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How does VHS and other analog sources look on DLPs? (1 Viewer)

Jesse Skeen

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 1999
Thought I'd throw this out here- I've been wanting a new TV for a few years but hadn't quite found any I thought I'd be really happy with- I've had a Mitsubishi 40-inch picture tube set for 12 years now and it still works great, though it gets more obsolete every day.

One of my requirements for a new TV is that it be able to display all my OLD stuff properly- I have a lot of old TV shows on Beta and VHS, many one-of-a-kind things (You can see some of it on my YouTube page linked below.) A problem I've seen with some HDTVs is the way they process analog video, making it look WORSE than on a regular old TV. I've seen a few old tapes played on an LCD and they look pretty good, I've got my eyes on a DLP though because I want the biggest screen possible if I can get that without losing a lot of quality (reason I bought the picture tube set before instead of a projection; I didn't like the way they looked then.) I've never been able to tolerate the gray side bars on widescreen projection sets either, but it looks like DLPs display 4x3 properly with black bars on the side since burn-in isn't an issue with them.

Does anyone here watch old (at least 25 years or more) analog material on a DLP, at least sometimes? I've already grabbed an HD-DVD player when they were being cleared out which is in a safe place waiting for the day I bring home my new TV, and I'm planning on getting a Blu-Ray player at the same time, but I still want to be able to watch all my old stuff in all its analog glory. Not looking for a miracle, but I don't want it to look worse than on my current TV!

Joseph Bolus

Senior HTF Member
Feb 4, 1999

This is probably an impossible objective.

Most of today's DLP sets provide (quite naturally) native 1080p resolution.

So .. You're talking about taking a 270i source (that's about all the *real* resolution that you get from VHS tape), de-interlace it, and then upscale it all the way to 1080p. There's just no way that you should expect it to look as good as a 40 inch CRT-based TV.

If this is *really* your goal, then I would try to obtain a 720p native resolution DLP set. But then you're sacrificing some of the excellent high-def quality from true 1080p sources. And the resulting picture still won't look as good as what you're getting from your current set.

My current front projector system is a DLP-based 720p native resolution device. (Optoma HD65). The internal 480i upscaling that it provides is "adequate". And what that means is that analog cable can be tolerated. That's about it. Nothing is going to get rid of the soft smeary look of upscaled analog video. I have "user prefs" set up for analog video to help it out a little. I've found that setting contrast a little bit higher than brightness helps a little, as well as decreasing the sharpness level.

This unit downscales 1080i cable to its native 720p in spectacular fashion. But 1080p HD-DVD didn't look appreciably better than upscaled DVD on it. So IMHO going with a 720p native res display -- just to gain "adequate" upscaling from 480i sources -- is probably not worth it at this point.


Supporting Actor
Jan 28, 2001
Denver, CO
Real Name
G. Alan Brown
NTSC television was originally designed to look good on up to a 19" diag. screen! De-interlacing processors and scalars have helped such programs look more acceptable on larger screen sizes. As you increase in size, the limitations of the NTSC format will become more evident. The best way to get the most from old recordings is to either watch them on legacy devices or invest in dedicated video processors more capable than what is typically found in displays. Some displays do fine with old programs but you should verify their performance prior to purchasing something.


Sep 3, 1998
DFW Area Texas
Real Name
I will be posting a review I am currently working on, for a BenQ 1080P DLP projector, using a variety of analog sources, including both Beta and VHS.

Brian D H

Second Unit
Sep 2, 2004
I have a 720P Samsung DLP and my VHS tapes are certainly watchable. There is still a noticeable difference between 480 broadcast and my tapes, but that's mainly due to the very cheap VCR I currently have. My previous (better) VCR did a much better job before it broke.

Unless your seat is closer than 10 feet or so to your screen (or you buy a screen over 60 inches) you will not even be able to see 1080P resolution. I sit 8 or 9 feet from a 50" screen so 720P is all I need - I'd have to get to about 6.5 feet from my screen to tell that it's not 1080P.

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