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petetherock 10-05-2009 09:09 AM

TIPS and INFO when buying that new TV - Read this thread before you buy that TV
Before you post a question or buy that new TV, some tips so you have a good buying experience. Read this to unravel the marketing hype and forget the specs. Use your EYES!
  • Look carefully at your budget firstly and see what your aim is, PC, SD TV, Hi Def or what kind of mixture?
  • How big is your room? Then see the viewing distance thread for the ideal size
  • number of inputs needed
  • Do you need HD - is HD ready enough or full HD - see your viewing diet and how far away do you sit
  • Avoid relying on specs - those dynamic contrast ratios mean nothing - use your eyes
  • showrooms tend to be very bright and use slow moving images which tend to make LCDs look better
  • If a TV cost less and has a long list of features, beware that the quality is compromised - there is a reason why the better ones cost more
  • Are you buying old tech - there may be a reason why it is on sale - old technology or run out models may not be a bad thing, but you should check
  • does it really handle 24 fps or convert it poorly into 50 or 60Hz
  • can your TV do motion well - and does it matter to you
  • how do the controls handle
  • do you need a TV right now - we have IT fairs 4 times a year. No hurry no fuss if you do not need one right away
  • Unless you are using the panel 24 / 7 and leave it on constantly there are better reasons to choose between a LCD and a plasma
  • how long and how good is the warranty?
  • is there delivery and how long does it take
After you get the TV
  • read the thread on dead pixels
  • read the thread on wall mounting
  • read the thread on settings / menus etc
Then sit back and enjoy!

Forget about asking "is this a good deal?" YOU HAVE PAID UP! Does it matter??

Take time to run in the panel and avoid static images in the initial 100-200 hours.

A perenial question which is pretty simply to answer if you follow the steps:


-- if you are on a budget, why look at premium sets and whine about how low value they are, or why they cost so much more
-- get a set which meets your check book balance, be it a 26" or a 50". There is a TV for your needs from a supermarket OEM to a fancy top of the line flatscreen


-- or Buy The set that gives you the best picture quality for your money. If you think there is no difference between brand A and B, buy the cheaper set


-- if you are a gamer the LCD may suit you better than a plasma


-- it always gets cheaper

- if you are still sitting on your hands and waiting to buy in one years' time, why look now and field questions on price (not knowledge) and make comments on price, quality etc when you are not really buying?


-- when comparing, make sure you bring your DVD, or see that channel you want and compare with the settings on both sets in similar conditions



-- if all he does is diss your choice of TV and quote specs (esp wrong ones) go somewhere else, its your money


-- if the famed panel doesn't look good, don't buy


-- if you buy a tiny 32" or even a modest 42" why get 1080p unless you are using it with a Hi Def source AND sitting within 2m, AND DO NOT watch free to air TV

-- that full HD panel may make SD TV or free to air TV look worse --> CRAP IN CRAP OUT

-- unless you invest in good cables and partner it with a decent DVD or Hi Def source, don't bother with full HD. Using some cheesy red white yellow cable and pretending it is a component cable does not count as Hi Def. Save until you are ready to enjoy the full experience. In the mean time, get something more affordable and wait for prices to drop


-- buy the tv for its qualities, not the silly little freebies which you need to ask, do you need them

-- why use that tiny HITB with an expensive panel, then wonder why it does not feel like the real cinematic experience


-- this panel will be with you for a long while (if you got a good set) so if you save pennies and end up with a cheapo set with lots of features but a lousy panel, you will be looking at it for a long time.


-- so after you buy, sit back and enjoy!


Great article on buying TVs:



Television makers throw around a lot of impressive numbers when spruiking their latest wares. Resolutions, response times and refresh rates are always improving, plus impressive contrast and brightness ratings are bandied about. Televisions are also getting bigger, with 70-inch flat-panel giants now appearing in the stores.
If you're looking for the best picture, then a 1920x1080p screen with 100Hz refresh rate and 4millisecond response time is a good place to start, but buying a high-definition television isn't just a numbers game. You can tick all the boxes on your spec sheet wish-list, but the truth is that none of these figures guarantee that one television is better than another. When it comes to choosing a great television, quality is in the eye of the beholder.

Big screens are great for showing off high-definition content, but they also magnify any imperfections in the image. This is when you rely on a high-quality panel and great video processing to give you the best possible picture; it's the secret sauce when it comes to televisions. In other words, it's not the size of your pixels that counts, it's what you do with them.When sitting in a store, televisions often have the brightness and contrast pumped right up to make them look better. They're also often playing animated movies, such as Pixar's Toy Story, which lack the fine details that let you distinguish the good televisions from the bad.
The torture test for any television is fast-moving sport or a Hollywood action scene. Watch for jerky movement and jagged lines, especially when the camera is panning. Look for motion blur, flicker fuzziness, or "noise" - especially in the background during a car chase. Also check to see how deep the blacks are and whether you can still see fine details in the shadows.
Fast-moving AFL or cricket is a great way to test a television. Is the ball the right shape? Can you read the signs on the boundary and see the fine details in the crowd? Does the grass blur into a sea of green? Do the players' shirts remain sharp in long shots of the play? Try flicking between standard and high-definition broadcasts to see how well the television handles a less-than-perfect picture.
Don't be afraid to take your time and come back to the store more than once. And don't hesitate to change the channel or ask to watch different content. After a while you'll see the qualities of the better televisions shine through. If the shop assistant is unwilling to let you see how the television performs under different conditions, take your business elsewhere.

petetherock 10-05-2009 09:11 AM

Warranty thread:


What to look for when buying a TV:


Dead Pixels thread:


Watch this instructional video from Disney

Size matters and viewing distance too...

petetherock 10-05-2009 09:12 AM

How to mount a TV
Step By Step: How to Mount a Flat-Panel TV

by John Sciacca
May 2006

Is getting a flat-panel set out of the box and onto the wall something you can do yourself, or do you need to hire a pro? Assuming you don't want to run any wires inside the wall, mounting a flat-panel is probably a "6" on the difficulty scale. So if you think you're up to the challenge, read on!
There are essentially three types of wall mounts: flat, tilting, and articulating. Flat mounts are the most popular and least expensive. They hug the set tightest to the wall, creating a sleek, modern, my-TV-is-really-a-work-of-art look. Tilting mounts let you angle the TV downward, usually from 15° to 20°, but they hold the screen several inches farther from the wall. They're great if you have to place your set higher than a comfortable viewing position, such as over a fireplace. Articulating mounts offer the most versatility. Not only can they be pulled away from the wall and tilted up and down, but they can be rotated up to 180° for viewing from just about any position. STEP 2: GATHER YOUR TOOLS
You'll need a tape measure, a level, a pencil, a finish nail and hammer, a socket-wrench set, a screw gun with a Phillips head, and a stud finder. If your TV is bigger than 32 inches, grab a buddy to help out. Large panels are heavy, and dropping one would really suck.
You'll want a rock-steady way to secure your TV to the wall. With wood studs, that means using lag bolts. Most installers recommend 5/16- inch lags, which some mounts include and some don't. If you're mounting on concrete or brick, you'll want the appropriate anchors. If your walls are framed with metal studs, you'll need toggle bolts. (Using toggles in metal studs is tricky, so unless you have some experience, consider having a pro do the job.)
Most flat-panel mounts have two main pieces: the part that's fixed to the wall and the part you attach to the TV. This second part is usually called something like the bracket interface or the mounting plate. Find and mark the vertical centerline of the TV and attach the bracket to the panel. This is easier to do if you lay the panel face-down — just make sure it's on a flat surface on something soft. Some mounts also have a part called a hook bracket that attaches to the interface bracket to marry the TV to the wall mount.
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/ass...9200617567.jpgSTEP 5: FIND THE STUDS
The cardinal rule when hanging something is: Make sure it stays put! So if you're installing anything heavier than a 20-inch LCD, anchor the mount in something solid — which usually means screwing into studs. [Fig. A] Using a finder is the easiest way to locate studs, but electrical outlets are also reliable since they're usually mounted to a stud. Also, studs are generally placed 16 inches on center, so once you've located one, you'll usually find the next one that far away. Tapping the finish nail into the wall is a great way to make sure you've found a stud. [Fig. B] Determine how high you want the TV — placing the vertical center of the screen at about 5 feet is a good start — and then use a pencil to mark on the wall the location of the studs and the desired screen center.
Center the wall plate at the location you marked for the screen center. (Most plates have a small hole or slot so you can see your mark on the wall.) Use a nail to lightly hold the plate on the wall while you level it. Once it's level, drill some pilot holes for your lag bolts (15/64-inch holes for 5/16-inch lags), then screw them in. Doublecheck to make sure you're still level. Before installing the TV, pull firmly on the plate to ensure it's totally secure.
You're almost done! Lift the TV and attach the top hooks to the mounting plate on the wall — the bottom hooks should latch into place. And that's it! Connect your cables, open a cold beverage, and marvel at your handiwork.

petetherock 10-05-2009 09:13 AM

Aspect Ratio
The key word?



Different movies were made with different AR.

Five common aspect ratioshttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...io-4x3.svg.pnghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...io-3x2.svg.pnghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...o-16x9.svg.pnghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...1.85x1.svg.pnghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...2.39x1.svg.png

The aspect ratio of an image is its width divided by its height.
Aspect ratios are mathematically expressed as x :y (pronounced "x-to-y") and x×y (pronounced "x-by-y"). The most common aspect ratios used today in the presentation of films in movie theaters are 1.85:1 and 2.39:1[1]. Two common videographic aspect ratios are 4:3 (1.33:1), universal for standard-definition video formats, and 16:9 (1.78:1), universal to high-definition television and European digital television. Other cinema and video aspect ratios exist, but are used infrequently. In still camera photography, the most common aspect ratios are 4:3 and 3:2, though other aspect ratios, such as 5:4, 7:5, and 1:1 (square format), are used.

Some critical caveats:
Before we examine the details of those aspect-ratio problems and solutions, it's important to affirm five key points:
  • Make sure your video settings match your TV's aspect ratio. Most modern video sources--DVD players, game consoles, satellite and cable boxes, DVRs, and even the video iPod--have an aspect-ratio setting. Make sure you set each device to the setting that matches the TV to which it's attached: 4:3 for standard TVs, 16:9 for wide-screen monitors (nearly all HDTVs). The one exception is for 4:3 TVs that offer a feature called vertical compression or anamorphic squeeze. Video sources attached to these models should be (counterintuitively) set to 16:9, because they're designed to display the full vertical resolution of a wide-screen image within the letterboxed area.
  • Make sure your new TV has aspect-ratio control. The next two pages suggest several solutions to common aspect-ratio problems. But they will work only if your TV--or the video source, be it a satellite tuner, cable box, or DVD player--has aspect-ratio control. In general, all wide-screen HDTVs, most HDTV set-top boxes, and a few new 4:3 TVs can control aspect ratio in some way. Many DVD players have Zoom functions, and all can be set to work with both 4:3 and 16:9 TVs, but few have additional aspect-ratio controls.
  • Not every aspect-ratio choice will be available at every resolution. Almost every HDTV has aspect-ratio control, but most sets available today limit the number of choices you have, depending the incoming resolutions. In most cases, you'll have full aspect-ratio control with 480i and 480p sources (generally standard TV and progressive-scan DVD, respectively), but often you get fewer options, or none at all, for HDTV resolutions (720p, 1080i, or 1080p). Some HDTVs, especially older models, restrict the number of available aspect-ratio choices with 480p sources as well. CNET reviews will always indicate how aspect-ratio control is restricted, so be sure to check when making a purchasing decision.
  • Don't be thrown off by other wide-screen aspect ratios. When shopping for wide-screen displays--especially flat-panel LCDs--you may see aspect ratios such as 15:9 or 16:10. They are, for all intents and purposes, close enough to 16:9 to be considered synonymous. Unless you're extremely sensitive to geometry, it's doubtful you'll notice the slight stretching or squashing they introduce.
  • Understand native/dot-by-dot mode. Some HDTVs, most commonly 1080p displays, also have an aspect ratio mode that doesn't scale the incoming signal at all. Often called dot-by-dot or native, this mode simply takes the signal, whatever resolution it is, and displays it regardless of the display's native resolution. Depending on the signal, this can either fill the screen perfectly, leave black bars on the top or bottom, or leave black bars on all sides. For example, if you have an HDTV with 1080p native resolution and you're watching a 720p HDTV show, a true dot-by-dot mode will be window-boxed--the 1280x720 program will appear as a rectangle within the 1920x1080 display, surrounded by bars on all sides. (Many dot-by-dot modes only apply to 1080i and 1080p sources, however, so lower-resolution sources like 720p and DVD are still automatically scaled to fill the screen.) Regardless, the true advantage of dot-by-dot is that, with 1080p displays, every pixel of 1080i and 1080p sources is shown on the screen with no overscan and all of the detail promised by the source. The only real disadvantage is that some sources don't completely fill the screen, so you might see a solid line or interference along the extreme edges of the display. But in general, if you have a 1080p display and are watching 1080i or 1080p sources, dot-by-dot will give you the best picture quality.
  • Burn-in can be caused by black bars. Filling the screen with a moving picture is the safest way to view non-wide-screen content on 16:9 plasma flat-panel and CRT-based rear-projection displays. Leaving the black bars on for an extended period of time can cause permanent damage to the display--often called burn-in or image retention--which often isn't covered by the warranty. Both plasma and rear-projection CRT sets are particularly vulnerable to burn-in during the first 100 or so hours of use. During that time, we recommend you watch without vertical letterboxing at all, and that you avoid still images, such as paused games or television shows. After this initial period, the danger of burn-in is greatly reduced. Other easy measures to avoid burn in include: find a set or a source that produces gray bars (instead of black) to either side of the 4:3 image and/or features other ways to combat burn-in; turn contrast down to 50 percent or lower; balance your 4:3 viewing with more wide-screen material; in particular, sports and animation make good candidates for stretching. Burn-in does not affect LCD, DLP, or LCoS TVs and is much less likely to affect direct-view tube TVs.
As long as your TV or video source has the proper aspect-ratio control settings, aspect-ratio problems are completely avoidable. Over the next few years, as both hardware manufacturers and broadcasters transition from the older 4:3 format to wider, HDTV-friendly 16:9 wide-screen, aspect-ratio control will be particularly important.

petetherock 10-05-2009 09:14 AM

Which one should I buy
The perenial million dollar question....

First question is always your budget, either you stick to it and get the best you can, or assess if it is a realistic amount. If you go too cheap, remember this panel will be with you for quite a few years, so choose wisely or you might end up staring at a lemon for a long time.

After that, its all in your EYEs. Forget the specs, whether it is an LCD or plasma and let your eyes decide.

Some brands feature more here, eg a few threads exist on Samsung LCDs, but if you are buying under 40" there are not many plasma choices anyway. If you are into gaming, more people choose LCDs too.

Otherwise, see what others are buying, GOOGLE and SEARCH for reviews, and narrow it down to a few (< 3) panels and decide from there by seeing the panels.

Go to a shop you like, on a less busy day and try out the panels with your favorite discs or TV program.

Soliciting opinions only helps to an extent, and asking for opinions After you have bought it just doesn't make sense - will you rush back and change the TV?

If not, enjoy and sit back & relax!

petetherock 10-05-2009 09:17 AM

Useful threads
Judder, Flicker thread

Connecting a PC to your TV:


Using the PS 3 with your TV:


Discussions on Starhub STB


HD 5


LCD vs plasma thread:
Full HD vs HD ready:

Buying overseas:

petetherock 10-05-2009 09:17 AM

Choosing the right cable for you system:


petetherock 10-05-2009 01:14 PM

Do We Need 1080p?
Everyday someone here asks about the significance of getting 1080p, high def etc
It gets funny and sad when it is a 32" TV or even up to a 40" one to pay a lot more for Full HD,

Hence I hope before you put down your hard earned money, ask yourself:

- what is your viewing distance?

- how much hi def material will you watch?

- how much SD TV will you watch?

- what your budget is

As always, pay peanuts, get monkeys...

Some info:

1080p :



In the context of HDTV, the formats of the broadcasts are referred to using a notation describing:
  • The number of lines in the vertical display resolution.
  • Whether progressive scan (p) or interlaced scan (i) are used. Progressive scan redraws all the lines (a frame) of a picture in each refresh. Interlaced scan redraws every second line (a field) in one refresh and the remaining lines in a second refresh. Interlaced scan increases picture resolution while saving bandwidth but at the expense of some flicker or other artifacts.
  • The number of frames or fields per second.
The format 720p60 is 1280 × 720 pixels, progressive encoding with 60 frames per second (60 Hz). The format 1080i50 is 1920 × 1080 pixels, interlaced encoding with 50 fields (25 frames) per second. Often the frame or field rate is left out, indicating only the resolution and type of the frames or fields, and leading to confusion [5]. Sometimes the rate is to be inferred from the context, in which case it can usually be assumed to be either 50 or 60, except for 1080p which is often used to denote either 1080p24, 1080p25 or 1080p30 at present but will also denote 1080p50 and 1080p60 in the future.

A frame or field rate can also be specified without a resolution. For example 24p means 24 progressive scan frames per second and 50i means 25 interlaced frames per second, consisting of 50 interlaced fields per second. Most HDTV systems support some standard resolutions and frame or field rates."

Does 1080p matter?
Can your eyes resolve the acuity:



petetherock 10-05-2009 01:19 PM

Who is doing the scaling and what is upscaling?
A good article on basic video upscaling:


The types of video processing commonly described as upconversion fall into three basic categories:
Transcoding. Changing one signal format to another, such as composite-video to S- or component-video.
Deinterlacing. Converting an interlaced video signal to progressive-scan, such as from 480i to 480p or 1080i to 1080p.
Scaling. Changing the signal from one display resolution to another, such as from 480p to 720p.
"Rules to Process By
Here are some basic guidelines to help you navigate the wilderness of video upconversion:

• Always start with the best connection you can. HDMI (or DVI) usually is best, followed by component-video, S-video, composite-video, and RF, in that order.
Remember that video transcoding in an A/V receiver or preamplifier is a convenience, not a magic picture-improver. Converting a composite-video signal to component-video or HDMI will not make it better.
• You can't get a good picture on today's fixed-pixel (plasma, LCD, DLP, or LCoS) HDTVs without good deinterlacing. Cheap progressive-scan DVD players may do a worse job of it than your TV, so unless you know what's in your player and are confident of its quality, try it with both 480i and 480p output to see which looks better on your set.
• Avoid unncessary scaling. This is a particularly important consideration if you have an upconverting DVD player or a receiver or preamp with built-in video scaling capability. If you set the output on one of these devices to anything other than your display's native resolution, the display will have to re-scale the signal. And if you have, for example, a 1,366 x 768 plasma and your upconverting DVD player or receiver, as is common, supports only ATSC-standard resolutions such as 720p and 1080i, that will not be possible. If you can't match the upconversion resolution to the display resolution, don't go beyond simple deinterlacing — let the display handle the scaling.
• Never convert a 720p HDTV signal to 1080i unless you absolutely have to. Interlacing a 720p signal loses, irretrievably, its most special quality. If you are using an HD cable or satellite TV box, set its video output to "native" mode if it has one. That will send video out in the same format it was broadcast. If the box requires you to select an output resolution, choose 720p unless you have a CRT-based HDTV; then you should choose 1080i. If you have a 1080p display, you might want to try both 720p and 1080i and see which looks better to you on most of the programs you watch, or you could switch the box's output resolution based on the channel you're watching (720p for 720p networks such as ABC, ESPN, and Fox, 1080i for 1080i networks such as NBC and CBS)."

A good article:


Rules to Process By
Here are some basic guidelines to help you navigate the wilderness of video upconversion:

• Always start with the best connection you can. HDMI (or DVI) usually is best, followed by component-video, S-video, composite-video, and RF, in that order.
• Remember that video transcoding in an A/V receiver or preamplifier is a convenience, not a magic picture-improver. Converting a composite-video signal to component-video or HDMI will not make it better.
• You can't get a good picture on today's fixed-pixel (plasma, LCD, DLP, or LCoS) HDTVs without good deinterlacing.
Cheap progressive-scan DVD players may do a worse job of it than your TV, so unless you know what's in your player and are confident of its quality, try it with both 480i and 480p output to see which looks better on your set.
• Avoid unncessary scaling. This is a particularly important consideration if you have an upconverting DVD player or a receiver or preamp with built-in video scaling capability. If you set the output on one of these devices to anything other than your display's native resolution, the display will have to re-scale the signal. And if you have, for example, a 1,366 x 768 plasma and your upconverting DVD player or receiver, as is common, supports only ATSC-standard resolutions such as 720p and 1080i, that will not be possible. If you can't match the upconversion resolution to the display resolution, don't go beyond simple deinterlacing — let the display handle the scaling.
• Never convert a 720p HDTV signal to 1080i unless you absolutely have to. Interlacing a 720p signal loses, irretrievably, its most special quality. If you are using an HD cable or satellite TV box, set its video output to "native" mode if it has one. That will send video out in the same format it was broadcast. If the box requires you to select an output resolution, choose 720p unless you have a CRT-based HDTV; then you should choose 1080i. If you have a 1080p display, you might want to try both 720p and 1080i and see which looks better to you on most of the programs you watch, or you could switch the box's output resolution based on the channel you're watching (720p for 720p networks such as ABC, ESPN, and Fox, 1080i for 1080i networks such as NBC and CBS)."

"Still, before you buy an HDTV set, cast a critical eye on how it looks with a variety of input signals. Pay special attention to what the set does with ordinary analog signals from cable or broadcast TV, which tend to give crummy scalers the biggest fits. Look particularly at what happens around the edges of moving objects. (Problems are often most apparent on slowly moving objects in the background.) Jagged or fuzzy edges or halos around objects are a bad sign (although these can also be caused by excessive compression in digital cable or satellite signals). If you already have an HDTV set that you think is not so hot in this regard, you might be a candidate for an outboard scaler or a receiver or preamp that features high-performance video scaling (look for names such as Silicon Optix, Gennum, or Faroudja)."

Check this out:


Budget player with decent TV:

Scenario 2: DVD > Receiver > Processor > Display = What a Picture!
  • Entry level 480i DVD player w/clean 480i output: This transport is economical and has good clean 480i output (and believe us that's not always easy to find). Output: 480i.
  • The receiver is a mid-level unit whose real purpose is to provide excellent audio quality, not provide fancy video conversions. Output: Passed-through 480i or bypassed altogether.
  • The Processor is a top-of the line model from Gennum, Silicon Optix, Anchor Bay Technologies or another company. It is doing what it does best - processing the incoming video signal, deinterlacing, and scaling the output for the projector. Output: Processed 720p.
  • The Display is a good quality 720p unit that has good black levels and excellent color accuracy. All of the video processing built into this unit is completely bypassed - on purpose.
So what's the result of Scenario 2:
  • DVD Player - Provides clean 480i source
  • Receiver: Provides excellent audio quality and video pass thru
  • Video Processor: Performs deinterlacing and scaling to 720p
  • Display: Provides excellent black level, detail and color accuracy.
Scenario 2 simply has each component performing to the best of its ability in a way that makes fiscal and "system" sense. Having the entry level 480i player provides a solid source for the video processor to work with. The receiver is focused on audio and the display was purchased so that the processed signal would be displayed with all of its maximized potential. Scenario 2 is a smart system and the owner didn't spend "redundant" money on processing that wasn't needed."

Seems the marketing folks have done a wonderful smokescreen job.

If you see my previous posts (and I strongly recommend going through the lot)

Many devices are 1080p specced, even that cheapo player is equipped with a chip.

Its like that old Burr Brown DAC that so many players like to boast about. Then an older player with nothing like that still manages to sound better.

I have a 1080p equipped XA2 HD DVD player and when I fed my Pioneer 768p TV, the picture is defintely great and much better than the feed from my 1080 capable Panasonic DVD recorder.

What gives?

HD DVD has so much more information on the movie, thats why it takes up so much more space!

No matter what chip you use, a SD DVD is still a SD DVD.

Rule 1 - a Hi Def disc which is well recorded will be better than a SD DVD and correspondingly a VCD vs a DVD

But amongst SD, a better video chip will be able to show a better picture IF

- the panel can show it (a cheapo TV is not the best judge)
- the disc is actually well recorded
- lastly the cables do matter, but to a certain extent. If you buy a budget DVD player (read a few hundred dollars) and pay 150$ for a few metres of HDMI cable, thats a real imbalance of budget appropriation, if you can afford that sort of cable, get a better player bro
- let the feed be direct and use the best video chip for the job, if the DVD player is better, feed it directly to the panel rather than use the upscaling of a cheapo AV amp
- if the DVD is a cheapo, and the panel has a better upscaler, use a 480i or 576i (NTSC) feed


A good read on why we do not just buy an AV AMP with a video chip.
It may be better to have the good video chip in your source or the display then spending money on the video chip in the amp. Sometimes its a marketing ploy:



It is easy to see that the video processing in today’s A/V receivers varies significantly from product to product. It is important to understand what you are compromising when you decide to use an AVR for your video processing instead of a source device or your display. It is nice to see that some of the midline receivers such as the Onkyo and Sony do offer very capable HD video processing and that most of the receivers offer high-quality passthrough performance of HDMI signals. This is very important with high-quality 1080p signals like those from a Blu-ray or HD DVD player and HD gaming systems like the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Depending on your budget, you may want to investigate the quality of the source component or display and look at receivers in your price range that will simply pass the video through and allow the display device to handle your video-processing duties if it is more capable. HT includes performance results for video processing in all of our display device reviews to help you make these choices. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you are paying top dollar for your new AVR, you’re always going to get top-of-the-line video processing from it. It is important to research what each company is using and how it will affect the overall quality of your video presentation.

petetherock 10-05-2009 01:20 PM

Scaling and de-interlacing
Scaling and De-interlacing explained

When people go out and buy a shiny new High Definition display, most of them naturally assume that with the simple addition of a HD set top box, they’ll be getting the full high resolution picture that their display is capable of. In other words they think every pixel of their display will be utilised to deliver as much detail as possible. Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple…

At the time of writing, most HD digital displays are made up of the following fixed pixel structures:

1024x768 (Common on 42” HD plasmas)
1024x1024 (Less common, but found on "ALIS" 42” HD plasmas)
1280x720 (Common on DLP, LCD projectors and digital RPTVs)
1280x768 (Found on Pioneer HD 50” plasmas, DLP projectors and some LCDs)
1366x768 (Common on many high definition plasmas and LCDs)
1920x1080 (Full high definition. Very rare, but availability is increasing, and this will eventually become the standard high definition format for most displays).

Interlaced Scan

Since the beginning of television broadcasting in the 1930s, all the pictures we are used to seeing on our conventional CRT televisions have been made up of two interlaced “fields”. The odd lines (1,3,5,7 etc) are painted on the screen in the first pass (field one) followed by the even lines (2,4,6,8 etc) in the following pass (field two).

Interlacing was introduced as a clever way of cutting down on the bandwidth of a broadcast, reducing fullscreen flicker (by allowing 50 or 60 screen updates a second rather than 25 or 30) and giving the illusion of there being more lines on screen than there actually is. This interlacing method works fine on older CRT tube televisions, due to a combination of the persistence of the phosphors onscreen (they take time to fade giving the illusion of the fields blending together) and the perception of our brains, which due to rapid refreshes of the screen perceives the fields to be onscreen at the same time.

Since the introduction of new digital displays, we’ve run into a problem. The problem being that all digital displays are inherently "progressive". In other words they generally work by illuminating all pixels on screen at once, and therefore can’t operate in interlaced mode like older CRT technology.

This creates a problem with all interlaced formats that must be addressed. The interlaced material must be “de-interlaced” (converted to progressive scan) in order for it to be displayed properly on the digital display. Confused yet? Well hang on as things are about to get a lot messier…..


De-interlacing is the process of taking interlaced fields and converting them to progressive frames for display. Sounds easy right? Well yes and no. Where things get complicated is the huge amount of various sources of content available. Whether something was original shot on film or video, and at what frame rate, has a huge bearing upon the type of de-interlacing that can be performed to deliver acceptable image quality.

Motion adaptive based de-interlacing

This is the most sophisticated type of de-interlacing and as a result is very processor intensive, requiring expensive dedicated chipsets. As such it is currently rare on any HD displays (and even external processors for that matter). Some displays and processors can apply this type of de-interlacing to standard definition sources (480i or 576i) but very few can use it with high definition 1080i. This is expected to change over the next few years.

So how does motion adaptive de-interlacing work? Motion adaptive de-interlacing analyses several successive fields (the more fields it analyses the better it generally is) and looks carefully at differences between those fields. For parts of the image that are motionless or relatively still, it will weave together sections of those successive fields, and for parts of the fields that are under motion, it will use interpolation to fill in the gaps. Think of it as a combination of weave and bob de-interlacing.

If done properly this can result in better resolution (as you can get close to the full vertical resolution when there is little movement) but the results vary wildly depending on how sophisticated the motion adaptive de-interlacing is. The best motion adaptive de-interlacing chipsets are generally ones that can de-interlace on a “per pixel” level which means they are powerful enough to look at differences between fields on an individual pixel basis.

So that about covers the basics of de-interlacing. There are other less common methods of de-interlacing available such as vector based de-interlacing, but for the sake of simplicity I’ve chosen to keep them out of this article.

The problem with de-interlacing

As you can see de-interlacing is tricky business, and as a result it’s often not done properly by manufacturers. By far the most common and cheapest implementation of high definition de-interlacing is the bob method, and hence the majority of HD displays on the market will use this method for all high definition 1080i sources, regardless of whether they are film or video based. In other words the display is unable to differentiate between sources, and simply applies basic bob de-interlacing to all HD content. The result is that you may often only be getting a maximum of 540 original lines of resolution (from one interlaced 1080i field) on your 720p, 768p or even 1080p display. To combat this some people invest in sophisticated external video processors which will often do a much better job than the de-interlacers and scalers built into their display.

So how can you tell what your display uses?

In short, unless you know what to look for, it’s very hard. Bob de-interlacing does soften the picture, and can leave ugly defects in the picture (aliasing, shimmer, moiré and line flicker to name a few) but unless you’re familiar with these picture artifacts you’re unlikely to notice.

The simplest way of knowing whether your display incorporates high quality high definition processing, is to look for specific mention of this in marketing material or on the manufacturer’s website. The rare HD displays that feature good de-interlacing and processing, will generally make a big deal of it. If you see no mention of it anywhere on the website or in other related marketing material, then it’s generally safe to assume is isn’t there.


So now that we’ve covered de-interlacing, what about scaling? Scaling is a little less tricky than de-interlacing, as the same method of scaling can often be applied to all sources (after de-interlacing) regardless of their origin. However there are still many different methods, which can have a big impact on image quality. Put simply scaling is the process of taking a given video format (anything from 480i to 1080p) and converting it to match the resolution of the display. For example when a 720x576p signal (like a progressive PAL DVD) is input into a 1280x720p display it must “up-convert” that material to 720p, so that it matches the physical resolution of the device. Or when a 1920x1080i signal is input into a 1024x768 display it must "down-convert" it to match the display.

Like bob de-interlacing, scaling is done through a process of interpolation (in the case of up-converting) or by discarding resolution (in the case of down-converting). Sometimes a display must both down-convert and up-convert to match it’s native resolution (i.e. up-convert horizontal resolution while down-converting vertical resolution) which can result in a very bad picture if not done well.

Basic scaling analyses anywhere between 4 and 16 pixels from a single frame, to average one pixel in the final scaled frame. The number of pixels taken into account is given a figure of “xx-tap” scaling. For example a scaler that looks at only 4 pixels to create a final pixel is called a “4-tap scaler”. Top end scaling can go all the way up to 1024-tap as seen with Silicon Optix’ HQV processing.

There are many other different methods of scaling available, depending on the display in question, all of which are beyond the scope of this article.

Just like de-interlacing, a lot of home theatre enthusiasts now choose to use external scalers, as they give far greater flexibly with output formats, typically incorporate higher quality scaling algorithms, and will therefore nearly always result in a bettor picture than using the display’s own internal scaler.

Other forms of scaling

Also common these days are “up-converting DVD players” which can not only de-interlace a standard definition interlaced PAL DVD (from 576i to 576p) using weave de-interlacing, but also then up-convert the material to 720p, 1080i or even 1080p before being output to the display. The result can mean a smoother more detailed picture with less artifacts, depending on the quality of the de-interlacing and scaling built into the player.

All high definition digital set top boxes are also all capable of up-converting material to 720p or 1080i, however almost all of them use very basic bob de-interlacing and basic scaling algorithms, and you’ll nearly always get better results by outputting the material in it’s native format (576i or 1080i) and then let the display or an external scaler do the de-interlacing and scaling.


petetherock 10-05-2009 01:21 PM

Viewing distance Matters!
Maxing Out Resolution

Optimize Your Seating Distance for Your Screen Size and Resolution.

by David Ranada
February/March 2006

Getting the best picture resolution remains one of the chief goals of HDTV shoppers. But as I explained in last month's "Tech Talk," human visual acuity limits how much detail you can see in any image, live or onscreen. This month I'm laying it all on the line - or rather, the several trace lines in the accompanying graphs, which relate diagonal screen size for 16:9 widescreen TVs (in inches across the bottom) to seating distance (in feet on the vertical axis). The two graphs are the same except that the one with curved lines uses a logarithmic scale for the vertical axis (I'll explain the advantages of that below).
The traces indicate for various image formats what combinations of screen size and viewing distance will "saturate" your eyes with detail to the point where any more detail in the image would not be visible. They were calculated using only the horizontal pixel count of each format and assuming progressive display of still images. You won't get quite as much detail with real-world video programs and screens.
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/ass...2006182933.jpg Click image for larger view If your combination of screen size and seating distance places you below any particular image-format trace, you're sitting too close. That is, a TV of that format and size can't provide all the detail your eye is capable of seeing at that distance, and the picture will look "softer" the closer you get. For example, watching a 60-inch TV at 11 feet puts you below the trace for 720p HDTV, so a high-def program on a 720p HDTV - or a 720p program viewed on a 1080i or 1080p HDTV - might look a little soft.
If your screen-size/distance point puts you above a particular trace, your eyes will be saturated with detail before you reach the resolution limit of an image in that format. Watching a 60-inch screen from 11 feet puts you well above the 1080i/p HDTV trace, meaning that a 1080i program can produce more detail than you can actually make out at that distance. You could even move closer, to around 8 feet, before your ability to see details in the image will max out. That is close to the recommendation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) that the width of a screen should span at least 30° of your field of view (anything below the orange trace).
As might be expected, Lucasfilm THX's recommendation for the comparable angle for watching movies in theaters (light purple trace) is much more demanding, namely 36°. Neither a 1080i/p HDTV nor even a 2k Digital Cinema projection is capable of providing full visible resolution for a picture of that width. For a 36° image you'll need to leap to 4k Digital Cinema encoding. Such 4k pictures allow you to sit less than a screen width away, which is what often happens when you arrive late to the theater.
http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/ass...2006182917.jpg Click image for larger view This graph can be used to help set up your system or to shop for a TV. How you use it depends on what you are able to vary in your viewing room - the space allotted for a screen or the distance from the screen to the main viewing area. If you want to go for a full theaterlike presentation, select among 1080i/p screens and sit at just the right distance for your screen size as indicated on the green trace. Only a 1080 set will produce the minimum SMPTE picture width of 30° without running out of resolution.
If your room layout restricts either your viewing distance or the screen size, you actually have more choices. Say you're limited to a seating distance of around 10 feet and a screen width of 50 inches. In this case buying a 1080i/p set won't get you better resolution than a 50-inch 720p set (the 10-foot/50-inch point lies above the 1080i/p trace). You might be able to save some money by choosing a 720p model. Then again, all screen sizes seem to be switching over to 1080i/p pixel counts, and eventually 720p sets may be hard to find.
When comparing screen size/distance tradeoffs, it's easy to go overboard with the straight-line version of the graph, which can be misleading as to the improvements/degradations in resolution you'll get. Transformation of the vertical axis to logarithmic scaling, as in the curved-line version of the graph, will help prevent this. The logarithmic version contains the same information as the "linear" version, but scaled so that the vertical intervals are more perceptually meaningful. Equal vertical movement on the logarithmic version corresponds to equal changes in perceived or possible resolution. For example, descending along the same vertical line from the DVD trace (orange) to the HDV camcorder line (magenta) corresponds to a doubling of horizontal pixel count (from 720 to 1,440) and is the same distance as between the 2k (dark purple) and 4k (dark blue) Digital Cinema traces, which also involves a doubling of pixel count (from 2,048 to 4,096). From the logarithmic version, you can see that slight changes in viewing distance from the 1080i/p line correspond to larger changes in viewing distance from a 720p screen of the same size. The lower-rez screens are more forgiving of seating-distance variations.

petetherock 10-05-2009 01:24 PM

Buying Tips - good websites
Check this out:

Peter Blasina's (The Gadget Guy) guide to HDTV is available a free electronic download from here:
It is a good introduction to the technologies (and terminology) currently available which may be of interest to lurkers here.

Everynow and then each megamart, electronic chain will come out with their 'exlcusive' model of budget LCD TV, say $700 for a 32" XX brand.

So should we jump into our cars and rush down?

a - the offers exist ALL the time, if you miss one, wait for the next one, in its next reincarnation

b - if you are truly on a budget, then I say consider it by all means, not everyone has buckets of cash rolling around

c - but remember the peanuts and monkeys theory and scrutinise the TV with your eyes NOT JUST THE SPECS

d - if you can stretch a little, examine the adjacent brands and see if you can discern the difference in quality, if not, sure! Buy the budget one

e - also consider if the TV has the same warranty, track record and even number of connectors you want

f - Some of these sets offer more features and specs than even the regular brands. How is that so? See the panel and make sure you avoid falling prey just to s sales pitch and specs.

Caveat emptor

petetherock 10-05-2009 01:25 PM

Cable and Set top box tips (STB)
How to connect that STB:

Found this FAQ on antenna by Draco:



petetherock 10-05-2009 01:26 PM

This one from ST says it quite simply:


Tips from CNET:


Everyone now and then someone perpetuates fallacies on what is HD

720p and higher up ok!!!!

High-definition signals require a high-definition television or computer monitor in order to be viewed. High-definition video has an aspect ratio of 16:9 (1.78:1). The aspect ratio of regular widescreen film shot today is typically 1.85:1 or 2.40:1 (sometimes traditionally quoted at 2.35:1). Standard-definition television (SDTV) has a 4:3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio, although in recent years many broadcasters have transmitted programs "squeezed" horizontally in 16-9 anamorphic format, in hopes that the viewer has a 16-9 set which stretches the image out to normal-looking proportions, or a set which "squishes" the image vertically to present a "letterbox" view of the image, again with correct proportions.

High-definition television (HDTV) resolution is 1080 or 720 lines.

In contrast, regular digital television (DTV) is 486 lines (upon which NTSC is based) or 576 lines (upon which PAL/SECAM are based). However, since HD is broadcast digitally, its introduction sometimes coincides with the introduction of DTV. Additionally, current DVD quality is not high-definition, although the high-definition disc systems HD DVD and Blu-ray are."


CNET editors' buying advice

HDTV source resolutions

There are two main HD resolutions in use today by HD broadcasters and other sources: 1080i and 720p. One is not necessarily better than the other; 1080i has more lines and pixels, but 720p is a progressive-scan format that should deliver a smoother image that stays sharper during motion. Another format is also becoming better known: 1080p, which combines the superior resolution of 1080i with the progressive-scan smoothness of 720p. True 1080p content is extremely scarce, however, and none of the major networks have announced 1080p broadcasts. The term 1080p today appears mostly in reference to the displays' native resolution, not the source.

Source resolution name Resolution
in pixels HDTV Progressive scan Widescreen Networks/sources
1080p 1,920x1,080 Yes Yes Yes Blu-ray and future HD-DVD players; PlayStation 3
1080i 1,920x1,080 Yes No Yes Includes CBS, NBC, PBS, DiscoveryHD/
Xbox 360
720p 1,280x720 Yes Yes Yes ABC, Fox, ESPNHD
480p 852x480 No Yes Yes Fox wide-screen; progressive-scan DVD players
Regular TV Up to 480 lines No No No All

Despite the obvious difference in pixel count, 720p and 1080i both look great. In fact, unless you have a very large television and excellent source material, you'll have a hard time telling the difference between any of the HDTV resolutions. It's especially difficult to tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p sources. The difference between DVD and HDTV should be visible on most HDTVs, but especially on smaller sets, it's not nearly as drastic as the difference between standard TV and HDTV.

For more information on resolution, please read HDTV Resolution Explained
The truth about 1080p

In the last couple of years, there has been a big influx of HDTVs with 1080p native resolution, which typically cost a good deal more than their lower-resolution counterparts. But as we've been saying all along, once you get to high-def, the difference between resolutions becomes much more difficult to appreciate. We've done side-by-side tests between two 50-inch HDTVs, one with 1366x768 resolution (a.k.a. 720p) and the other with 1080p resolution, using the same 1080i and 1080p source material, and it was extremely difficult for us to see any difference. It becomes even more difficult at smaller screen sizes or farther seating distances--say, more than 1.5 times the diagonal measurement of the screen.

We're not telling you to ignore 1080p HDTVs. They technically do deliver more detail, which can enhance the viewing experience for more eagle-eyed viewers. Also, many manufacturers build other picture-quality benefits, such as better contrast and/or color, into their 1080p HDTVs simply because those sets are the high-end models. And given the continuing march of technology, we expect more and more 1080p models to become available at lower and lower prices. Today, however, the premium for 1080p is still pretty steep, and unless you're getting a very large set, say 55 inches or more, we don't recommend basing a buying decision on whether or not the television has 1080p native resolution.

petetherock 10-05-2009 01:29 PM

What do contrast ratios really mean?
A few short years ago there was widespread exuberance in the A/V consumer world when NEC or Panasonic announced that the newest version of their gas plasma display (that’s what we called them then) delivered an astounding 1500 to 1 contrast ratio.
Truth is that a 1500:1 contrast ratio would be almost unbelievable even today if evaluated on a post calibration, whole screen, ANSI checkerboard pattern basis. The highest I have measured on a recent flat panel display was nearing 800:1.
For a long time, we in the A/V world have been harboring secrets about the testing methods used for such measurements as contrast. Contrast ratio stands out as probably the most blatant and ridiculous example of irrelevant manufacturers specifications.
Contrast Ratio is defined as the measure of the brightest white to the darkest black and is expressed as the number of shades of gray in between. There are no standards, which manufacturer’s factories must follow in order to test, or post a figure for such specifications as contrast ratio and grayscale. One argument against such a standard is that manufacturer’s will just find a way around it. So for the past several years the thought process of many manufacturers of flat panel technologies is to find creative ways to “test” such specs as contrast ratio in order to post a higher (and thus better) conrast ratio number, presumably to gain competitive advantage over competitors and take market share.
There are several ways that the factories produce these phenomenal contrast ratios. One way is to turn off the display when taking the measurement for black. This of course produces absolute black since there is no light introduced by the display. Another way is to measure white from a small 1 inch white square in the middle of the panel without using the rest of the panel (this can be done at the factory because only certain pixels have to be lit thus concentrating all the power to the one inch area). One more method is to take the darkest and lightest figure before installation of the top protective layer of glass. I have spoken with several manufacturers that have confirmed these methods of “testing” for contrast ratio.
Some manufacturers are now posting a figure for “Dynamic Contrast.” This figure is produced by a combination of the methods previously listed. However, these manufacturers “normal” contrast ratio are also inflamed. Basically, manufacturer’s normal contrast ratio is worthless and the “Dynamic Contrast” ratio is doubly so.
To generate a realistic contrast ratio, I first calibrate the plasma or LCD to D6500K or thereabouts. Then I test the black and white on an ANSI checkerboard pattern that shows both the white and black squares side by side on the same screen. The two must be tested simultaneously with no adjustments in between. Even when testing in our facility, if wanted to inflate my contrast figures all I have to do is turn the picture or contrast setting on the TV all the way to max contrast. Then I can turn the brightness setting all the way down to test black and all the way up to test white. If I’m testing an LCD I can further juice the contrast ratio by decreasing the backlight to 0 for black testing and max it out for white testing. All of these techniques are employable but irrelevant to the end user. There is no correlation between the contrast ratio given as a manufacturer’s specification and the actual contrast that the user receives when viewing his or her TV.
This stated, contrast ratios for plasma and LCD TVs have increased very well over the past few years. What I look for most in a picture is great black levels while not losing dark matter detail (i.e. the shading and wrinkling of a black coat). Extremely juiced white brightness doesn’t do much for you in your living room, but it does help LCDs look better on the showroom floor.
Generally, plasma TVs have better black levels because there is no backlight (that must be blocked to produce black). Each pixel produces it’s own light. For this reason as well, plasma TVs do not get as bright as LCDs (since there is no backlight). That small pixel with its contained phosphor and connected electrode must produce the brightness. LCD’s have used the backlighting to increase contrast by increasing brightness. LCD TVs often suffer from hazy, washed out blacks."

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