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Improving Sky picture quality

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by John_N, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. John_N

    John_N
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    Hi

    I very recently got a Sky+ box and have not had satellite before. I currently feed a projector [WXGA 1368*768] with the output from a HTPC and a nebula digital freeview card.
    The picture is very good - even on a 100" picture. There are no visible problems with the picture.

    So. Now I have a pioneer PDP-43XE1 plasma currently fed via S-video from a Sky+ box. THe plasma is an XGA panel at 1024*768.

    I have no issues with the PQ using DVD but using Sky+ ,
    the picture quality is quite good but I can definitely see some mpeg artifacts occasionally - they seem to happen more on 'Sky one' than on the movie channels.

    Likewise, if the picture is stationary, the detail on people's faces seems better than when they are moving (Again - this is on Sky one - not so noticeable on the movie channels).

    Is this just a function of the source material, and if so, is it going to yield only tiny improvements trying to improve things?

    Things I believe I could do to improve quality (in order of expense)

    1. feed the plasma via a JS RGB->VGA convertor and ditch the S-video connection.

    2. feed the plasma via RGB into a sweetspot card in a HTPC and use Dscaler.

    3. Feed plasma via RGB into a lumagen or iScan HD+ scaler.

    4. Modify sky+ box to SDI and feed plasma via SDI into a lumagen scaler.

    I imagine all these things would improve things if I were seeing noise or other scaling problems. However, what I think I'm seeing is mpeg compression artifacts - I suppose they might be compounded by additional de-interlacing and scaling artifacts introduced by the plasma's S-video input.

    What I see is on some moving objects, the occasional 'false edge' around it. Its usually very subtle and very quick and you tend to notice it if you're looking for it. I've seen the same thing on low bit-rate mpeg films on the computer.

    What do people think? Is it possible to get a consistent picture from Sky across all the channels? (I'm not interested in the sports channels by the way) or is the bandwidth just a bit low so I'm basically just trying to make a silk purse from a sows ear?

    Is (1) above going to give ANY improvement?

    Is it worth trying the HTPC route (some reviews using sweetspot people have been disappointed)

    is it worth using a scaler if the source material contains mpeg noise?

    is the return from moving to SDI too small to warrant the cost?

    Views appreciated.
     
  2. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    This is the key point, some channels use high bandwidth and have a consistenly excellent picture (e.g. Channel Five); others not only use low bandwidth but also lower horizontal resolution (544x576 rather than 740x576 pixels) and apply lots of pre-filtering to soften the image to hide some of the horrid artefacting and blocking (e.g. ITV1). BBC are usually pretty good with high bandwidth and clear picture.

    Higher bandwidth channels with a good scaler can look virtually indistinguishable from DVD. The low bandwidth channels always look poor, but can be improved with:
    a. better connections: SDI best, then RGBs, then s-video, then composite.
    b. good scaler
    c. ISF calibration

    Personally I feed Sky+ into iScan HD with RGBs and then VGA to ISF calibrated plasma; it looks much better than Sky Digital on some other plasma setups I've seen.

    StooMonster

    StooMonster
     
  3. John_N

    John_N
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    Thanks for the response..

    Thing is - I realise all that. What I was trying to get a hold of was; since the lower bandwidth channels look bad, soft and have mpeg artifacts visible, how much better do they look when processed via a scaler?

    Does anyone have experience of using a sweetspot card in a HTPC? Is it worth the hassle?
     
  4. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi John

    have a look over on the htpc forum, lots of people geting great results there. With regard to a scaler versus an htpc, there is very little in it in terms of quality, as you already have an htpc setup then the dscaler/sweetspot combo makes most sense :)
     

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