I now realize this was the place to come a few months ago when I started looking at HDTV's. Oh well, too late. So now I'm looking at DVD player/recorder, etc, whatever.
I just read this whole thread:
I am much like gnrboyd, except that I'm only 10 years behind.
A big difference is that I DO want to watch DVDs on my new recorder, which has been a big issue in looking into DVRs. Not to mention the subscriptions, which are a huge ripoff in my opinion. And most of the DVD recorders I saw didn't have tuners. It was looking like this Magnovox (mdr535h) might be my answer. But....
2 related to this recorder:
Dim color issue and recording too dark... is that just a problem with things recorded ota? In other words, are my store-bought DVDs going to have some issue with this? I can live with it if it's just a few things I record. I'm like gnrboyd - I only record because of time differences (i.e. I work evenings a lot), and just want to watch them later, and I rarely save anything. I don't even care much that it's SD. (I do care, but not enough to spend the extra money.)
I read in a review that the DVD player does not have subtitles. I'm not understanding the comment and am concerned about this. If the movie has subtitles with it, why would the DVD player not display them? I do use them sometimes.
And 2 just general things:
Antenna is better signal than cable? Seriously? Cool, cause I'm using an antenna. My new HDTV using the antenna found 15 channels, and most of them very clear. More than enough for me. The 480p PBS did look a little scrubby.
Also read about DVDs being 480p and not upconverting to anything but 480p with component cable. I'm using component now because my old player doesn't have HDMI (not sure it existed). It looks fine, to me. This is a 39" - maybe it's just not big enough to notice. But that was an odd thing to read - I mean, really 480p for my movies? I have, however, noticed that text can get ghost images and look blocky, at least big text.
There was lots of good info by CitiBear on that other thread - I thank you for that. Things really are more complicated these days. I thought the comment about the idiot-proof VCRs but people couldn't set the clock was pretty funny. I could never figure out why using a VCR was so complicated for people.
The Magnavox recorders play pre-recorded Hollywood DVDs just fine, like any good average DVD player: you should not notice any dim or dark colors when using the unit as a DVD player.
The issue with the subtitles is something that has gained more attention than usual lately. It is confusing because people describe it in different ways, and it can be hard to tell what part of the issue might be a design problem with the Magnavox from what could be user errors and incorrect settings (the Magnavox has a really ridiculous number of subtitle adjustments). However, your specific concern is about the subtitles that already exist as part of commercial movie DVDs: I can ease your mind on that point.
The "subtitle issue" only affects recording and viewing from the tuner, NOT commercial DVDs you buy in a store which might have their own subtitles. Subtitles in Hollywood DVDs are either "hard coded" (embedded permanently as part of the picture) or carried as a separate pre-programmed option in the disc menu. This type of subtitle cannot be screwed up by the Magnavox or its user, because it is not created by the Magnavox itself. The English subtitles of foreign films shown on channels like PBS are usually hard coded into the picture, again not something the Magnavox can mess with.
What some people are complaining about are actually not subtitles, but the "closed captions" (for the hearing-impaired) embedded in the broadcast signal for many TV shows and movies. This is an optional video element that the Magnavox tuner needs to decode from the broadcast on-the-fly and display, Apparently it doesn't always do this correctly and it doesn't always record them correctly. In some cases the issues can be traced to poor settings in the Magnavox Closed Caption menus (font too big or small, bad style, or color, etc). In other cases it gets triggered by our Rube Goldberg digital broadcast system, which has glitches galore including oddball implementation of caption data compared to analog broadcasts. I have not noticed any of these problems personally, but it has been a dealbreaker for some AVS members who rely on captions.
The upconversion topic is another kettle of voodoo, what with mfr BS colliding with user misunderstandings, and different TVs having varying upscaler qualities. Generally the "upscaling" feature in players is so much hooey: all modern flat screen TVs *automatically* upscale all their inputs to whatever their native screen resolution is (720p or 1080p). When you tell your DVD player to upscale as well, you're gilding the lily and the double upscaling can have undesirable effects. So it is usually recommended you set the Magnavox to 480p (the resolution of its tuner, and the standard DVD video spec). You can experiment with other settings, it does help with some TVs. IMO, the single biggest improvement I experienced was when I switched from analog composite or component connections to HDMI: if your TV has an HDMI socket, use that to connect the Magnavox. Set the Mag to 480p + 16:9, and you'll maximize your DVD and tuner playback quality.
Thanks for your thorough reply.
I will admit the black thing bugs me, and I know what you're talking about. I keep knocking the brightness back and forth about 4 notches trying to get it perfect on the new TV. But... I don't record tons and I'm sure I can deal with it, and if all else fails, I can change the setting temporarily, maybe write it down if I find what works.
I actually also use the closed-captioning as well, but on DVDs it's always under the subtitles section, and I tend not to differentiate them. I only sometimes need them, someone who mumbles, accents, old stuff with bad sound recording... I'll have to find those settings and see what I can do. Not really a deal breaker for me since I don't record tons, and since I don't need those all the time. (Some movies don't have them either.)
I am planning to get the HDMI cable, and I will follow your recommendation to leave the "Mag" on 480p. Yes, I do believe it said the TV does the upscaling, and it's supposed to be "true" 1080p or whatever they call it (full HD?), something.
Couple of possible annoyances, but no deal breakers, especially since this still appears to be my best bet given my wants/needs and my budget.
Again, thanks for your time!
Seriously. Cable (and satellite) are compressed signals. That's the only way they can get 2 bazillion channels into one data stream. Compression and decompression affect signal quality. Over the air signals usually only have a few subchannels per frequency, though it can be affected by other factors.
Actually, DVDs are 480i (i for interlaced) meaning only half a frame is displayed at a time, though most players deinterlace to 480p. As Citibear said, it's usually a non-issue since most HDTVs have scalers to upconvert to whatever resolution.
The TV's native resolution is 1080p, but the quality of a source that is 480i or 480p will not be "full HD" even with upconverting. It won't be blu-ray quality, which is native 1080p resolution, but upscaling DVDs from 480p to HD is usually watchable.
Oooh, I love your "quote just this part" method here! I'm used to having to copy front and back tags in manually.
Er, anyway, makes sense. Another good reason not to have cable, though many people think I'm crazy. I don't need 2 bazillion channels, or even 2 mazillion.
Hey, I'm watching it now from my old DVD player with component cables. Since I own no HD, I tried to think of my new TV as buying a digital one, not an HD one. It doesn't look bad t me - guess I'm used to it. (Still playing with settings on the TV and trying really hard not to study it too much.)