Worth getting an HDTV tuner for analog TV?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by nick_rh, Feb 9, 2003.

  1. nick_rh

    nick_rh Stunt Coordinator

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    OK...I'm years away from being able to afford any kind of HD-compatible TV, but I want to watch HD shows now. I know most HDTV tuners can downconvert to 480i for use with analog TVs, but does anyone know how good the picture quality is in that case? Is it close to DVD quality, or does it end up looking more or less indistinguishable from a regular analog broadcast? I have a Sony Wega with anamorphic squeeze and a 5.1 audio system, so I'd be very tempted to buy an HD tuner if it meant being able to watch my favorite shows in DVD quality with Dolby Digital audio.
     
  2. Ottis Fletcher

    Ottis Fletcher Stunt Coordinator

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    I was wondering this myself a few months ago, before I got a HDTV. I had a 36 inch Sony VVega (with 16X9 enhanced mode) and wanted a better picture and wide screen. I E-mailed a few places that specialize in them and the universal answer was no. They said an analog set is capable of 480i no matter what the source is. As for the the 5.1 audio most digital cable and satellite services have an optical and coax outputs for Dolby Digital. I have AT&T and told them I wanted a home theater box, which has S-video and 5.1 Dolby Digital decoding. Save that money you would spend on a STB and put it toward a new TV.
     
  3. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Ottis, who told you "no"?

    I would say theoretically yes, and my experience w/ Time Warner Cable's HD feed supports this--I think a few other posters have pointed out as much also. Your analog broadcast is normally around 320 lines horizontal resolution at best, IIRC. Depending on how good the downconversion from HD to 480i is, it could definitely look better than that. For comparison, DVD max resolution is 540 lines horizontal.

    Of course, in practice, how much improvement you see is another story.

    Don't confuse vertical resolution (480i, 480p, etc.) w/ horizontal resolution OR the common use of such #s to discuss video resolution formats (again 480i, 480p, etc.).

    _Man_
     
  4. Ottis Fletcher

    Ottis Fletcher Stunt Coordinator

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    Maybe by no they meant the improvement is so minor that its not worth the money a STB cost.
     
  5. Dean Wette

    Dean Wette Stunt Coordinator

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    We just got the Samsung DirectTV/HDTV tuner and supporting dish, which is feeding our Marantz 54" analog RPTV while we wait arrival of a new HD DLP monitor.

    My wife and I both saw an improvement in quality of the HD OTA channels over the standard ones (CBS, NBC, PBS). WHile it's not that great of an improvement it is somewhat better. I also watched a bit of Collateral Damage on HBO HD and thought it looked quite good compared to what I usually see on HBO sat.

    The added advantage is that we get Dolby Digital audio on the HD channels.

    But I can't recommend bothering with the effort and expense if you aren't getting a HD monitor. Better to wait until you get an HDTV monitor and get the receiver then, since they get better and cheaper as time goes.

    Dean
     
  6. nick_rh

    nick_rh Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Dean! That was exactly the kind of input I was looking for. I've found a website that rents HD tuners at $10 a day, and I might do that for a few days during May sweeps this year so I can at least watch the Alias and 24 finales with higher-quality video and sound. (Those are two of my very favorite shows at the moment, and the crappy cable reception I get on both of them really bugs me given how cinematic the shows are.)
     
  7. Bryce Miner

    Bryce Miner Stunt Coordinator

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    I say yes it is an improvement! Pick a box up for your analog tv! It will be the best feed your tv will have ever received. The image is so clean and free from Satellite over compression of their locals and free from ghosting and RF noise from VHF. There is a company here in Utah promoting this. Using the UHF digital stations on analog sets.

    The only down fall I see is you'll get more black/gray bars to deal with on your 4x3 TV. You may want to look in building mats.
     
  8. nick_rh

    nick_rh Stunt Coordinator

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  9. William Ward

    William Ward Supporting Actor

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    When I first got my HDTV monitor and receiver I got the receiver on Saturday, and the TV on Sunday. I hooked the receiver up to my rabbit ears, and watched The District in downconverted HD on my analog set. The picture was every bit as good as a properly mastered DVD.

    Not to mention you can watch WS(HD downconverted) basketball on ABC/ESPN-HD during the NBA play-offs. If you take too long getting your HDTV monitor, Monday Night Football, SUnday Night Football, and FOX Widescreen(selected 1 or 2 games per week) football will be available next year....(and maybe CBS HD FB- 1 or 2 selected games per week)

    Oh yes, and that 24 and Alias will allow you to see a wider image than standard 4:3

    So it's at least DVD quality(except maybe FOX widescreen sports -- EE riddled non-anamorphic zoomed DVD quality)....
     
  10. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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  11. Bryce Miner

    Bryce Miner Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry about that "mattes" I haven't needed to type that word yet. A lot of the Set top boxes put out gray bars when watching 16x9 material. That's where mattes come in handy. Black stips of cloth backed with cardboard (etc) to cover up the gray. Yes it is DVD quality. You are taking 720p or 1080i and downconverting to 480i. The resolution is maxed out to the NTSC standard.
     
  12. nick_rh

    nick_rh Stunt Coordinator

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  13. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Most current 16x9 TVs also use grey side bars for 4x3 mode, but that probably doesn't matter to you right now.

    _Man_
     
  14. nick_rh

    nick_rh Stunt Coordinator

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    I also have a question on the differences among currently available set-top boxes. Obviously the satellite/OTA ones are the most expensive, but there is also a big price range among the OTA-only boxes. I've seen some priced as low as $300, and some as high as $750, though they all seem to have more or less the same features. Can anyone elaborate on the reason for this?
     

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