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Is there such a thing as a widescreen tv that can display football/rugby cleanly?

Discussion in 'Televisions' started by rachel, Feb 21, 2002.

  1. rachel

    rachel
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    Help!!! Our 18 year old 26" 4:3 tv died a month ago, so ever since I've been looking for a nice 32" (or maybe cheap 36") tv. I've read lots of magazine reviews and been round dozens of shops with varying standards of aerial setup/quality.

    Last weekend I hit upon a showstopper for widescreen tvs. Having found a shop with a big choice of tvs and good aerial pictures for analogue, I tuned into BBC1 to watch the 5 Nations rugby, because I have been advised to check how widescreen tvs display sport, as there can be a problem with 100hz models.

    To my dismay, every one of them (including the top of the range models) displayed trailing digital artefacts (little coloured squares) between and following players' legs when they were running and filmed from a certain distance.

    When I say every one, I mean the 50hz ones as well, and I even tried the Sony FQ75, flipping it in and out of 50 and 100hz as it's switchable, with no improvement whatsoever.

    Surely, if this was due to a weak aerial, being analogue this should have showed up as snow or ghosting, not digital squares swirling around players' legs whilst running? The studio footage at half/full time and in between highlights was perfect, so the signal seemed strong enough to me. I can't see any way the signal could have been digital, as these were all analogue sets, not IDTVs, they weren't connected up to Sky and I was the one changing the channels with the TVs' own remote controls.

    I left the shop clinging onto the hope that the artefacts were being broadcast and everyone else would have seen them as well (as a woman I don't watch sport so maybe this is normal). But when I got home I analysed the same games that had been video taped (admittedly this was on the 14" portable we have now been reduced to, and it was a video recording in long play), but no matter how closely I looked or freeze framed, I couldn't see a single square! Then when my husband came home from watching the games on his friend's fairly new 4:3 set, he confirmed that there weren't any of these squares on that, nor had he ever seen any on any 4:3 tv. I analysed football on BBC1 on a different 14" portable and on my mother's 28" 4:3, all square free.

    If these squares come hand in glove with widescreen tvs, then my husband does not want one, as he watches a lot of sport and is not willing to watch with an inferior picture. Equally, I do not want one either, as presumably, the effect will also show up to a lesser extent when watching anything fast moving.

    Please can somebody confirm that this is something you have to live with on widescreen tvs, or give me a technical explanation of what on earth is going on here? Are the widescreen tubes so good that they are showing up things you can't see on traditional 4:3s? Or do all widescreen tvs use some sort of digital processing (even for 50hz) whilst 4:3 tvs do not?

    In the meantime, our next step is to go back to the shops to look at brand new 4:3 tvs, to see if they have the widescreen inferior pictures, or the 4:3 perfect pictures belonging to our friends and family.

    It's a poor show when I've set aside £1500 to buy a widescreen tv and I'm going to end up (possibly after having seen them) buying a brand new 4:3 instead. Or, even worse, having my 18 year old tv repaired because it's got a better picture than a new state of the art widescreen!

    Please help!
     
  2. Ian Cox

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    I have a 32" widescreen 50Hz JVC TV and I have never noticed any of these funnies when watching sport and I do watch a lot of sport. But there again my TV does not have much if any digital processing.

    I know a lot of 100Hz TV's can throw up these problems when all the digital processing is turned on, even if you drop back down to 50Hz.

    Also when going into shops to look at TV's they will turn on all the digital processing and turn the contrast and brightness up to full so these problems look really bad. Whereas at home the contast and the brightness will be turned down a lot lower and you will probably not use all the digtial processing so most of the problems will go away.

    Many members on this forum have widescreen TV's and will probably be able to give you a good idea of the TV's that do and do not throw up these problem when watching sport. This should help you narrow down the TV's to consider for purchase.

    So to get things started the TV I have got is the JVC AV32WFT1 50Hz NICAM 32" widescreen TV that you can pick up for £700, it also has one of the best pictures that you can buy IMO.
     
  3. Doubledoom

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    I have a Toshiba 32ZP18P (B) which shows football fine with no faults, unless they are already there on the transmission.

    Obviously, low contrast and brightness settings help this. However, if the transmission is crap (which ITV's The Premiership tends to be) you won't get a decent picture. Whereas Sky sports on SkyD tends to have excellent pictures with no problems that you mention. Ch5 overseas coverage is usually abysmal quality. BBC tends to be fine for the few matches they still have left.
     
  4. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Agreed, but I would add "for the money" as I presume that £1500 ought to buy a better picture.
     
  5. Kevo

    Kevo
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    My 100Hz Tosh 40WH08 never shows these 'digital nasties'.
    The only I time I see pixelation is because of the poor quality compression rate sent out....i.e. ITV SPORT (which I always watch on analog as it gives a MUCH better pic)

    100Hz GO FOR IT
     
  6. Joachim

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    I have owned a Sony KV32FQ75, and now a Sony KV36FS70. I have not noticed any digital artifacts introduced by the TV itself with either of these models, and would strongly argue that these sets offer the best picture in their catagories.
     
  7. Kevin Bracey

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    100Hz TVs do have artifacts, but they're not usually of the "blocking" form. What you saw sounds like MPEG artifacts due to over-compression of digital TV; it sounds like whichever digital source the shop was running from was typically crummy.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of "high-quality" British digital television. The artifacts will tend to occur on a rapidly changing picture - a camera panning across a football pitch is one of the worst cases. If they can't (or won't) increase their bandwidth, more intelligent compression can reduce the problem, but there's only so much one can do when compressing a live source in real-time.

    I suspect we can only expect broadcast quality to get worse as they try to squeeze yet more channels into the available bandwidth. The bitrates of digital radio are also plummetting; some channels are now being described in some quarters as "better than medium wave." :(

    This is the one MASSIVE disadvantage of digital media. Companies can keep trying to squeeze more channels in at the expense of quality. The exising analogue systems were designed to strict quality criteria by engineers, and there was no possibility or motivation to reduce the quality over the years. And, working as I do for one of the shabbier digibox manufacturers, I can assure you that the near universal belief in the industry is that people don't care about quality as long as they can watch Coronation Street.

    Personally, I'm sticking to analogue. :) But even then, increasingly, the picture has been through some sort of digital compression system. Often several times.
     
  8. PIL

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    Agree with the other replies in that it is sub standard pics arriving at the telly (garbage in, garbage out). My 100Hz widescreen, even with the AI off, contrast down etc, still shows blurring on fast moving show credits, especially right to left scrolls (making them virtually unreadable!). Watch a quality input source, like DVD for example, and it displays none of these 'features'. In fact I don't think it's as bad with VHS as it is with LIVE terrestrial or digital transmissions.

    This is of no help if you want to watch footy on air, but at least you know who to blame and complain to!
     
  9. rachel

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    Kevin Bracey

    Thanks for your useful comments re digital broadcasting nasties.

    But ... when you said "whichever digital source the shop was running from was typically crummy", I'm convinced that all these non-IDTV TVs were showing analogue channels only - the assistant had already told me that none of the tvs were connected to Sky, when I asked to view that.

    If they were connected to a digibox, how come I could change between the 4 standard channels by pointing the remotes at the tvs themselves - or could they all be connected to 4 shared digiboxes, each tuned in to one of the 4 basic channels? How likely/possible is that?

    How do I tell whether I'm seeing bbc1 analogue or digital? I could ask the assistants how the tvs are set up, but I'm not optimistic they would know!
     
  10. Doubledoom

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    If the pictures were analogue (which they almost certainly were), and the pictures were stretched to fill the screen (which they almost certainly would be), then you would get a poorer quality picture. You are pulling a 4:3 picture about to fit a 16:9 frame. All the stretching and cropping will impact on the picture quality.

    Best thing to do is put the tv into 4:3 mode and see if the quality is still bad.
     
  11. Joachim

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    What Doubledoom is saying is true. You could also use this fact to check if you really were watching analogue or digital. Pick a 16:9 prog ie Hollyoaks, Brookside, Eastenders etc.. and check that on the TV you are watching it is in 14:9 aspect ratio. Analogue broadcasts of these 16:9 programs are ARC'd to 14:9 as a compromise. If you are seeing full 16:9 then you are almost certainly watching a digital broadcast!
     
  12. Guest

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    I have a Toshiba 32ZP18P and I have never seen these effects. I have seen them in many shops on othr models. I suspect that people using Sky digiboxes also have problems, sometimes through something like contamination/interference of the signal.

    If you get the set from a place like John Lewis and it doesn't work out, you can take it back.
     
  13. John Matrix

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    Hi Rachel,

    Most live sporting events are digitally encoded anyway at source to make transmission back to the broadcast centre as "good/cheap" as possible, so even watching the terrestrial channels doesn't guarantee you non-digital pictures.

    Personally, I notice the blocking artefacts more on Sky where the bitrates used are lower for delivery to your dish than they will be for digital xmission within the BBC (say). This is important as the BBC will convert back to analogue before transmission and he garbage in/garbage out principle works very well in this case (less bits normally implies less quality!).

    You will also notice more artefacts the larger and sharper the TV is. This is because the encoded blocks are 8x8 "pixels" in size and having them on a 36" TV in a shop with contrast/brightness (and probably sharpness) turned right up will make them easier to see than on your 14" from a low bandwidth video (on long play!).

    You see more issues where there is a lot of fine detail that moves quickly (i.e. as the footbalers legs "run" across the screen). The encoder tries to match up like areas and then encodes the difference between them to save bandwidth. If things are moving quickly, it is difficult to do this correctly. To see this process really in action, watch the broadcasts from remote areas (Africa/Afghanistan etc) where video telephones are in use. The encoding method in use is essentially the same but at MUCH reduced resolution and bandwidth. It becomes easier to see the sort of artefacts that are present in all digital broadcasts, magnified by the lower resolution/lower bitrates.

    As has been said by Kevin, these things are here to stay, so we'd better just learn to live with it.

    FYI I work in the digital TV industry so tend to be hyper-critical of picture quality as I know what to look for. Once you know what the problems are with the compression methods, it's really easy to spot them on almost all sports broadcasts...
     

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