Do Rear Projection HDTV's really look this bad?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Bowles, Oct 6, 2002.

  1. Brian Bowles

    Brian Bowles Second Unit

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    I have a friend that has a Hitachi HDTV. I am not sure about the exact size. It is not wide screen. He bought it in the last year. I was at his house and with DVD movies it really looks nice. Although we watched a college football game on it and it did not look as nice. It kind of reminds me of watching a video on a computer that is not made for full screen but is played at full screen. It just does not look that good. It is like the screen is blown up so big that the resolution is not high enough to make it look good. I would like to buy a large HDTV but not if it means that broadcasts will look like this. Is this common? He is using Dish (Satelite Dish) for his feed. He does not have a HDTV tuner. I asked him if he needed it and he did not have any idea. He told me the people that bought it from installed everything along with the surround sound. They recently came out to clean the mirrors and calibrate it but it does not look any better. What do you think? I would like to help him out. Thanks!
     
  2. Joe Tilley

    Joe Tilley Supporting Actor

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    I have a buddy that him & his parents both have Hitachi RPTV'S and they both look horrible no matter what you play on them. I even tried adjusting his for him as he had the contrast & brightness cranked & the convergence was out of whack but it made little improvement. They just look grainy as hell & the reds on his are just plain scary looking.
     
  3. BruceSpielbauer

    BruceSpielbauer Second Unit

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    The answer to your questions and your friend's dilemna are many-fold, and are frequently discussed around these parts.
    First, with any source that is "less" than a DVD or true HDTV, the quality is not very good. It never has been. This is actually true of standard definition broadcast TV, and Cable TV, and even of satellite TV. However, in the 1950s and 1960s and 1970s and 1980s most consumers were watching on sets that were quite small, relatively speaking. It was impossible to notice how bad those signals were when you watched on a 25" or a 21" set. Even on a "big" 31" or a monstrous 35", you might only occasionally notice the fact that the signal was really just plain bad.
    Now, with a much bigger image, it is as if you have suddenly looked at a newspaper photograph through a magnifying glass. It is magnified. It is big. Because it IS so big, and you are able to see such detail, you can also how horrible that image really was, all of those years, when you looked at all of those newspaper photos (or when you looked at all of those TV shows).
    If it were a high quality magazine photo, it will look much better, through that same magnifying glass. And, if it were an actual photograph in your hand, the picture would actually look pretty great, even through that same magnifying glass.
    Generally, VCR signals are the worst. One step up from this is usually analog cable TV. Perhaps, these are the equivelent of the bad newspaper photos. Then, perhaps, digital cable TV is a bit better (but most often only on some of the stations). Then, USUALLY, most find the signal from either Dish Network or Direct TV is another increase in quality. There are exceptions, here, though. But, most find they get a better satellite signal than with cable.
    Then, comes the big increases... DVDs look much, much, much better, even on a very large set. Now, you are talking that magazine photo, without a doubt. And, the ultimate is any TRUE HDTV source material... There you have your true actual high quality photograph in your hand.
    That said, it is often possible to improve the image quality on the lousy feeds, (and the great signals as well) through better set adjustment, tweaking, calibrating with a DVD calibration disk, or by hiring a professional ISF calibrator.
    My analog cable on a 65" set went from being "almost unwatchable" to "quite good" with a lot of careful calibrating and tweaking, using tips and a good DVD calibration disk.
    The chances are that satellite Dish signal could end up even one (very small) step better, at least according to the generalities.
    Now, regarding whether your friend needs an HDTV tuner. It may be. It depends. First thing to check is the list of stations in your area which are broadcasting in HDTV. If you live near a major metropolitan area, the chances are good there are at least some. Where I live, there are now nine or ten which broadcast in HDTV part of the day (mostly at night, prime-time). Also, you need to know that Dish network offers some stations in HDTV. I know they offer HBO in High Def. I THINK that they offer Showtime, and HDNet, and also the Discovery Channel's new HDTV feed. ESPN has just announced they will be offering HDTV soon, and I will bet that either Dish or Direct TV (or both) contracts to carry this once it is up and running.
    There are 2 types of tuners to consider. One is "over the air" -- you could only get the local stuff in high def, by putting up an antenna, either on the roof or in the attic.
    The second type is a high def tuner that will do BOTH the Dish Network, and also the over the air stuff. A bit more money (generally in the $500 range at the moment), but they are continually coming down in price, and will continue to do so. This way, one can get all of the Dish stuff in High Def, including more as it is added. Also, one can throw an antenna on the roof, or perhaps in an attic, or in a few cases on top of the set, and receive free HDTV which looks absolutly incredible, believe it or not. Soon, according to the government's "urging" and "nudging" and "mandating," we should see every local station broadcasting an HDTV image.
    There is a wb site where you can check to see what is avalaible right now in HDTV in your area. Look for:
    http://www.titantv.com
    -Bruce in Chi-Town
     
  4. Mike I

    Mike I Supporting Actor

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    Great post Bruce...
     
  5. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    Some NTSC history for you. At the introduction of the TV system in the 40's, the fathers of NTSC talked about the future potential of the format.

    They envisioned that one day, the format would be asked to handle big screen TV displays ... big screens as large as 19".

    So for a system that was never designed to be displayed on anything larger than 19", we have ... well ... kinda exceeded that by a bit.

    It is no surprise that images at RPTV levels are bad. That's just the way it is. There are no black boxes that can magically add detail to an image that starts out with so little.

    Regards
     
  6. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Brian,

    You might make sure your friend is using the best connection possible. In order of (generally) increasing quality they are:

    The RF coaxial connection: one thick wire, the TV receives a signal on channel 3 or 4

    Composite connection: Three wires, yellow (video), red and white (audio), using the familiar RCA-type plug

    S-Video: Same red and white for the audio, but the video connection has a thick, multi-pronged plug on the end [Note: May or may not be better than the composite connection--trust your eyes]

    Component: Same red and white for the audio, but three RCA-type plugs for the video (red, green, blue)

    Your friend's Dish box may not have all of these connections. Try whatever he has and see which connection delivers the best signal.

    Jan
     
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    In summary to the excellent advice given here, remember the old programmer's adage: Garbage in, garbage out. There's relatively little a display can do to "improve" upon a lousy signal. And with RPTVs, as indicated above, you are looking at a very large bad signal. It's the way of things.
     
  8. Brian Bowles

    Brian Bowles Second Unit

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    Thanks everyone for the very useful information. Bruce your post was espeically nice! I would like to have a HDTV too but now I am leary about it. I just do not know what I want to do. I will pass this information on to my friend. I almost feel like waiting for a year or two or more until there is more available in HDTV broadcasts.
     
  9. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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  10. Brandon_H

    Brandon_H Stunt Coordinator

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    I can sympathize with you, Dave. Last year, I lived in Augusta, Ga., where our local affiliate broadcast SEC football each Saturday in glorious Hi-Def. As a Georgia fan, I was in heaven (except when that Florida game rolled around.)

    Now, I live in Winston-Salem, and our local affiliate seems to be having some trouble with HDTV, plus my theater room is in a basement, where the OTA signal is nearly impossible to pick up . . . and I'm back to watching those games in old 480i. It hurts.
     
  11. Scott_AH

    Scott_AH Stunt Coordinator

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    If you might allow be to piggyback here Brian: Do some TVs convert analog signals better than others? I've seen how badly a regular cable signal can look on an HDTV and I now there's no cure-all method to make it look good but is it possible that some brands convert the signal better than others?

    Scott
     
  12. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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