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ATTENTION HOME THEATRE GEEKS!

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
I have a few quesions for you, as I'm am beginning the process of researching how to best equip our home in the near future, given the advent of DVD's, HDTV and the like.

Here's the deal: I already have a nice audio system consisting of Rotel components and Paradigm Reference speakers. I would like to add onto that rather than starting over completely. I'm in no rush either. If it makes sense to wait a year for all the movie format issues and the like to shake out, I will.

My first question is, are the new flat, wide-screen CRT boxes worth the investment, given how expensive they are to repair (vs. say a projection system of equal size and features)?

Second question is, how does the formatting deal work when dealing with wide-screen sets and DVDs? Particularly HDTV sets that by definition cater to the 16:9 ratio? Seems there are all kinds of movie formats out there, from Letterbox wide-screen to Anamorphic wide-screen at 1.85:1, 2.35:1 and even 2.4:1. Does all this mean that basically, if I spend all that dough on an HDTV set, that it will STILL clip my DVD movies an appreciable amount?

Or is it the case that the ratio has only to do with how much empty or "black" space will appear directly above and beneath the picture - as is the case with most computer monitors? In other words, there will be no clipping, but depending on the format of the movie, more or less vertical space will be taken up by the picture on the 16:9 set?

The most important thing to me is to get a set that will allow me to maximize the viewing area in terms of viewing wide-screen DVD's. In other words, I'd rather have an HDTV-ready set that slightly alters the HDTV picture, and leaves the movies untouched, vs the other way around. I want a real home theatre experience vs a clipped movie experience, to put another way. You want to clip my prime-time shows and sports? Fine, clip away. Just don't clip my movies!

Advice? I'm looking at Toshiba's line of wide-screens btw, so any thoughts geared towards their product line would be even more useful. Sony and JVC is another possibility. Most other brands I won't even consider due to consistent quality issues.

Sound-wise was thinking of adding a Dolby DTS / Surround Pre-amp to my existing Integrated Amp (rather than get an AV receiver), since it has a lot of power, and then just getting a good center channel speaker to add to my two Paradigms...the DVD player should be relatively easy. Was thinking of the Toshiba 2300 since it has a slightly higher resolution than other sub-$300 models and has all the other features I want.

[ 01-15-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]

[ 01-15-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #2 of 52
I just got nice Sony surround speakers and a Panasonic 36 inch Flat CRT. It is not a wide aspect ratio but the price was unbeatable, we got a huge break on it because we bought from the same place that we got some of our new appliances for the new house.

<a href="http://www.prodcat.panasonic.com/shop/templates/square_template.asp?ModelId=11298&show_all=false&p roduct_exists=True&active=1&ModelNo=CT-36H" target="_blank">http://www.prodcat.panasonic.com/shop/templates/square_template.asp?ModelId=11298&show_all=false&p roduct_exists=True&active=1&ModelNo=CT-36H</a> X41


post #3 of 52
[quote]Originally posted by Moogs :
<strong>I would like to add onto that rather than starting over completely. </strong><hr></blockquote>

Sounds like some expensive brands you got there. Best thing I can suggest is to get yourself an outboard Dolby/DTS/etc. decoder. Then connect your amplifiers from there. You'll likely need additional amplifiers to accomodate the additional channels beyond L and R. Maybe a 4-channel amplifier to handle your C, L-rear, R-rear, with your existing stereo amp to handle L and R, and a powered subwoofer to handle the low frequency effects channel. It will be a complicated system, but you said you wanted to "add" onto your current equipment, not replace. Obviously, a simpler setup would be to just get yourself a hi-end home theater receiver that has the decoder and all the amp channels built-in (but that would be sonic blasphemy, wouldn't it? )


<strong> [quote]My first question is, are the new flat, wide-screen CRT boxes worth the investment, given how expensive they are to repair (vs. say a projection system of equal size and features)?</strong><hr></blockquote>

I don't have much info for or against. I would think the decision would be swayed by whether you prefer the "sharper look" of the latest CRT designs over the softer image of a projection type set. You can get a sharp-looking projection TV, but automatically we are talking MUCH more money. Personally, I think the latest CRT designs look great (especially the flat-screen Trinitron designs). There's no comparison in that price range. The only drawback is a limit to overall screen size, in the case you are looking for something like a 50" monster TV of some sort.

<strong> [quote]Second question is, how does the formatting deal work when dealing with wide-screen sets and DVDs? Particularly HDTV sets that by definition cater to the 16:9 ratio?</strong><hr></blockquote>

What do you mean by "clip" your movies. Do you mean chop off the sides of the image? Some sets probably have settings to do just that, but I believe the customary way to handle that is the TV scales the image down so you get the full width of the image with less or more "letterboxing" on the top and bottom of the image. (Basically, what you suspected in the 2nd part of your question.) There's no escaping it really, as movie houses explorer wider and wider formats. 16:9 should cover you for most situations with minimal letterboxing (much better than the standard 4:3 format). ...Or you could wait until some company comes out with a maximum widescreen format (2:1?), but I'm sure the exclusivity of that feature would make such a product quite pricey.

The "cat's meow" would be a "progressive scan" DVD mated up to an HDTV or projection setup that can handle a progressive signal. If you are looking for a svelt home theater setup, it's got to have progressive scan in it! Make sure you ask about this when you shop for your components.
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post #4 of 52
I decided not to get a HDTV because it's not worth it right now.

Firstly, there are only a handful of HD broadcasts. Then you need a $300 converter box or rent it monthly from your cable company. Then you can buy HBo HD, ShowTimeHD and like 2-3 others. So for a $1500+ TV, $300 converter box or $5-1$10/month rental, and $5-10 a month for extra HD channels only to watch about 10-15 HD broadcast if you are lucky.

Worse, is that these HD screens are like what 150 LPI, where as current is 72. What happens with regualr TV broadcast sent in 72LPI format, the $1500 HDTV makes up pixels to fill it's 150-some-odd LPI leaving you with a VERY BLURRY and CRAPPY picture.

Seems like a lot of money to watch 15 channels, DVDs and have the rest of the channels, news, sports, ABC, NBC, HBO, MTV, etc look blurry. Not a good idea which is why I will wait for 2006 or so when everyone switches over to HD broadcasts.

They do have a letterbox tv ratio, panasonic and sony I think.

For speakers, I can't rave enough about my Bose set up. $700 at Circuit City 3 years ago. It rocks.
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post #5 of 52
Oh yes, you are correct that HDTV has a bit of ways to go before its practical benefits bear-out. I didn't mean to be hyping HDTV unconditionally. All I was saying is that getting into a "progressive scan" setup is a desireable thing to consider, and HDTV is a natural thing to support that kind of feature. Since there are progressive scan DVD players and virtually all released DVD's will yield a progressive scan image when used in such a player, that should give you plenty of program material to enjoy with your HDTV. Now whether or not you consider the DVD format (agressively compressed MPEG2 video) as a "worthy" source material for HDTV playback, that's another issue altogether...
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post #6 of 52
Ive got a 120" screen and a projector..... you cant go back after this. If I were you I would seriously have a look at the new Sharp 9000 and Marantz DLP projectors.

Iwent for the Bose AM10 (now 15 I believe) and I love them. Yamaha DSP R795 home theater amp - optical in/out etc a must... along with DTS/Dolby 5.1 etc etc..... i woundt bother too muich about THX - there are so few DVDs which use it.

DVD player - bottom line is that you have to go progressive out. any display/projector that you buy must be able to handle this. You may also want ot consider multi region capability.

HTPC (Home theater PC) is another option..... but htis thread is not really tha place to go on and on..... you need to go to <a href="http://www.avsforum.com" target="_blank">http://www.avsforum.com</a> which is THE place to ask any question about any model to do with home theater (including large lcd/plasma that you seem to be interested in etc) .

Cheers
adam
post #7 of 52
Thread Starter 
120"?? Holy Shite-in-a-handbag!

I saw that Toshiba has a couple of those projectors, but that strikes me as more of a "big-ass-basement" type solution, as no one I know of has room for a 120" screen in their family room!

Randy, thanks for the formatting comments. Sounds like letterbox is simply the term for the black space that occupies the top and bottom of the screen, and that an HDTV screen (at 16:9) should allow for minimal letterboxing with anamorphic wide-screen DVD's...what is the formula for breaking that down numerically? Just divide right? Which would lead me to believe HDTV is also 1.77:1?

As for the amp setup, I think the channel support is there - just have to check the back of the unit. If not, I'll need to get a receiver as you noted. I was just thinking run the DVD audio into the Dolby 5.1 - DTS - Surround (you get the idea) pre-amp, which then runs to the regular amp, which would be connected to the three speakers. I don't think I'll get channels 4&5 unless I really need to. I think a good Center Channel speaker should be the only addition needed in that regard right?

[ 01-16-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #8 of 52
Right, Moogs, a 16:9 display is 1.77:1, so a movie that's 1.85:1 will display with minimal or no black bars (due to overscan), and a movie with 2.35 ratio will display with black bars (but they'll be smaller black bars than if you were watching a 4:3 standard display).

Those who argue that "HDTV just isn't worth it yet" are people who either haven't seen a good HDTV display, or who just watch a lot of cable TV or satellite. It's true, if you're watching standard-def TV programming most of the time, you're just as well off with a regular TV. But if you watch DVDs, you will be blown away by the picture quality of today's HD sets. With a progressive scan DVD player, you can truly have a "just as good as the theater" experience watching movies.

Moogs, I have a Toshiba set (the 50H81) and I feel the Toshibas have the best price/performance out there. The Sonys are good but expensive, and the Hitachis are about the same price as the Toshibas but much softer. I don't know about JVC -- none of the stores I shopped at had any of those on display.

If you're looking at the Toshibas, their current HDTV product line is split into two general categories -- 16:9 widescreen, and 4:3 standard. I didn't seriously consider the 4:3 sets, but they are cheaper for a given amount of screen real estate. They're just a bad choice if you're going to watch mostly DVDs, like me. The 16:9 Toshiba sets are divided into two product lines, with each line having multiple sizes available.

The lines are the "H" line and the "HX" line. Current models end in "H81" and "HX81" with a two-digit number ahead of that (such as 50H81) that indicates the size of the tube. So the 50H81 and the 50HX81 would both be 50" widescreens, but the HX is the "fancy" line and the H is the "normal" line.

The differences between the H and the HX line are as follows: the HX line has a better protective screen (the H screen is very glossy and can give you glare problems if you watch in a brightly lit room), the HX line has better speakers, and supposedly the color control of the HX line is slightly better. Expect to pay $300-500 more at the same size to get the HX.

If I recall, both lines are currently available in 42" (maybe just the H at this size), 50", 57" and 65". I'm sure about the last three sizes but I just know that the smallest size is in the low forty inch range.

Last thing -- going back to the glare screen on the H models.... they truly do suck if you're watching in anything but a dark home theater room. When we set up my TV in our (bright) living room, my girlfriend said "There's no way we're going to able to watch this until after sunset." I did a bit of reading and found that many Toshiba "H" series owners were removing the front screen assembly and taking off the high-gloss protective screen (the screen assembly is actually 3 layers of plastic, only the outer one being high-gloss) and revealing a lower-gloss front end. That's what I did and it made a huge difference (though it was scary disassembling my new, expensive TV and moving parts around).
post #9 of 52
Guys,

One thing everyone seems to ether not know or forget is that back 1997 the FCC ruled that regular NTSC broadcast will stop and that it will be replaced by HDTV ( 2006 ). There isn't the bandwidth for both. If you think this might change well, the FCC is not known for it's reversal of rulings. This was done so broadcasters and content providers would get on the stick and make the change.

I just bought a Hitachi 53" HDTV ( rear projection ). It's so far the best investment I've made. As far as how it handles 4:3 broadcasts you have several options. Fill blows the image up so that the square picture is rectangular. But, it chops off the top and the bottom in the process. Normal puts grey bars ( grey to prevent any burn in ) on the sides. The one I use is Smooth Wide. This stretches the edges of the screen ( in a very subtle way ) to make the image fit the shape.
There is very little picture distortion or loss and it retains all the resolution. Other brands have similar schemes.

If you aren't ready to make the change and still have an old set not to worry you can still use it by purchasing a converter box ( some companies are already working on them ). But, make no mistake HDTV is coming in a big way and will be here in about 4 years.

As for the author of this thread I would recomend getting a rear screen projection HDTV with out the HD tuner if you want to save money ( most HDTV will come from a provider that will have their own tuner anyway ). But, if you are in a hurry you can get some ( small amount ) Direct TV HDTV broadcast now. Ether way it's coming and the amount of programing is going to grow a lot in the next 4 years.

For now I love my new TV. It looks great with DVDs and is the perfect compliment to the rest of my home theater components. For the first time I really have a theater in my living room. One last note I wouldn't buy a CRT based HDTV they are nice but TVs are only getting bigger and movies look better BIG. CRTs are going to be replaced by plasma screens ( still pretty spendy but coming down ) as Steve Jobs has said this is the death of the CRT.

[ 01-16-2002: Message edited by: jimmac ]</p>
Without the need for difference or a need to always follow the herd breeds complacency, mediocrity, and a lack of imagination
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post #10 of 52
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info, Sizzle. Sounds like if I get an HDTV box, the DVD wide-screen format thing won't cause any major viewing issues (like it does on a computer screen). As for the Toshiba, I was actually looking at either the

<a href="http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/34HF81.html" target="_blank">http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/34HF81.html</a>

<a href="http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/36HF71.html" target="_blank">http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/36HF71.html</a>

or

<a href="http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/42H81.html" target="_blank">http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/42H81.html</a>

or

<a href="http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/36HFX71.html" target="_blank">http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/36HFX71.html</a>

or the

<a href="http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/50HX81.html" target="_blank">http://www.toshiba.com/tacp/tv/50HX81.html</a>


but it is frankly confusing as to which ones are the best value for the money. One of the thing that is confusing is the models with the big speakers underneath (the50HX81 and 42H81 I think)...are these things good enough (sound wise) that I shouldn't even worry about getting a fancy center channel speaker, Dolby DTS pre-amp and the like - and just run the sound throught he built-in system?

I don't really care about being able to perceive every little aspect of the sound-stage. I just want clear voices, effects (whether high or low pitched) and at least some feeling of depth when say something is coming at me on screen from front to back or from left or right...I realize without rear speakers the rear-to-front audio effects will be reduced but what's your feeling on this?

I'm not so sure I need audiophile quality for the movies the way I like for my music. Miles Davis is one thing, the Matrix is another, ya know? As far as the other three sets, they look like they just have small speakers on either side of and just below the cabinet. For these I should expect to compensate?

The other thing is aside from the screen glare issues, I don't really know from the specs which features are useful when used in conjunction with a good DVD player and which are just fancy add-ons that are not needed. Active scanning is one thing I should look for right? Seems all four models have this based on what I saw...?

As far as television, I would probably have a dish at the time I buy this system, though I don't know where I will be living. Is it pretty much the case that anything in prime time (I noticed ABC's stuff was all HDTV last night) network slots in HDTV, and anything that is cable-specific (Discovery for example) won't be until 2006?

[ 01-16-2002: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #11 of 52
Moogs,

It's true that cable companies are not being very vocal about their plans for HDTV just yet ( they are still trying to sell the concept of digital cable ) but. they will have to eventually. What ever you do TVs have come a long way in the last couple of years so if you get a new set you will see the benifits even if it's not HDTV just yet.

[ 01-16-2002: Message edited by: jimmac ]</p>
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post #12 of 52
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by jimmac:
<strong>Moogs,

it's true that cable companies are not being very vocal about their plans for HDTV just yet ( they are still trying to sell the concept of digital cable ) but. they will have to eventually. What ever you do TVs have come a long way in the last couple of years so if you get a new set you will see the benifits even if it's not HDTV just yet.
</strong><hr></blockquote>


I'm a little confused here, I thought I had read that if you're watching your show on a wide-screen HDTV machine, and it's pulling in a regular cable, digital cable or analog (antenna) signal, the picture can get very soft and/or distorted because there isn't enough information to fill the larger screen size...sort of like pixelation on a large monitor maybe?

Or will it be the case that anything I watch - even if it's not broadcast in HDTV, will look much better (even on a wide screen) than what I see on my beater 27" RCA?
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post #13 of 52
Moogs,

I used to have an RCA 35" and it was very nice picture but, I will never go back to 4:3. If you are receiving a standard NTSC ( broadcast ) signal you can expect at best 480 lines of res. This is less than half the capability of most HDTV sets and probably 330 is a more average number. I can say without a doubt I like this picture quality better ( however tapes look like crap only 240 lines ). I don't really notice any detail loss and noise is the fault of the NTSC system and the fact that it is analog.
The picture I get is very detailed and most HDTV sets have features that enhance regular broadcast pictures. If you watch DVDs you will go WOW ( the main scene I use to demo this is the scene from Jurassic Park 3 with the dino fight or the attack scene from Pearl Harbour ). DVDs have a very noise free picture and 500 lines of res so you will notice the difference right away. About the VCR don't fret DVD recorders are already here and are coming down in price. But, no I don't notice any softening of the picture. The only thing I notice is that when using the " smooth wide mode " things do stretch a bit at the edges of the screen like a newscasters arm or head when he/she moves from the center to the side but the effect is very small and you get used to it.

[ 01-16-2002: Message edited by: jimmac ]</p>
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post #14 of 52
[quote]Originally posted by Moogs ™:
<strong>
I'm a little confused here, I thought I had read that if you're watching your show on a wide-screen HDTV machine, and it's pulling in a regular cable, digital cable or analog (antenna) signal, the picture can get very soft and/or distorted because there isn't enough information to fill the larger screen size...sort of like pixelation on a large monitor maybe?

Or will it be the case that anything I watch - even if it's not broadcast in HDTV, will look much better (even on a wide screen) than what I see on my beater 27" RCA?</strong><hr></blockquote>


Cable (analog or digital) will almost certainly look WORSE on a big HDTV set, than it does on your regular 27". The noise and compression artifacts are somewhat masked by the pixellation of standard-def sets, but a really sharp tube displays just how horrible a cable signal truly is. Digital is actually NOT an improvement despite what your cable company will tell you (you'll lose the shadows and noise, but instead you'll get worse compression artifacts and softness).

I'm starting to get used to watching cable on my HD set, but it still looks like crap, especially compared to DVD.

My DirecTV will be installed tomorrow, so I'll get to compare that to cable. Here's hoping...
post #15 of 52
One other thing so as not be confusing. If you view a true widescreen source such as a DVD you simply use fill mode ( or whatever it's called by that brand ) which does just that so the screen geometry is normal.
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post #16 of 52
Sizzel Chest,
It's the price you pay for progress. I can remember owning LPs which sounded good on a cheap record player then I got a good stereo system. Snap, crackle, pop. That's the main reason why the CD won out.
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post #17 of 52
[quote]Originally posted by Moogs ™:
<strong> Is it pretty much the case that anything in prime time (I noticed ABC's stuff was all HDTV last night) network slots in HDTV, and anything that is cable-specific (Discovery for example) won't be until 2006? </strong><hr></blockquote>

ABC and CBS have most of their prime-time lineup in HD. NBC only has one prime time show per week (can't remember the name of it -- it's not one of their popular shows), plus the Tonight Show.

Showtime and HBO have a decent amount of programming if you have DishNetwork or DirectTV. I think you have to have Dish for Showtime, but I think you can get HBO on either satellite. Of course you have to have an HD-capable receiver for this.

If you do have an HD receiver then you can get that "over the air" stuff on your local network affiliates. Actually by far the best TV viewing experience available -- better than DVD even -- is the over-the-air HD programming. Man, Alias looks amazing in high def.
post #18 of 52
Thread Starter 
THis comment from Jim

"The picture I get is very detailed and most HDTV sets have features that enhance regular broadcast pictures."

seems to be a direct contradiction to:

[quote]Originally posted by sizzle chest:
<strong>Cable (analog or digital) will almost certainly look WORSE on a big HDTV set, than it does on your regular 27". The noise and compression artifacts are somewhat masked by the pixellation of standard-def sets, but a really sharp tube displays just how horrible a cable signal truly is. </strong><hr></blockquote>


I'm probably not asking the questions in the right way, but I *have* heard that HDTV sets - especially the larger screen models (anything above 34") - reveal all the other signal standards' weaknesses in terms of poor resolution and such. Hence one big aspect of my fear of going HDTV this early in the game.

While DVD's ARE going to be the most important viewing type (and I'm sure I'll be very pleased with those on any of these high-end Toshiba 16:9 sets), I worry that virtually everything else I watch is going ot look like shit unless it's ABC primetime stuff.

Sizzle, let me know how the dish goes. Is it the case that Direct TV signals are of a higher quality than the AT&T Digital Cable? I wouldn't be surprised - seems the latter is totally incapable of producing a clear picture for any but the most brightly lit scenes (sporting events, sitcoms, etc). Anything with subtle lighting transitions or dark scenes (like I dunno, 80% of the movies in existence), it gets blocky as hell on my set. I can't imagine it getting worse, you know...it wouldn't even be watchable. Like a damn QT stream!

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post #19 of 52
One of my friends is a TV engineer, and an expert in HD technology, and he assures me that satellite will look better than any kind of cable. It doesn't really matter that much to me, since I don't watch more than 1-2 hours worth of TV per week (except during college football season, when that goes up by triple or more), but my girlfriend is more into TV than I am so this "DirecTV try-out" is more for her.

Anyway, according to my buddy, you can rank the picture quality of these picture sources accordingly:

1. True HDTV programming (OTA or satellite -- this is how I watch Alias)

2. DVD via progressive player & component inputs

3. DVD via interlaced (standard) player & S-video or composite input

4. OTA "standard definition" Digital TV programming via good-quality HD receiver & component inputs (this is how I watch "Enterprise")

5. Dish Network standard def programming

6. DirecTV standard def programming

7. analog cable

8. digital cable

I've heard SO many stories of people signing up to "upgrade" to AT&T digital cable, and being so disgusted with the lousy picture quality that they ended up calling AT&T back up to "downgrade" back to analog cable. The shadows & noise of analog cable are usually preferable to the blocky compression & softness of digital cable. The big cable companies have gotten greedy and over-compressed their signals by a massive margin, trying to cram more and more digital channels into a fixed bandwidth.

Apparently more customers prefer a larger number of poor quality channels, over a smaller number of high quality channels.... or at least this is what AT&T thinks.

[ 01-16-2002: Message edited by: sizzle chest ]</p>
post #20 of 52
Thread Starter 
That's good to know because we are seriously tired of AT&T's half-assed service and picture quality. We've been thinking about "going dish" for a while now, and the fact that it works better with HDTV / large screen systems makes the decision even easier as far as the source goes. Can you order a Direct TV setup with an HDTV-capable receiver as part of the install, or do you have ot go buy that separately? Or is the HDTV thing decoded once inside the TV itself?

So many questions, so much time.
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post #21 of 52
[quote]Originally posted by Moogs ™:
<strong>That's good to know because we are seriously tired of AT&T's half-assed service and picture quality. We've been thinking about "going dish" for a while now, and the fact that it works better with HDTV / large screen systems makes the decision even easier as far as the source goes. Can you order a Direct TV setup with an HDTV-capable receiver as part of the install, or do you have ot go buy that separately? Or is the HDTV thing decoded once inside the TV itself?

So many questions, so much time.</strong><hr></blockquote>


I'm sure you can call up DirecTV or DishNetwork and say "Send me a 24-inch elliptical dish (necessary for receiving HD signal from 2nd satellite) and an HD capable receiver, and install it please," and they probably would do so.

Right now at Video Only, you can get the Toshiba HD receiver for about $250 off if you agree to sign up for DirecTV for a year, which is what I did. The receivers are usually $500-1000 -- the Toshiba is usually $700. So I spent $139 for the elliptical dish plus installation, and $450 for the Toshiba HD receiver (which receives both DirecTV and digital OTA via a UHF antenna) plus $20 for the dual-bowtie UHF antenna at Radio Shack. As soon as my dish is installed I'll have the best of all worlds!

As for your last question, very few TVs have an HD receiver built-in, and since the HD standards will change eventually, I would strongly recommend against buying one of those (they cost extra). Buy one of the ordinary HDTVs you mentioned, and they will have a component video input for your HDTV receiver, another component input for your DVD player (assuming you have a progressive-scan DVD player with component outputs), and several S-video and composite inputs for your VCR, laserdisc player, camcorder, etc.
post #22 of 52
Moogs,

Well since Sizzel chest and I live in almost the same area our results should be similar. I have regular cable and this is what I see : the top tier channels are pretty clear ( like the SciFi channel 59 ) but as you descend the picture does become more noisy ( grainy ) until you get to channel 3 ( WB ) and this seems noisy in dark scenes. But, it's perfectly watchable unless you are very critical. I don't expect it to be as good as DVD but, to answer your question I do notice more noise than I did with my old set. I don't notice the picture softening however. There are some really bad channels but, they looked bad on my old set also. I do notice the shopping channels seem to come in real clear ( yuk ). The only source I couldn't stand was reg video tape so I bought an SVHS machine which helped a bit ( mainly since it has a Svideo output .

One thing I did do is replace everything ( even the coax ) with Monster Cable to reduce any chance of noise or RF interference getting into the signal ( yes it can get into coax ).

I've set my TV up with the DVD " Video Essentials " going through the component jacks.

I do know something about audio/ video since I've made it my hobby and I used to sell the stuff about 10 years ago ( it's one of the reasons I was hired for my current job at Willamette U ).

Sizzel chest,

I had heard about HD looking better from over the air broadcast. Kind of ironic considering that it was cable that looked better than broadcast back in the good old days.

[ 01-17-2002: Message edited by: jimmac ]</p>
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post #23 of 52
[quote]Originally posted by jimmac:
<strong>
Sizzel chest,

I had heard about HD looking better from over the air broadcast. Kind of ironic considering that it was cable that looked better than broadcast back in the good old days.</strong><hr></blockquote>

HD over the air broadcasts are less compressed than HD satellite programming. I've never seen HD over cable and don't think it's even offered in most markets.

Cable has the potential to look better than it ever did, but the greed of cable companies (see above rant about sqeezing more and more channels into the same bandwidth) is working against that, so the quality is getting worse and worse.

Also the reason you'll see dramatically different quality on different cable channels is because the cable companies bring in different channels from different sources.

My TV engineer buddy swears that the local AT&T cable office takes some of their channel feeds directly off a consumer-level dish (DirecTV type) and re-broadcasts the signal to tens of thousands of homes.

Analog cable in our neighborhood (close-in NE Portland) has certain channels that look horrible (the NBC affiliate, Court TV, KPTV) and others that look pretty good (TV Land... home of Leave it to Beaver re-runs). Across town, my brother is served by a different AT&T office, and he has the same phenomenon -- certain channels look good and other ones look really, really bad -- but for him it's completely different channels.

It just tells me that the cable companies have a lack of respect for quality, and don't care about anything except for squeezing more and more channels into the pipeline. There's a bit of this same problem with satellite (overcompression) but not as bad.
post #24 of 52
For a home theater, I would go with a rear-projection set or a projector. The only reason to get a tube is if you crave detail (jaggies for most DVDs) and have a room where you cannot control the lighting.

DVDs are catered to 4:3 or 16:9. Non of your image will be clipped. Set your DVD player to 16:9 and you will get your imag displayed from end-to-end. With a 1.85 conventional widescreen movie, the black bars will be small. With anamorphic scope (panavision ... 2.35:1) you'll obviously get bigger bars.

I don't really understand why you think anything will be clipped. If you don't have the right settings on your TV and DVD player, you may get incorrectly scaled images, but you won't have any part of your image clipped.

I wouldn't want to watch a streteched image just the same. If you want to watch stuff that only works at 4:3, you can set your television to display it scaled correctly with vertical bars on either side.

If you could illustrate an example where your image would get clipped, please share...
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post #25 of 52
Thread Starter 
Honestly Eugene, before a couple days ago, I didn't know anything about all the formatting options and how using the a different format on a 16:9 screen would look. Basically, I'm asking more than asserting. My goal is to make sure I don't *get* something - some combination of components - that *will* cause clipping or some other kind of distortion when viewing DVD's....

Sounds like all of the HDTV sets and most of of the good players have the capability to ensure the original format is displayed properly though, with some letterboxing as you noted. The only DVDs I have that are more than 1.85:1 are American Beauty (2:35:1) and Fight Club (2.4:1). But if the letterboxing effect is small (say an inch or so of the screen on top and bottom...that's no big deal to me.

I am just trying to get my facts in line so I know what kind of products I should be researching and which I shouldn't consider as part of my system. Frankly Digital Cable is out of the question at this point, as I've experienced their crappy picture quality first hand (without understanding why, because all I got was the marketing hype and not the good stuff being posted here)...so I'm learning as I go.
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post #26 of 52
A small point. If you buy a regular 4:3 set of the same dimensions the letter boxed picture will be larger on a 16:9 widescreen set because of the shape. A friend of mine bought a regular set and I've noticed the difference on the same DVD.

Sizzel Chest,

I see we are in agreement about the state of the cable industry. I don't find your friends claims about how they distribute signals surprising. It would explain why no matter what I do KOIN comes in with horizontal lines ( and I've tried everything filters etc. ) but, at my friends house across town it comes in clear.
They are going to have to do something soon however to address HDTV .

Yes, 60 channels and I think I only watch 3 or 4 them on a regular basis.
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post #27 of 52
Moogs,

I was explaining aspect ratios to a friend the other day. He asked me why Jurassic Park 3 would fill the screen but Star Trek TMP Directors Edition would still be letter boxed. Different ratios.
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post #28 of 52
Your HDTV will be 1.77777x1.

2.35x1 is equivalent to 1.77777x0.7565012

So what does that mean? That means 75.65% of your viewable image area will be movie and the rest will be black bars...Yes. roughly 1/4 of your screen area will be black bars for 2.35x1 movies.

[ 01-18-2002: Message edited by: Eugene ]</p>
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post #29 of 52
[quote]Originally posted by Eugene:
<strong>Your HDTV will be 1.77777x1.

2.35x1 is equivalent to 1.77777x0.7565012

So what does that mean? That means 75.65% of your viewable image area will be movie and the rest will be black bars...Yes. roughly 1/4 of your screen area will be black bars for 2.35x1 movies.
</strong><hr></blockquote>


That's right, but it's not as bad as it sounds (if you haven't seen how it looks, Moogs). It's 1/8 above and 1/8 below. And the thing is, since you can't get a TV any wider than 16:9, this is still the optimal way to watch 2.35:1 movies. The only alternative is to set your TV to zoom in slightly, thus eliminating the black bars at top & bottom, but cropping off the sides of the image as well. I would not recommend that.

To change the subject a bit, I mentioned yesterday or the day before that I was having DirecTV installed. The installation happened yesterday. The actual "on the phone with customer service" part, where you're choosing program packages and giving them all your info, took waaaaay longer than it needed to. I mean, it took so long that my cordless phone battery died in mid-conversation and I had to call back and finish up the process with someone else. Probably it took an hour or so.

But the physical installation of the dish went fairly quickly. I probably could have done it myself in 45 minutes or so, but since Video Only threw in free professional installation, I didn't argue.

The signal itself is exactly what I hoped for -- not perfect, occasionally showing noticable compression or softness, but vastly better than cable. I mean, every channel on DTV (and there a LOTS of them -- I mean, how many Spanish language channels do we need?) looks better than the best-looking channel on cable. The HDTV channels (HBO-HD and Mark Cuban's HD-Net) look AMAZING.

So overall I'm happy. It actually costs the same as standard cable (not counting the fact that I added HBO on DirecTV), but we get more channels (my girlfriend is pretty happy about Lifetime Movie Network.... ughhh) and the quality is dramatically different. We only hooked up my big TV, so the other two TVs (my girlfriend is a TV freak, if you haven't guessed) are still cable-only.

My mission over the next month or two is to convince my girlfriend that we should cancel the cable and install DTV receivers for the other two TVs. I feel that DTV is definitely better than any cable option, and the only drawback is that there are SO MANY channels that surfing through them sequentially is a pain in the ass.
post #30 of 52
I think to tailor the system to DVD watching is the best move. HDTV broadcasting will eventually deliver better quality (it already does) with wider availability but we won't see HDTV DVD's untill a few years after HDTV is widely available.

DVD's can actually come close enough. A progressive scan player playing a SuperBit Anamorphic DVD into a HDTV with a decent quality line doubler will come pretty close to HDTV. Look at VHS and NTSC. However, an HDTV 'ready' set will probably deliver a better performance even on NTSC material (the good ones will up-convert your inputs to 1080i, even though they don't have the tuner for HDTV reception built in)
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post #31 of 52
Thread Starter 
I took a look at several HDTV's today as I happened to be in Best Buy for other reasons... I looked over four Toshiba models.

By far the best picture I saw (thought admittedly it could have to do with lighting or bad setup on some sets) was the 42H81 widescreen projection system. The picture was freaking amazing - even compared to the CRT 34" theatrewide version (which was $500 more expensive!).

In general though I was just amazed at how much better today's projection systems are then a few years ago. They are so much crisper and have much better contrast too. The 42H81 also had what looked to be a decent built-in speaker system though I couldn't tell if it was L, C, R channels or listen to it. I only looked at it. Again though, standing 15 or 20' back from the sets and looking at them all, the Toshibas clearly stood out. Even the 50" 4:3 projection set had a better picture quality than some of the other manufacturer's 16:9 sets.

One thing I'd like to know though, that I couldn't figure, is if I needed a decoder box for the 42H81...and also whether the Sales guy was clueless when he said "Not all HDTV signals are currently broadcast at 16:9, some are 4:3 or modified 4:3" Sounded like a load of crap to me based on what I've read here and researched so far but I could be confused....
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post #32 of 52
Actually that isn't a load of crap at all. HDTV includes a few different resolutions & aspect ratios in the complete spec. There are a few low-bandwidth SDTV specs included. 480 and 540p. These will deliver a standard definition, 4:3, picture, digitally. Broadcasters can use them to deliver up to 4 channels in the space of one HDTV 1080i/p signal. There is also the question of what is the best actuall aspect ratio for HDTV. 16:9 corresponds closely to the human field of view, and it's good for film, but a wealth of broadcast material exists in 4:3 format. Also, Sports might actually be better served by a 4:3 ratio. Remember the wide aspects are great for sensory/cinematic effect, but a 'squarer' picture of the same diagnal has a larger area overall. I seem to recall a few sports casters commenting that action is actually easier to follow on a 4:3 shot, than on a 16:9 shot. Interesting.

Whatever aspect ratio you go for, you'll be watching as much as half your programming with black bars. You just have to decide whether they'll be vertical or horizontal. Movies? 16:9.
Sports? 4:3?
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post #33 of 52
Moogs, remember that often some of the sets in a given store (especially a Best Buy) will be calibrated wrong. I was leaning toward buying one of the smaller Toshibas, because the picture on the 50H81 at Best Buy didn't look as good as the smaller ones. But I really wanted a bigger tube, preferably 50"

When I went to Video Only, they had all the sets calibrated a lot more closely, so you could see that the 50H81 had the same picture quality as the 42H81.

Speaking of calibrated wrong, the Toshibas arrive from the factory with sharpness and contrast cranked to the max, so the picture will look absolutely horrible until you turn the sharpness ALL the way down and the contrast more than 1/2 way down.
post #34 of 52
Dude macintosh, clip your link at the beginning, it takes up too much room and kills the formatting of the page for me (im on 1024X768..damn iMac... thanx

[ 01-24-2002: Message edited by: psantora ]</p>
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post #35 of 52
[quote]Also, Sports might actually be better served by a 4:3 ratio. Remember the wide aspects are great for sensory/cinematic effect, but a 'squarer' picture of the same diagnal has a larger area overall. I seem to recall a few sports casters commenting that action is actually easier to follow on a 4:3 shot, than on a 16:9 shot. Interesting.<hr></blockquote>

I think this is more a case of being overly traditional than being logical. Think about widescreen foot ball action. You'd be able to get entire plays in one shot...a QB pass to a wide out without having to switch to another camera.

Sports broadcasts would merely have to change some things around...new camera angles and stuff. You no longer have to wideangle (zoom out) on many shots.

Maybe some of the surprise is gone when you have a full field of vision...you can leave that up to the telecasters though.
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post #36 of 52
Yeah, it kinda makes sense for football where the teams line-up. But for tennis, or baseball, the taller view might be better. For soccer or hockey, where you primarily follow the ball (provided the image was a high def one) I think it would depend. Both look good from a high overhead 3 quarter view. If your screen is wide you might pan less down the field, which is ussually more horizontal on your screen, but pan more for cross ice/field movement, which is ussually more vertical on your screen. Reverse for the traditional 4:3 set. Interesting, I wonder if there are any tests to see which is least distracting to viewers?

hrrmmmm, you might be right, might just be tradition talking.
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post #37 of 52
Be sure to check out the Home Theater forums at <a href="http://www.avsforum.com" target="_blank">AV Science Forums</a>

The people there know a tremendous amount of information about all of these topics...

[ 01-24-2002: Message edited by: Bozo the Clown ]</p>
post #38 of 52
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bozo. I'll check it out. Doing some more research currently...

Sizzle, after re-reading your comments about the HX line from Toshiba, I think that might be worth the extra dough since it's unlikely we'll be able to build a room in our new house specifically for HT (lighting, acoustics and such). Hopefully the next rev of this line will include a 42" model (42HX91?).

Now I'm looking at the Toshiba progessive scan DVD players but apparently their web site doesn't even list all the currently available models 5700 for example, which is odd.
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post #39 of 52
Matsu, I was thinking being able to have a behind the plate view which included a view of the entire infield.

And yes, about the line of scrimmage thing. In the middle of a play, widescreen would be great for getting a continuous shot from QB to WR or whatever.

I'd love to see what could be done in motorsports too...
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post #40 of 52
[quote]Originally posted by Moogs :
<strong>Sizzle, after re-reading your comments about the HX line from Toshiba, I think that might be worth the extra dough since it's unlikely we'll be able to build a room in our new house specifically for HT (lighting, acoustics and such). Hopefully the next rev of this line will include a 42" model (42HX91?)</strong><hr></blockquote>

I don't know how comfortable you are with basic "handyman" type stuff, but removing the front glare screen wasn't really that hard. It seemed like a scary idea but once I had the thing taken apart, I realized it was a perfectly easy project as long as I was careful. So I saved several hundred $$, since I don't need the better speakers in the HX line since I have everything hooked to home theater receiver & speakers.
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