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HT nOOb With Lots of ?'s about LCD TV/Surround Setup (Long Post!) (1 Viewer)

RockyMountainHigh

Auditioning
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Dec 22, 2006
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5
Real Name
Shaun
Hello all,
Home theater noob here looking for information and advice on setup of my new tv/surround system. Any suggestions and/or advice would be greatly appreciated.

First, a little background. The wife and I have had the same 'ol 27" crt tv for the past 12 years or so. We are both computer geeks, and my wife a bit of an amateur digital photographer/videographer, so we are both somewhat tech savvy and up to speed on the digital world. However, prior to the past few weeks neither of us knew much of anything about the new television technologies and/or HDTV. Recently we came into a lump sum of unexpected money (how often does that happen!?) and decided with the holidays and all it was time to upgrade the TV. After a bit of research (online and talking with sales people in stores), and in considering what we wanted and needed from a TV, we decided on an LCD. We needed something that was light and easy to move, something that provided a great picture in bright areas (our living room is surrounded by windows and skylights, very open and bright), and here's the kicker, something that worked great at high altitude (we live at 8100 feet). We wanted an integrated HD tuner, widescreen format and HDMI connection.

After looking at several models and prices we decided on the Samsung LNS4096D. We were looking at the 720p model, but with the sale prices the 1080p model was less than a $300 difference, so we went with it. In addition to the TV we also purchased the Panasonic HT940 upconverting DVD player/5.1 surround sound system. Our current television signal is through DirecTV, but unfortunately with an older Tivo box that does not have HDMI connection. As such, our TV signal is currently connected with standard RCA connection (barely acceptable on the new tv, but watchable). The DVD player/surround sound is connected to the TV via one of the two HDMI connections. We are on the friggin 3 week waiting list for the DirecTV HDTivo unit...

Now on to some setup and general picture quality questions.

I'm not currently focusing too much on the quality of television channels as again, my current sat box isn't connected via HDMI. I will wait until I get full HDMI connection to harp too much on the TV picture quality. But just some general questions:

-If you are all familiar with them, what do you think of built in TV setup options like digital noise reduction and digital natural image engine? Just curious if setting those options to on will negatively effect the picture at all.
-Once connected via HDMI, will I still see much pixelation on SD channels? Obviously right now I am getting a ton of pixelation and shadowing. I've read differing reviews of this TV from end users, some saying they still get pixelating on SD channels with HDMI, and some users say they do not, and that the picture quality is great. Is some of it "in the eye of the beholder"?
-Once I do get the new DirecTV HDTivo box with HDMI connection, I'm a bit unclear on how to get the components connected correctly. The TV has two HDMI Inputs, the DVD/surround system has one HDMI output. I don't know for sure, but I assume the DirecTV HDTivo unit has one HDMI output. Since HDMI is a one way connection, how do I get the signal from the sat box, to my surround and then to the TV? The only way I can figure is to run HDMI out from the sat box to the TV HDMI in for the TV video connection, run component (or RCA?) out from the sat box to the DVD/surround sound component/RCA in for TV audio, and then run HDMI from the DVD/surround HDMI out back to the 2nd TV HDMI in. Is this how it will be done? If so, will I lose some sound quality on TV stations since the audio would not be through the HDMI connection?
-I've gone through and played with some of the various settings and found I really like the Dynamic setting for during the day (very bright, great colors), and have gone back and forth between the Movie setting with warm 1 and 2 while watching DVD movies. I'm not a videophile at all, but do enjoy watching movies. I'm just curious as to what settings you all enjoy viewing at (that is, what do you think most closely recreates what film should look like)?
-Initially, we had the audio issue with the sound not being in sync with the images on the TV. There is a feature on the DVD/surround sound unit that said could be used to help sync the audio with Plasma TV's, but said nothing about using it with LCD. I tried the setting and unless I'm crazy, it seemed to help a bit. However, it still looks a bit odd, like there is still a slight delay, mostly on regular TV stations. Could this be a pixelation effect? What exactly causes this?

Now on to some questions about the DVD/surround system. Honestly so far I've had some mixed results with DVD picture quality and I'm confused on why. For instance, immediately after hooking it all up I popped in Star Wars Episode I and watched the pod racing scene. The picture seemed amazing. Very brilliant, vibrant colors and very clear picture. I could see the heat waves emanating from the pod racers. However, I then put in War of the Worlds and watched the scene where the machines first emerge and it looked like complete crap. Really, really grainy/snowy, and just plain weird looking. The grainy image is especially noticable when all the smoke begins to fly around. Since then I've watched Talledega Nights, The Devil Wears Prada and many hours of Baby Enstein (we have 11 month old twin boys). All the while experimenting with the Dynamic and Movie picture settings. Don't get me wrong, the pictures have been great, definately an amazing step up from what we were watching a few weeks ago. However, following are some observations:

-Animation, digital images and static objects (balls, puppets on the Baby Enstein...etc.) all look amazing. Very crisp and clear. However, live action scenes sometime don't look as good. For instance, there are times skin tones and dark background areas come across as very grainy or snowy looking, but not always. Is this a setting I need to adjust, possibly something amiss with the TV and/or DVD player, or is it just the technology of the TV?
-Some DVD's still play with the black bars above and below the picture, some do not and play full screen. May be a dumb question, but I thought that since the television is 16:9 widescreen, we would not see the black bars on widescreen content? Should we, or shouldn't we? Is it a difference in the widescreen presentation format on the DVD? Also, not sure if it was coincidence or not, but the worst looking DVD movie so far, War of the Worlds, presented itself full screen on the TV. Could it be something was stretching that image to fit the TV, and hence killing the resolution?
-In the setup of the DVD player there were three output selections: 480p, 720p and 1080i. I currently have it set to the 1080i option since there was no 1080p. I did read an article by Geore Morrison over on hometheatermag.com in which he stated some TV's do not convert 1080i to 1080p very well, but that it was difficult to test. Should I change this to output option to the 720p option instead? That is, assuming my TV can accept a 720p signal in addition to a 1080p signal.
-Also in the DVD setup was a "transfer mode" option in which were the choices Auto 1 (for 24fps) and Auto 2 (for both 24 and 30 fps). To cover all bases, I chose the auto 2 option thinking it would detect both formats. However, this setting keeps defaulting back to the Auto 1 option. Would this have any effect on the picture quality? (seems if it did, it would only be evident between film and video content?).
-Another option in the DVD setup, in the picture menu, is an HDMI Color Space. It defaulted to YCbCr (4:4:4). The other choices are RGB and YCbCr (4:2:2). Should I change this to one of the other options? What exactly is this?
-Finally, with the DVD player connected via HDMI, should I see any pixelation/snow at all, even from a very close distance? Even on the Star Wars scenes that seemed very clear from far way, when I got very close to the TV, say a foot away, I could see the pixels moving. Is this normal, and just the LCD technology? Or is there something possibly wrong with the TV?

I guess my question is, how do I know if I have the DVD and TV setup properly for the best picture? Since I do not know what HD quality looks like, and am not really sure what progressive scan should look like, how do I know that is what I am getting from my DVD movies? Again, in movies like the Star Wars scene I was able to see detail like heat waves and such, and general details like the cobblestones on the streets in some of the Paris scenes in The Devil Wars Prada were evident. But then again, War of the Worlds looked like crap. I've heard some people say that HD images look as if they are in the room with you. I know the upconverting DVD player isn't giving me a true HD image, but more often than not I haven't been WOWED by the image. Again, some have been WOW, some have been "that's great" and some have been just crap.

Thanks much in advance for any input and/or suggestions.

Shaun
 

Robert_J

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Robert
Every DVD transfer is different. Some are crap. Some are great. HD video is great and you will see a differenct. An upconverting DVD player doesn't magically add video information. It just changes the signal. In fact, your TV may have better upconversion circuitry than your DVD player.

And since your TV has a built-in ATSC tuner, why haven't you connected an antenna? That's the best way to get local digital channels.
-Robert
 

RockyMountainHigh

Auditioning
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
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Shaun
Hello Robert_J,
Thanks much for the feedback. Some follow-ups if I may.


Again, all new info to me. I was not aware I could do this. However, again since reading your post I've gone out and purchased the Terk HDTVa indoor antenna. However, so far it is not working very well for me. Long story short, I live at 8100 feet in the front range of the Colorado Rockies, about 50 miles west of Denver. When we first moved here six years ago we had analog TV, just a set of rabbit ears. With this setup we could get 1 and a half channels. CBS came in real good, NBC barely came in...nothing else. Hence getting DirecTV. With this Terk antenna I can only seem to get 2 channels in HD, and they are upper UHF channels. VHF, like NBC and CBS, come in with just an ok picture (snowy at times, other times no snow), but per my TV it isn't coming in as HD. I've played with the antenna positioning quite a bit and can't seem to improve the reception. The instructions say to go to the Terk website and find which way to point the antenna based on your address. However, their site does not come up for me. I ended up going to the audiovox site and used their outdoor antenna finder. It says a tower is just 9.5 miles from my house, so other than the tress and mountains, I'm not sure why the stations are not coming in HD. Any ideas? Am I just too far out for one of these indoor antennas to work well? Would I be better off with one of the outdoor models, or just waiting on the DirecTV hookup?


Thanks again for the info and feedback.

Shaun
 

RockyMountainHigh

Auditioning
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
Messages
5
Real Name
Shaun
Damn, 94 views and only one response!?!? Anyone else out there have anything at all to add to any of my questions? I'm scheduling a pro calibration session today as soon as the place opens, but still would like to discuss some of these issues with you all. Thanks much.
 

Robert_J

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2000
Messages
8,350
Location
Mississippi
Real Name
Robert
I used Denver on the above suggestions since that's what you said first. Antennaweb will give you much better results. If you had listed your location in your profile, I would have looked it up.

-Robert
 

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