freesat picture quality on LCD sets

teknosys

Standard Member
want to get the new sony 4500 LCD TV as I have a 36inch CRT at the moment. I use a topfield PVR and intend to upgrade to Freesat once a decent PVR with large drive becomes available...

what concerns me is on LCD forum it say picture quality with standard defination - I guess this means freeview? is rubbish...

Will Freesat be OK? better?

as pointless spending a bomb to achieve worse picture quality:(
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
Freesat is WORSE than Freeview for ITV1 and C4 AIUI...

ITV1 and C4 are 720x576 (or 704x576?) on Freeview - as Ofcom mandates full resolution SD for the simulcasts of existing analogue channels. On Freesat ITV1 and C4 can do what they like - and to reduce the bandwith required to carry all their regional variations (C4 have 6 regions - duplicated for C4+1) they run Freesat ITV1 and C4 at 544x576...

ITV1 is - to me - unwatchable on satellite.

The BBC SD channels are pretty much the same on Freeview and Freesat - BBC One on Freeview may be marginally better in England than BBC One on Freesat. The BBC channels aren't that bad - but neither are they anything to write home about either.

The ITV2,3,4 and E4, More4, Film4 stuff doesn't look amazing on either platform IMHO.

The advantage of Freesat is that you can get an HD receiver and get BBC and ITV HD - which are both better than their SD channels (even if they aren't perfect either)
 
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teknosys

Standard Member
Thanks Stephen...

would I be better served with a plasma TV?

what can be done to get a good SD picture? or is sky the answer?
 

smjxm09

Novice Member
I have got four 32 inch LCD's, one 37 inch Plasma and one 50 inch Plasma.

Got to say for SD a plasma wins every time.
 

spinninghead

Standard Member
I have just got a 40" 4500 which replaces a Samsung 40" from a couple of years ago that died. I have Sky so am not using Freeview inbuilt in the TV.

I have been impressed with the SD performance of the 4500 out of the box even though I have not had a chance to play with the settings yet.

As one of the other posters says ITV is very poor on Sky, and I hardly ever watched this on the old Samsung. It is however much more watchable on the 4500.

As I type I am watching the Harry Enfield show on BBC 1 on Sky and it looks pretty good.
 

daredevill

Member
I have a samsung led backlight 52" LCD and can confirm that sd through my Humax freesat box is most of the time worse than the built in freeview tuner, :rolleyes:
 

atmoscinema

Active Member
My Panny 37PX80 is brilliant for SD, including it's own Freeview tuner.
 

Boostrail

Distinguished Member
Freesat is WORSE than Freeview for ITV1 and C4 AIUI...

ITV1 and C4 are 720x576 (or 704x576?) on Freeview - as Ofcom mandates full resolution SD for the simulcasts of existing analogue channels. On Freesat ITV1 and C4 can do what they like - and to reduce the bandwith required to carry all their regional variations (C4 have 6 regions - duplicated for C4+1) they run Freesat ITV1 and C4 at 544x576...

ITV1 is - to me - unwatchable on satellite.

The BBC SD channels are pretty much the same on Freeview and Freesat - BBC One on Freeview may be marginally better in England than BBC One on Freesat. The BBC channels aren't that bad - but neither are they anything to write home about either.

The ITV2,3,4 and E4, More4, Film4 stuff doesn't look amazing on either platform IMHO.

The advantage of Freesat is that you can get an HD receiver and get BBC and ITV HD - which are both better than their SD channels (even if they aren't perfect either)
Not sure you have got this quite right. On any digital TV system the important factor is of course the delivered bit rate.

Need to search but I seem to recall reading that ITV1/C4/C5 bit rate was lower than BBC1/2 on Freeview let alone other digital sources.
Other Freeview channels were lower still.

I get my digital TV via VM cable and I get superb SD on all channels.*

*TBH footy is still a bit rough on Setanta and particularly ITV4 but I can adjust LCD settings to get a reasonable picture while watching footy on these channels
 
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u006852

Novice Member
Thanks Stephen...

would I be better served with a plasma TV?

what can be done to get a good SD picture? or is sky the answer?
I'm afraid that there are few options to get a really good SD picture (from broadcast).

SD can look excellent, but the broadcasters are far more interested in quantity of channels that quality of picture.

In my opninion SD as it is broadcast in the UK on sat or DTT looks pretty ropey on anything larger than 36/37".

Although I'm sure someone will point to an exception, in my opinion plasmas beat LCD hands down on picture quality.

Generally plasmas have:-

better colour accuracy
better black levels
latest ones are as bright as lcd
don't suffer from near black crush
don't suffer from near white crush
have better motion handling
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
Not sure you have got this quite right. On any digital TV system the important factor is of course the delivered bit rate.

Need to search but I seem to recall reading that ITV1/C4/C5 bit rate was lower than BBC1/2 on Freeview let alone other digital sources.
Other Freeview channels were lower still.

I get my digital TV via VM cable and I get superb SD on all channels.*

*TBH footy is still a bit rough on Setanta and particularly ITV4 but I can adjust LCD settings to get a reasonable picture while watching footy on these channels
You are right that bitrate is a major factor. However if ITV1 is 544x576 on DSat and 720x576 on Freeview - the DSat version can never be sharper than the Freeview version.

AIUI BBC One in England is broadcast at the highest bitrate (around 4.6Mbs?)as it is a permanent CBR re-encode from a 9Mbs MPEG2 BC One distribution feed to the regional centres, and can't be statmuxed.

ITV and C4 channels on Freeview are lower bitrate than that - and even though ITV1 and C4 (though not ITV2-4, E4, More4 etc.) are higher res on Freeview than Freesat that doesn't mean they are good... (Some of the ITV/C4 channels are broadcast on Mux C or Mux D at 720x576 as ITV don't encode those)

I find any major sport or entertainment show unwatchable on ITV1 DSat - but it IS better on Freeview usually (particularly in resolution terms) If I ever have to watch an ITV1 SD sporting event then I watch on Freeview.
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
yep plasma is far far better for watching sport etc
lcd doesnt cut it
Plasma sets - until recently - have had the edge with motion, and their lower resolution wasn't an issue for panels. If I were buying a set just to watch SD on - I'd seriously look at a plasma.

LCDs are catching up with regard to motion though. It'll be interesting to see how good LCD has got by the time the OLED stuff kicks in. I've seen a few OLED displays and they look VERY good.

However Plasmas do have issues with grey-scale (many of them only have quite low bit-depth sub-field processing and have to make up the difference with dithering - which looks like fine noise - which is OK for SD, but masks picture detail at HD). You also can't get Full 1080 plasmas at smaller screen sizes - so are at the mercy of consumer price-point scaling if you watch 1080p and 1080i content.
 

u006852

Novice Member
But isn't full HD on the smaller screen sizes of dubious merit.

Full HD is available on 42" but not as far as I know on the 37" plasmas available.

Some people (I'm not sure I agree) think that full HD is only really worth while at 50".

Dependant of course on viewing distance.

From my point of view, I have yet to see an lcd that doesn't suffer from what I consider to be an "artificial" look to the picture.

I find plasma much more "crt like" and definitely prefer them.
 

The Spaniard

Active Member
For picture quality I have yet to find anything (apart from blu ray of course) to beat the picture on my 34 inch CRT Sony fed by an anologue signal. It guts me to watch a freeview digital picture on a state of the art Sony LCD knowing that its actually a poorer picture than I was watching 10 yeras ago.......

Progress isn't always whats its cracked up to be - unless you're selling advertising space of course :thumbsdow
 

besidog

Active Member
But isn't full HD on the smaller screen sizes of dubious merit.

Full HD is available on 42" but not as far as I know on the 37" plasmas available.

Some people (I'm not sure I agree) think that full HD is only really worth while at 50".

Dependant of course on viewing distance.

From my point of view, I have yet to see an lcd that doesn't suffer from what I consider to be an "artificial" look to the picture.

I find plasma much more "crt like" and definitely prefer them.
I will go with this guys view,I have yet to see an LCD that does it for me...... thats why plasmas are more expensive........ most HD tv's will do a good job of HD but show them a crapy SD broadcast and thats when you will see em fall on there ass big time...... just my opinion though ;)
 

Robbie34

Member
I certainly can't agree with many of the above comments.

I have recently purchased a Sony KDL40X3000 together with a Humax Foxsat Freesat box. I also have a Humax PVR, and the quality of standard definition ITV is not that bad. Granted, it is not as good as BBC, but it is not as poor as some people have stated.

Freesat on BBC is excellent, and BBC HD is breathtaking, particularly when watching the wildlife programmes.

Freeview from the Sony, and Freeview from the Humax PVR is excellent. The downside with a large LCD screen is the picture quality of older series that are transmitted. Dad's Army is a typical example: the picture quality is not so good. Large screens show every blemish, and this is the problem with many of the ITV older repeats.
 

teknosys

Standard Member
OK...so if I go for a plasma which is the best one at the moment ..I want a 46 inch or maybe a 52inch

SD means "standard definition" right? so this term applys to freeview, satellite and cable? is this correct?

i dont watch sport. maybe 2 films a month, manly record BBC drama's, C5 cop shows etc....

is sky HD the only solution to decent picture quality?
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
OK...so if I go for a plasma which is the best one at the moment ..I want a 46 inch or maybe a 52inch
Think Plasmas usually come in 37, 42 and 50 inch sizes. (There is a 32 inch model likely to appear soon, and there are larger ones. I've used the 103" Panasonic model quite extensively!

SD means "standard definition" right? so this term applys to freeview, satellite and cable? is this correct?
SD = Standard Definition. However both cable and satellite can deliver SD and HD (High Definition). Sky HD has quite a few HD channels, and Virgin Media has HD VOD and BBC HD.

Freeview will be introducing 3 channels of HD (BBC HD and two others from ITV, C4 or Five) from 2009 (it is hoped) using a new transmission system called DVB-T2, and will arrive in each region as analogue is switched off.

i dont watch sport. maybe 2 films a month, manly record BBC drama's, C5 cop shows etc....

is sky HD the only solution to decent picture quality?
BBC HD is identical in quality on Freesat and Sky HD - it is the same broadcast signal. ITV HD is only available on Freesat currently. C4 HD is currently only viewable on Sky HD receivers - though you don't need to subscribe to view it.

If you want to subscribe - then Sky HD is really the only game in town for HD.
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
I certainly can't agree with many of the above comments.

I have recently purchased a Sony KDL40X3000 together with a Humax Foxsat Freesat box. I also have a Humax PVR, and the quality of standard definition ITV is not that bad. Granted, it is not as good as BBC, but it is not as poor as some people have stated.
Some people are more sensitive to picture quality than others - and some displays highlight shortcomings more than others - particularly at larger screen sizes.

However the reduced resolution of ITV1 on Freesat is fact, not heresay, and this is very apparent on things like football, where the graphics are much softer and less distinct on Freesat/Sky than Freeview.

ITV1 on Freesat/Sky also seems to suffer from pretty bad artefacting on demanding material. The X Factor is close to unwatchable in picture terms on ITV1 satellite - especially when compared to BBC One SD showing similar content.
 

u006852

Novice Member
Some people are more sensitive to picture quality than others - and some displays highlight shortcomings more than others - particularly at larger screen sizes.

However the reduced resolution of ITV1 on Freesat is fact, not heresay, and this is very apparent on things like football, where the graphics are much softer and less distinct on Freesat/Sky than Freeview.

ITV1 on Freesat/Sky also seems to suffer from pretty bad artefacting on demanding material. The X Factor is close to unwatchable in picture terms on ITV1 satellite - especially when compared to BBC One SD showing similar content.
Yep I agree with that.

BBC is probably provides the best SD picture but they all suffer with mosquito noise and macro blocking.

Interestingly the BBC freeview (and sat for that matter) picture quality when watching my local news studio (the wonderfull Points West) is actually quite good.

OK, not much motion going on here but it definitely looks better than studio stuff coming out of London.

I was wondering if it has been through less mpeg encode/decode steps to account for the difference?????
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
Yep I agree with that.

BBC is probably provides the best SD picture but they all suffer with mosquito noise and macro blocking.

Interestingly the BBC freeview (and sat for that matter) picture quality when watching my local news studio (the wonderfull Points West) is actually quite good.

OK, not much motion going on here but it definitely looks better than studio stuff coming out of London.

I was wondering if it has been through less mpeg encode/decode steps to account for the difference?????
Yep - the stuff from London has been MPEG2 encoded at 9Mbs to feed to Bristol, where it is decoded to SDI 270Mbs and then passes through a switch that allows the network or the Bristol studio to pass through to the MPEG2 encoder for Freeview - which runs at around 4.5Mbs. The Bristol local studio is thus only compressed once - at the point of final broadcast - whereas London will have been compressed twice.

AIUI the eventual aim is for encoding to take place in London rather than the regional centres - and rather than the network being fed at 9Mbs to Bristol, the Bristol studio will be fed at 270Mbs to London, and the switch take place there. This will remove the requirement for a second compression of the network (as the 9Mbs path will be removed) and could improve picture quality - though it will also allow BBC One to be statmuxed with BBC Two, BBC Three/CBBC and the BBC News Channel, whereas currently BBC One is guaranteed a constant bit rate in England.
 

u006852

Novice Member
Thats interesting.

I am actually quite shocked that they are only using 9mbit/sec mpeg 2 as a broadcast feed. No wonder it looks pants!

I think multiple mpeg encoding does real damage to picture quality. Even after saying the above I think I could find the picture acceptable if it were as good as the local stuff.
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
Thats interesting.

I am actually quite shocked that they are only using 9mbit/sec mpeg 2 as a broadcast feed. No wonder it looks pants!
They are using Long GOP 9Mbs - which is OK for a network distribution feed that will be re-encoded as Long GOP 4.5Mbs. The rule of MPEG2 concatenation is 2:1. If you are re-encoding at xMbs you need to feed at 2xMbs.

For contribution circuits they now use 270Mbs uncompressed fibre within the BBC (upgraded from the previous mix 34Mbs compressed component and 140Mbs uncompressed PAL composite digital)

The EBU standard for news distribution is 8Mbs (4:2:0) but for high quality stuff is 24Mbs (4:2:2: - and was originally 35Mbs with earlier encoders). (Which following the 2:1 rule would allow 24Mbs for contribution, 12Mbs for distribution and 6Mbs for emission)

I think multiple mpeg encoding does real damage to picture quality. Even after saying the above I think I could find the picture acceptable if it were as good as the local stuff.
Yep - the accepted rule for concatenated MPEG2 encoding is 2:1 at each process.

NBC in the US are flouting this with their HD systems - distributing at 24Mbs which is not high enough. 9Mbs for SD is pretty close to OK.

Watching BBC One West and Points West on DSat - which is following the same process as the DTT feed the studio video looks to look good because it is well lit from a traditional studio (with a decent-ish lighting grid and lit and racked by someone who knows that they are doing) - which is something that not all network news studios have these days...

Suspect the picture quality isn't just a result of a missing MPEG2 process.

You do have to factor in compression used in VTRs (a lot of stuff is now shot on 25Mbs Intra-frame DV25 4:2:0 Codecs) and a lot of stuff is compressed using quite heavy compression in Avid NLEs, or 33Mbs MPEG2 for servers... Network programme delivery is still on the very lightly compressed 2.2:1 Digital Betacam format - which is close to transparent - and some stuff is shot on the similar quality DV50 4:2:2 codec. Some live shows end up using more compressed links than are ideal - 20Mbs 4:2:2 is a minimum for a satellite circuit for a quality show - though some news contributions are nearer 5-6Mbs 4:2:0.
 
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u006852

Novice Member
Thanks for the info and education!

All interesting stuff!
 

teknosys

Standard Member
seems like a choice between these 2 maybe 3....

Panasonic TH-46PZ81 (plasma) It can be had for about £1100 and is a 46 inch a bit unusual for a plasma....

Sony KDL-46W4500 (LCD) about £1600

theres another plasma but its 50 inch and £2200......the Pioneer PDP-LX5090

No need to get techy with your replies! lol I just want to know which is best suited to mainly SD freeview and Freesat reception......
 
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