• 09-03-2006, 08:34 AM
    hermanv
    HDTV upconversion confusion
    I'm looking to buy my second HDTV. The new one will probably be a 1080p DLP set in the 52" to 58" range, currently I'm leaning towards the HP md5880n.

    My first HDTV was a rear projection Toshiba Cinema series. The upconverter was not the best ever seen, worse I bought an early expensive Toshiba progressive scan DVD. Turned out it had an identical upconverter so I paid extra for a converter I already owned. The picture was OK, but not as good as any of the newer microdisplay sets and like most CRT sets; image conversion always needed a little tweaking.

    Now my question concerns the newer upconverting DVD players, although they are far less money than the earliest progressive scan DVDs I'm still confused abut having an upconverter in the player when the TV basically upconverts anyway.

    Any clarification would be much appreciated.
  • 09-03-2006, 09:29 AM
    elapsed
    Hi herman - not all upconverters are created equal. For instance, the new Denon DVD-2930CI ($600) features a Silicon Optix REON VX chip, with HQV TRUE 1080i-to-1080p de-interlacing. This is one of the best Upconverting DVD players ever made, and certainly far superior to the upconverting chip in your TV.

    You may want to take a look at the Oppo 971 ($199) or the Denon DVD-1930CI ($300), both are very capable players in their own right, and should offer far superior upconversion capabilities to your new set.

    The budget upconverting players (under $125) won't make much, if any difference on your set.
  • 09-03-2006, 09:36 AM
    Mr Peabody
    Hi Herman;

    If I understand this correctly the DVD players upconversion that takes place via HDMI will upscale standard DVD for better resolution. Your TV will not upconvert signals received via HDMI. Your TV's upconversion will upgrade analog signals for better picture quality. Before buying either I'd recommend contacting the manufacturer. In the beginning those upconverters were a waste because they wouldn't upconvert copy guarded DVD's. I understand now that this is supposed to have changed. This is only an assumption based on others here and reviewers claim a difference. However, I have never been able to confirm this one way or the other from an industry source. Either they themselves don't understand or they don't mind keeping the consumer in the dark. Edtyct and I sort of have a long standing opposing view on the upconversion of copy protected material. He is certain that upconversion works and he don't believe that copy protection was ever a factor. However, I was in the market for a DVD player when this HDMI first hit the market. I had confirming emails from Sony and Toshiba that told me in black and white they do not upconvert copy protected material. Also the what prompted all this was me reading my owners manual of my LG which plainly says my unit with not upscale copy protected material. Well, I didn't want this unit that wouldn't upscale copy protected DVD's, virtually all U.S. movies are copy protected. In my search for a replacement, I found that none would, except for a Bravo which I was not familiar with and none in my area for preview. I tried again to contact Sony to see if this matter had changed. I talked to a rep who said their unit would but I'm not convinced by this conversation because he said yes to just about everything I asked. You know what I mean? He seemed like he was telling me what he thought I wanted to hear.

    I sent a couple messages to your new email address did you get them?
  • 09-03-2006, 01:32 PM
    hermanv
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Hi Herman;

    If I understand this correctly the DVD players upconversion that takes place via HDMI will upscale standard DVD for better resolution. Your TV will not upconvert signals received via HDMI.

    Hi Br.;
    Does the TV just convert to whatever scan rate is present on HDMI? You might well be correct, but I believe 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p(Blue Ray) are all presented over HDMI


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I sent a couple messages to your new email address did you get them?

    Nope. I'll send you a message and you can add my new address to your address book.
  • 09-03-2006, 01:48 PM
    hermanv
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by elapsed
    Hi herman - not all upconverters are created equal. For instance, the new Denon DVD-2930CI ($600) features a Silicon Optix REON VX chip, with HQV TRUE 1080i-to-1080p de-interlacing. This is one of the best Upconverting DVD players ever made, and certainly far superior to the upconverting chip in your TV.

    You may want to take a look at the Oppo 971 ($199) or the Denon DVD-1930CI ($300), both are very capable players in their own right, and should offer far superior upconversion capabilities to your new set.

    The budget upconverting players (under $125) won't make much, if any difference on your set.

    Although not a commercial specialized scaler, the reviews give the HP set good marks on upconversion, specifically that it does de-interlace the 1080i correctly, the reviewers complaint is that there's so little information at the lower resolutions that 480i looks pretty fuzzy when displayed at 1080p, seems hard to blame the set.

    I know speciallized scalers aren't cheap, but I don't get how a manufacturer can afford a decent one in a $200 to $300 DVD player either.

    This is the reason for my post, I see comparisons between TV1 and TV2 or between Player 1 and Player 2 even between cheap scaler 1 and cheap scaler 2 but never across product boundaries.
  • 09-04-2006, 05:27 AM
    edtyct
    The only signals that a fixed-pixel display won't scale are the ones that transmit digitally (via HDMI or DVI) at exactly the native resolution of the display itself. Any upconverted signal or true HD signal that doesn't match the display's native resolution will require upconversion, or scaling. For instance, if your TV has a vertical resolution of 768p and a DVD player can upconvert 480i to 720p, the TV will need to scale the incoming 720p to 768p. Remember also that upconverted material does not technically change resolution; it simply gets scaled and deinterlaced (via 3:2 pulldown, motion-adaptive processing, interpolation, etc.) so that the fixed-pixel display can show it. Such a display can work only if all of its pixels are activated; if no external component beats it to the punch, it must produce the right pixel count itself. But, in the example, the 480i upconverted to 720p is not the same format as HD 720; the best that it can be is 480p--480 changed from interlaced to progressive, further processed to permit it to be displayed on a digital set. That said, however, material upconverted and sent by a DVD player can produce a measurably sharper picture than the same material not scaled until it reaches a particular fixed-pixel display. The variables are too complex to elaborate here, but as good as the result can be in relative terms, it is never on a par with material that originates as genuine HD.

    The difference between scaled 480 or lower-resolution satellite or cable broadcasts and true HD or ED material on a fixed-pixel display is precisely the cause for consumer complaints about how bad regular TV channels look on their brand-new HDTVs. The better the upconversion, the better will these programs look, and really good scaling is not apt to be found in cable boxes, satellite receivers, or even TVs. Sometimes DVD players implement better algorithms from some of the better companies. Dedicated external processors are the best bet for finicky viewers.

    Notice also that upconversion is associated, first and foremost, with fixed-pixel displays (LCD, LCoS, DLP, plasma)--that is, digital sets with a particular pixel count (1280x720, 1368x768, 1920x1080, etc.). This total number of pixels needs upconversion and deinterlacing of material at 480 or lower in order to show a picture on the full screen. CRTs are not in the same predicament. They can scan 480 lines, as well as 1080 lines, natively (most exclude 720p because it is technically more demanding and because 1080i is, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from it). This is not necessarily to say that signals upconverted to 1080i in a DVD player before reaching a CRT will not have any effect (variables again) but only that upconversion per se isn't necessary in this situation, since CRTs scan 480p natively; HD fixed-pixel sets/projectors don't scan 480 lines natively. Moreover, HDMI transmission, upconverted or not, to a CRT also must undergo D/A conversion (since CRTs are technically analog devices). Keeping the signal in a digital domain, without such D/A conversion, is one of the advantages of HDMI or DVI to a fixed-pixel display. Theoretically, it should result in a sharper picture than an analog feed (component) to a digital set, though a difference is not always evident.
  • 09-04-2006, 06:28 AM
    Mr Peabody
    Not to hijack the thread but since we are talking about conversion, I was once told by a source I thought to be reliable that component was digital, now from what I've read I don't think that is true. My question is when watching HD channels and a non-HD programm comes on, why doesn't the TV convert it to widescreen? I thought maybe because it was a digital broadcast but that can't be it because my TV converts the other digital non-HD channels to widescreen. This is using component.
  • 09-04-2006, 07:34 AM
    edtyct
    Non-HD material that originates as 4:3 will generally stay at 4:3 because an HDTV should simply show it as presented. However, in the early days, the majority of HDTVs would automatically take 480p from DVDs at 4:3 and automatically show them as anamorphic 16x9, thereby distorting them. Newer TVs allow these 4:3 images to be zoomed, in one way or another, to fit the screen without anamorphc stretching.

    A TV program's aspect ratio is completely independent of whether the channel involved originates as digital or analog or whether the signal enters the TV through a digital or analog output. Certain HD stations, and ED stations, broadcast some of their "HD"-material, such as local news, in 4:3. In this case, the 4:3 inset is usually inalterable; the black bars on screen are part of the actual 16x9 transmission. Only the rare TV can zoom them out of sight. Many of the 4:3 shows on HD channels are upconverted to the station's native resolution (1080i for HBO, 720p for ESPN, etc.); they are artificial HD and are easily identified as such by sight. They are often the ones that come across with inescapable black bars.
  • 09-04-2006, 08:18 AM
    hermanv
    Some of this is quite helpful, thanks everyone.

    I had satellite (Direct TV) at my old house now I have digital cable. I will switch back to satellite as the picture on the whole was better.

    The damn HD satellite box has an upconverter, so does the TV set and now it seems wisest to buy a good upconverting DVD player (Do the Blue Ray machines upconvert standard DVDs?).

    One might think that this whole HDTV thing was not as well thought out as it could have been. If I am a typical user, I have paid for 3 mediocre upconverters when for the same money I could have had one decent external one.

    I tried Dish network HD early on and rejected it because their receiver was fuzzy on standard TV broadcasts where the Direct receiver was just fine, this was 6 years ago. Now I note Dish has far more HDTV channels than Direct TV so when I switch back to satellite I need to decide on a service. Comments are welcome.

    I read that Direct was planning to upgrade their HDTV services, but no firm date was set and the newer package might obsolete their current HDTV receivers.

    It's not so much the work of finding the best solution, its spending thousands only to discover you made bad choices and if you only had thousands more you could fix your decisions.
  • 09-04-2006, 08:53 AM
    edtyct
    Both hi def DVD formats upconvert standard DVDs via HDMI. Regarding upconverters, look on the bright side: You probably didn't spend all that much for the upconverters in your TV and various STBs. I agree, to a point, that too many upconverting opportunities are now available along the same input trail. However, since some displays are incapable of accepting both HD formats (mainly 720p), STBs and video receivers have to intercept signals to make sure that their various endusers are covered. And now because more audio receivers are tackling complicated video switching, they have to cover the bases, too. As a result, most of us are covered to a fault. These various upconversions can interfere with each other.

    If you have money, a good external processor (Lumagen and iScan come to mind) can simplify the deal, especially if you can feed it as pristine a signal as possible--480i from an STB or DVD player, for example. The better processors can also scale/ deinterlace to the exact native resolution of any display--480p, 720p, 768p, 1080i, or 1080p--with no residue left over. They will also allow HD signals at the display's native resolution to bypass all processing.

    That said, however, for many people this upconversion by DVD players will be a tempest in a teapot, especially when they learn that upconversion isn't hi def and that all digital displays largely do the same thing, sometimes even after a DVD player has already upconverted, and that CRTs are not likely candidates in the first place. Years ago, at the dawn of DirecTV, I used an iScan to deinterlace 480 from my satellite receiver before it reached my plasma at the time. The picture improved marginally, but the processor couldn't work wonders. If you have a TV that processes internally at 8 bits, certain artifacts will remain regardless of what you do to signals externally.

    Even though good processing slowly trickles down to the consumer level, depending on product, those who own large fixed-pixel displays will continue to suffer the indignity of material that originates at low resolutions. Those who want it to look as good as possible will have to spend some money. However, they'll still be scrambling for as much hi def as they can feed their displays.
  • 09-04-2006, 09:54 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by edtyct
    If you have money, a good external processor (Lumagen and iScan come to mind) can simplify the deal, especially if you can feed it as pristine a signal as possible--480i from an STB or DVD player, for example. The better processors can also scale/ deinterlace to the exact native resolution of any display--480p, 720p, 768p, 1080i, or 1080p--with no residue left over. They will also allow HD signals at the display's native resolution to bypass all processing.

    I learned this lesson after I realized that 480p going to my processor, and ouputting 1080i didn't look as good as 1080p. Or realizing that my 480i going to 1080p didn't look as good as it should. Now I use 480p to 1080p, and 480i to 1080i. I now notice that the picture looks alot cleaner, with alot less artifacting.

    Quote:

    That said, however, for many people this upconversion by DVD players will be a tempest in a teapot, especially when they learn that upconversion isn't hi def and that all digital displays largely do the same thing, sometimes even after a DVD player has already upconverted, and that CRTs are not likely candidates in the first place. .
    Can you explain the CRT comment. I have a upconverting DVD player that looks fantastic going through my CRT.
  • 09-04-2006, 10:34 AM
    edtyct
    Sir TT,

    Unlike microdisplays, CRTs can display both 480i/p and 1080i as native scan formats. Hence, upconversion is not a solution to any inherent problem that they have (except copy protection, which is another matter). CRTs can certainly accept 480i that has been upconverted to 1080i--and it can look great, as you say--but they do not need to upconvert 480i to pseudo-HD resolutions, as fixed pixels do, to show a picture. Arguably, however, 480i upconverted to 1080i might in some cases look better than straight 480p on a CRT, despite the drawbacks of scaling without deinterlacing, since it fills the screen with more data. Distance from the screen might hide the defects to some extent.

    Check your PMs. I sent you a note about the Datacolor Pro that I received a couple of weeks ago.
  • 09-04-2006, 10:38 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by edtyct
    Sir TT,

    Unlike microdisplays, CRTs can display both 480i/p and 1080i as native scan formats. Hence, upconversion is not a solution to any inherent problem that they have (except copy protection, which is another matter). CRTs can certainly accept 480i that has been upconverted to 1080i--and it can look great, as you say--but they do not need to upconvert 480i to pseudo-HD resolutions, as fixed pixels do, to show a picture. Arguably, however, 480i upconverted to 1080i might in some cases look better than straight 480p on a CRT, despite the drawbacks of scaling without deinterlacing, since it fills the screen with more data. Distance from the screen might hide the defects to some extent.

    Check your PMs. I sent you a note about the Datacolor Pro that I received a couple of weeks ago.

    Oh dang, I didn't notice. My huge apologies ole ministry of information on display devices.

    480i to 1080i does tend to look better on my RPTV. However 480p to 1080p is a tad smoother and more refined than 480i to 1080i. Very subtle, but real.
  • 09-04-2006, 10:52 AM
    edtyct
    Yes, progressive options should always look smoother--relieved from interlacing artifacts, and hopefully from jagged lines and motion twitter if the deinterlacing is good.