Realistic HD Programming Expectations - A Question for HDTV Owners

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by barr08, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. barr08 macrumors 65816

    barr08

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #1
    Hey all,

    So I finally took the jump to an HDTV. I am an avid TV series fan, and felt that watching my weekly programs in HD would be a great treat, and it is - for the most part.

    The only thing is, I bought a realatively cheap TV. I got a 42" RCA 1080p LCD HDTV from wal-mart, because I found it on sale for a price that was hard to refuse. My plan all along was to get a specific Vizio TV that I had been researching for some time, but I could not resist the impulse buy.

    Now I know I should not set my expectations too high for this TV. It is manufactured by TTE Technology in Mexico, and I could find little about the TV online. What I did find was a general distaste for RCA HDTV's from the HDTV community. This concerns me.

    So I get the cable hooked up through component from an Cox HDTV box and fire her up. After a few days of heavy watching, including football all day Sunday, and various shows on primetime - Heroes, House, Fringe - I have a few observations:

    1. I see problems with faces. While most other things are crisp, skin tones are often pixelated and muddy. I also see little detail in people's eyes.
    2. Motion blur. On primetime programming - not so much on the football - there is a good amount of blur that occurs during quick or sudden movements. This is evident much of the time, although I don't know if I'm looking too hard.
    3. Commercials look better than programming. I saw an Olive Garden commercial, and the quality was far superior to the programming I was currently watching (House). My roomates agreed with this observation.
    4. I notice some hiccups during programming, on average once per primetime episode, sometimes more for SD programming.
    5. SD programming looks awful. I expected this, but its pretty distracting.

    So I guess my question would be is this all to be expected with a budget set, or is this just a crappy TV. I am very happy with the image 75% of the time. Maybe if I played with color/brightness/contrast/tint settings, this would get better? Would HDMI look noticeably better than component? Are the differences I am seeing just differences in how each program/game is filmed?

    Thanks for your time and opinions!
     
  2. P-Worm macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #2
    Sometimes the biggest culprit to what your describing is the broadcast. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can find a friend that has a Blu-Ray or HD DVD player and pop in one of those 1080p disks. If that doesn't look good, then it's your TV that has the problems.

    P-Worm

    Edit: You asked about HDMI vs. component. Although HDMI will give you a better picture, component is more than capable of wowing your socks off. The difference between HDMI and component isn't that great in my opinion.
     
  3. Lancetx macrumors 68000

    Lancetx

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    #3
    The main thing to keep in mind is that there are two elements to the experience. The HDTV itself and the HD programming you're feeding into it. If either one has issues, it will muddy up the entire experience. I would also suggest that you try viewing a Blu-ray movie on your HDTV to see if you're satisfied with how it looks. If not, then it's a limitation in your display. However, if the Blu-ray looks great but still you find that HD TV programs don't, then it's an issue with your cable TV service. Compression and other issues with cable service can sometimes make HD programming look lousy no matter how good your HDTV is.
     
  4. barr08 thread starter macrumors 65816

    barr08

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #4
    Great advice, thanks guys. I'll try to find someone with a bluray player.

    How much can I tell about my TV from my Xbox360 DVD player through component? I don't know a lot about the inner workings of the 360, can I accurately judge the TV from how the picture from the 360 looks?

    Thanks
     
  5. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #5
    Yep, the dirty little secret of HD broadcasting is that the providers cheat bandwidth by compressing transmissions. This makes some broadcasts look thin and pixelated. In theory this gets better when analog broadcasts are dropped early next year, but I'm not holding out much hope. As for your set, watching a Blu-ray DVD is a good test, but even watching a SD DVD with an up-sampling player should not give bad results. Also be aware that many if not most broadcasts you are watching now are still in SD. If you're trying to stretch them to fit your HDTV set's screen, they will look awful.
     
  6. barr08 thread starter macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #6
    Does anyone know if the 360 an up-sampling player? I believe it is.

    Oh yeah, a bat could tell the difference between the standard def and high def programming on this set (bats are blind. get it?). I have switched my viewing habits to 90% HD, the other 10% being comprised of simpsons and scrubs repeats!

    Its the HD image I am most concerned about, not the SD image as much.
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #7
    So long as you know the difference. A lot of people don't -- they just hit the button that stretches the SD image to fill the screen.
     
  8. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #8
    One other think to consider, the cable coming into the house. Was it upgraded or is it older. If it is an older cable that would degrade the signal as well.
     
  9. barr08 thread starter macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #9
    Interesting. I'll ask my local Cox provider when the cable was installed to my apartment complex.
     
  10. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #10
    The 360 will only upconvert DVDs if you're hooked up with HDMI or the VGA cable. It will not upconvert if you're using component.

    With digital, it's an all-or-nothing deal. Any signal degredation from bad cabling will result in complete blackouts or skipping, or blocking, which are basically large clusters of blocks on the screen, along with audio cutting out as well. Bad cables won't result in the image becoming more blurry, fuzzy or snowy with digital.

    Regarding the question about HDMI vs. Component....with the quality of video you get broadcast or cable, it won't make a difference. If cable companies were pumping out full, uncompressed 1080p video (which they're not) then you might see a difference, but not with the current resolutions (max 1080i) and compression used on broadcast
     
  11. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    Location:
    CT
    #11
    True, it sounds more like a bandwidth issue. Either the TV is not producing a true signal or the signal from the cable co coming in is not at full resolution. I would bet that the TV is not processing the signals properly.
     
  12. barr08 thread starter macrumors 65816

    barr08

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #12
    I am having trouble getting a ps3 or blu-ray player to test my TV.

    I use a sawtooth G4 as a media center. I have it hooked up to the TV through VGA. Will this transmit a 1080p picture?

    Edit: I also ordered a DVI to HDMI cable. Would this be a better picture than the VGA?

    Thanks!
     
  13. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #13
    I don't think VGA scales up to HD. The DVI should scale better.
     
  14. Oneness macrumors regular

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cowtown
    #14
    Won't the VGA output whatever the Sawtooth G4 outputs?
    I don't know offhand the supported screen resolutions of the Sawtooth, but if it supports 1080 then the VGA connection would transmit it. Right?

    I have a 46" Sony and have both a DVI-HDMI cable and a DVI-VGA cable. There is no difference (at least what I can see) in the two pictures. I am runnng a Core 2 Duo Mini which supports 1920x1080 screen resolutions. I actually use the DVI-VGA cable because when I use the DVI-HDMI cable the supported screen resolution (as listed by the Mini) goes to 1920x1080i. I have not figured out yet why this happens.:rolleyes:
     
  15. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #15
    Sure, it can, but it's unlikely that it will. What is the video codec that your file is encoded with? For h.264 and OS X, you pretty much need a dual-core G5 or Intel for 1080p video playback.
     

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