Would a DVD Recorder with Built In Freeview upscale the Freeview picture to 720p?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by zim_zimmer, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. zim_zimmer

    zim_zimmer
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    I've recently posted a thread about getting a 37"/40" HD Ready LCD TV for under £750... I've had suggestions back and on my shortlist is a Samsung 40", Toshiba 37" and a Hannspree 37".

    However now I have had an idea!!

    I read that someone was getting an upscaling DVD Recorder with Freeview built in. This got me wondering...


    Would the DVD Recorder upscale the Freeview picture to 720p and output that to the TV?



    If so then I would look at getting a TV that has a built in Freeview decoder for watching when recording on the DVD Recorder (Does that make sense!?) which rules out the Hannspree as it does not have one. However I think then I may be pushed on my budget?! I currently have a Sharp 80gb PVR with Twin Tuner that I could sell and probably bump my budget up to around the £850 mark... could I get my set up for this?

    37"/40" HD Ready LCD TV
    DVD Recorder with Built In Freeview (probably with built in HDD too for ease of use)




    Thanks
     
  2. bigtim

    bigtim
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    Yes, several DVD recorders do this, inc the sony hxd860, Panasonic ex85 and pioneer 545.

    But, the TV set upscales all inputs to its resolution anyway, it has to display it. By scaling externally to 720p all you're doing is making 2 scaling steps - once to 720p (in the dvd recorder) and then again to the panel's resolution (in the TV set).

    Less scaling steps the better is the general rule.

    Do get a recorder with built in freeview, that way you'll be able to watch different channels to the one being recorded.

    You should be able to get what you want for the money but you'll be compromising on the TV and buying a cheaper set unless you go down to 32".
     
  3. zim_zimmer

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    Really?? I would have thought that a 720p picture being fed into the TV is better than one at 576? I know the original 576 picture would have been upscaled beforehand but I have seen an upscaling DVD player in action and it goes without saying that watching the same film through a normal DVD player does not output the same picture quality as an upscaler.


    I already have a twin tuner PVR... do you think it would be just as good to get an upscaling DVD Recorder without HDD and Freeview and run my PVR through it??
     
  4. maldonian

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    This seems to be a common misconception. There is no reason to assume that an upscaling DVD recorder will upscale any better than a good flat panel TV, so it doesn't 'go without saying' as far as the upscaling is concerned. (Though it might be true if it's an old or cheap TV with a poor scaler. It might also be marginally true in the case of a very expensive top end DVD player with an expensive top end scaler.)

    However, there can be some benefit from using a progressive output when watching DVDs that have been transferred from film - because film is an inherently non-interlaced source. But this improvement has nothing to do with the upscaling ability of the player versus the TV, it's because the TV doesn't have to detect whether it is dealing with interlaced or progressive material when it's fed from a progressive output. You only need a progressive output to get the improvement, not an upscaled one, So it can be a component output set to progressive, or an HDMI output set to 480p or 576p and let the TV do all the scaling.

    If you set the HDMI output to 720p (or 1080i) the TV will probably have to rescale it internally to match the native resolution of the panel, which is 768p in many TVs (and note that flat panel TVs overscan, so the actual scaling involved may not be obvious). So, as bigtim said, you will still be using the scaler in the TV and there will be two stages of scaling instead of one (one in the player and one in the TV) with two lots of scaling artefacts.

    That's the theory anyway. My TVs are all CRT types.
     
  5. aekostas

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  6. zim_zimmer

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    That makes a bit more sense actually... so its the PROGRESSIVE part of the picture output that gives the 'better' picture quality rather than the amount of pixels being upscaled??

    Ok, so if I was to run my Freeview PVR through an Upscaling DVD Recorder that outputs in PROGRESSIVE, the picture I would receive on my TV through that would be better than the RGB Scart output I would get from pluggin the PVR directly into the TV via RGB Scart???

    Or am I getting this confused!!
     
  7. PhilipL

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    Hi

    Freeview is interlaced like all broadcast TV. To display Freeview on any HD Ready TV that can only show progressive pictures, the Freeview signal has to be de-interlaced, this will be done by the TV. So although you are watching a progressive picture, it's from an interlaced source and there is no picture improvement from being progressive. In fact it's worse than it would look on an interlaced CRT TV, and is why many people are disappointed when they move from interlaced TV to a progressive TV that is showing de-interlaced footage because they now have a conversion from interlaced to progressive going on, and this is particularly hard to achieve for good results.

    A DVD recorder outputting Freeview as progressive just means the DVD Recorder has de-interlaced it instead of the TV, so no quality benefits.

    The only big jump in picture quality using progressive is when you have a progressive source and in the domestic home that is generally only from commercial film DVDs. Now outputting progressive into a progressive TV gives you a nice boost in resolution and picture quality.

    Broadcast TV

    Interlaced TV-->DVD Recorder deinterlaces progressive out-->HD Ready TV (a conversion from interlaced to progressive reduces quality).

    Interlaced TV-->HD Ready TV deinterlaces (a conversion from interlaced to progressive reduces quality).

    Interlaced TV-->CRT Interlaced TV (no conversion better picture).

    DVD Players

    Progressive Film DVD-->HD Ready TV (no conversion plus benefit of more resolution in each frame of the picture, needs to be connected via component/HDMI as only those connection methods support progressive).

    Progressive Film DVD (DVD player must interlace the picture for output to CRT Interlaced TV) --> CRT Interlaced TV (conversion from progressive to interlaced, reduction in picture quality and resolution).

    So to summarise, you only see an improvement in picture quality using progressive if the source is progressive and it's remained progressive throughout the chain. A progressive signal to the TV isn't an improvement in itself without a progressive start.

    Hope that helps.

    Regards

    Phil
     
  8. maldonian

    maldonian
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    Only when watching DVDs that have been transferred from film, as I said above. (i.e. cinema films released on commercial DVDs)

    The reason is a bit tortuous so a quick description may not make much sense, but here goes anyway. Most cinema films are projected at 24 frames per second. To reduce flicker each frame is displayed more than once by the projector (for example by using a rotating shutter in the light path). When playing a film that has been transferred to a PAL DVD the DVD player can either produce a 25 frames per second progressive output, or a 50 fields per second interlaced output with the same frame used for odd and even fields. The information in the interlaced output is progressive even though it's conveyed in an interlaced signal. This is different to the interlaced output you get from a TV camera, where the image moves between odd and even fields. Flat panel TVs are progressive displays and they contain a deinterlacer to convert interlaced inputs to progressive for the panel. The deinterlacer has to perform a lot of processing to combine the odd and even fields of a normal interlaced signal where different parts of the image can move in different directions between the odd and even fields, and since there's only so much processing it can do, the result isn't perfect. But if the source is a commercial film on DVD, with no movement between the odd and even fields then all this processing has to be turned off - all the deinterlacer has to do is delay one field and add it to the next to recreate the original progressive signal, there's no other processing needed. But for this to work properly, the TV has to detect whether the interlaced signal it is receiving from the DVD player has come from a progressive source (i.e. a film transfer using a telecine machine) or from an interlaced source (e.g. an interlaced TV camera). This detection can be quite difficult for deinterlacers in TVs to do perfectly and they don't always get it right. When they get it wrong the complex processing, that's only appropriate for interlaced source material, is applied to progressive source material and messes it up. On the other hand a DVD player just needs to look for a flag on the DVD that indicates that the recorded information is progressive (provided the flag is set correctly). This is why it can be better to use the progressive output from a DVD player when playing commercial films on DVD.

    If the material on a DVD has come from an interlaced source, the DVD player has to use a deinterlacer to produce a progressive output. There's no reason to suppose that the deinterlacer in a £50 DVD player or £200 DVD recorder is any better than the deinterlacer in a £1000 TV. So there may be no advantage in using the DVD player's progressive output for interlaced material, and it could easily be worse than using the deinterlacer in the TV. I suspect there could be a greater difference in the deinterlacing performance than the upscaling performance, yet everyone seems to assume they just need better upscaling.

    NTSC DVDs differ in that the TV frame rate is 30 frames per second (actually slightly less) and 24 fps film is transferred using a 3:2 pulldown, i.e. 3 TV fields from 1 film frame, then 2 TV fields from the next film frame, then 3, then 2, and so on.

    This a brief and simplified explanation of a complex topic. For a more thorough explanation (from a mainly NTSC viewpoint) see this article.
     
  9. zim_zimmer

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    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.

    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?


    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.
     
  10. bigtim

    bigtim
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    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.

    Summary:
    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.

    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.

    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? :thumbsup:
     
  11. zim_zimmer

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    Thanks for the advice, I was thinking of getting the Hannspree XV37 (not sure if you've seen the thread about it?) but this is a cheap telly and everyone who has bought it is very happy with it. Only trouble is that it does not have a built in Freeview tuner. I have got some decent scarts already running into the back of my LCD from the Freeview box which has considerably improved the picture that I had running to it before with cheapo leads. So I'm hoping the scaler in a new LCD will improve that picture even more if I was to get that TV.

    I think ideally I would like to do what you suggested in getting a LCD with a built in Freeview tuner and then getting a DVD Recorder with a built in Freeview tuner also. Although this is really gonna push my budget. Obviously I could sell my PVR but that would still only push my budget up to around the £850/£900 mark. The Hannspree at around £500 would be an ideal TV but it does not have the built in Freeview... even so I may just have to buy that TV and stick with the PVR?



    Just wondering, how come all the built in Freeview tuners in TV's provide a much better picture quality than if it was coming form an outside source? Surely the TV still has to de-interlace the picture to show it on the TV?


    Thanks for your help Big Tim!
     
  12. bigtim

    bigtim
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    Spotted the thread but not ploughed through it. The set is very cheap but I'm surprised they're still selling it. I thought all new sets were supposed to have digital tuners now (EU directive or something?) One concern from looking at the spec - it says it take 480i and 480p inputs but no mention of 576p (or 576i but it surely must take that through scarts).

    You could buy the new toshiba 32c3030 for circa £510 with built in freeview, it's had some good reviews (though the off axis pic not as good as the higher end LCDs with S-PVA and S-IPS panels).

    Built in freeview just means less interconnects so less chance for the pic to be degraded - the tuner in the back of the telly is right next to the scaler and the scaler has been developed for the output of the tuner - they ought to produce a better result than a box connected externally. Having said that I think I prefer the freeview pic from my 860 than from my 40w's tuner.

    One word about scaling though - it does not improve a pic per se, it opnly makes it look better on the high res panel. I.e. if you plugged your PVR into a really good SD CRT and then tried the same output in a good HD LCD the pic on the CRT should be better because it hasn't been mucked about with (deinterlaced and scaled).

    With DVD material the principle is not quite as sound as the DVD is a high quality source and will respond better to scaling - you may well find the pic on the LCD better in this instance (if a good DVD player is used, especially one with an HDMI output). Upscaling can't do magic, but start witha high quality input and the output can be good(though nothing like real HD, just really clear for SD).

    So, a few options fall out of that:

    1. Get a tosh for £510 and a DVD recorder with HDMI, HDD (Panasonic EX85 or sony 860. Should do that for less than £850.
    2. Get the tosh and keep your PVR, add a cheap DVD recorder for archiving and another DVD player with HDMI (Say, £750 all in) lot of boxes under the new telly!
    3. Get the hanspree and DVD recorder with HDMI (£800 all in).
    4. keep the PVR, forget about archiving to DVD, Spend the max on a Tosh 373030 (it's out there for £700) or a Panasonic or Sony LCD, save up for a HDMI DVD player at a later date.

    You pays your money..
     
  13. PhilipL

    PhilipL
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    Hi

    Not always. The Freeview picture is better coming from an external source on my Panasonic LCD, noticable in an A/B comparison, the external source has more detail, although if you just switch on and sit back the difference isn't enough for you to know what source you were watching without the A/B comparison.

    Other external Freeview sources have looked very similar, never worse from my experience.

    Regards

    Phil
     
  14. zim_zimmer

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    I think this is the option I'm gonna go for now. Not with the Tosh TV or Panny or Sony (I see you have a Sony yourself!)... I don't know what TV!!

    I was thinking earlier on about the size of the TV. When I buy my new TV I want to be happy with it for the next 3/4/5 years, I'm not gonna be changing this next year or the year after so I was thinking of maybe going bigger than 37" as I may end up regretting buying a 37" within a year wishing I'd bought bigger?!

    What do you reckon? Why did you buy a 40"?
     
  15. bigtim

    bigtim
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    Hi Zim

    Sounds like a fair plan. I went from a 28inch widescreen CRT to my 40inch. I'd looked around and all but decided on a Sony 32v2000 before Christmas. I really fancied a projector but MrsBT was adamant that was not going to happen. Then the 40w came out to great reviews and had 2 HDMIs etc. I wanted it straight away but MrsBT again put her foot down.

    Like you I wanted my set to last and the 32v2500 was not due in the shops 'til after Christmas.. Went along to John Lewis with MrsBT and tiny MissBT and the 32" sets looked pretty small up against the bigger sets on display, I measured a 32" set and found that although the screen was much bigger the actual set was the same size as my 28" CRT. MrsBT finally relented and said "oh buy the bl00dy thing!" Got a really good pricematch deal with the recorder thrown in as part of the package (saved £800 of normal retail at the time).

    When the set arrived and I unpacked it it looked absolutely enormous and I dreaded MrsBT's reaction (she'd already said it would be going back when she saw the box). It satayed enormous for a few nights, but with a new stand and puching it way back into the corner (loads more room in the living room now) we soon got used to it.

    Now the problem is that plasma tellies up on the wall in pubs look small :D

    If you want your tv to last a long time then going bigger is good, but going for better quality is better. 2 HDMIs, good reviews 40" and 1080p convinced me to buy mine (the other possible set being just about to be superceded). If you buy cheap, you'll be upgrading sooner.

    As the thread has shown, it's the quality of the electonics in the back of these sets that really matters when it comes to pic quality so spend what you can to make sure the TV's a good one.

    I would definitely buy a good 32" before a not so good 37" for the same money and the same goes for 37" and 40" Size is good but it's no substitute for quality :blush:
     
  16. zim_zimmer

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    Thanks BigTim... Did some measuring last night. I went into Richer Sounds after work and had like yourself had decided on a TV (37") until I got home, then my GF mentioned that we're spending a lot of money on a TV and that we wouldn't be changing it for a good 3/4 years which is true. So then I got the tape measure out, the 37" I had in mind was the same width as our 32" LCD at the moment!! Fair enough ours has speakers on the side and the new one does not but then we was thinking we might as well try and buy as big as we can!!

    So the hunt is back on for a TV, probably end up doing a trip at the weekend and purchasing something :)

    I did see a Sharp 42" LCD which looked very good on EmpireDirect for £699. Also in Richer yesterday they had a range of LG LCD's ranging from 32" to 42"... the picture was brilliant. The 42" LG was £999 in the shop but found it for £799 on Empire so a pricematch would be in order there. I think at the moment its between these 2, just which one to go for!!


    Any advice??

    Sharp 42"

    LG 42" (I actually think this TV has 2 HDMI's, or so Richer listed it anyway!)


    And maybe this Sammy!!


    Cheers
     
  17. bigtim

    bigtim
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    A mate has the 42XD1E Sharp and says it superb, not sure what the SD1 is like - try a search on the LCD forum and see what owners are saying.

    All those sets are cheap because they're outgoing models but should still be better than a no-brand type.

    If the set you like is at John Lewis then you can get them to price match empire direct and some other stores and they'll throw in a 5 year warranty free (good to have since you're looking to hang on to the set for a few years!)

    Bear in mind how close you will sit though, since you'll only be viewing SD a 42" screen will seriously show up the imperfections of a freeview signal if you're close to it. The same pic will look lots better on a 32" simply because it is smaller.

    If you're on 32" already you simply have to upsize though. I mean, the new TV will be further away won't it (flat against the wall or further back into the corner). I sit about 8 feet from mine.

    Oh, lastly, on your budget you could also go for plasma. The res on these sets is much lower (1024*720 instead of 1368*768) but that means that SD TV looks better on them (less upscaling to do).

    You wouldn't get as much benefit from an HD source like blu-ray, HD-DVD, XBox 360, Ps£, SKY-HD or HD downloads on your PC but this may not bother you if you're not planning to use these sources (it will still work with them in any case).

    Panasonic 37px70, 42px70 and the outgoing 37px60, 42px60 models will be ones worth looking at.

    Happy hunting!
     
  18. zim_zimmer

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    BigTim, thanks again for your help!!

    Yeah we've got a 32" LCD at the moment, not HD, no component, VGA or HDMI inputs. Hence wanting to get a new one!! Our seating area is between 3m - 3.5m away depending on where you would sit.

    So probably about 9/10 feet is that?? Would a 37" suffice do you think? I was watching the footy just now and I don't know whether its because I'm in the 'getting a new telly' mode but the 32" did seem a bit small for the footy!!


    Yeah I notice Plasmas are cheaper... however, the glass fronted screens may well prove a problem with Glare as to where the TV would be situated :(
     
  19. bigtim

    bigtim
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    I've got a 40" at the same distance, Rugby is my game and it is good for that. It seemed huge at first and still looks imposing in the room but I'm used to it now. Only you know what's the right size. 37inch is still a big jump size wise. Obviously 40" or 42" is a bigger jump again but is more money.
     
  20. zim_zimmer

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    I will try and push for a 40"... will have to do some haggling in the shops!!

    I've narrowed my 40"+ search down to:


    LG 42LB1DB

    SHARP LC42SD1E

    SAMSUNG LE40R87BDX / SAMSUNG LE40 N73BDX


    I saw the LG, and Sammy R87 running in Richer Sounds the other day and I have to say I was very impresssed with the picture on that. I would have to say its my favourite at the moment... like I say, will have to try and haggle the price!!
     
  21. Knyght_byte

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    [Mod Comment: can we stay on topic or move to TV section please guys :) :end Mod comment]
     

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