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what does upscaling mean and does it look any good

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players' started by cuewoz1, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. cuewoz1

    cuewoz1 Member

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    I want a high definition tv, but with no films in high definition to play , could anyone with a HD set up and one of the dvd players which upscales to connect with a hdmi cable.
    How does it look, as I cant see how this would look any better than standard dvds, there won't be any more information on the disc so why bother?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Welwynnick

    Welwynnick Active Member

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    Smart question.

    If the DVD does not do the upscaling to the display resolution, then the display will do it anyway!

    If you have a really good DVD, it could be that it deinterlaces and scales video better than the display does, but that's difficult to determine withou experimentation. Of course, it could actually make it worse. Typically, it won't make much difference.

    Nick
  3. KraGorn

    KraGorn Member

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    Apologies if you know this already, I'm not trying to talk down to you, just don't know how much technical knowledge you have in this area. :)

    Perhaps an explanation of why scaling is required would help clarify the issues.

    As you may probably know, a PAL SD (standard definition) movie has a vertical resolution of 576 pixels, in the 'old days' of course these were known as lines because each row was displayed by a single horizontal sweep of the electron gun, which was called a raster scan line.

    When you feed such a signal to an analog display (ie. CRT 'tube' TV or monitor) the image can be displayed by the set by adjusting timings so that the image fits the full screen; then if you change to, say, an NTSC movie which has only 480 lines the settings are changed so it too fills the screen.

    The point here is that the technology allowed the screen to display a variable number of lines depending on the image it was receiving and (within reason) the electronics could change timings to adapt.

    With a digital display like an LCD TV, plasma screen etc. the display has a fixed resolution (aka. 'native resolution'), typically 'hidef ready' displays may be 1280x720.

    Now, what happens when you feed 1024x576 in that? Well, one thing may be that it's displayed in the centre of the panel with large black borders all round. That'd produce a perfect image but of course that's not why someone bought a 1280x720 TV. :)

    So, in lieu of anything else the TV will contain a scaler which takes the 1024x576 input signal and scales is to 1280x720 (and since this is larger than the input the process is known as up-scaling).

    In doing this of course it has to 'create' pixels that aren't there in the original image to make up the numbers; this process is known as interpolation and there are a large number of algorithms used in scalers whose quality differ widely.

    Remember, scaling can't convert an SD image to HD because it's synthesising 'missing' information rather than revealing detail that is there but not visible in SD.

    Now, if you feed most displays with a pre-scaled image the scaler inside the display will be effectively bypassed. It's also a fact that the scaler inside TVs, plasmas etc. is often not as good as can be found in upscaling DVD players (eg. Pioneer 868 or cheap ones like a Momitsu V880).


    So, the basic answer to "why bother" is that the technology forces scaling, the only question is where it's done: DVD player, external scaler or display? The answer to that is which device contains the best scaler.


    HTH.

    edit: added important 'often' in last but one paragraphs.
  4. PJTX100

    PJTX100 Active Member

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    That post should be a sticky Krags. :smashin:
  5. technofan

    technofan Active Member

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    Yup, he's a clever chappie :thumbsup:
  6. KraGorn

    KraGorn Member

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    Thanks chaps. :)

    I re-worked the para. about CRTs to try and bring out the fundamental difference between tube and panel technologies in that CRTs have a variable number of lines whereas of course in panels this is fixed. It begs several questions but I think it makes the point clearer.
  7. Ekko Star

    Ekko Star Active Member

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    Hmmm I would say the scalers in decent plasmas do a better job than those generally found in the current crop of cheap upscaling dvd players. 868 (probably the 989 as well) have quite decent scalers on board but even that's close as to whether you leave the display to do it.

    Certainly the current theme of "HDMI Upscaling Abilities" badged on recent budget players can be construed as a red herring for those that may not or likely see benefit from it.
  8. cuewoz1

    cuewoz1 Member

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    thanks KraGorn, you know more than me and the explanation was very interesting, it doesn't sound like its worth getting a new dvd player purely for this feature.
    Not for me anyway.
    I have 2 displays at present, 1 is a standard CRT sony widescreen, and a panasonic PT200 LCD projector.
    The new Xbox 360 and PS3 are whats getting my interest up.
  9. Dekim

    Dekim Member

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    Some people mention that upscaled images on Plasmas tend to display a more 3D and life like image. Hmm, is this just wishful thinking do you think.

    I am really interested in this thread. I am torn between the Sony and the Marantz 7600! YesI know the price difference but the Sony sounds a great picture

    Keep up the good work peeps

    Deks
  10. oisky

    oisky Member

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    I was just about to buy an up-scaling DVD player, but now...Hmmm. Let me see.

    I am just about to buy a Panasonic 42 500 (HD plasma) now I have two alternative scenarios...

    SCENARIO A
    If I was to get a dedicated 720P up-scaling DVD player (Samsung DVDHD-950) The panny will be getting 720P and won't have to do any upscaling.

    SCENARIO B
    With my current DVD player (Toshiba RD-XS32) I will connect to the panny component and set the Tosh to progressive. I'm presuming that doing this will send the panny a 480P signal (?) which the panny will up-scale to 720P (or will it just show 480P?) OR will the Tosh output an upscaled 720P picture (doubtful)

    So I guess what I'm asking is (presuming I've got the previous two scenarios correct) Will the pannys up-scaling be better than the up-scaling of the Samsung DVDHD-950


    Also for good measure does anyone know if there is such a player that can output HD formats (windows media 10 divx HD etc) ala the Kiss 600 but also up-scale PAL DVD's to 720P as well (I don't think the kiss does this)

    Cheers
  11. senu

    senu Well-Known Member

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    I did have some technical knowledge but now I have much more.. Nuff said :smashin:
    Great post, every home should have a copy before that trip to Dixons

    I continue to tweak my loan Phillips 32PF 9830 and Samsung 950 in search of HD heaven before blu-ray or its cousin HD-DVD arrive.
    For anyone interested, so far I cant make my mind up which is the better PQ analogue: component progressive scan or digital HDMI 720 on the newly arrived above couple
    Im still tweaking . But I can say Picture is sometimes suprisingly superlative :cool: and at others so so, :rolleyes: also dependent on source DVD. Still getting to know them :confused:
  12. Kalos Geros

    Kalos Geros Member

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    KraGorn, just a minor corrections to your wonderful post:

    1) The resolution of a PAL DVD encoded material is 720x576 (4:3 in non-square pixels), not 1024x576 (16:9 square pixels) i.e. there is no more than 720 horizontal samples even on 16:9 anamorphic content so there is even less resolution horizontally on the source side than is expected in relation to 576 lines (pixels) on a 16:9 fixed pixel device...analog displays (CRTs) rarely can go higher than 500 lines horizontal resolution
    thus obviously 720 pixels are almost an overkill even on a 16:9 CRT, but on a common LCD/Plasma display of 1366x768 pixels it needs to be heavily interpolated horizontally by almost a factor of 2 (from 720 to 1366 etc)
  13. andrewkay

    andrewkay Guest

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    This is a very helpful and informative thread.

    Can anyone recommend a top end DVD player that DOES NOT upscale or include other 'gimmicks'. I plan to use an exernal dedicated scaler box.

    Thanks
    Andy
  14. PJTX100

    PJTX100 Active Member

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    I think for this your optimal would be to find a player which outputs an unscaled, interlaced (ie 480i or 576i) DVI/HDMI signal - and that limits your choice quite drastically I believe to top end Pio's and the like...PJ
  15. wallace3d

    wallace3d Guest

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    Great Thread people.

    I just happened to be doing some tests on this last night, and I found the LCD upscaling PQ may be better than the DVD.

    I have a Toshiba LCD 37WLT58 and a Samsung HD950. I've had my LCD for a few weeks now and would say that my PQ is better now than it was. That could just be down to my eyes getting used to the look of the display rather than the display getting better the more its used, although I have heard it does improve.

    I have the Samsung connected to HDMI 1 on my LCD using the free hdmi cable Samsung provided.

    I tried a few DVDs, The Corrs, Twister R1, A Bugs Life, not exactly the best DVDs for testing video PQ, but it was late last night when I got the idea, I will try more tonight. You will notice that most Live concert DVDs are probably some of the hardest to encode to DVD due to the variable lighting at most shows. So I thought this would be a good test.

    Anyway on the Samsung there is a button on the remote to change between 576p/720p/1080i while the disc is playing. So with each DVD I tried playing different sections, also paused the picture, and also tried a zoomed still frame, each time I found that the upscaling from the player (720p/1080i) would add more noise to the picture. When I set the player to 576p the LCD would show better PQ, although the PQ seemed slightly softer I think this is to be expected, don't expect to see A+ PQ until HD is available in my area.

    Has anyone tried this on any of the other upscaling players?

    To justify buying the Samsung (in my head anyway) I would say there is a plus in using the HDMI connection from player to LCD.

    I will hopefully be connecting my PC via VGA to my LCD this weekend, with Nemo & Matrix revolutions in 720p for testing, I believe these are from HDTV in the US.
    I will post the details when I try this out.
  16. mike7

    mike7 Active Member

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    SCENARIO A
    If I was to get a dedicated 720P up-scaling DVD player (Samsung DVDHD-950) The panny will be getting 720P and won't have to do any upscaling.


    I use a Samsung 950 with my Sony Bravia tv. It is a one key press operation to change the output of a UK DVD (576i, not 480 which is NTSC Region 4). The Samsung offers 576p,720p or 1080i. The Sony responds by adjusting itself up to the 768 of the screen. I have to say that I can see very little difference in the quality of the picture in any mode. If I have to chose the 720 is marginally the best.
  17. mike7

    mike7 Active Member

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    Anyway on the Samsung there is a button on the remote to change between 576p/720p/1080i while the disc is playing. So with each DVD I tried playing different sections, also paused the picture, and also tried a zoomed still frame, each time I found that the upscaling from the player (720p/1080i) would add more noise to the picture. When I set the player to 576p the LCD would show better PQ, although the PQ seemed slightly softer I think this is to be expected, don't expect to see A+ PQ until HD is available in my area.

    Wallace, that's an interesting test. I'll give it a try.
  18. KraGorn

    KraGorn Member

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    You are absolutely right. :blush:

    What I meant to say there was:

    "It's also a fact that the scaler inside TVs, plasmas etc. is often not as good as can be found in upscaling DVD players (eg. Pioneer 868 or cheap ones like a Momitsu V880)."

    I think it's fair to say that, certainly my experience with a V880 was that it produced better pictures with a Panny 6 plasma and several LCDs, though newer models I suppose may have improved that.

    Clearly my original post was wrong, thanks for pointing it out.
  19. J.Glen

    J.Glen Guest

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    I have a Hitachi 32LD7200 and a samsung 850HD and i have to say that playing DVDs at 720p provides a better picture.I've made the comparison and i do see a difference between 480p and 720p,the picture is sharper and more 3D at 720p and i haven't noticed any "noise" problems,at least on newer movies.I've only noticed noise on some movies that are fairly old and that's because the dvd versions of these movies aren't polished enough.Things like the IndianaJones or SW trilogies look amasing at 720p,IMO.

    In fact it makes me even more anxious to get my hands on true high-def movies(blue ray).I can't imagine how great THEY will look.
  20. senu

    senu Well-Known Member

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    I thought the option of upscaling was a deliberate one chosen from DVD player menu( ie not default) hence the option of comparing upscaling by player and mandatory upscaling by display panel as some of the above posts are suggesting
    Component ( analogue) output can either be progressive scan or not . Is is possible that progessive scan can ever degrade a picture?
  21. alan_t

    alan_t Member

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    so why are people buying upscalling dvd players, when there LCD screens are upscalling n e way?
    all seems abit pointless to me.
  22. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV Well-Known Member Assured Advertiser

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    AndrewKay: Arcam DV79/FMJ29 or Linn Unidisk

    Alan t: Sometimes it's because the players have scaling inthem anyway so wy not use it if it's better.....before the scalng happens the information has to be de-interlaced. It's often the de-interlcaing that is superior in the player even if the scaling is similar so that stage can give the player an edge. Using an external video processing solution fed cleanest signal from your sources is usually the best way to make everything you send to your display look it's best.

    Kragorn: Good work!

    Gordon
  23. J.Glen

    J.Glen Guest

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    Eventhough opinions vary i think it is better to provide your LCD with a "LCD definition ready" signal than letting your tv perform the upscaling.The upscaling players also connct to the HDMI connection of an LCD screen which can't be a bad thing(if your LCD has an HDMI that is).

    I haven't tried component but i believe than an upscaling DVD player(even a mediocre one like my samsung) is a good temporary solution for using the HDMI port and getting some results.
  24. PJTX100

    PJTX100 Active Member

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    I'm not clear what your point is here. I was merely pointing out that, from what I've read, if you are going to use an external scaler you want it to do as much of the "donkey work" as possible hence you need to feed it an unscaled, non prog scan, signal preferably via a digital link of some sort so that the player hasn't been doing any D->A conversion...PJ
  25. PJTX100

    PJTX100 Active Member

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    Unfortunately it's not as simple as that. Component may be better or worse than DVI/HDMI. Upscaled (in the player) may be better or worse than unscaled. Interlaced (from the player) may be better or worse than prog scan. It all depends on the player/display combination. And the only way to be sure is to actually try it for yourself. I've tried 4 players so far with my projector, the results have not adhered to any hard and fast rules...PJ
  26. gasman1

    gasman1 Member

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    I guess they mean that buying a player with upscaling abilities doesnt mean you have to use them, they can be switched off if you find your tv or external scaler is doing a better job, just like the tvs scaler will be bypassed if you feed it native resolution. However whether 3 scalers (with 2 not functioning) would add noise, Im not sure.
    All I can add to this, is that to my eyes, the scaler in my denon 1920 at 720 is better than the jvc 32ds6's.
  27. PJTX100

    PJTX100 Active Member

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    Ah, see what they are getting at now. :smashin:

    The reason why I say it limits your choice is not because of the upscaling, it's the interlaced aspect. Most players output 480p/576p via HDMI/DVI but very few do 480i/576i...PJ
  28. wallace3d

    wallace3d Guest

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    J.Glen, I have to agree with your comment with the samsung upscaling later DVDs @ 720p, I watched Titanic SE the other night with the Misses and can't say I noticed any "noise" problems. I will have a look at the Indiana boxset later tonight and maybe some other newer DVDs. I did notice that cartoon DVDs namely Ice Age, Mosters Inc, A Bugs Life all looked amazing at 720p due to the bright colours, but cartoons/CG DVDs are far easier to upscale.

    I think in the end there is no complete solution that will match all DVDs, I will probably switch between the Samsung upscaling 576p & 720p depending on the movie, seen as its just the press of a button on the Samsung anyway.

    thanks for the info
  29. PJTX100

    PJTX100 Active Member

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    Was she asleep? :D
  30. KraGorn

    KraGorn Member

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    Thank you Gordon, coming from you that is indeed a great compliment. :)

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