Buying a first setup, have some picky TV/receiver questions

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by harveytwh, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    OK, so I've been gradually working on getting a whole setup - this
    will be the first time I ever get an HDTV, surround AV receiver, or
    Blu-Ray player. I've got most of the info I need, but some specifics
    are driving me nuts because I can only figure out so much in stores or
    from specifications/manuals.

    If I am making a faux pas by posting a thread, sorry - perhaps point
    me to where I need to look.

    I'm looking at various TVs, probably LCD, about 46-52".

    Most of what I am concerned about is getting things to work well with
    older, SD media. I am hooking up a lot of stuff like old video game
    consoles, laserdisc player, VCR, and plenty and plenty of SD cable and
    DVDs. Here's where I'm having trouble:

    -Overscan. I thought that was a thing of the past, but it looks like
    many TVs do it for every resolution (including 1080). It's not the
    most important thing, I suppose, but I'd like to find a TV that never
    does it or at least can turn it off. I seriously do not mind seeing
    the edge material that sometimes shows up, especially in old TV shows.
    It's kind of neat. But I can't tell which brands do what.

    -Interlacing. Given the amount of video games and TV shows (and
    interlaced recorded content) I'll be watching in addition to
    progressive scan, I want this to work really well. I don't want
    jaggies, I certainly don't want flickering effects to screw up. I was
    able to test this in stores with a game that uses interlacing for a
    shimmering flicker (which is why I mention it a lot), and it looked
    like some brands just did it better - but one that consistently did
    well suddenly failed and gave me a static alternating pattern when I
    tried it later. Is it some sort of setting? Would any TV be able to do
    this well if I find that setting?

    -Upscaling quality. I imagine for live action I can't go wrong... but
    for video games, some TVs just look more smoothed out and blended.
    Some seem to blur things horizontally, or get a vertical stripe
    pattern. I don't know why. (Also, in addition to upscaling 480-line
    stuff regularly, I have a lot of letterboxed laserdiscs I'd want to
    zoom in on too, thus creating a 1080/360 = 3x upscale. Hopefully that
    won't look horrible.)

    -Variable zoom. I have not seen a feature like this on any TV or
    receiver I've looked at. This would be most useful for movies on
    non-anamorphic DVDs, tapes, laserdiscs that are between 4:3 and 16:9,
    like a 1.66 aspect. I don't want to windowbox but I don't want to cut
    the top and bottom off either, so I want something like I've seen on some

    DVD players - zoom in incrementally until it just fits, with the sides

    pillarboxed appropriately. Is this a feature found anywhere?

    It also occurs to me that it may be a receiver that I should rely on
    for these things, then use its HD output straight to the TV (for
    example, in 1080i). This really compounds the issue, especially as I
    can't sit there and test every combination (or, so far, any at all).
    Are the receivers any better at all that?

    There are other things I'm looking at, of course, but most of them I
    can tell from specifications and manuals. How many inputs they have,
    including VGA and USB stuff. How many digital sound inputs on the
    receiver in particular, since I want a lot (many for laserdisc), and
    how they get assigned. That's not anything I have to ask about here.
    As for Blu, I can depend more on the manuals too.

    The models of TV I was looking at were narrowed down mostly from the
    interlacing question and general impressions I got. I really liked the
    Toshiba XV645U (in whatever size), with interlace flicker all right,
    good inputs, good high motion, but not perfect overscan. The
    Panasonics (TC-P58S1 I think was one?) seemed better at disabling
    overscan, and even better with the interlacing (until I tried it one
    later time and it failed, suggesting it may be a setting), but its
    ins/outs weren't quite as great. Each had some drawbacks to the
    upscaling. Most other brands I tried did a terrible job with the
    interlacing, but again, if that works better once I change a setting,
    I could consider many more. For receivers, I've mostly been going by
    input count and maximizing what buttons and display items there are -
    I had liked what I saw with some middle end Sonys but I could look at
    anything.

    That's all for now... I hope I can get some guidance soonish!
     
  2. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Welcome to the forum, Matt:


    First thing I need to let you know, which may affect your analysis, is that neither LCD nor plasma sets "do" interlaced. Period. All fixed pixel HDTVs (and that basically means anything except direct view or projection CRT, including DLP) are inherently progressive scan. If fed an interlaced signal they will de-interlace it and display it at their own native resolution. 480i, 720p, 1080i, it doesn't matter what you input, a 1080p TV is going to diaply it as 1080p because that is all it can do.


    Now, as you've noticed, some TVs do a better job of this than others. And some DVD and Blu Ray players do a better job than others, as well as doing a better job than many televisions. Finally a lot of AV receivers do their own video processing, and a given receiver may be better or worse than the rest of the devices in the signal path. It gets to be downright confusing.


    In your case I wouldn't worry too much about the scaler/deinterlacer in whichever TV you buy. With the number and variety of devices you'll be connecting you're best bet will be buidling your system around a really good AVR, one that will upscale composite, component and s-video so that it can be sent via HDMI to your TV. I'd let each device send each media type to the receiver in its own native resolution, if possible, then let the receiver sort them out and send 1080p to the TV. The last thing you want is several devices reprocessing the same signal repeatedly at different points in the signal path.

    With all of the above in mind, you might want to take another look at your options and the components you've already considered.

    And since I haven't been in the market for new stuff myself in years (my current Onkyo AVR doesn't even do HDMI, and my TV is a 720p LCoS) I'll now leave the thread to those who know more about current offerings.


    Good luck,


    Joe
     
  3. Selden Ball

    Selden Ball Second Unit

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    Even high-end AVRs don't fully implement the features provided by their high-end video chips. As a result, many people who are picky about converting SD to HD get an external scaler like the DVDO models made by Anchor Bay. (I don't have one, so I can't comment otherwise.)


    I don't know which TVs don't have overscan. My cheap 1080p Vizio certainly does :( Projectors usually provide options to select how much overscan to use, including none. (My Mitsubishi HC3800 does, for example.)
     
  4. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    So for interlacing, is there any hint I can use to figure out which do it better? Refresh rate, for example? Or is it just that some would implement it by leaving each field as it was all the time and others would go back and forth at 60 hz displaying only the half image...?


    Any brand suggestions on AVRs then?


    (Thanks for replies so far!)
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Wouldn't that be, um, interlacing? These sets don't do that. I believe that most of them simply grab both fields, then display them progressively, with all the lines in order from top to the bottom of the screen. Although my understanding of the mechanics of all this is rudimentary at best. With luck one of the real experts will chime in and explain this to both of us. My impression is that the real difference in the final output is how well a given component rescales the resulting deinterlaced 480p (or 720p) image to 1080p.

    Regards,


    Joe
     
  6. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    That would be interlacing, or at least as close as it could get... I'm really surprised there isn't more support for it. I know a lot of interlaced content is really just telecined from film elements and it would make sense to display that progressively... some stuff won't look as good that way though. I saw a 3:2 pulldown option in some menus - would toggling that help, or is that doing something else entirely?
     
  7. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    ???? It isn't a matter of support vs. non-support. It is a matter of how the technologies work. Broadcast television standards were evolved to included interlacing because it allowed for the transmission of apparently higher resolution images with restricted bandwidth. The rate at CRT phosphors fade also made for more image flicker if you tried to paint the whole image from top to bottom with consecutive lines than if you did the odd lines followed by the even. Interlacing is a compromise designed to get the most out of some comparatively crude technology. That's essentially the same reason that the modern broadcast DTV/HDTV standards still support interlacing - because the only way to get to 1080 scan lines without breaking the bandwidth budget was to do 1080i.

    On the technology side it is easier to do interlacing with a technology like CRT, which fires an electron beam, than it is with modern plasmas, LCDs and DLPs, which use an array of pixels laid out on a grid to generate images, not glowing phosphors. I'm not entirely sure you even could do interlacing with fixed pixel designs, but if you could, I'm it would be more difficult than telling your single electron gun to skip every other line. Forcing such a display to have an interlaced mode would simply add complexity and cost for not benefit (since interlaced images are generally inferior and subject to flicker.)

    The way interlaced sources are "supported" is by converting them to progressive scan.

    Regards,


    Joe
     
  8. Selden Ball

    Selden Ball Second Unit

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    "3:2 pulldown" refers to timing. It is the terminology used for the mapping of 24 frames/second movie film images into the 60 interlaced fields/second of standard definition analog video. It's irrelevant for most modern progressive digital displays.
     
  9. harveytwh

    harveytwh Extra

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    The main reason I want good (pseudo) interlacing is because of that very flicker effect in some games and stuff. Isn't it also true that if a movie or show is telecined for 30 fps interlaced, it looks better if it's displayed interlaced?


    Anyway... will try to make some decisions soon. I could still use any more input on good-upscaling AVRs (without a separate piece of equipment). Thanks!
     

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