Toshiba 37X3030DB LCD and PS3/Xbox360 - gradient problems

zeropaul

Novice Member
Hi All

My first post here - thanks for having me and hope someone can shed some light...

I recently bought a 37" Toshiba X3030DB LCD and hooked it up to a nice new PS3 (via HDMI) and my Xbox360 (via component). Both are now looking good at 1080p, with the exception of one problem that I've seen a few mentions of here, but no conclusion - colour gradients.

Most noticeable on the PS3 via HDMI in the XMB (purple gradients), Folding at Home, blue gradients on globe and - the real killer - GT HD Prologue, in the blue skies. The latter is completely atrocious, to the point that it is distracting to play as there are chunky, geometric fluctuating blocks of blue, masquerading as a smooth blue sky. They look very much like really bad compression artifacts...

Xbox 360 via component also has this problem, although to a lesser extent, visible most immediately in the grey gradients in the dashboard. I guess this is possibly due to the dimished clarity of component, and less obvious demonstration material - I've yet to test it widely on the new display...

Blueray and regular DVDs via the PS3 don't exhibit the problem - at least not in the source material I've viewed so far...

Now, I've read a few things already that refer to this problem as an attribute/quirk of LCDs, but I don't believe it should be this bad. I work with LCD screens, and frequently view smooth colour gradients that do not display this degree of banding. I'm aware that gradients aren't necessarily 'CRT smooth' on an LCD display, but this is ridiculous.

As a test, I fired up the PS3 browser and visited http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/, to view a few test patterns and gradients - no problems there, again, not 'CRT smooth' but far, far better than the in-game / XMB effects I'm seeing and comparable to other LCD monitors that I have at work. If in-game / XMB gradients displayed as smoothly as these, I'd have no problem and it would be unnoticeable unless you paused and scrutinised.

Setting the PS3 to limited range RGB has eased the problem and, of course, tweaking the Toshiba's settings can minimise the appearance, but is only really masking the prooblem to small extent rather than curing it.

My guess is that it's an issue with the output of the PS3 - a processing issue - since it only seems to be a concern with gradients that are being generated/manipulated on the fly.

Any one else have the same problem or an idea about the cause?

Cheers!

Paul
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
Sorry for replying to my own post, but I just wanted to update it and ask a question....

Firstly, I tried a replacement HDMI cable - my original was a cheap one from Woolworths, so I've replaced it with a 1m £30 cable from HMV in a desperate attempt. I'm aware that it's a digital connection - ie. works or doesn't, but I felt compelled to see if a classier cable would help at all. It hasn't.

A bit more time on the Xbox 360 last night tells me the problem is also present when using that on the display, but not anywhere near as bad as the PS3 - component, perhaps?

My question - is there a service menu buried in the 37X3030DB somewhere? The manual is terrible and illustrates menus I've never been able to find - perhaps it's generic across the range and includes features not available on the 37". Does anyone know if it a). has a service menu and if so b). how the hell to access it?

Thanks in advance

Paul
 

noisecrime

Active Member
Hi,

Yeah I've noticed this issue (at least your explanation sounds similar) on my Tosh 42X3030DB (which may be a different panel ? can't be sure, absored far too much information from this site over the last few weeks ;) )

I posted a more detailed responce about it in the X3030 settings thread here
http://www.avforums.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5409821&postcount=411

I also have the same questions as yourself as to whether there might be something in the service menu that causes this, or that could aid in say dithering the colours to make the banding less obvious. The thought being that since many of the service menu values change from set to set (at least according to the X3030 settings thread) that perhaps something as incorrectly set on my LCD.

I'm also confused about the issue as like you I expect 24bit (8 per component) displays to be capable of displaying smooth gradients, but then why are manufactures apparently bringing in 10bit or even 12bit displays?

I see this banding when the xbox360 starts up with the X logo, very clear concentric rings of colour bands, but the dashboard background with its riplle effect looks nice and smooth.

I've seen the banding in Ace Combat 6 demo, during the 'ingame' cut-scene when there is a shot looking back towards the formation of planes and if looking up at the sky from beneath your plane via moving the camera.

Anyway as I said a few more details are included in my post on the other thread, but sadly no conclusions yet. I'm not even sure if this is something preverlent to all LCD's or if i've got a duff one, which is of course what i'm trying to discover.
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
Thanks noisecrime

I'll check the post you mention - cheers. It is very noticeable on the Xbox startup sequence, you're right. I don't normally see it as it's firing up as I'm still turning on the display...

It is confusing and it does seem to relate to gradients that are moving or being processed in some way. A static test gradient in the PS3 browser is pretty good, whereas the effect when scrolling that same page up and down is noticeably bad.

The Armoured Core 4 demo on PS3 is terrible, mainly because it opens with a series of tutorial levels that feature dominant blue gradient backdrops.

I'm also keen to find out if my panel is duff, or if it's a trait of LCDs in general that's just in need of a bit of adjustment on mine in order to minimise it. Does anyone else suffer from this on any brand panel?

Cheers

Paul
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
In case anyone's interested, here's a good set of test patterns that you can view in the PS3 browser:

http://www.spronkey.com/sdc-gradients.png

The Toshiba does an acceptable job of rendering the more linear gradients, but the circular patterns at the foot of the image are much more problematic. Again, these static gradients aren't too troubling, and it they were as good when in motion, it wouldn't be a problem. Scrolling this page in the browser highlights the problem and glitching bands of colour can be seen in some instances - this doesn't seem to be a issue with colour depth to me...

It'd be great to hear how other LCD/PS3 owners displays perform on this test and see some photos if at all possible. I'll try and do the same once the weekend arrives and I have bit more time on my hands.

Paul
 

RockySpieler

Active Member
Do you not think that this might be related to internal scaling/rendering on the PS3 / XBox360 from the 720p coded games to 1080p display?

Have you tried outputting 720p from the PS3/XBox360 and seeing if the X3030D has better scaling?

Do you also see this with SD gaming Wii / PS2 / XBox etc?

ps the lagon link has some good test images (although only 1024x768).

The spronkey image is good, I have saved to "my pictures" (pc), and rotated (1800x1275), it looks pretty good at a desktop resolution of 1920x1080 via HDMI. I can see smooth gradients, with stepped colour change but that's at 20cm viewing distance. This is nothing like the small circular banding example (low right of portrait sheet), which is quite poor.
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
It's consistent across all resolutions and sources, it's just that the the Xbox 360 on component, and cable TV (VirginMedia) over scart is lacking the definition of the PS3 over HDMI.

There's no way that current gen consoles (or last gen, for that matter) would be outputting stuff that looks like this. Some of the material that I'm viewing is 1080p, and it makes no difference - in fact, it looks worse again, I suspect, due to the more obvious detail.

I've got no SD gaming sources to test any more, but going by the SD TV source, it would be just as bad.

Taking GT Prologue as an example, the sky is a mess of flickering false contouring, whereas the other details in each scene - road, mountains, cars etc are absolutely mint and beautifully rendered. An easily viewed example is Folding @ Home - the smooth gradients of the blue globe are reduced to a handful of glitching bands of colour rather than a clean transition of light to dark....

I've spoken to Toshiba customer support, and there's an engineer on the way. I have a suspicion that no fault will be found and that this is either an effect of LCD panels or a trait of this model that others are either overlooking or would prefer no to see.

I do really appreciate the feedback though, thank you. I'm really amazed that so few people are reporting this issue (unless of course, my display is a duff one).

Cheers!

Ps. I do plan to try and take some decent photos of the problem and post them here so others can comment.
 

cdb

Active Member
My question - is there a service menu buried in the 37X3030DB somewhere?

Paul

Post 48 of this thread



You may have heard of the Service Menu; this is hidden away from consumers because indescriminant tweaking can cause damage to your set and it'll almost certainly void your warranty. The main reason why we consider using the service menu is because it contains the master controls that drive red, green and blue colour output. Adjusting these settings by even a small amount has a big impact to the operation of your set.

Disclaimer: I accept no liability for any damage you may do to your set so if you're intent on making service menu changes proceed with caution!

Warning: I recommend you make a note of all settings and their corresponding values before you change them. Finally, remember that the performance of each set varies to some degree and that these controls can have a big impact on your picture even if tweaked slightly, consequently using someone else's settings is more likely to be detrimental than beneficial. I strongly recommend obtaining a colorimeter to monitor the results of such changes.

Accessing the Service Menu

If you haven't please read the above disclaimer and warning!

* Turn the TV on.
* Press the {MUTE} button three times on the remote.
* Press the {MUTE} button again on the remote and hold.
* Then press the {MENU} button on the TV's front panel.
* Release both buttons
* There should be a letter "S" on the upper right of the screen.
* Press the {MENU} button on the TV's front panel again.

* Use the {CH+} or {CH-} buttons to select a setting.
* Use the {VOL+} and {VOL-} buttons to adjust the value.
* Turn the set off to exit the Service Menu.

Here are some of the 'useful' settings :

RCUT, GCUT and BCUT are known as the colour cut-offs
RDRV, GDRV and BDRV are known as the colour drives
 

zAndy1

Distinguished Member
Well it strikes me that if banding/false contouring is still an issue then Toshiba should be reported to the ASA , they're brochure for the X series says that there are:-

'4 times more colour tones produced than with a conventional LCD TV, creating smooth colour progression for a more realistic image'.

Frankly I'd be staggered if this was still an issue on modern displays, I know it used to be (it was awful on my old LG plasma for example).

Hope you get to the bottom of it, wonder if the Z series will be any better in this respect (although I haven't noticed anything on my 42X3030 to give me cause for concern)
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
CDB / zAndy1, thank you very much for throwing your hats in.

I'll be staying out of the service menus, since I now have a engineer comoing out to check it out, but thanks for the future reference. I am hoping it's a bad calibration issue, rather than a fault or trait of this display...

I wanted to post a few shots of the problem but, as you might know, it's not easy to take a representative picture of the screen, particularly when things are in motion. However, I did managed to capture a pic of Folding @ Home on the PS3 that I felt was a fair representation of what I see on screen in respect to this problem. I had to bump the backlight and brightness up so I could take a fast enough shot to outpace the screen refresh.

It'd be useful to hear from other x3030 owners (particularly 37") with PS3s running Folding if their's looks anything like this:

http://www.zerofee.org/test/x3030_FC.JPG

Other shots of the XMB (purple gradients) and GT Prologue (blue skies) were not really fair representations of the problem, with the camera worsening the posterisation and distorting colours. The shot linked about is a good reflection of the effect in Folding though, and it's a lot worse when it's in motion, as the bands 'jump' around and change colour slightly.

Once again, many thanks all. I'd really like to know if others are seeing this.

Cheers
 

andrewfee

Novice Member
Well, it's not an X3030, but here's a shot of the [email protected] globe on a Pioneer 5080 for comparison:

http://sr-388.net/images/misc/tv/DSCF6754.jpg

The Toshiba LCDs are only using 10-bit colour processing though, and I believe the panel they're using is 8-bit. To completely eliminate these problems, you need 16-bit processing, and a 12-bit panel, and the only displays I know of like that are Eizo's high-end graphics monitors: http://www.eizo.com/products/graphics/cg221/features.asp#16bit

As far as consumer LCD televisions go, the new BRAVIAs with their 10-bit processing/panels should suffer the least posterisation, but I doubt they will completely eliminate it.

I suspect that a lot of this is caused by the PS3 itself though - GTHD is a downloadable game, so I would expect the textures used to be showing signs of compression there, for example.
 

berkeley384

Well-known Member
I have the 37X3030 and downloaded the 720P trailer for ice age 2 from the Playstation network store - the blue sky from the intro is in blocks rather than smooth and gradual

Has anyone else tried this clip? Does anyone elses look like like this?
 

zAndy1

Distinguished Member
Can someone explain to me why LCD TV manufacturers still can't seem to get this right? Surely a blue sky (especially on a CGI movie) should just be blue!
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
@andrewfee - Thanks for the comparison shot - it's certainly better.

I should say that the problem isn't restricted to Folding or GT Prologue - it's present when playing/viewing disc based games on both the PS3 and Xbox360 - it's not a compression issue. I had the Xbox360 source material prior to owning the X3030 and viewed it on a 28" CRT - no gradient issues.

Viewing static gradients via the PS3 browser is as bad, although easier on the eye as they're not moving. TV sources and DVD all display the same problem, but are generally less obvious as the use of gradients is less prevalent.

I don't know how they would compare, but my second monitor at work is a £250 Dell LCD, and it does a better job of rendering this kind of material, as does the screen in an iMac and an Apple Powerbook. I can do direct comparisons by checking test patterns available online across all of these screens. None look as bad as the x3030.

@berkeley384 - I've just done the same thing, downloaded and tested the Ice Age 2 clip and the skies are terrible. It looks like a Toshiba thing (or LCD trait, to be fair), rather than a 'fault'. The detail and colours in the clip are perfect, but the blue skies are rendered as a sequence of glitching blue bands, rather than anything approaching a nice smooth transition of colour.

What I cannot understand is if this is a trait of the panel or LCDs in general, why various reviews or owners are so pleased with the product... It utterly destroys any 'realistic' rendering of a scene from any source and is at worst just distracting, as the bands don't even remain still and consistent - they 'jump' and alter colour occassionally which really draws my attention.

At this rate, the Toshiba's going back. Any recommendations for a 37-42" panel that improves on this problem. I don't mind paying a bit more, because I can't live with this.

It'd be great if more Toshiba (or other brand) panel owners could weigh in on this one, since it seems to be woefully under-represented and ignored in reviews that have praised this product.

Once again, thanks to you all for your feedback and pic!
 

noisecrime

Active Member
Hi Zero Paul,

I'm still monitoring this thread, but don't really have anything more to add than that link to my post in one of the other X3030 threads.

Its starting to look like this might be an LCD issue, but i'd be very interested in what the engineer says when they have a look at your set. Do you have a date for when that might be? Also did you just ring up Toshiba about the issue rather than where you bought it from?

I'd also be very interested if you come up with another brand that doesn't have this problem as I too find it very distracting

Just had a look at your [email protected] globe picture and that is bad, in fact I think its worse than anything i've seen on my set. I'd say what i'm seeing is closer to the picture Andrew posted (although I don't own a PS3 so can't comment exactly), but in temrs of say the Ace Combat 6 demo on the 360, the sky is often banded to the degree that his Globe is.

What confuses me (although I don't own a PS3) is that I assume the globe should be perfectly smooth shaded, yet your picture shows it dispayed as just a few discrete bands, do LCD's really have such few colours due to low bitdepth? If so then why arn't they at least dithered, which I would have thought should be possible to do in this case as there is a lot of colour information being lost between the transitions of the bands. - oh well bit of a rhetoric question I guess.

ps. I tried using the test patterns you posted and a 'linear spectrum' (vertical with spectrum going from left to right) I made in Photoshop, but alas I don't seem to have a way of making sure they are displayed without any scaling. Tested mainly by viewing them as bmp on the xbox and could see definate banding problems, but these could in theory be produced by poor scaling. For example some of the gradient would be fine, then suddenly you'd get a much darker vertical line of the gradient colour. I'll try and have another go later.
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
Hi Noisecrime

The globe should be perfectly smooth and, although I'm aware that this isn't an LCD strong point, a £230 Dell LCD screen can render a smoother gradient than than my £1000 (at high st retail) Toshiba seems unable to do so.

I'm a graphic designer and frequently work with gradient blends on LCD screens - they don't look this bad unless they are undithered 256 colour (ie Web safe colour or pre 1998 display).

I'm waiting for a call from the engineer to come out and evaluate the panel - the point being that it will be assessed as a fault or as a characteristic. I expect I'll see an engineer at some point in the next 10 days and, of course, I'll post the results here.

I can view colour gradients at their original size thanks to the PS3 browser - I can create a test gradient, upload it, then view it via the HDMI 1080p connection. I don't have a DVI - HDMI cable at the mometnt, but I'm going to pick one up and test a gradient from my laptop (a 17" LCD Apple Powerbook) via DVI/HDMI so I can see eactly how the identically produced gradient displays on one screen to the other. I know for a fact that the 17" Apple display performs perfectly well (although not to CRT standard) in these cases, so why can't the Toshiba?

Even with scaling, you should not be seeing the degree of banding that I and others are experiencing. I'll say it again - why do these displays meet with such praise when they are incapable of rendering this kind of scene/pattern correctly? It's like a trip back over a decade when PCs and screens suffered from the restrictions of 8bit colour. At least we could dither the gradient back then for a smoother result.

I have the Ace Combat demo I think, so I'll run it via the component connection and see how it looks on the X3030.

Thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated.
 

noisecrime

Active Member
Thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated.
As is yours, for a time I seemed to be the only one to see this problem ;)

Likewise I used to be a graphic designer, but moved into programming now and to me the banding can be very noticable and something i'd expect back in the days of 16 bit graphic cards. if it is a limitation of LCD's then I don't understand why dithering isn't used, sure its nowhere near perfect but at least better than those bands you can see on the PS3.

As to AC6 once you start the game, let the 'cut-scene' play, i'm pretty sure this is ingame graphics, not pre-rendered ( the shadows on the plane as it taxis are just too harsh, but very good for realtime), when the planes have taken off you get some nice shots of them in formation where i see concentric rings centered on the TV of banding.

Once the game starts, use the right thumbstick to change your view to pointing directly up, so you see the underneath of your aircraft and the sky beyond, here again i see visible banding and its one the screenshots i included in my reply on the other thread.

Trouble with games is you can't be sure if its a problem is with the game engine or not. I'm discounting compression on textures here as I believe a game like AC6 would generate the sky via physical simulation these days as opposed to a high resolution skybox texture.

On the other hand something like Bioshock looks to be doing alot of pixel shader processes on the environemnt which could explain some of the noticable gradeints in it, especially if you set the 'game' brightness too high - there is simply a lack of precision on the graphics card.

I'm thinking i might just ring Toshiba myself, to be covered if this is or isn't a fault. I love the Toshiba, it has so many good points, but this and the high pitch buzz spoils it for me. Just not sure if there is a viable alternative.

thanks for your efforts
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
If you have a design history, then it's no wonder you spot this issue more readily too. It look ridiculous in this day and age.

I'll check that AC6 demo and get back to you - I might have to download it again.

No high-pitched buzz here I'm pleased to say - I think that's backlight related and, even with that set to 100, I hear next to nothing with my head pressed against the casing. I have decent enough hearing too!

I don't believe any of the effects we're seeing are inadequacies on the behalf of the source - PS3, Xbox etc. It equally bad if you watch current Sky adverts via SD sources - a SKy logo on a greyish radial gradient. Current Gen (or previous) consoles output enough colours to avoid this problem to this degree.

Thanks too for your feedback. Let's keep it coming and at least get the problem recognised.
 

berkeley384

Well-known Member
well i went home last night and installed folding home on the PS3 and watched it on the Tosh 37X3030 and it was nothing like what your pictures show- whilst there was some evidence of gradient it was very minimal and I had to look for it to see it
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
Roll the globe around and look at the light and dark sides - I'm sure you'll see a similar effect at times, although perhaps not as bad as the photo I took. At least if your display isn't as bad, there's hope for mine that it's a calibration issue that an engineer can sort out.

Thing is, if the Ice Age 2 clip is showing what you describe (and I can also see when I viewed it), then I think it's likely to be consistent across all Toshiba 37x3030's to a great extent, with just individual settings helping to minimise the effect.

If at all possible, it'd be good to see a photo or two of Folding running on your 37x3030DB for comparison purposes. Thanks for all the feedback!
 

Andee67

Standard Member
The banding on the ps3 is something thats really been bothering me too. I've tried my ps3 on 3 different lcds (2 Funai 32" 720p ones and a 47" LG 1080p set) and the banding was exactly like the picture you posted. There was a thread on the official U.S playstation forums about this too, and people were reporting problems with a number of different brands/models I recall. Motorstorm was another game with an example of very obvious banding, just look at the sky when going over the jumps.

I also tried my ps3 on a SXRD/rear projection Sony Bravia 55a2000, and this banding was not present at all, so i'm beginning to think it must be caused by lcd technology in general. But then, what I can't understand is why my cheap 19" dell monitor doesn't show any banding when gaming or trying those gradient tests on the pc.
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
I've seen the thread on the US PS3 forum and none of it makes much sense - a mixture of people blaming the PS3 and claiming they couldn't see it when using other consoles or that it appeared after a firmware update.

The fact is, it seems to be a LCD issue. Why it's so bad on expensive panels and not a problem on average, everyday desktop models is a mystery to me. I would (and I'm sure many others would too) be really interested in getting a good broad comparison of different brands and their performance in this area, so we can at least make a better informed decision when buying a LCD that's going to see a lot of console usage.
 

zAndy1

Distinguished Member
What's the best number to call Toshiba on regarding this and the lack of 24fps support?
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
I got them on 01159 766958. It has to be said that it's been the best customer support experience I have ever had from any brand. Almost instant replies to email - real people, names, extension numbers and friendly, concerned responses to my troubles!
 

zeropaul

Novice Member
Hi,

I've seen the banding in Ace Combat 6 demo, during the 'ingame' cut-scene when there is a shot looking back towards the formation of planes and if looking up at the sky from beneath your plane via moving the camera.
@noisecrime

I've just download the AC6 demo again to check it out, and it is pretty bad. If you wait until the game comes under your control for the first time, then pull back and roll your plane over so it's flying straight up, you'll see some really rough looking concentric rings, instead of a nice smooth light to dark blue gradient. Nothing like as bad as GT Prologue on the PS3, or Folding @ Home, but since it's a game that's dominated by gradients that form blue skies, it would be horrible to play.

I've spoken to an engineer today, just have to arrange a good date now...
 

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