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Please advise on which hi-def resolution and connections to look for?

Discussion in 'TVs' started by Dave163, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. Dave163

    Dave163
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    Help! Just back from Curries where a trip to get new batteries turned into a marathon in front of a stunningly incredible hi-def plasma connected to a hi-def DVD player. Time at last to ditch the old black-and-white set and join the 21st century!

    Then I got back and started looking for hi-def plasmas. The problems began.

    Firstly, sets advertised as high-def seem to have all sorts of horizontal resolutions - 480 pixels, 720, 768, 1024, 1080. Since there aren't yet even even hi-def broadcasts in the UK, aren't I taking a chance by buying a set in case I pick the wrong number of pixels? Which resolution should I go for?

    Secondly, some folks seem to have gone for external "video processors" and "scalers" that I presume improve the picture quality. SHould I get a cheap plasma and an external black box to tweak picture quality, or spend the dosh on a more expensive plasma to begin with?

    Then there's DVD. At some stage I'm going to have to upgrade my precious collection, but which format DVD player should I buy - Blue Ray or the other hi-def format?

    Finally, I see that some hi-def TVs have an HDMI socket and others a DVI socket, that might or might not have HDCP and might or might not display hi-def broadcasting. Given that DVI plasmas can be much cheaper than HDMIs, will I be able to watch DVDs and broadcasts so long as it's a DVI-HDCP? Note that I plan to play audio through my hifi in any case and must say I took a fondness for the Hitachi 5200.

    Why is it so complicated trying to work out which equipment I need, which is compatible with what and which is just being pushed by sales people on commission? Buying the black and white telly was never this hard:-(

    Dave
     
  2. Starburst

    Starburst
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    The various EU manufacturers got together and came up with HD Ready.
    It is a standard for HD displays and sets a basic resolution, input specs and methods of connection which means the TV will support broadcast HD, consoles and pre-recorded HD media.

    The spec is a product of it's time though which is why the base line of 720 vertical lines is the minimum (1280*720 being a HD resolution) even though source material is being broadcast at 1920*1080. As time passes more panels will be made at the higher native resolution but at the mo the lower res has price, supply and marketing behind it:)

    A good scaler/deinterlacer can make a good display look fantastic, I wouldn't penny pinch on a display then spend £1000 on a scaler though:)

    No one knows whish next gen pre-recorded medium will emerge the winner in the upcoming format war, a UK product from either camp won't be around until well into next year. There are DVD players on the market now that have internal scaling to boost DVD to HD spec and may outperform the scaling engine in the display itself.

    The cheaper hardware tends not to conform to the HD Ready spec, one or more parts are non compliant and the stock needs to be shifted as more and more products are being released with the HD logo.
    The major issue is the ability to accept HDCP via HDMI or DVI, it is possible to get a HD resolution panel that has DVI (with HDCP) but make sure it supports both 50hz and 60hz input to cover all possible sources.
    It may just be better in the long run to stick with HD Ready displays, their prices will continue to drop, the market is growing:)
     
  3. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    To add to what Starburst says look for the following :

    1. HD Ready official logo which will guarantee :
    2. Component analogue HD inputs (or inputs capable of being fed these via an adaptor)
    3. HDMI or DVI+HDCP digital HD inputs (HDCP is a copy protection system built into HDMI but optional in DVI, which is likely to be required for next gen pre-recorded formats to replay in HD)
    4. 720/50p and 720/60p, 1080/50i and 1080/60i compatibility on BOTH HD analogue and HDMI/DVI+HDCP inputs. (Beware of some sets that only offer 60Hz capabilities on one or other inputs)
    5. Minimum vertical resolution of 720 lines (though no minimum horizontal resolution)

    You will find DLPs with 1280x720 resolution (which is a match for the 720p standard), but also 1366x768 (which will usually scale 720p material and 1080i material to fit) LCDs are common, as well as 1024x720 plasmas, 1024x1024 plasmas (some are ALiS 1024i devices), and some LCDs are now 1920x1080 (1080p matched) capable.

    1080i native displays are a rarity in the UK - as CRTs and a few plasmas (those using ALiS I believe) are the only interlaced native displays. AIUI there are no HD Ready CRTs on sale in the UK.

    Therefore 1080i broadcasts are converted to the native display resolution - sometimes not optimally (some treat 1080i as 540p rather than 1080p prior to scaling to 720p)

    The mix of 720/50p and 1080/50i broadcasters has yet to be finalised - the Sky platform will support both.

    Also - don't base your display purchase on just the resolution numbers - as there is more to a TV's performance than resolution. Things like black level, contrast, brightness, saturation, gamma (how the range of black to white and greys in between are portrayed) etc. are also important - and in some cases a set with lower resolution may look better with real pictures than a sharper model.
     
  4. the_pauley

    the_pauley
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    A high-def DVD player? I doubt it... :)
     
  5. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    No - more likely to be either a PC with HD video output (LG are using these, as are Sagem), an imported Japanese BluRay recorder (Sony are using these), or an imported Japanese hard drive and set-top box (Panasonic are using these)

    The BluRay's Sony are using are the Japanese MPEG2 only models that have been out for a year or so - and are designed for recording and replaying off-air HD in Japan (not pre-recorded material AIUI) and are not the same as the future BluRay players we are expecting, which will include MPEG4 and VC1 as well I believe. (Doesn't stop Ebay advertisers though...)

    Any DVD player seen feeding an HD display is likely to be an upconverting model - playing standard def DVDs. (Unless it is an IOData Link Player 2, a Buffalo Link Theater, or a Snazzio Net Cinema HD I guess - which can play HD MPEG2 and Divx from DVD-ROM discs - though the MPEG2 stuff doesn't always work from DVD-ROM if the data rate is too high AIUI)
     
  6. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Hello all

    We are all a bit blinkered by what Japan/Hollywood will offer us as far as Pre Recorded HD formats go - there are approx eight Pre Recorded disc formats already out in other parts of the world; some even use current red laser technology.

    A few of the big manufacturers (Sharp being one) are already shipping HD Players and Demo discs sourced from China to demo HD Ready and HD Compatible TV's; though they wont sell you one of the HD players.

    Dave163 - at this time the 'HD Ready' logo is the only 'standardised' guide to you having some medium term compatibility with what UK/Euro broadcasters + Hollywood sanctioned Discs will deliver.

    Using a Display + an external Video Processor (along with the services of someone who knows how to install, configure and calibrate the kit) is definitely the best way forward; though not the least expensive option by a long way.

    An external Video Processor cannot make a poor Display into a star - you need to choose your Display carefully to ensure you have something decent to build upon.

    Talk to a few dealers (see Forum banner adds) they have worked through just about every connectivity plan you could envisage :)

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  7. paolo999

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    Also spotted recently: A Japanese LG set top box with (presumably) integrated hard drive, running LG demo footage. (As it happens, connected to a Hitachi 5200H.)
     
  8. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Ah - haven't seen an LG STB - just an LG badged Shuttle-style small form factor PC.
     
  9. paolo999

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    I just stopped for moment there and wondered whether I'd made a mistake - but no, it had a switchable output on the back 1080i, 720p, and two other modes I didn't quite see (probably 576i and 480i)

    I watched some footage with it set to 1080i, although there wasn't any way of knowing if the actual footage was 1080i or not.

    (I'd like to still like to see an ALiS side by side with the Panasonic, but at first glance, it does seem to hold up very well with HD.)
     
  10. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Suspect the modes you couldn't see were 480p and 480i - though I might be wrong - as most of this stuff being used for demo purposes is stuff aimed at the US or Japanese markets. (Though one manufacturer is using HVD or EVD discs - which are Chinese HD video on DVD Rom - discs)
     
  11. Dave163

    Dave163
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    Wow - thanks for all that info. Curries was demoing LGs and had some sort of high-def LG-branded black box for the source - I asumed it was a DVD player but maybe not. Having read a few negative comments about LG I was gobsmacked at the hidef quality, and thought the smaller LCD was if anything even better than the 42 inch plasma screen on display. Needless to say it was £1000 more than the Hitachi 5200H which some peple evidently think will display hi-def and others not. If the Hitachi 5200H does high-def for £1350 that's good enuogh for me:)

    I then made the mistake of going to Comet where according to the sales staff the Sagem 45 inch DLP (around £1700) was happily playing a standard-def DVD via a £100 Sony DVD player that upscales to high-def, and that was the way to go. Now, I don't fancy forking out to replace my entire treasured DVD collection in whichever hidef format eventually gets settled, and the idea of a DVD player that upscales sounds attractive sales talk. But I figured that presumably if I connected my existing DVD player to a hidef panel the picture would in any event fill the whole panel. What extra picture quality would result from the Sony DVD player or equivalent, given that the original extra "detail" is missing in a standard-def DVD and the picture is going to have to be expanded somehow to fill the screen either by the TV or first via the DVD player.

    Hope that makes sense. Unlike the really helpful staff at aforementioned major electrical retailers I don't have an MSc in home cinema so rely on folks like you reading my post!!!

    Cheers very much,

    Dave
     
  12. Jim_Fear

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    When I was in Curry's the other day I was taking a peek at a 42" Samsung HD Plasma and surround kit, the images they were showing looked amazing but through the clutter of speakers, dvd players and cables I notcied a small shuttle PC, it never occured to me that they were probably using that to display the HD clips :)

    Looks like HTPC all the way :thumbsup:
     
  13. paolo999

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    Well I've been playing with a new PC. Not an expensive one - a 350 quid refurb from Morgan's - but I'm gobsmacked.

    I've downloaded the WMV-HD trailers from Microsoft. Played them on my PC Trinitron CRT in 1280 x 768 (not really square pixels but near enough), crunched the scan down to 16:9 using the monitor's analog controls...

    ...awesome. Amazing defitinition, the deep contrast (on the trini, arguably unbeaten to this day by any technology).

    All playing off a cheap PC. 350 quid. Cheaper than a whole collection of boxes (fancy DVD player, scaler, etc) that only deliver "posh" SD.

    I'm now just catching up with a favourite US TV series. Not quite HD res but miles ahead of what the UK broadcaster is able to deliver. This might tip me over the edge - get the HD display now - on the basis that with the HTPC idea, I can actually get the benefit ahead of roll out next year.
     

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