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Please Clarify, Is anyone actually getting decent/good PQ from SD DVD's on HDTV's?


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#1 of 27 Cheeba

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Posted November 20 2008 - 08:09 AM

I know this has been touched upon several times. I've been researching it for hours.

Here's my confusion, after deciding to make the jump to BD I read a LOT of reviews of BD players that make their SD DVD's look "so much better". Many of the reviews claimed the upscaling was considerably better than their upscaling DVD player.

Then I do searches to see whether BD is worth it if your TV is only 720p/1080i. The overwhelming consensus was, YES it is. Again, many mentions of how much better DVDs look.

So I buy a Sony BDP-S350 with one tester BD. The BD looked great, as expected. The SD DVD's, pretty bad. Very grainy. I tried it on 720p and 1080i.

So then I do a search about that and find a myriad of users experiencing the exact same thing. On not one of those forums did the OP ever end up being satisfied with they're SD DVD PQ.

So whats the deal? So many reviews of BD players said it took their DVD's to "near HD quality" Yet so many people asking why their DVD's look like shite on their HDTVs?

So who, if anybody is happy with SD DVD PQ on their HDTV's? Oh and I'm using an LG42PG25(42" plasma) Thanks very much in advance.

#2 of 27 Gary Seven

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Posted November 20 2008 - 08:54 AM

To be honest, I'm quite pleased. However, when I was out testing TVs for purchase, I did not test/compare PQ with HD sources but rather brought a couple of my SD DVD to the store and focused on them, knowing that either way, the HD PQ would be outstanding. I do play the SD DVD thrugh my Denon 3930ci player which upscale. I've played them through my PS3 as well but still prefer the Denon, though the difference is marginal at best. The TV I have is a calibrated 60" Sony SXRD XBR2. Even my laserdiscs are quite watchable.

#3 of 27 Cheeba

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Posted November 20 2008 - 09:09 AM

Thanks Gary, so would you say its an issue of the TV itself, or the upscaling capabilities of the player or both? I would like to not have to replace all my DVD's. I don't know whether to consider swapping my TV or what.(I just bought it)

#4 of 27 Gary Seven

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Posted November 20 2008 - 09:33 AM

I would lean toward the TV as to the issue since in my experience, the difference in player performance was tiny... if any. I would suggest doing what I did and go to the store with some of yoour SD DVDs and try it yourself... see how you fare.

#5 of 27 Gary Seven

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Posted November 20 2008 - 09:35 AM

Oh... one thing... I did calibrate the TVs when I was there to ensure I was comparing apples to apples. I brought my calibration disc with me.

#6 of 27 Doug_H

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Posted November 20 2008 - 09:50 AM

Gary hit on an important tip, make sure the TV is calibrated. From the showroom the set is turned to a blinding setting that makes HD, especially animated HD look great to the average buyer. Unfortunately this makes SD look very poor.

Even on a well calibrated set SD can start to look a little ragged compared to HD. Upscaling helps but it only has the limited picture data provided by DVD to work with. I have found myself becoming more and more sensitive to SD as more HD watching becomes available.
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#7 of 27 gene c

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Posted November 20 2008 - 10:43 AM

Another thing to consider is the quality of the SD itself. Some dvd's just look better than others. Some tv programs look better than others. I use a Mitsubishi 1080p for SD tv and old episodes of M*A*S*H look great. Some other shows, not so good. On Sunday night, my local PBS station is almost un-watchable. They have 5 separate channels going at the same time. Not enough bandwidth (?). Some BluRay discs look better than others as well. Many, but not all, BR players have very good up-scalers, de-interlacers (whatever you want to call them) in them to help justify the higher price.

How good a dvd player is with SD depends on what's inside it. I have two older, but very good, dvd players with 14 bit, 216 mhz video processers and apparently very good up-scalers that do a great job with SD. Can't say the same about the H/K 47 with it's 10 bit, 54 mhz. Great audio but video, not so good.
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#8 of 27 Micah Cohen

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Posted November 20 2008 - 12:29 PM

This forum goes around and around on this, even just in the couple of threads I've seen and started... But now that I turned my old DVD player to down to "i" and let my AVIA-calibrated new Sony TV do the upconverting I seem to be seeing excellent pictures from my SD DVDs; I am thinking I might not even bother getting an upconverting DVD player any time soon.

For what that's worth.

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#9 of 27 Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 21 2008 - 02:54 AM

I am quite satisfied with the upscaling of SD-DVD via my Sony BDP-S350 to a Samsung 67" LED DLP. The Sony is set to upscale to 1080p, and high quality SD-DVD video transfers look very good to me.

#10 of 27 Brent Hutto

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Posted November 21 2008 - 02:55 AM

Some of our regular DVD's look spectacular on our Panny plasma and Panny BD30 Blu-Ray player. Those DVD's looked very good with the old DVD player and 36" Sony CRT as well. The DVD of North by Northwest for instance looks as good as most Blu-Ray discs.

Some of our regular DVD's look very grainy, dark and low-res on the new setup, for example the early seasons of Stargate SG-1 especially in low-light interior scenes (i.e. most of the show). Those DVD's looks a little grainy and not so great displayed at 36" as well.

So I don't know how your equipment compares but we're not using any fancy gear, it's a $1,000 TV and a $300 BD player. I think when you project a DVD-resolution image up to 42" or 50" or whatever you're pushing your luck and any flaws in the material become very annoying very fast.

#11 of 27 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted November 21 2008 - 03:38 AM

I think the two main variables are how well the TV itself is calibrated and - far and away the most important - the quality of the source material.

I have a 56" JVC LCoS set, and a pair of Sony CD changers that do upscaling. In my A/B comparisons I simply cannot see any difference between the Sony's upscaling capabilities and the scaler in the TV itself when fed an unaltered DVD signal. Both can look extraordinary.

Working from a well-mastered disc, SD DVD can look spectacular on an HD set. Allowing for the limitations of HD cable, I'd have to say my CSI DVD sets look nearly as good as the HD broadcasts of the new episodes. Even a non-anamorphic disc like Streets of Fire can look remarkable. (The unaltered Star Wars films don't look quite as good, which I don't think is an accident. Posted Image) OTOH the Highlander TV series DVDs look shaky (especially the early seasons) and one of my all-time favorite documentaries, The Ascent of Man, looks hardly better than it did on videotape. (A major disappointment, especially given what it cost me. The show badly needs to be restored and remastered.)

You simply can't say "all SD DVDs are going to look good (or bad)" when run from player "X" or viewed on TV "Y", because there are too many variables that affect the final image. But the quality of the original disc is far and away the most important, in my opinion. My collection of several hundred SD DVDs ranges from hideous to breath-taking on my system, with the vast majority falling into the "damned good/better than it ever looked on my old system" category.

YMMV.

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#12 of 27 David Norman

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Posted November 21 2008 - 03:26 PM

To Cheeba:

Maybe I missed this or maybe just an assumption -- are you connecting via HDMI?

If so, then I second the calibration before starting to change equipment around.
If already done, check several DVD's first -- most Pixar SD-DVD's are excellent for showing off the system.

Did you try the SD DVD through your old player first -- did it look any different?
 

 


#13 of 27 Cees Alons

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Posted November 21 2008 - 09:42 PM

Loren,

Welcome to the forum.

As others have pointed out, calibration is an important issue.
But before that, you need to choose which upconverting circuits you are going to use (to make sure you're calibrating to the right upconverting process).

Potentially, there are two upconverting circuits involved, one in you player and one in your TV. What you don't want is: to use both, because that will almost certainly degrade the picture quality.

So it's important to find out which one is the best of the two in your situation, which is a matter of trying and comparing.
But there is a catch.

Your TV is, so you tell us, a 720p set and I assume the screen is indeed a 720 horizontal lines LCD or plasma. (You also mentioned 1080i. If that's true - Full HD, that is - and the screen has 1080 horizontal lines, then it's good: 1080 = 1080, it doesn't matter whether that's -i or -p, both are equally good picture-wise.)

If your screen is 720p, then there are two possibilities: (1) the input is actually 720p as well, or (2) the input favours 1080, but the circuitry always converts this to 720. In this latter case, pictures of 720p are first converted to 1080 and then downsized to 720 again. It's not nice, but it's true in certain sets. To these sets you don't want to offer 720p images.
(The other way around also existed in some sets, in those cases you need 720p images to be presented to the TV. The same sort of problem existed some time around the 1080i <-> 1080p input conversion.)


So what you need to do is this:
Compare at least 3 settings of your system and keep the one with best picture:

A. Set the player to output 480i. The upgrading circuitry of the player won't be used, the TV set does the upconverting.

B. Set the player to output 720p. The upconverting circuitry is used, but you cannot be fully sure what happens in your TV set (possibly two conversions - see above - as well).

C. Set the player to output 1080i. The player upconverter is used, and your certainty about the circuitry in your TV set is the same as in B: you don't know if it kicks in or not. Just look what image is the best.
(C2. You may want to try 1080p output as well. Who knows.)

Use several SD DVDs to compare: you may have chosen one or two bad examples if you don't swap.


The above three tests are important if you are using HDMI. If you have another connection (like S-Video or Component), the situation is different again (yes: sigh!). Your BD-player will NOT output signals higher than 480i over these connections for most SD DVDs. That is because the MacroVision, when present, is seen as a copy-protection measure and higher resolutions will only be sent over HDMI in that case.
If this is the case, you NEED to use your TV-set to upconvert (which it will do automatically).

Hope this helps a bit, sorry for the long reply, and good luck testing, if applicable!


Cees

#14 of 27 Micah Cohen

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Posted November 22 2008 - 01:23 AM

Quote:
...you don't know if it (TV upscaling) kicks in or not...
This simple unknowable thing is driving me out of my mind. Why can't we SEE? Why is there no menu or display icon (showing the TV displaying "1080" or anything) to show what the TV is doing? Always assuming is the weak link in this process.

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#15 of 27 Cheeba

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Posted November 22 2008 - 01:56 AM

Hey guys,

Thanks a lot for the detailed and helpful responses. This is a great forum. I now have a better understanding of all the factors that play into picture quality in this situation.

Just a couple clarifications. Yes I am using HDMI. And I actually just swapped my BDP-S350 for a PS3 so I could get the gaming in addition to what is supposed to be a better BD player.

I just got it today and I've been playing Metal Gear Solid 4 for the last few hours so I didn't really get a chance to compare the quality of DVDs.

And no, I have not calibrated my TV yet. I will order one asap. I'd ask which calibration DVD is the best, but I'm sure that's a whole other can of worms. I'll do my own research on that.

I will also be sure to try some different DVD's. I was suprised how awful the Jet Li movie "Hero" looks. It was pretty much unwatchable-VHS quality. Its a very visually oriented movie and I thought it would be better. Superman Returns was pretty decent though.

And Thanks Cees for your response. I actually did try all those settings but unfortunately it was with the aforementioned "Hero" and the only thing I noticed was that they all looked equally bad. I'll go through the process again with a few different DVD's.

Thanks again guys. I'll let you know how it works out for me.

#16 of 27 Brent_S

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Posted November 22 2008 - 02:03 AM

It's not helping that your 720p TV is actually 768 native. You're going to get double processing no matter what resolution you set the 350 to output. The 350 is only going to allow you to select standard resolutions; 480/720/1080. In the end, the TV will always up or down scale to 768.

As an experiment, you should try setting the 350 to output SD-DVD at 480i (if allowed via HDMI) or 480p. LG may have tuned their scaler to do a better job upscaling from 480 SD than they did downscaling from 1080. SD-DVDs are encoded at 480i.

-Brent

#17 of 27 Micah Cohen

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Posted November 22 2008 - 05:04 AM

Quote:
you should try setting the 350 to output SD-DVD at 480i (if allowed via HDMI) or 480p. LG may have tuned their scaler to do a better job upscaling from 480 SD than they did downscaling from 1080. SD-DVDs are encoded at 480i.
Last night, we watched the SD-DVD of NEAR DARK, a darkly-filmed 80s vampire movie. With my DVD player set to output 480i (component), the video was grainy and gray and mosquito-swarming the blacks. Flipped it to 480p and the picture was stellar! Did the TV (Sony, etc) do better upconverting the 480p (instead of the 480i) to whatever it's "native" scale is? Why do I have to keep flipping my DVD player from i to p?

Is my issue COMPONENT connections? I need to upgrade my DVD player to an HDMI?

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#18 of 27 Cees Alons

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Posted November 22 2008 - 06:33 AM

Difficult to tell, Micah!
Did you switch the setting on the player?

And on the TV as well?


Cees

#19 of 27 Brent_S

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Posted November 22 2008 - 08:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Micah Cohen
Last night, we watched the SD-DVD of NEAR DARK, a darkly-filmed 80s vampire movie. With my DVD player set to output 480i (component), the video was grainy and gray and mosquito-swarming the blacks. Flipped it to 480p and the picture was stellar! Did the TV (Sony, etc) do better upconverting the 480p (instead of the 480i) to whatever it's "native" scale is? Why do I have to keep flipping my DVD player from i to p?

Is my issue COMPONENT connections? I need to upgrade my DVD player to an HDMI?

MC

Apparently, at least for that particular title, your player does a better job of deinterlacing than your TV. Assuming you have an HDTV, the TV had to upscale either i or p video to its native resolution so that part of the processing didn't change.

Unfortunately, yes, depending on how picky you are about the image quality, you may need to change settings for each disc to determine which processor does the best job. Personally, I"m not that picky. I've set my Oppo 970, HD-A2, and now BD35 all to output 720p (using a 720p native front projector) and never bother to tweak settings by movie. Yes, some titles look better than others, but figure that's just the nature of the beast. In the case of the A2 and BD35, that also means they downscale HD-DVD/BluRay 1080 content to 720. I've experimented with having them output 1080 and let the projector do the downscale, but can't see enough difference to pick it as better.

Micah, you're kind of muddying Cheeba's thread a bit. There's nothing wrong with contributing experiences/questions, but you quoted the part of my response to him about his LG being a native 768 set. You mention having a Sony (not an LG) further back, but without telling us its native resolution or at least model number, your issues could be caused by something else.

-Brent

#20 of 27 oldac3

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Posted January 21 2009 - 12:55 PM

Guys,
I am so grateful for this thread. I spent many hours today trying to get some answers on this issue and only became more confused until now. I have a Denon dvd 2910 and an avr 4800 receiver and am getting ready to buy an HDTV. However, mostly what I'll watch on the new set will be standard def DVDs, so I have a few questions that reading the thread raised. First, do some televisions give you the option to let your source device do the scaling? And does it matter if I'm using a 1080p set instead of a 720p set like you've been talking about? That is, are there different scaling issues if the HD set is converting to 1080p instead of what you said is the native resolution of a 720p television. The Denon will pass a 720p upscaled signal via HDMI to a television, but if the tv might do a better job of processing anyway I'm thinking I might go component out to the avr 4800 and then to the HDTV for the convenience of switching sources via my receiver.




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