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Critical v Non-Critical Viewing or: Get A Second System And Relax!

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Khorn, Apr 23, 2003.

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  1. Khorn

    Khorn Max Headroom Thread Starter

    Critical v Non-Critical Viewing or: Get A Second System And Relax!

    If you a regular visitor to this site then, like me, you have an above average interest in A/V. I have spent literally thousands and thousands of dollars on audio equipment and software 'cause I take my music very seriously. I'm also critical in my video viewing to the degree that in past I invested in Laserdisc and of course now DVD video. I also have a decent Tosh 50HDX82 that I use for HD and DVD. I'm a "two channel" type of guy and, I am very happy leaving it that way.

    Up until very recently I did all my DVD and "serious viewing" on my main set which was an older Tosh 5288 4:3 52" RPTV. Then, I moved and bought the new HD set and that is where the "problem" if you want to call it that started.

    The first thing that I realized is although the TV is fantastic on HD and really good on DVD as far as standard definition broadcasting (that I receive over cable) it wasn't so great 'specially if you have to use one of the stretch modes to avoid "black line burn in". I find that I will watch only 16:9 HD and SD programming on that set. I also find that when buying or renting DVDs I want preferrably only anamorphic wide screen stuff and if a 4:3 aspect ratio title came along that I or, more importantly, my wife wanted to see we would "pass" on it. So what is the answer?

    In my case we happen to have a second "bedroom" TV, a pretty basic Tosh 27" of about '96 vintage. We used this for the majority of our regular TV viewing as well as time shifting with two VCRs. I started thinking about all the stuff available on DVD like old movies and TV series. I also realized that I had avoided buying/renting them before because my DVD player was hooked up to my HD RPTV and most of this older stuff wasn't "good enough" to watch on the big set as well as being the "wrong" aspect ratio. Remember what I said about my aversion to "stretch modes'"? The obvious answer was to get a second DVD player to use on the smaller set for "non critical" viewing. One problem that I faced was the fact that there was only one set of A/V jacks on that unit. I easily solved that by getting a three way RCA A/V switch from RS. For my second DVD player I got hold of a Tosh SD 3900 and I really like the way it works.

    The benefits from this setup are rather amazing. First, I am ordering TV series sets left and right because I don't really worry about things like how good is the transfer or is it anamorphic. I don't care abou burn in so I can watch letterbox and anything else without a care. Most of the stuff is 4:3 anyway. Hell, I'm even grabbing up any Madacy stuff that looks interesting. The point I am trying to make is now on this second system I can just relax and concentrate on and enjoy the programming for what it is. Sure I still love the really well produced high quality WS anamorphic (whatever) DVDs and that is what my "main" system is all about. I do intend on getting a better second set and I am seriously thinking about an HD 4:3 32" or 35" set that I'll still be able to watch native 4:3 material on to its best advantage.

    If any of you have had similar experience with your viewing I highly recommend setting up a second "Relaxed Viewing" system as I have. The only down side is that you may end up buying tons of DVDs that you may not have considered "worthy" before.

    Enjoy!
     
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    I went the whole route of setting my set up with the proper grey scale, white, etc. Took hours, but when I was finished, discs looked great. Umm, however regular Broadcast cable just looked crappy. Sigh.
     
  3. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    I'm sort of in a one/two/three system dillema right now. I'll be turning the living room into the "home theater" room. I do want to get one of those HD 16:9 sets, but now I'm not sure if I want to. I don't want three systems around the house anymore. I'll have a music-only system in the basement. I'm considering just putting the 27" Mits into the "den", which will be more cozy when I'm done with it, having dark decorating and furnishings, but I won't have room for much more than a couple of simple components there.

    I don't see what's different about watching letterboxed movies on a 4:3 system vs. 4:3 images on a 16:9 set. For that matter, there are too many movies out there that are NOT 16:9...so will those burn in as well, but top and bottom? I would hope these are not being "stretched" in any shape or form just to get rid of the black bands. Are those rear-projection HD sets still in the dark ages as far as burn-in goes? If so, I may just forget HD completely and use the 27" Mits for everything. I shouldn't have to "baby" any equipment that expensive.
     
  4. Khorn

    Khorn Max Headroom Thread Starter

    The 16:9 RPTV sets contain statements in their instruction books that quite clearly point out not to display stationary images (the black bars on either side of a 4:3 image as they can become "permanently engraved in the picture tube. This type of damage is NOT COVERED BY YOUR WARRANTY because it is the result of misuse."

    They specifically mention in detail all the formats that don't completely fill the screen. I don't worry about letterboxed as much because the aspect ratios vary quite widely so the top & bottom "bars" are different with each movie therefore are not the same as the constant size of a standard 4:3 image.

    One thought, if you use the big set for HD and special DVD viewing and use the other set the rest of the time the big one should last and perform better over a longer period of time.
     
  5. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    I think it bothers me more that, for how many years rear projection has been available, they still can't design their way around tubes that "burn in" like that. Heck, my in-laws' rear projection set had the 800# for QVC burned into the bottom of the screen...only over the past couple of years has it burned itself back out. They could find a way to alternate colors in the black areas...maybe use a plain, non-distracting "background" color or something with a pattern that would "frame" the sides, rather than leaving it black, perhaps alternating randomly so no one single color is favored and, therefore, not burned in.

    Thing is, there is a lot I'd like to watch in 4:3 format over the good system...and I'd rather not be paranoid about it. Nor do I want to be relegated to the "old system in the back room" to watch 4:3.

    I may end up waiting for LCD or plasma to get better...I don't want to be accused of misuse for using my chosen video system in a way that I believe should be perfectly normal. With the majority of video sources still being 4:3, it makes no sense. (Think "NHL playoffs". :) )

    But hey, WTFDIK?
     
  6. Gardo

    Gardo Senior Member

    Location:
    Virginia
    Have you complained to the cable company? Their equipment should be able to deliver a standard, calibrated NTSC signal to your set. I've seen cable TV on calibrated sets that looks very yummy, sometimes close to DVD depending on program material.

    Broadcast standards are standards--or should be.:thumbsup:
     
  7. James RD

    James RD Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    I have the Tosh 50Hx82 and DVDs look great. I watch 4:3 movies quite often and don't worry about burn-in. The key is to vary the picture size enough so burn-in can't become an issue. I always watch broadcast TV in the Theaterwide-1 stretch mode. It's considered one of the best stretch modes available. Looks fine to me. Of course, I am used to it now.

    Cable TV is mediocre here. But I mostly watch baseball and TV Land. Nothing like Leave It To Beaver in widescreen.:)
     
  8. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    James is very right about trying to vary the picture size to help prevent burn-in. Also another key thing is keeping the contrast down (calibrated correctly) as opposed to the default "showroom" setting.

    The Toshiba HDX's are nice because the use safer grey bars rather than black. I think the most insane and damaging things on TV are the damn logo bugs and now on the news channels 24/7 scrolls on the bottom.

    My step-father (who's retired now) is obsessed with watching his apt. building's lobby in 4x3 on their nice widescreen HDTV. My mother kepts warning him about burn-in but he feels like he's sitting on the porch watching the city go by...

    Todd

    P.S. Cable TV coming in as clear as a bell has always been a rare thing in my lifetime...
     
  9. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    I've wondered about the Toshiba sets...I think Sam's Club has some good prices on the one or two HD models they carry.

    How does the stretch mode look? Is the image actually stretched (and is it evenly, or stretched at the edges only), or the top and bottom partially chopped off?

    One word: "hockey". :D Especially when the playoffs are on, I'd be watching on the big set.
     
  10. John Moschella

    John Moschella Senior Member

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    Plasma has gotten "better" but they are expensive and the ARE prone to burn in like a CRT. The plasma sets use phosphors in much the same way as a CRT, the main difference is that in a CRT an electron beam excites the phosphors while in the plasma set it is an array of tiny gas discharges.

    I really don't think that watching Casablanca, for instance, is going to create a burn in situation on your 16:9 set. If you want to watch a 4:3 movie it would probably be fine. However if you watched hours and hours of SDTV in 4:3 then you could have a problem. I think the thing to do with a 16:9 set is to use the strech mode for SDTV and if you want to watch a 4:3 DVD just go with it.

    Sets that are not prone to burn in are rear projection devices based on digital light engines like DLP, LCD, DILA etc. None of these suffer from burn-in and there are many of these types of RPTV sets on the market.
     
  11. Khorn

    Khorn Max Headroom Thread Starter

    There are various stretch modes that operate in different manners. For widescreen (letterboxed) movie applications the most used/accepted mode is the #2. Some modes stretch the edges while retaining proper center pespective another stretches evenly and requires "scrolling" to see the cut out parts. #0 or "native" is used for non altered broadcasts like proper 16:9 and 4:3 with the side bars but, the best picture. Full is used for properly proportioned DVDs

    Here is a link to a FAQ at a group I belong to that specializes in this type of stuff and this one is specfically about stretch modes. Scroll down to see Toshiba specific.

    This will explain it better than I can.

    A FAQ about Stretch Modes
     
  12. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    Then that's what I should probably be looking for. I'm even considering a front-projection system using LCD. I worry about the screen, and "little fingers" smudging it up. ;)

    I play a lot of video games too...but even on my old rear projection CRT setup, I never had a problem with it. Probably due to the # of different games I'd played, which were always in motion.
     
  13. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    I'll check it...thanks!
     
  14. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Forum Resident

    Location:
    Funkytown
    This is one of the reasons I like the 4:3 HDTVs (though they certainly are not for everyone).

    16:9 sets digitally process 4:3 images to display them. This processing actually seems to exaggerate any noise in the original 4:3 source. There is only one brand of rear-projection 16:9 sets that I feel does not further degrade 4:3 sources...Pioneer.

    The 4:3 HD sets do not digitally process 16:9 images to fit them on the 4:3 screen. All they do is draw the scan lines closer together (this is done electronically, not digitally) when watching 16:9 material. That's it! No extra scaling and processing. This design, for a CRT based set, allows both types of images to remain as free of processing as possible. And like I said, digital scaling tends to exaggerate noise.

    Me, I have a 53" Sony 4:3 HDTV. It has been ISF calibrated and tweaked to the max. I watch a lot of 4:3 cable, 4:3 (including letterboxed) laserdiscs, 4:3 video games, and so on. And it all looks very good on this set. The fact that my cable is pretty good (better than DirecTV, in fact) helps. In addition to all the regular cable I watch, I get 1080i HD versions of CBS, NBC, ABC (converted from 720p), PBS, HBO, and SHOW, all over cable.

    Another great thing about the Sonys (both 4:3 and 16:9) is that their 3-mode line doubler includes a 960i mode. This is hands-down the best doubling mode I have ever seen for stuff that is sourced from video (like sports).

    But many people would not like the fact that the 4:3 picture is larger than the 16:9 picture. I understand that (though it does not bother me).

    Regardless of what kind of set you buy, to maximize your picture (including stuff like cable), do the following (in order by least to most cost/effort).

    1) Turn the brightness and contrast down to at least 50%.
    2) Turn sharpness down to at least 25%, probably closer to 0%.
    3) If you have a setting labled 'SVM' or 'VSM', turn it off. On some Sonys, this can be done quickest by setting the set in 'Pro' mode. But many other sets also have SVM/VSM modes.
    4) Buy a calibration disc like 'Video Essentials' or 'Avia'. Use it!
    5) Get a full ISF calibration (around $500 or so for an HDTV).
     
  15. AJH

    AJH Senior Member

    Location:
    PA Northern Tier
    Essentially, I did the same thing you did. The second set is used for most cable viewing and non-anamorphic wide-screen DVD viewing. On the 16x9 TV, I usually use the Theater-wide-3 setting for regular cable viewing. My 16x9 is a Toshiba, and it does use gray instead of black bands when you use it in 4:3 mode.

    Depending on what we're watching, I don't usually mind the Theater-wide-3 setting for cable and conventional DVD's, but I have to admit that some TV programs and DVD's (transfers of older movies and TV program source material like The Avengers) do seem to look better on a conventional TV.

    AJH
     
  16. Khorn

    Khorn Max Headroom Thread Starter

    Well, you seem to have found a compromise that suites you well. I still like a full screen 16:9 native HD picture on my RPTV the best and for 4:3 a really top quality HD direct view the best answer in my particular situation. It also gives a second TV which at times can come in handy. The thing that I have to decide now though is which one to buy. Because it will be in a comparatively small bedroom probably a 32" 4:3 HD would be best. I guess from what I can gather it comes down to a Sony or Toshiba.
     
  17. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Forum Resident

    Location:
    Funkytown
    Again, I'm not against 16:9 sets and I don't think 4:3 HD sets are for everyone (or even most people).

    But do keep in mind that a 16:9 image on a 4:3 HD-RPTV and a 16:9 image on a 16:9 are both equally 'native'. If you crack open a 16:9 RPTV, you will see that the same 4:3 (typically 7") CRTs and spherical lenses that you will find in a comparable 4:3 set are being used in the 16:9 set. The raster is electronically squeezed to create the 16:9 image - the same as in the 4:3 set. The difference is that the 'squeeze' is permanent on the 16:9 set, and is just another mode on the 4:3 set.

    In other words, a 16:9 HD RPTV is typically a 4:3 HD RPTV, locked into 16:9 squeeze mode, and with passive screen (mostly plastic and wood) chopped off the top and bottom.

    The space I had only allowed a 16:9 set up to 48" or a 4:3 set up to 53" (they have the same footprint). I went with the taller set.

    The 53" 4:3 set has a 4:3 picture of 1348 sq. in, and a 16:9 picture of 1009 sq. in. If I had gone with a 48" 16:9, I would have had a 4:3 picture of 737 sq. in, and a 16:9 picture of 982 sq. in. I've gained a little 16:9 picture, and a ton of 4:3 picture. The 4:3 set is not narrower, I still have the widest picture I had room for.
     
  18. Khorn

    Khorn Max Headroom Thread Starter

    Your points are well taken, although within a few years I don't think anyone will have a choice in the matter. I understand that as of now ALL manufacturers have ceased production of CRT Direct View TVs above the 32" tube size in the 4:3 aspect ratio. How long before this filters down to the smaller tubes is anyone's guess. I had originally considered the big Sony 40" 4:3 direct view but now I am happy I went the way I did as I will have the 16:9 HD rptv and at least a 32" 4:3 HD direct view.

    At this point I don't quite know where large screen TV is headed. FP can be great if you want to invest $20K+ and the newer DLPs have promise. As far as "flat screen LCD or Plasma type" they don't seem to be oncoming at breakneck speed to a critical price point that I think would be sub 3K for at least a 50" size. It will be interesting to see where things will end up in a few years but for now the thing that I would really like to see the most is HD DVD
     
  19. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Forum Resident

    Location:
    Funkytown
    I don't think that is correct...as far as I know Sony has no plans on dropping the 36" Wega. I have a friend at Sony in California, I'll see if he knows what is up.

    Likewise, Panasonic and Toshiba have 36" flat-tube 4:3 sets in the stores right now.

    Where did you hear this? Not from a blue-shirt, I hope? I've heard every DTV falsehood imaginable from those guys in the last few years. :)
     
  20. John Moschella

    John Moschella Senior Member

    Location:
    Christiansburg, VA
    This is just not the case. Not counting the cost of the sound system which you need for RP or direct view anyway, a really great DLP will set you back about 10k. The HD2 Sharp or Marantz are good examples. These projectors have contrast ratios better than film and look every bit as good as a RPTV. Then you also have the new InFocus DLP FP that uses the same chip and hits the 5k price point. Not only that the Sharp and Marantz have copy protected DVI inputs which will be showing up on DVD players shortly.

    Also, plasma panels will continue to come down in price. Already the price drops have been dramatic. You can now own one for around 5k. They will continue to come down and eventually will cost less than the direct view TVs we have today, at least according to what I have read. LCD panels are another story, the main problems with those are the defect rates and I'm not sure they will be able to compete with plasma sets.
     
  21. Khorn

    Khorn Max Headroom Thread Starter

    Just curious but are those street prices or Retail List Price?

    Up here for many years it used to be the general "rule of thumb" that if you could buy something here at the list price that it carried in the U.S. you were doing OK. Now with the lower dollar it is a bigger difference and prices can be much higher. I do hope that you are right about the Plasma sets though as the space saving advantage to those is great.

    My Tosh has a DVI input and I hear it is already on or will be on cable boxes in the near future.
     
  22. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    I think a plasma panel can be had from Sam's Club, locally, for well under $5,000...I keep thinking I saw it for $4389. ??? I like the idea of plasma (flat panel, no floor space), but not the high price or the sub-par picture. Then again, Sam's Club isn't the ideal place to compare it...anything there looks bad under those conditions.
     
  23. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    I wonder if Mits still sells a 40" tube? Came close to getting one of those behemoths a few years ago.

    As for the blue shirts, I've reached the conclusion long ago that they're a bunch of f**king idiots, rattling out corporate-speak from the home office. (There may be a few good ones there, but for the most part... :rolleyes: ) The falsehoods aren't limited to the video department either. I've heard that DirecTV dishes rotate to pick up different satellites. :mad: And have heard enough bad information from their computer department that I wouldn't ask them the time of day. They were only good for hit-and-run shopping--go in knowing what you want, and heading right for the checkout. :D

    It's no wonder the high-end audio/home theater salons stay in business.
     
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