If you can't find one you like, don't buy one! (unless you have to)

I use reviews all the time to make a pre-selection for stuff I want to buy, but really these are just other people's opinions that I may or may not agree with...

I can't really give you any specific advise other than to be realistic in what you want from a system and go out and look at some!

George/
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Old April 1st, 2008, 08:42 PM   #7
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720p Looks Very Good

I spent some time considering all the possibilities for an HDTV set. I made a nuisance of myself at several video stores, trying out every setting and getting them to change sources. I wanted one that would do a good job of displaying SD as well. I finally picked a JVC 30-inch CRT, because it was not only less expensive than most, but showed the sharpest and most pleasing picture, in both HD and SD. I did some research and from a direct contact with a working JVC technician, found that it actually displays 720p on all input images. This is one reason that the picture looks so good. If they tried to shoot 1,080 lines on a screen that had phosphor dots (.64mm dot pitch on mine) that are too large to resolve that many lines, picture quality would suffer. Some groups of dots would get lit-up by more than one scanned line. By keeping the scanned lines within the number that can be resolved by the size of the phosphor dots (or whatever type of pixel configuration various flatscreen sets use), it will look its best. This is why most of the plasma and other flatscreen sets are limited to 720p or 768p in their displays. It costs a lot more money to produce the displays of those types that have small enough pixels to show more resolution. These use a pixel-for-pixel display from the image source with each one individually connected, quite unlike the scanning-gun method of CRT sets.

The progressive scan is a big boost to image quality, also. I make up for the 30-inch size of my TV, by moving it near to my editing desk. The progressive display allows you to be closer, without the scanning lines being visible and losing image sharpness. I use it sometimes as a computer monitor, as I'm doing now with an HDMI connection to my Vista Media Center desktop. It's only 6 feet from my face and I can't see any of the messy details that show on an interlaced scan when you're so close. I sit about 9 feet back when I'm watching TV programs and it looks better than a 50-inch screen that might be twice as far away. Did I mention that it was much cheaper than most of the other choices?

Swinging a bit off the subject, this Media Center desktop receives all SD and HD programs with sharper and more interference-free reception than any tuner I've ever used. Off my old outside antenna, re-aimed and tuned to its best, it gets all the local HDTV signals very strongly. When all broadcast TV stations shift to digital signals next February, whether in HD or SD, this computer will receive them all, as well as AM and FM radio. The options offered by its remote controler for instant viewing of my stored videos and pictures are amazing. I set the computer's resolution at 1,280 X 720 and it shows in its proper aspect and proportions on the screen. At any other of the resolution options, it stretches the video picture too wide. I will admit that in a few days, I will get a Samsung 22-inch LCD widescreen monitor, but will still switch to the JVC HDTV on many occasions.

Regarding the advertized information on my JVC TV, they included no reference to 720p, nor was it mentioned in the owner's manual. They described it as "receiving" 1,080i and were obviously implying that it displayed it also. The figure "1,080i" is a buzz-word in television sales and they know that the majority of buyers won't go any deeper into the specs of their purchases than what they see in big numbers on the tags in stores.

On the production end of video, I think that the sports HDTV coverage by Fox and ABC, that both use 720p, looks better and handles fast motion in a superior way to the 1,080i used by CBS and NBC. It takes a lot fewer bits to encode 720p and they don't have to be as stingy in allocating them as the 1,080i broadcasters. In some of the early-season football games covered by NBC, they compressed the encoding so much, that any motion caused image breakup and was almost unwatchable.
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Old April 1st, 2008, 10:42 PM   #8
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Hi Lynne..............

As you're asking this question on DVinfo, I assume you have something to do with Video Cameras?

I ask as the only certain way to "test drive" a screen of any sort is to use known quality video with a known quality player and known definition.

As you've already seen, BD can be problematic and transmitted content is also exceedingly variable no matter how it's delivered.

When I was shopping for my big screen I took along my Canon XH A1 with known content, shot at HDV (1440 X 1080) and simply plugged the component lead into my selected sets and fired it up.

Without fail it blew whatever feeds the store were using clean out of the water for quality. My HV 20 is even better as it has HDMI which gives a cleaner feed.

That is how I would recommend anyone to test drive a screen if a camera can be had.

As for screen size/ resolution, you mentioned 50". Was this dimension chosen for the size of the hole available? Whatever, the comfortable viewing distance for such a screen is dictated by the resolution of the screen and the content.

@1080 lines it would be about 11 - 12 feet

@720 lines about 14 - 15 feet

@ DVD resolution about 17 - 18 feet

@ Standard Definition about the other side of the driveway.

All dependant on your eyesight and a couple of other factors.

Something to bear in mind during selection is that any screen ever made looks just plain awefull once you are close enough to resolve the inter - pixel gaps making up the picture. This is true of crt's, lcd's, plasma's, projectors or anything else.

So, if the furthest you can get from a screen is 6 feet during testing, it's going to look pretty grim if it's any bigger than about 29", no matter what content/ resolution it has.

I view my 46" Sony Bravia X Series (1080) from about 91/2 feet and that's as close as I want to get viewing HDV 1080 (I can't get any further away without falling out the window!). If I kick it down to SD and watch terrestrial transmissions, I practically need to go ask the neighbour if I can watch from his back yard.

For my money, with the whole planet having set 1080 as the holy grail of tv definition, I cannot muster one argument (with the exception of price) against a full 1080 screen appropriately sized for the available viewing distance.

Does that mean there is going to be wall to wall 1080 content to keep it fed? Nope. BUT, when you do indeed have a good 1080 feed (even if you've shot it yourself) it looks absolutely stunning on a true 1080 screen.

Your money, your choice.


CS
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 10:14 PM   #9
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Yes, I am into video cameras. Your suggestion of using one's own camera as a control source for HD material is a good one. In fact, my little Sony hc-3 with HDMI would work well.
Your comments on viewing distance are well-taken, although I must confess I've always enjoyed being up close to any screen or tv I'm in front of.

It's hard to even find 720p sets these days, let alone CRTs. But I think the very first HD set I ever saw was a JVC way back in the 90s. I was mesmerized!
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:00 PM   #10
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Well, actually.............

720 sets are a dime a dozen and breeding like flies and most certainly available.

If you see those immortal weasel words "HD READY" plastered on a set it's almost 100% guaranteed to be a 720 only set.

Any manufacturer selling full 1080 sets labels them "Full HD 1080" or similar to distinguish them from the dross.

BUT, and here's the rub, a "Full HD 1080" set when playing 720 material becomes.............yep, you guessed it, a 720 screen! (and so on and so forth down the chain).

So, if you've got yourself comfortably ensconsed in your armchair just the right distance to watch a full 1080 show, and the following show reverts to 720, you're very quickly going to start thinking: "Hmm, think my chair's too close".

Hence my comments about needing plenty of room (football pitch?) to watch SD on the same set.

It's all to do with the angle the pixel size subtends at the eye, larger than a certain number of degrees or parts thereof and the brain is not at all comfortable. There was a fascinating article explaining this on the (UK) BBC web site some time ago but I'm damned if I can find it now.

I'm sure you now feel greatly enlightened.

Happy shopping! (and take some great home grown footage to do it!)

CS
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