Originally posted by R Harkness
That is, plasma, like a CRT direct-view set, is an "emissive" light source - the image being made of direct light. There is, to me, an intensity to the image that really seems to recreate the feeling of looking at real, direct light reflected off real, solid objects. That you are looking directly at the scene vs that scene being intermediated by, say, a projector and a screen.
RPTVs, for all they do so well, look like a projected (or rear-projected) image on a screen. Great for recreating the feeling of watching film, but for some of us a projected image never looks as palpable, intense and realistic as achieved by the emmissive light displays...
All that said, I was watching the Qualia yet again today and it is easily the best RPTV I've seen. It really minimizes to a great degree some of these complaints - very smooth illumination and off-axis viewing etc.
Sounds like a classic "video vs. film" debate, which seems to plague mankind. We have a "mixed" household here; my wife loves her PC, and I love my Macs. Somehow we all just get along...
Seriously, though, I understand there's a certain vibrant, lifelike quality to video that is lacking in film. To me a plasma screen has the immediacy of video, but I've alway's felt there was a greater realism with analog displays and film -- until the Qualia. Sony has it nailed, I think, as this set is bright, vibrant, and lifelike, all the while maintaining a smoothness that is analagous to film. And it's only going to get better from here on out! Anyone read that Qualia "white paper" insert in all the magazines, esp. the part about how Sony has the production yield aspect figured out and that this technology is fully scalable? Which means, over the next 6-18 months the price of SXRD (although in a Sony, not Qualia product) will likely be halved, and they can "cut" the SXRD chips to match whatever resolution they want to produce. Combine this with advances in video processor-on-a-chip techology (i.e., Realta) and the implications may be groundbreaking. Just as we've seen video production go from a $150,000 price of entry to $5-$10K with a high-end PC setup, we may be on the verge of true reference-quality imaging that is affordable for everyone, and easy to use and set up to boot.
I played around with DVE (the 1080i version) this evening and was really floored by what this set can do. The footage of the Space Shuttle is simply jaw-dropping. Especially the shot from the cargo bay, with the blue earth below and the inky blackness of space above (yikes; that sounds like Carl Sagan). This footage, and the footage towards the end of the video calibration sequence, is all exceptional.
I spent my time (which was all too brief) trying to set the perfect balance between the picture and brightness settings, as well as figuring out the effect of different settings on PQ. I'll mention my general findings here; please bear with me if I'm not specific enough as this was a quick "first draft" at getting the set dialed in.
First, the geometry on my set is very close to perfect. I'm not sure how big a Qualia pixel is (you just can't see the damn things!), but it must be within 5-10 pixels of being perfect. My image is shifted up and to the left ever so slightly; this is almost invisible even with test patterns. On some of the uniform fields you can tell that there is some light falloff in the corners, but I challenge anyone to see this on actual program content; it is very slight and only occurs on certain fields. My set seems to have some minor red fringing at the very top edge of the screen; with some of the set geometric grid patterns that use white lines along black fields, there is a white horizontal line that is essentially split by the top edge of the display area. It appears with a red fringe or shadow, but this is mostly a case of having the "wrong" type of image appearing in precisely the wrong spot; again, this is never visible on real world material. If I decide to fully calibrate the set I'll see if that's something we can deal with.
The detail on the set is extraordinary, but then we all knew that. What I found is that I was turning off some of the detail enhancement features, and ending up with a (apologies in advance) smoother or more film-like picture. The settings I ended up with are listed below. My deck is the JVC 40K, connected by CV to input 4. After setting according to the test signals -- twice -- I went back to the reference video on DVE and used that to make minor adjustments to some settings.
One other thing. Regarding earlier discussions about plasma vs. RPTV and my characterization of film vs. video: my gut is telling me that these DVHS settings are not going to translate over exactly to the HDMI inputs with my Comcast 6412. When I watch HD content on this box I notice a significant difference in optimum settings for well-done film content versus those required for good HD-video sources. The video simply has a more luminous and saturated quality to it that makes me want to turn down the picture and brightness a tad, and drop the color settings a bit to tone down the red, whereas the box-stock settings (with Pro mode enabled and the color temp set to "warm") look very good with top-quality film-sourced content.
For example, INHD2 was showing their movie trailers tonight and they looked simply fantastic (except for some Comcast compression artifacts that were subtle-but-evident with motion and quick pans). I was most impressed by the "Million Dollar Baby" trailer, especially since I'm really familiar with this film; having seen it twice over the past three weeks I have a very strong sense for what it should look like in a good theater. This is a film with beautifully done cinematography and lots of blacks and shadows, which are (often) punctuated by dramatic beams of light. This happens constantly in the film in dark gyms that are dramatically lit, with frequent dark shadows, and during in-car scenes. The fight scenes are very well lit, and color is used very effectively throughout the film. The lighting and cinematography work to empasize the battle between light and dark that occurs in the film itself.
First, the Q006 does blacks very well, although shadow detail is not perfect. The blacks are rich, however, and though by no means perfect you do not feel "cheated". There were just a few scenes where I felt like a was missing out on the last bit of detail lost in the shadows or darkness, but this felt like it happened infrequently and to a minor degree. I was much more impressed by what the set did right. Smooth depiction of microscopic detail, for example -- you can trace every wrinkle, line, and pore on Clint Eastwood's skin. Same with Morgan Freeman; his face is a great test for detail resolution in a display. Read that sentence again: "smooth resolution of microscopic detail". THAT is the core of this set, IMHO. You get all the detail a 1080P device can provide, but it gives it to you in a form that is without digital flaws or artifacts. It is brutally sharp yet smooth and very easy to look at. After seeing this trailer on the Qualia I knew I'd seen image quality superior to what I'd seen in the theater. For a fim buff that's saying something.
Sorry to ramble on. Let me relate the settings I ended up with on the DVHS input. This was really walking a very fine balance between the Picture and Brighness settings. What I ended up with after several rounds of setting and resetting was:
Settings/JVC 40K deck/CV to input 4
Picture mode: PRO
Color Temp: Warm
Noise Reduction: OFF
Direct Mode: ON
Game Mode: OFF
ADVANCED MENU SETTINGS:
BN Smoother: OFF
Cinema Black Pro: ON
Color Space: Normal
Color Corrector: OFF
Clear White: ON
Detail Enhancer: OFF
Black Corrector: Low
Gamma Correction: OFF
White Balance: NO CHANGE
Afterwards I went back to the reference video material on DVE to confirm everything looked perfect, which it did to me. I then followed that up with the DVHS version of "Moulin Rouge" -- a great test for dark blacks, shadow detail, vibrant colors, and insane amounts of quickly cut frenetic dance scenes. This film looked wonderful, I thought (and I saw it in the theatical release as well). This film's signature color is a deep intense red; what a challenge for any display device, as the colors in this film are as vivid and richly saturated as any I've seen on film. The Qualia handled the film beautifully, with the coup de grace being the scene where Nicole Kidman is lowered from the darkness above into the crowd. The contrast between her pale skin and the darkness of the shadow behind her is striking on the Qualia, as is the perfect color and detail rendition of her skin.
That's about it for my viewing this evening. The more I fine-tune this set the more respect I develop for the Sony engineers, designers, and artists who conceived and built this set. I am convinced that the Qualia will be getting rave reviews from the top buff mags, but no matter what happens you'll have to pry miine out of my cold, lifeless hands to get my Qualia away from me.
Sorry for the length, but it's late and I'm less succinct at this hour. Hope this helps somebody out there, either with enjoying their Qualia more or making the decision to order a set!
"In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."http://www.eff.org/