My HDTV does not have any way to select black levels, therefore even the lowly 480i must be using the same levels as 1080i. And selecting the output resolution on the Comcast DVR does not appear to affect the black level when viewed on the TV using a component connection.
I could feed a converter a 480i signal since it's going to end up at 480 anyway in order to record it with a stand alone DVD recorder. This may save a bit of picture quality since an inexpensive converter would not have to rescale the signal. Now the question is how does the converter affect the S-video output black level.
I have two Panasonic DVDRs & they do have adjustable black levels. Long time ago I played with them and set them back to the default settings which looked correct, at least for me. Neither of these have HDMI so I use component. Of course I could change a setting if need be when using a converter.
The Converter -
Thanks to kjbawc and jjeff in the DVD Recorders forum for the link.http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.22844
This converter, or ones that look like it, is sold by a few vendors. I thought I had an English link to the manufacturers web but do not. BTW, this is not the product that I had asked about black levels. This Lenkeng seems to be the least expensive converter out there and appears to work with many input formats.
It does not look like it has any switch selectable setting for black level. Of course I don't expect a lot considering the price. Since the converter is made overseas they may not even know that North America sometimes uses a different black level and therefore did not make it selectable.
Is it safe to presume that since S-video is not digital that it's black level in North America is different than in Japan?