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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Bluray vs Cable vs Expressvu

I had a good look at all three today. I also saw bluray in action for the first time. Until now I've read some articles talking about how modern movies look so perfect in HD. I've been pretty excited about HD and dreaming about getting a player.
What a disapointment to see the reality.

Bluray review

Bluray's "Click" with Adam Sandler: There's lots of "pepper" black dots everywhere. Also look at the kitchen cupboards in the background - there's purple blotches amidst a yellowish dusty pattern. The black dots and color noise are all throughout the video, except they are not noticeable on bright objects like his white shirt.
I also see the same artefacts I see on DVD, such as a type of shadow outline around edges (what some might call the edge enhancement effect; see the edge of his shirt collar), something people call mosquito noise because it looks like a cloud of mosquitos hovering around objects against a plain background (ie, Ice Age 2, the tree surrounded by snow, for about half the width of the tree is a cloud of mosquitos).
I also see the screen door effect - like some kind of texture is laying on top of the video while the video moves underneath it - like looking out a screen window.
I looked into this further and other reviews of Click put it's quality around 4/5, and I found out it was filmed with a digital camera which might explain it. ( Oct Movie reviews)

Planet Earth
I see banding effects - the very beginning with the sunrise over earth in space, instead of a glow around the sun there is a set of rings of progressively darker shades.
Unfortunately our eyes are very sensitive to this effect, it's called the Mach effect.
Planet Earth also had a poor review. (

Monster House
Looks bad too, a little blocky sometimes. Note however that I did find out that "film-like grain" noise was purposely added to this animation.

Ironically, some very old movies like Battle of the Bulge (1946) and Robin Hood (1936) look better than today's modern films (which are usually scanned in from camera negatives at 4096x3112 resolution).

I found satellite HD to be very blocky. Cable seemed a little better.

I'm not so excited about HD anymore except for the few releases that look nearly perfect.

I wonder if anyone else can see what I'm describing, and how did you not notice it before? It was very obvious to me.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 01:07 AM
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So this begs the question, where were you when you did this comparitive study? Was it at a big box electronics retailer? The reason I ask is because electronics retailers RARELY ever have the proper calibration for the HDTVs or the components that they use to feed them with. In most cases, the HD displays are usually set to the factory preset "torch mode" which maximizes contrast and brightness and colour saturation and sharpness to give the untrained shopper the "WOW" factor when they initially look at the displays.

However, this is far from the optimum calibration settings for HDTV. A proper calibration usually has settings that are far less than the "torch mode" that the instore displays have. They could even be using the least ideal connection type for the component to HDTV, i.e.: using composite cables versus component or HDMI. These things will make an HDTV look like crap if one has a truly discerning eye.

It is true, that satellite HD is more compressed (and therefore blocky) in comparison to cable HD (depending on the service provider). But HD DVD and BluRay should have an even better image than the previous 2 options as they have higher bitrates and thus less compression. Again if you are not seeing a marked improvement with them, then it leaves me to believe that the place where you did the comparison did not have the correct calibration settings or even improper connections and settings for the components.

Here is an FAQ about calibration, as an FYI:

FAQ - What You Need To Do To Your New HDTV

Last edited by Cyclism; 2007-12-18 at 01:20 AM.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by jmac698 View Post
I'm not so excited about HD anymore except for the few releases that look nearly perfect.
I felt like that for a long time. I had a 37" LCD for almost a year with plain old digital cable. But my attitude changed after I brought home a new 52" TV, HD box, and Blu-ray player. Now, it's almost painful for me to watch anything in SD. Now I wonder why I didn't upgrade sooner.

FYI, Click is not considered the best example in terms of picture quality for Blu-ray. There are many more movies with much better PQ. Check out the latest Pirates of the Caribbean.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 09:12 AM
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I'm not so excited about HD anymore except for the few releases that look nearly perfect.
Your observations are definitely outside the norm but that's okay because we're all entitled to our opinions and beliefs.

My advice is that if HDTV is not for you then save your money and spend it on something you will enjoy!
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 09:56 AM
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You may be experiencing the limitations of the HDTV (24-bit color, lossy 4:2:0 color space, not-so-efficient MPEG2 compression scheme of the HDTV broadcasts, limited HDTV broadcast bandwidth, etc.), somewhat poor quality of the video source (f.e. high gain of HD cameras used to shoot both Click & Planet Earth resulting in video noize, etc.), possible compression/mastering issues on BD and so on... There is no perfect world unfortunately, still HD leaves SD in the dust
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 10:04 AM
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I watched Click last night on BD. Not the greatest movie for showcasing HD but it was still decent.

If Planet Earth doesn't WOW you than nothing will.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 04:44 PM
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According to this review of Planet Earth here:

they rated the video at 5 stars out of 5.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 10:16 PM
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Original question by HT gearhead: Perhaps the BD edition isn't as good as the HDDVD??

Edited question by HT gearhead: Perhaps the BD edition the poster saw was the US version which wasn't as good as the BBC edition HDDVD in your link??

Last edited by Cyclism; 2007-12-18 at 10:34 PM. Reason: Putting things in perspective.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 10:22 PM
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HT gearhead:

Nice bit of FUD there, but here is the review of the BD version, also from the same site:

This Blu-ray release of 'Planet Earth' shares an identical 1080p/VC-1 encode with the HD DVD, and, simply put, this disc delivers the kind of breathless demo material that early adopters have been craving. Far superior to the broadcast version, both next-gen editions boast wonderfully stable video, no obvious compression noise, and certainly no pixel break-up.
The PQ was rated exactly the same as the HD DVD version, 5 stars.

Edit: If the poster saw the US version on BD, then the HDDVD version (by Discovery Channel) also suffers from the same production shortcomings, as many review sites have also noted.

Here are the reviews for the HD DVD and BD of Planet Earth, the American version, from same said site. Both rated the same, 4 stars.

With such high bar already set, I suppose it's inevitable that these Discovery Channel HD DVD and Blu-ray domestic releases would disappoint. Presented in a new 1080i/AVC MPEG-4 encode (compared to the 1080p/VC-1 on the BBC/Warner versions), 'Planet Earth (US Version)' is still a feast for the eyes, but there are a few clear deficiencies to that kept it from reaching the same heights as its previously-released counterpart.
However, this topic is not about the HD releases of Planet Earth, so let's get back on topic now, please.

Last edited by Cyclism; 2007-12-18 at 10:40 PM.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 10:44 PM
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So the American version of 'Planet Earth' is not as good as the BBC version. That is good to know as I was going to buy this set in either HD or Blu-ray and now I know to buy the BBC version. Now to decide which player...
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Progress or not?

Thanks for your responses, it's been interesting.

Though I went into detail, it was about an emotional let down, and a technical curiosity of the failure.

As the computer revolution matured, devices got more efficient, smaller, and cheaper, while tube TVs stood out as a technology that hadn't fundamentally changed.

Now that displays have caught up, I was expecting digital camera perfect images. I was excited by the idea of a film-like experience at home, but I was let down.

So why did this happen? There's always been good and bad quality CD's, DVD's, and now HD's. Quality is not a given; proper application is still important. I agree HD is progress, but am dismayed that the "compression look" hasn't gone away. The problems seem to occur across disc formats and codecs, supporting my supposition.

Tricks like sharpening, contrast, and saturation have always been used; but I feel that LCD technology is more consistent by model than tubes, and need less calibration. I feel that the differences are more purposeful, as you say, due to the presentation modes of TV.

It's not these qualities I complained about however; it's the compression artefacts of mosquito noise, screen door, blockiness, and possibly edge enhancement (which could be the TV's fault).

I'm familiar with connection types, have done calibrations. I don't believe this was the issue. I also feel that connection problems are disappearing as HDMI is easier and prevalent.

It's agreed that Click has one of the worst PQ so I should give HD another chance. Planet Earth is awesome material with beautiful scenery. I was just disapointed by the banding; a problem I happen to find distracting. I was let down that this problem wasn't eliminated for good in today's technology.

As another example of "progress", I find that SD TV looks *worse* than it did when it was analog. There's too much compression in the world and so much financial pressure to stuff more content into a smaller pipe in order to maximize profit; the result is more useless content we really don't need. I recall a famous Pink Floyd lyric, "I got 13 channels of sh*t on the TV to choose from".

I'm also glad to know others can see these imperfections, and I realize hype always comes with new technology.

I just think this digital technology is working against itself; compression makes money but looks worse the more you push it. You didn't have that choice with analog, though we are still better off. Here's hoping that x264 will bring excellent pictures to TV and that software updates, familiarization in mastering techniques, new digital film cameras, and dual layers will gradually improve HD discs.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Which Planet Earth?

Most of the time I was so distracted by what was going on, that I had a hard time focusing on the quality of the presentation. This isn't perfect by any means, but it's very good. Detail is consistently solid, but it does have a bit of a filtered video look at times. Banding is noticed more often than I would like, but I imagine that could have been the result of the cameras used. Some of the darker scenes have some noise and blocking, but it's hardly distracting. I did notice some compression noise in some of the busier sequences (like lots of birds), but again this wasn't very disruptive to the viewing experience. I got to watch a few episodes on TV finally in HD, and I would definitely say this presentation is a big step up from the cable broadcast.
Apparently the BBC HD-DVD version was reviewed. I saw a BluRay version but I don't know which one; possibly the most recently released.
Bear in mind it's a great series content-wise; not complaining there.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-18, 11:24 PM
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...but I feel that LCD technology is more consistent by model than tubes, and need less calibration.
Your opinion, however, all HDTVs benefit from a proper calibration, as discussed in post 2. In doing hundreds of setups, I have found that all TVs are inconsistent in their original setup, save for some of the pricier TVs and the Sony SXRDs in the appropriate mode, which still benefit from calibration, but are more consistent in the initial settings.

I also feel that connection problems are disappearing as HDMI is easier and prevalent.
Actually with the advent of HDMI the connection issues have gotten worse. Component video always works when properly set up. HDMI often doesn't work due to handshake issues, etc. See:

FAQ - HDMI Comments/Issues for a "short" list of issues.

I find that SD TV looks *worse* than it did when it was analog.
Here's a thread on SD PQ. Most of the channels that used to and still do reside on the analogue channels look quite good on the SD digital tiers. Most people who have an "all channels digital" option on cable - Rogers (Ontario) and Shaw (Some Cities) will corroborate this. It's often the "extra" channels that suffer from too much compression, or perhaps some of the channels on BEV now that they are quite stretched for bandwidth as discussed in quite a few threads.

FAQ - Why Does My HDTV Have Poor SD Picture Quality? (Mostly for History)

57's Home Theatre (Latest equipment & photos)
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-19, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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57; your post was informative, you're a wealth of information!

I had heard that HDMI had a problem, and component is certainly second best, however, compare

Counting the failures under Video Levels, Blacker-than-black, Y/C Delay;
2005: 9/13=69% fails
2007: 7/11=63% fails

I conclude the majority of players tested (including HD players) have component video problems. We don't know for sure if it's the player or the TV; over component that is. Were your calibrations through purely digital means? Not necessarily the most visible of problems though. There has been a great improvement in frequency response, however.

I was reasoning that a digital input to an essential digital device like LCD would be more consistent in appearence; now I wonder, why is this not the reality?
1 Pressing on panel misaligns polarizers causing dark spots
2 Liquid crystal twists slower at low temperatures
3 DC bias in the driver causes charge retention in electrodes; leads to "burnt in" images on LCD (hey! it can be fixed by unburning with a white image!)
Looking at
It seems that 1, physical stress, caused by poor mounting in the case, can cause a band of discoloration in the display.
Types of tests:
"The ideal IPS LCD, by virtue of its operating principle, theoretically achieves perfect color tracking; however, in actual use, the color tracking is less than optimal due to twist deformation caused by the fixed directors on the alignment layer."
Finally, I really like this lay person friendly, consumer electronics type overview:

It's possible to see how channels are mapped on the prevalent DCT models through the diagnostic menu; after much work you can add up the number of channels assigned to each frequency. Luckily I only get two HD channels per frequency.

Last edited by jmac698; 2007-12-19 at 01:27 AM.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 2007-12-19, 04:17 AM
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I think you are looking for perfection, jmac698. Nothing is perfect in this world. If it was we imperfect humans would feel very out of place. Having said that, I think you should reread the hometheaterhifi review. They gave 'Planet Earth' 4 stars out of 5 for the video, and said that the video wasn't "perfect by any means, but it's very good."

I don't think that 'Monster House' is a very good movie to demo HD. There are many other "cartoons" that look incredible in HD. I saw 'Monster's Inc' a few months ago in HD on ABC and colors and sharpness were incredible on my 119" screen. I could see the fur on the big blue monster--it was just stunning how clear it was.

Not all movies and shows look incredible in HD--some look blurry, and others are way to dark to look good. The one place where HD does shine is with sporting events. Baseball, hockey, football, and basketball in HD make it look like you are right there. HD allows you to see things that even people in the stands or broadcast booth at the games cannot see. Once you watch sports in HD, it is very hard to watch sports in SD.

I have been watching the older Bond movies on MC and for 40+ year old movies they look great in HD. One of the best movies right now for HD quality is the movie 'Hot Fuzz'. Not only is one of the best transfers yet, but is a funny movie as well.
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