If you allow, please let me state for the record that I have broad ranges of ignorance.
One advantage public boards have is that it gives me time to open mouth, insert other foot, and then learn from those more knowledgeable.
Your (Floydage's) post reminded me that HD CRTs don't have a "native resolution" as such, but instead can drive the electron beam at different sweep rates, so they can display the image in the same resolution as received, no scaler involved, as long as it is one of the resolutions the electronics can recognize and process.
Except that it isn't always so, as I discovered when I tried to disprove what I remembered by spending the afternoon doing some Googling.
It turns out that some models will scale some formats. One forum I came across mentioned various combinations from various posters who had different HD CRT TVs:
- One person had a TV that can accept 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i. However, 720p would be dowscaled to 480p.
- Another person had a TV that can accept 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i; 720p would be upscaled to 1080i.
- Some TVs apparently rescaled 720p to 540p and displayed that same 540-line frame for both odd and even lines to generate (display) 1080i.
- Another person had a HD CRT TV that upscaled everything to 1080i.
So apparently the old rule that HD CRT TVs always had the cathode beams (electrons) sweep the screen at the same resolution as the input signal is just not true; there was just too much variability over the HD CRT TV years and models.
At least the rule of thumb for Plasma and LCD TVs (and variants) is a whole lot simpler: all supported input formats get rescaled to the TV's native resolution.
Originally Posted by Floydage
I thought there are upscaling [to 1080p] DVD players, you know HDMI and all. But I'd beware that some may only put out 1080p, at least via HDMI.
A quick search of the Best Buy site turned up one upscaling DVD player
, which can upscale to 1080p, but it has no component output, just composite and HDMI. For $45, I am wondering if this might be dead stock. Apparently the particular model is a shade over five years old, so the scaler isn't as new as in newer TVs. However, I did manage to locate a manual
that indicates one can configure different HDMI output resolutions, including 1080i and 720p.
Same search found two DVD players at Best Buy that can output 480p on component cables but had no HDMI connections.
Originally Posted by Floydage
The beauty of CRT TVs is their ability to display in native resolution. In fact I didn't know any had upscalers. Of course my HD CRT TV is older than most. And I've yet to hear about one that could natively display 720p. I think it's like 1080p, requires too much power for a CRT (large transformers, cost, etc.). Anyhow in my setup I've found that I like the PQ of displaying 480i in 480i, any upscaling from there just gets foggy (what's the proper video term? ...). 480i on a flat panel looks like crap IMO.
The "foggy" or smeared look might be a need for fine-tune adjustments for HD, or the TV's electron beam might not be able to be focused as sharply as needed for HD. (The "soap opera effect" is where the motion is smooth, not the 24 frames per second judder that some people associate with films so anything smoother just feels wrong to them.)
I don't know if it was normal for multi-frequency CRTs to also adjust electron beam focus so that higher frequencies (higher resolutions) got a narrower beam to get better pixel resolutions and lower frequencies (lower resolutions) to slightly defocus the beam so more phosphors would be illuminated per "pixel" so there would be no gaps between scan lines, which sounds to me like a reasonable way to go but requires more adjustments when calibrating the TV. Otherwise, either one would end up with either a very narrow beam that works great for HD but leaves gaps between scan lines at SD resolutions, or a wider beam that would illuminate phosphors from scan line to next scan line at SD resolutions, but would smear fine details together at HD resolutions.
I managed to miss all that. My "man cave" made the jump from a 480i-only CRT to a 1080p LCD/CCFL (since replaced with a 1080p LCD/LED); and my bedroom made the jump from a 480i-only CRT to a "720 class" (768p) LCD/LED. I have never seen a multi-resolution CRT TV in person, let alone owned one.
As far as 1080p requiring too much power (or too expensive electronics), there may be a point there. I did some thumbnail calculations, simplifying frame rate to 30 or 60 frames per second (instead of 29.97 and 59.94 frames per second):
Resolution Resolution Pixels/Frame Frame Rate Pixels/Second
~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
SD 480i 704x480i 337,920 30 10,137,600
ED 480p 704x480p 337,920 60 20,275,200
HD 720p 1280x720p 921,600 60 55,296,000
HD 1080i 1920x1080i 2,073,600 30 62,208,000
HD 1080p 1920x1080p 2,073,600 60 124,416,000
The number of horizontal lines that the electron beam would need to sweep on the screen per second would be the lines (480, 720, or 1080) times the frame rate:
Resolution Resolution Frame Rate Horizontal Sweep Rate
~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
SD 480i 704x480i 30 14,400
ED 480p 704x480p 60 28,800
HD 720p 1280x720p 60 43,200
HD 1080i 1920x1080i 30 32,400
HD 1080p 1920x1080p 60 64,800
Looking at the above numbers, it is no wonder why many early HDTVs excluded 1080p60: having to sweep the electron beams 64,800 times per second is far higher than any other resolution! And there would likewise be an increase in how fast the intensity of the electron beams have to change.
Looking at horizontal sweeps per second, it isn't that surprising that a few of the early models of HD CRT TVs could take 1080i (32,400 sweeps per second) but not 720p (43,200 sweeps per second) because of the increased frequencies needed for deflecting the electron beams.
I'm glad my HDTVs have all been able to take 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and
As far as SD content goes, I found it really depends on the source material. I find that many DVDs look good on my 50-in 1080p60 TV, even though they lack fine detail (Blu-ray: can often see individual hairs; DVD: can see locks and groups of several hairs but not individual hairs on the head), and for old TV shows the common factor seems to be that they were originally filmed on 35mm film. But if the source material was video tape, even though it is transferred to DVD by the studios, it will generally look poor to awful, with even less detail and often with ringing and other video artifacts. (Compare, for example, "Mission: Impossible" TV show from 1966-1973 or Star Trek (the original series), both filmed on 35mm film, to, say, The The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which was taped and loaded with ringing artifacts.) The 50-in HDTV screen acts like a microscope to make those video artifacts painfully obvious, but they would have gone unnoticed on a "huge" (for the 1960s) 23-in screen when watched from across the room.
However, my very first HDTV had a quirk: if fed a 480i signal, it did a poor job upscaling to the 46-in 1080p screen; but it did a decent job upscaling 480p once I set the DVD player to output progressive. And when I got my first Blu-ray player, I did some tests of using the TV to upscale to 1080p (by using the DVD player) vs. using the Blu-ray player's upscaler to 1080p, and for various representative scenes I just couldn't tell the difference. But I know some people will find one device upscales better than another, depending on their mix of equipment they have and how good their eyes are.
And, likewise, on my other HDTV (the 32-in 768p connected to the cable box), it is similar types of observations: most SD channels look good for a lot of content and look fairly poor for certain programs, and a couple of channels just look awful. (One local access program has the "Midnight Movie" that always looks awful, and that is because they send video tapes to the local public access studios.) And some DVDs that look awful on the 50-in (due to the DVD very accurately capturing the analog tape video artifacts) look poor (yes, less awful) on the 32-in.
But, where possible, I try to get content in the best format and closest to the original aspect ratio that I can find, be it to buy Blu-ray discs where available (for my rather small collection of discs), or preferring Blu-rays over DVDs from Netflix, or streaming from Netflix instead of watching it on cable, or preferring cable HD channels over cable SD channels. But I am one of those who generally value a story more than the desire for HD, and I have watched a rare horrendously poor video because that was the only place I found that title.
But then my life is rather simple. It is those who have what was once leading edge technology but now on the trailing edge that needs to be connected to modern equipment that have a big challenge.
Case in point: I used to have analog cable feeding a pair of VCRs (yes, those old machines that took blank VHS cassettes) for the purpose of time shifting and a third VCR for watching those programs. I also had a bulk eraser and a VHS cassette rewinder. But when Comcast dropped analog cable on October 9, 2012, instead of getting splitters, DTAs for the VCRs, and a coax switch to pick which VCR feeds a TV that needs replacing, I decided instead to drop all that, get a DVR (rather, rent a Comcast DVR), and replace the aging and orange halo on screen TV with a new HDTV (the 32-in 786p TV), and didn't regret it, other than not having done that earlier. And what I have now is far simpler than even back on the analog days, just cable to DVR to TV. And I kept a VCR connected to one of the TVs only long enough to finish viewing the shows I had time-shifted via VHS cassettes.
But back to the original post of this thread: I would get a Blu-ray player, not a DVD player, because then I would have the option of playing a Blu-ray disc and getting the best video resolution I am capable of viewing on the TV, rather than locking myself into viewing only SD content.
And, at least on my HDTVs, the improvement of Blu-ray over DVD is enough (on both the 32-in 768p TV and the 50-in 1080p TV) that I have already replaced a few DVDs with Blu-ray discs, and my future purchases will be Blu-ray where available.