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Is SD supposed to look like this on my 34HFX85?

03-09-2006, 03:21 PM
DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that the pictures displayed herein are not 100% representative of the true PQ on my TV. I used a 4.0 megapixel Canon digital camera to take them, and I tried to account for glare and other such things as best I could, but I'm not perfect. :]

So here's my problem, gripe, whatever you want to call it. I feel as though SD looks like crap on my 34HFX85. My SD programming is coming out of a DirecTV receiver, which is connected to my TV via S-Video. This is my first time owning an HDTV, and as such, it's the first time I've watched SD programming on an HDTV. I'd like to know if you think SD is simply supposed to look like this, or if perhaps the PQ on my TV is poor.

All of the following pictures were taken with my TV set to TheaterWide 1 mode. All pictures are thumbnails. Simply click on a picture to view it full size.

Example 1: My DirecTV program guide is pictured here.

http://img482.imageshack.us/img482/51/dtvguide013wn.th.jpg (http://img482.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dtvguide013wn.jpg)

Notice the DirecTV logo in the upper right. There is a lot of artifacting around the edges of the logo. This type of artifacting appears during programs and not just in my guide. In addition to the artifacting, I feel as though the lettering is very jagged. Turning off SVM helps to alleviate this problem, but even with it all the way off, the lettering still seems rough.

Example 2: This is a closeup of the artifacting around the DirecTV logo as described in Example 1.

http://img477.imageshack.us/img477/4687/dtvguide021td.th.jpg (http://img477.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dtvguide021td.jpg)

Example 3: This is a closeup of the jagged lettering as described in Example 1.

http://img477.imageshack.us/img477/2046/dtvguide034bb.th.jpg (http://img477.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dtvguide034bb.jpg)

Example 4: Pictured here are the end credits to NYPD Blue, airing on TNT. (TNT was chosen because it represents the overall best looking picture out of all the channels I watch.)

http://img482.imageshack.us/img482/9889/nypdbluecredits1qz.th.jpg (http://img482.imageshack.us/my.php?image=nypdbluecredits1qz.jpg)

Notice how fuzzy the skyscrapers in the background look. Also notice the "patchiness" of the colors in the sky as it fades to a darker and darker orange.

Example 5: Pictured here is a closeup shot of the opening credits to Law and Order, airing on TNT.

http://img482.imageshack.us/img482/884/lawandorder015bm.th.jpg (http://img482.imageshack.us/my.php?image=lawandorder015bm.jpg)

The same "patchiness" described in Example 4 can be seen in the dark blue part of the night sky.

Example 6: Pictured here is another shot from Law and Order.

http://img477.imageshack.us/img477/634/lawandorder025kq.th.jpg (http://img477.imageshack.us/my.php?image=lawandorder025kq.jpg)

What do you think? Is SD supposed to look like this on an HDTV? Are the inherent flaws in a 480i signal simply magnified as a result of the upconversion to 1080i? SD programming looked a lot better to me on my old 27" analog Magnavox.

There's one last thing before I end this post. I believe it's important to note that DVDs played from a 480p player look great. At present, I don't have any means to test out a 720p or 1080i signal as I don't have access to any HD programming. It's just the SD programming that's bothering me.

03-09-2006, 03:52 PM
SD is going to be bad. My 1-99 analog channels look like I'm damn near watchin' them through a snowglobe(okay, maybe not that bad, but still a bit fuzzy). The digital channels look 10 times better; almost like the pics you posted. You just have to remember that you're taking a 480i signal(that renders every other line per frame), more than doubling the resolution by impure upconversion, then re-rendering that image interlaced. It's actually pretty impressive when you think about it that way.

03-09-2006, 04:25 PM
Truman - read this sticky http://www.highdefforum.com/showthread.php?t=2765 for a good explanation of what you are seeing.

On my setup there is hardly any difference between the better analogue and digital SD channels - in fact one of the local PBS stations is on both and the analogue is better!

If you are getting a good DVD picture then there is nothing wrong with your TV. To get the best possible SD PQ calibrate your set with DVE or Avia; or at a minimum turn the Sharpness right down and the SVM to Low or Off.

03-09-2006, 04:26 PM

My 30HFX85 doesn't render my local SD cable signal (Comcast, here in Portland, Oregon) well either. The picture seems blurry, or has mild snow or other artifacts, depending on the channel. My old Sharp 27" SD set does much better.

03-09-2006, 05:52 PM
Thanks for the link, ja2935! And thank all of you for your input. Phew! I feel much better now.

03-09-2006, 07:52 PM
I wouldn't waste too much more time with that set. You should really feed it a 1080i signal to see if you have any of the glow or banding issues.

I brought a 34hf85 from Crutchfield last week, I was looking for a larger set than my current 30hf84. I received it Friday and called to return it the next day. The "white glow" over component and HDMI banding were horrendous. My 30hf84 has its own quirks, but at least it properly displays a 1080i signal. And it looks great! They changed components from the hf84 to the hf85 series and the parts are clearly inferior.

I wound up purchasing a Toshiba 37hl95 LCD. Dimensions are about the same as the 34hf85 and most importantly it's got good reviews.

03-10-2006, 01:02 PM
Do you have any suggestions as to where I could come up with a 1080i signal for temporary testing purposes? I can't get any local HD content OTA. I'm in a valley and my house has a ton of trees around it. Even with a very large roof mounted antenna, over the last ten years, all I've been able to pick up is a single CBS affiliate that hasn't even gone digital yet. I also don't get any HD via my D* service. I'm thinking of cancelling my HBO subscription and getting an HD receiver and D*'s HD package. It'll actually save me a few bucks a month.

Even if I were to go with D*'s HD package, it'll be at least a month before I'm able to do so. I don't know where else one can acquire HD content. Perhaps the XBox 360 will pump out such a signal? I don't believe you can just rent a system like that, though. I don't know if I should go to the trouble of purchasing a console system I know full well I don't want (nor can I afford) and will return almost immediately.

Argh! What a quandary!

03-10-2006, 01:35 PM
Look at your local cable options - chances are that you will only have to lay out about $60 installation fee and you can probably get a twin-tuner HD DVR for about $5 a month on top of your HD fee. These DVRs are fickle so owning one is not really sensible as if your rental goes bad you just get another. There is no contract so if you don't want to stick with cable you've only lost $60! Comcast had a ditch-the-dish offer when I got cable which gave me an HD premium channel and about a 25% saving for 18 months.

WARNING - once you have experienced HD with an HD DVR there is no going back!!!

03-10-2006, 02:56 PM
I live in a very rural area where cable is not an option. Quandary!

Nonnie, after seeing you mention the 37HL95 LCD, I've been doing a bunch of research on both it and the 32HL95. I must admit, I'm very impressed with the number of positive reviews. The amazing thing, too, is that even the 37" would still just barely fit in my entertainment center. There is, of course, a HUGE price difference going from the CRT to the LCD. I got my 34HFX85 on sale for $899.99. The 32HL95 at the same store is $1,699.99, and the 37HL95 is $2,299.99. I'd really hate to drop down in screen size, so I'd want the 37HL95 if I went the LCD route. Aside from price, my only other concern with LCDs is PQ. I'm already dissapointed with SD on my new CRT. I can only imagine that SD would look even worse to me on an LCD. And, as everyone knows, there's the issue of black levels.

If I were to go with an LCD, I'd have to return the CRT and go back to my old 27" analog Magnavox until after I get my tax return. There's no way I can afford the price jump of an LCD right now. Man oh man, why must television shopping be so headache-inducing? :]

03-10-2006, 07:05 PM
Aside from price, my only other concern with LCDs is PQ. I'm already dissapointed with SD on my new CRT. I can only imagine that SD would look even worse to me on an LCD. And, as everyone knows, there's the issue of black levels.
I was out doing some grocery shopping tonight, and my local electronics store is en route to the grocery store. I just couldn't help myself, so I stopped in and took a good hard look at the 37HL95. The PQ of SD as well as black levels is an absolute deal breaker for me. There's no way I can justify the added expense. I would be getting an extra 3" of screen size, but 3" costing me $1400?! The only other slight advantage I could see with the LCD versus the CRT was that HD programming looked just a bit more crisp, and I'm not even sure if that might've had something to do with the signal, whether it was 720p or 1080i.

With reference to SD programming, granted, the store's display model was showing an analog cable signal running through god knows how many splitters. I'm sure I'd be able to achieve better PQ at home. I don't think I'd be able to get much (if any) better PQ than what I've been able to achieve with my 34HFX85, though. Within the next few months, I'm going to upgrade my D* service to include an HD receiver and some HD programming, but even then, the majority of programming I'll be watching for the forseeable future will be SD. I need SD to look as good as possible.

If I ultimately do end up with any white glow or banding issues when I'm finally able to send a 1080i signal to the TV, I'll just take advantage of the amazing 60 month warranty I got from my local electronics store. They're great people, and I'm sure they'll do everything they can to get me a TV that works and looks great.

Going to the store tonight and seeing things for myself has made me all that much happier than I saved some dough and went with the CRT. Now come tax return time, I can splurge and get an ultra sweet surround sound system. :]

03-10-2006, 08:10 PM
The main reason I switched from DTV to cable was because although I could acquire the SD satellite above the trees behind my house, the HD sat is further round and down in the sky! I was all set up for an HD installation but two different installers said I would have to remove trees (the Dish HD satellite is close to the DTV so that wasn't an option either).

So, I hope you have clear sky where you need it!