Thanks Phil & Maldonian. I understand the whole process a lot better now, thank you.
From what you're saying then, the only 'real' benefit I would see from getting an upscaling DVD Player/Recorder would be that DVD's would be output in 720p rather than 576p thus producing a better picture.
Not quite, the real benefit is that film based DVDs can be more esily read and turned into progressive (576p, DVDs are recorded as 576i or 480i) by the DVD player than a TV as there are flags in the data to tell the player how to deinterlace it. Your HDTV has to do analysis of the frames to work out how to do it and this is more difficult.
Whatever you send to you TV be it 576i/p, 720p or 1080i/p the TV will have to up or downscale it to your TV's resolution (most probably 1024*720 if it is plasma, 1366*768 if it is an LCD). So if you scale it from 576i to 720p or 1080i in the player it only have to be scaled again by the TV.
However, getting the player to output 576p or 720p at least means the deinterlacing has been done by the player and that is an easier job for the player to do right with film based DVDs than for the TV to do.
Running the Freeview box through an upscaling DVD Player/Recorder would mena that there would be 2 conversion processes going on (Freeview, Interlaced, being converted by the DVD Player Recorder to Progressive, then the TV converting back from Progressive to Interlaced), rather than just running it straight to the TV for 1 conversion process from Interlaced to De-Interlaced.
Is that right?! If so then I'm best to run my Freeview box via RGB Scart straight to the TV?
Again, not quite.
If you have a plasma or LCD then (except if it is an hitachi ALIS plasma) it is progressive. It cannot display interlaced material, if has to deinterlace it first. But seeing as the material is not film based and coming from a disk with extra data on it about how to do the deinterlacing then the TV will as good a job (probably better) as the player can. So no benefit of getting the recorder to upscale freeview, all it will mean is 2 scaling steps (to 720p or 1080i and then one to the panel's resolution) intead of 1.
Yes, running the freeview box straight into the TV will mean only 1 scaling step and should mean a less processed, better image.
Best combination is a TV with built in Freeview and a DVD recorder with built in Freeview. That way yo ucan watch one channel (on the TV) while the recorder is recording another from it's own tuner. You can also select programmes to record straight from the EPG like you do with your PVR and later burn to disk. If you use the same recorder to play your disks then only 1 box under the telly.
You could also use a plain recorder to just archive off the recordings from your PVR and have 2 boxes.
Obviously there's some potential quality loss in sending the signal via scart leads between PVR, recorder, TV compared to the HDMI digital ouputs that some recorders have. Outputting a Progressive (576p) signal over HDMI when watching pre-recorded film based DVDs is an obvious benefit.
But, the extra scaling that an "upscaling" DVD player or recorder offers is overrated compared to the scaling that your TV is already doing.
If you were thinking of spending less on the Telly to put the money towards an "upscaling" DVD recorder to get the bestr picture don't - spend the money on the telly (with built in freeview) and some decent leads (£20 shielded scarts should be fine) between it and your PVR.
I'm presuming that HD TV is shot in Progressive format then?? Either in 768p / 1080p otherwise you've got the whole Interlace-DeInterlace thing going on again.
HDTV dramas (Lost, BSG, etc) are usually shot in progressive - the original and best progressive format: 35mm film! And then digitised, transmitted as interlaced (1080i) which means the TV has to deinterlace and scale to the panel size. Depending how well the TV does this and the resolution of the panel a lot of the detail and resolution can be lost.
Why do they transmit in interlaced then? Simple: it takes half the bandwidth of progressive and TV has been transmitted as interlaced since the very start so everyone understands it. The trouble (as this thread explains) is that modern TVs cannot display interlaced images (the whold point of interlacing is that it's a way of transmitting video in less bandwidth for display on CRT displays).
Depending on the cameras used, Sport is either shot in progressive or interlaced but, again, is transmitted as interlaced.
There was some discussion about SKY using 720p for sport instead of 1080i (would show a much clearer image in movement) but this was rejected and SKY and the BBC have gone for 1080i - the viewer is used to seeing some blur in quick moving objects like balls and appreciates the extra detail of the more static elements of the picture that 1080i gives (or so the focus groups said).
HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are recorded in progressive format (1080/24p) and some of the players can pass it to the TV as progressive so no interlacing/deinterlacing ever happens, only scaling to the panel size (and in the case of full 1080p TVs no scaling either).
There, clear as mud?