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Worried my DVDs will look bad on new HDTV (1 Viewer)

Micah Cohen

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It's been a while since I've posted to HTF, but I figure this is still the best place on earth to ask my silly-seeming tech question. I hope someone can help me out. (If this is posted in the wrong forum, please advise.)

Quick Summary: I'm worried that my extensive DVD collection will look like cr_p when I finally ditch my 60-inch Sony RPTV and buy a bigger, new flat panel HDTV.

More Detail: A friend recently discovered that his DVDs don't look so good on his new HDTV. I couldn't advise him on this. It's all about SD media and upscaling, things I don't fully understand.

After being an early-adopter at the dawn of DVD technology, a charter member of this forum, I have plateaued. Chalk it up to age.

I have no plans to replace my extensive DVD collection with new media (because money). But I will ultimately want a larger TV.

My last-of-the-breed Sony Bravia RPTV reveals my DVDs as filmic as possible. It's not a sharp-edge digitized image. It's a calibrated, colorful, authentic movie theater image, using the old-school Y/Pb/Pr component connection direct from the player to the TV. My DVDs, many of which are rare and hard to find, look stellar.

I'm afraid that when I upgrade my TV to a new, larger HDTV, my DVDs will suddenly look terrible.

How do YOU -- DVD watchers with large HDTVs -- keep your standard def media looking good on your high def monitor?

Are you forced to submit to HDMI video, or are there options to keep the component connections (and would you want to)? Video connections direct to TV or through the processor? ("Best" upscaling processor?)

Can you recommend "the best" upscaling HDTV and "the best" upscaling DVD player? (Or, should I buy a BR player -- I have no Blurays -- and use it as my DVD player?)

Can new HDTVs be calibrated (using "Avia" or something similar); is there an HDTV that you would recommend as "easy" to calibrate (with on-board controls, not "from the app")?

A lot to ask.

I appreciate any feedback or advice or suggestions for keeping my DVDs looking great on a new HDTV. I'm grateful HTF is still around.

THANKS!

Micah Cohen
 

Angelo Colombus

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My dvd's look good on my Sony 950G with my Yamaha & Sony Blu-ray players. Don't use a dvd player because you will get a crapy picture. Also have my Toshiba HD HD-A3 player and that is where i play most of my dvd's and they look great but it depends on the dvd too.
 

Micah Cohen

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Thanks for the reply!

So, you're playing DVDs on a BR player via, I assume, HDMI from the player direct to the TV. (Or, through the processor?)

(Or, are you playing DVDs on the Tosh HD-DVD player via HDMI?)

How big is the TV? (Did you buy this TV because it was bigger than your last TV, and did that make a difference in image quality?) Can you calibrate that particular model with on-board controls (or is it "app" accessible only)?

What is doing "the upscaling," the TV or the media player? Is there a setting on the TV for accepting SD media?

I have so many questions!

I appreciate your insights!

Micah
 

Type A

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I feel for ya but imo I think it all comes down to content and screen size. For example I can be perfectly happy viewing DVD quality from Netflix on my HD OLED cell phone, same with a DVD in my car deck, its an HD OLED too. But take that same source to my 106" 1080p projector and I wont be pleased. I never view DVD on my plasma or projection system; I have HDTV, blu ray and ultra blu ray for the big screens. What I suggest you avoid is a media upgrade for your TV upgrade, going back and forth between DVD and HD+ makes the difference in color and resolution that much more obvious. Second I would suggest you avoid a larger screen than what you have currently. While its great you are ready to upgrade, a panel of greater resolution and color ability will show how dated your DVDs are and I doubt any quality or method of upscaling will change that by much.

Keep your existing TV for your beloved DVD collection and if possible create a second viewing system with a higher resolution and color depth and begin a collection of blu ray and ultra blu ray.
 

Thomas Newton

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Most DVDs look good on a 40" HDTV. Viewable, anyway. Human video isn't great at distinguishing fine detail in moving images, which is probably how people put up with VHS for so long. I don't know about watching DVDs on really big TVs, but I'm sure that you could go higher than 40" without problems.

That said, some DVDs do look bad. I was watching an DVD of Return of the Pink Panther the other day, and was horrified by the picture "quality". Poor resolution, interference patterns in some scenes, and "black bars" on all sides. That's an indication of a non-anamorphic transfer.

I think there is a newer, anamorphic DVD transfer, but I don't know if there is a Blu-Ray one that you can buy by itself. The movie itself is still great, with Dreyfus confusing his handgun for a gun-shaped lighter (ouch!), Clouseau skating by on mere dumb luck, and the animated Panther visiting Dreyfus in a padded cell, at the very end.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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How big a new display do you plan on upgrading? And how far would you sit? And would you sit farther away w/ the upgrade (to yield similar size-to-distance ratio as now)?

IF your DVDs look excellent to you now, I imagine a modest size upgrade should be fine.

Is your old Sony RPTV CRT-based or digital chip-based? CRT-based tech seemed more forgiving of DVD IIRC.

IF you're considering going FP, that might be more forgiving than most flat panels of similar size. DVDs do look soft w/ less color fidelity and some artifacting on my modest DLP FP setup, but the best DVDs are generally still watchable enough despite the size (at ~100" from ~12ft eyes-to-screen)... though I rarely ever watch the small numbers I still own.

As someone mentioned, if you really don't want to upgrade your content library, best to avoid all BDs (and 4K content) then. Spending time w/ substantially higher quality content will tempt you to upgrade. Most HD streaming is probably ok enough to not tempt you too much as they're not as high quality as good BDs -- they're kinda roughly 1/2 way between the best DVDs and good BDs.

Maybe get a good quality BD player to upscale your DVDs -- probably best done in the player as it's at least sometimes best done closely coupled w/ the reverse telecine process. Haven't bought one in a long while, but something under $100 from Panasonic should do a good job me thinks.

IF you can, definitely see the setup w/ DVDs for yourself before committing.

You might also wanna consider buying content on HD digital streaming format going forward instead, if you really don't want to buy BDs. Makes more sense than buying more DVDs IMO. And they won't tempt you as much to upgrade everything. They're often also cheap enough nowadays that you might be fine w/ some upgrades at a more gradual pace, if so inclined -- we have a special thread dedicated to digital deals, and iTunes (and Vudu) regularly has a rotating variety of catalog titles at $5 each (or sometimes less)... and your new TV and/or BD player would likely be able to stream Vudu at least, if you don't want to own/use a dedicated streaming device.

Hope that helps...

_Man_
 
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Micah Cohen

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Ah, some great things to think about here.

Sam, you get right to my worry. I want a bigger TV. 75" would work in my HT with proper seating distance.

"Quality scalers help."

Please clarify for me what is a quality scaler? Is it in the player (say I will use a Bluray player to upscale my DVDs), or is in my TV (say I stick with Sony)?

Or, is a quality scaler something I would purchase separately?

Sounds like you are doing what I want to do and don't seem to be adversely affected. Which gives me hope.

Micah
 

Sam Posten

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I watch DVDs in an Xbox one Z that is sent via HDMI my projector and it does the scaling. Should be about average scaler, nothing fancy. Now front projection hides a lot of artifacts that would show more obviously on OLED so keep that in mind, but the bottom lime for me was that DVD was ahead of its time and as long as you have a good disk you shouldn't be too distracted by the quality. Will Blus and UHDs look better? Of course. But DVDs won't send you running for the hills!
 

TonyD

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This topic makes me feel like I fell back in time to 2000. :

Dvds look awful on my 80” tv.
I play them with a Sony 4K player.

I’ve been slowly giving away many DVDs that I know I’ll never watch again and have been picking up digital versions of those same movies.

I can’t believe you still have a good working rptv.

Amyway if you plan buying a new player you can probably find a 4K player for a decent price.

Do players or anything for that matter have component connections anymore?
 

Micah Cohen

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It was only a matter of time before I was exposed as being woefully behind the tech times!

I gobbled up DVD when it was new. I am so nineteen-nineties. I got the last of the great Sony RPTVs. One bulb-replacement so far. I have been sitting in my cave with this, happy as an old hibernating bear, since.

I do not want to spend another small fortune replacing (rebuying) DVDs. I sort of resent the forced lack of connection options these days.

So, I'll have to make "upscaling" work for me on a larger monitor. Whether it's via the player, or the TV.

I'll leave to my young nieces and nephews a world in tatters... and a big old dusty DVD collection.

Micah
 

ManW_TheUncool

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IF you have a "cave" w/ good light control, definitely consider going front projection me thinks... especially since it doesn't sound like you'd care to go for a 4K display.

FP might be forgiving enough of DVD shortcomings to let you go a good deal bigger in display size (compared to most flat panels). And it doesn't necessarily have to break the bank -- I currently only use a sub-$1K BenQ (that actually cost me under $600)... though black level isn't great as can be expected at the lower end, but hope to move on a much higher end JVC 4K unit in a couple years or less.

And although you don't want to replace your DVDs w/ BDs, maybe consider upgrading a small number via cheap "digital" streaming versions on iTunes/MoviesAnywhere/Vudu -- just a small number that you rewatch often enough and would benefit the most...

_Man_
 
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jcroy

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If you're willing to have a dedicated computer solely for watching video ripped from dvd discs, the best upscaler by far is the MadVR renderer with "media player classic". (Both appear to be free and/or open source programs).

MadVR is highly configurable and will use various features on current cutting edge graphics cards. So you will have to look more closely at dedicated graphics cards of the type that hardcore video gamer types would typically be buying.


(Nowadays I wouldn't be wasting time/cash on standalone upscaler boxes for dvd content).
 

ManW_TheUncool

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And although you don't want to replace your DVDs w/ BDs, maybe consider upgrading a small number via cheap "digital" streaming versions on iTunes/MoviesAnywhere/Vudu -- just a small number that you rewatch often enough and would benefit the most...

For instance, you can currently get this bundle of 10 1950's classic faves in HD (possibly w/ free upgrade to 4K someday) for just $30 -- and they're all MoviesAnywhere-eligible, so they'd be accessible on all the various streaming platforms (and main apps)...

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie-collection/id1479911794#see-all/movies-in-collection

I just pull the trigger on it myself...

_Man_
 

AndyMcKinney

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How big a new display do you plan on upgrading? And how far would you sit? And would you sit farther away w/ the upgrade (to yield similar size-to-distance ratio as now)?

That, right there is the key, the size-to-distance ratio. When I went flat-panel shopping for the very first time years ago, I knew one of my major concerns would be how will DVDs look on a bigger screen. I took my newly-purchased Oppo blu-ray player to the stores with me (I bought the Oppo partially for its superior built-in DVD scaler), and with the sales staff approval, plugged it into several different displays of different sizes. I stepped-off the distance I'd be from the screen in a home setting so that I could accurately see what the biggest screen size was that I could view without compression artifacts becoming too obvious to the naked eye. Surprisingly, a 52" set was perfectly fine for my upstairs living room, but a 55" set started to show up the picture artifacts.

I know there were "size-to-distance" calculators online back then (remember, you have to calculate teh distance for standard definition, if you're talking DVDs). I want to think that at a 12-foot distance, 60-inch was considered acceptable.

I understand doing an in-store trial might not be feasible in these pandemic times, so barring that, I'd suggest seeking out those viewing distance calculators. Just remember, not all viewing-distance calculators are equal: you need one that specifically calculates viewing distance for standard-definition viewing.

The other important variable is a good scaler. As I mentioned, Oppo blu-ray players all have top-of-the-line scalers in them. Not so sure about other players (and new TVs).
 

jcroy

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And although you don't want to replace your DVDs w/ BDs, maybe consider upgrading a small number via cheap "digital" streaming versions on iTunes/MoviesAnywhere/Vudu -- just a small number that you rewatch often enough and would benefit the most...

This is probably the least expensive way, with the least number of headaches for non-technical types.
 

Tino

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Also an inexpensive option is purchasing digital films from iTunes etc. many HD/4K films are available regularly for $4.99. They’ll look a hell of a lot better than those old DVD’s.

Edit. Man beat me to it. ;)
 

Micah Cohen

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I think I missed the boat on Oppo, didn't I?

Charlie Brown Head Down.jpg


I'm missing the boat on a lot of stuff since I was actually involved in the industry. But I'm like a rock. I don't really want to start downloading and storing movies as digital files, although it seems like the hip new way to do it. Turning my HT into a digital, computer-run smart theater isn't for me, I don't think. This is what happens to old guys who can't/won't keep up with AV tech.

I just want to pop in a DVD and watch it, possibly on a bigger screen.

I'm going to have to do some screen size testing (SD viewing distance calcs); my room is limited in size and so I'm probably only going to be 8 to 12 ft from the screen. I know that limits my TV size options, of course. (Which for DVD viewing might be a good thing.)

And I'm going to have to do some research on upscaling players (alas, Oppo...) and HDTVs

And then, I guess, ultimately, I'm going to have to be as pleased as I can be with the limits of SD media on HDTVs.

All great suggestions here, and lots to consider despite my recalcitrance.

Micah
 

TonyD

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But I'm like a rock. I don't really want to start downloading and storing movies as digital files,
You don’t have to.
You can open free accounts on some of the digital stores like Vudu or ITunes or FandangoNow. Connect them at Movies Anywhere.
You buy a digital movie and it’s just there in the ether waiting for you to watch it.
No downloading needed.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Micah,

You don't need to use a "computer" to stream "digital". You probably don't even have to get a dedicated STB like Roku or AppleTV since most modern TVs and BD players come w/ Vudu and a few (or more) other streaming apps -- not sure if AppleTV app is as common though (for those titles not on MoviesAnywhere).

And no need to "download" per se (unless you really want). Just stream...

Basically, it's no different than VOD via a cable/sat box, except you buy it once, not pay-per-view.

And if you get a dedicated STB, you could also consider services like the Criterion Channel, if that's something that interests you...

_Man_
 

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