Well I have tested three products now. THX Optimizer, DVE HD Basics and Getgray. I have gone back and fourth between these three and they all pretty muh agree on the settings I have arrived at. This tells me that Getgray is accurate in a comparative sense. Each product has it's strengths and weeknesses and I wish they could all be combined together. Here is my interpretation...
NOTE: This is on a Panasonic TH42PZ85 42" Plasma with a Panasonic BD30 BD player over HDMI direct to the TV.
I have the THX Glasses and the Lee Filters as described in the Getgray documentation. Those filters basically match the ones I got with DVE.
NOTE: On all settings, THX and Getgray bascially arrived at the exact same settings. They confirm eachother.
BRIGHTNESS - DVE arrived at the same Brightness using their Pluge Pattern as THX and Getgray arrive at. So all three arrive at the exact same brightness. And that is great! Getgray works perfectly fine in this regard. I would however add to the manual that in digital displays, you can also look really close at the screen and raise the brightness until you see noise in the black background and then lower it until that noise just vanishes and the 2 black bars should still be in view as well. That is almost perfect and works on EVERY brightness pattern I have played with now. Credit for that tip goes to Hometheatermag.com in the experts advice section.
Differences on DVE...
CONTRAST - DVE arrives at a different contrast. This is because of the instructions and not the patterns. DVE tells you to make ALL the WHITE bars distinct. Even the last 2. The last 2 are Maximum White and 5% above White. This is the same as Getgrays pattern but Getgray explains that the correct Contrast setting is when the Above White (Whiter than White) and the Maximum White (100% White) are the same to your eye. At the moment they match, stop raising the Contrast. You can do the same on the DVE pattern. If I use DVE's recommendations for have all the upper white bars (including the last one 5% above white) distinct from eachother, I end up at 70 Contrast or perhaps 80 depending on abient light in the room. If I use Getgrays or THX's instructions I can go as high as 90 or even 100. I guess I find myself wondering... WHY??? Why are 2 different products telling me to do 2 different things? I tend to agree with Getgray and THX though. They describe Video Levels for DVD to be 16 Black to 235 White and that levels outside those two points of the scale are technically not supposed to be shown on DIGITAL FIXED PIXEL DISPLAYS for film where as DVE describes the use of the pattern while all the while refering to CRT displays. This leads me to believe that, while the patterns on all three products are correct, DVE's instructions are not correct for DIGITAL FIXED PIXEL displays. Am I right here? Is that the reason for the discrepancy? Because I can tell you this. At 90 to 100 Contrast (on my TV specifically), the colors and depth of field are superior to if I use 60 to 80 Contrast. I especially notice it in moderately dark scenes. 60 or 70 and even 80 Contrast makes the scene murky in darker spots of the scene. Like an ever so slight milky film look to it. And colors just don't punch right.
COLOR - Color and TINT are the hard ones here too. With DVE, they provide 3 filters. Red Green and Blue. The general instructions are to use the blue filter the same as the other two products recommend in a special pattern to dial in color and then tint. They all do that exactly. If I do that, they all agree on the exact same color and tint settings. But DVE takes it once step further. You can check the Red and Green channels after and you MIGHT have to pull tint one way or the other. Here's my example.... If I dial in Blue channel with a blue filter with the pattern. Bingo. I got it. I can actually dial in Tint to the blue filter as well. All three procuts arrive at 44 color and -6 tint using that. HOWEVER! something was off. I followed instructions. But what's wrong. Well. faces were just a little more red than they should be. WHAT!? Hahahaha. Well. Lucky DVE has a trick up it's sleeve. Green and Red Filters and a pattern that works with all three colors. With TINT at -6 (as recommended by all three products only using BLUE), I then check the RED CHANNEL, red has gone almost florescent! This makes sence as I drove the Tint into a more red position at -6. I check the green channel and Green has been pushed into an undersaturated position. Well ya. I had moved away from Green a touch. The fix is to raise tint away from RED (negative numbers) back towards GREEN (Positive numbers). The right tint level was actually ZERO if I am looking at all three channels as opposed to just blue. Even though the blue filter show tint out just by a hair, the red channel Primaries are perfect and thier tintsfor red and green channels are nearly perfect as well but more importantly, all three primary's are bang on perfect when viewing through the filters. I stuck with 44 Color and 0 Tint.
So here are the awards...THX
Pro's - nearly FREE and very fast and simple to use. Patterns are on all THX DVD's in the options menu but you need a $2.00 pair of glasses shipped to you and that cost me almost $15 at the end of the day. So NOT so free.
Cons - Not always sure you have contrast at it's optimum. Their Contrast test can only tell you when you are too high. But that's all. I would not completely rely on it for 100% correct contrast setting. Just that's it's ok to check if you have overdone it. Completely unable to confirm if your Tint setting has blown out the other 2 primaries of Red and Green.DVE HD Basics
Pro's - Some sample material on the disk but that's mainly fluff. Allows the user to check Red and Green channels as well with Filters. Great for checking if your Tint has blown up your other primaries.
Con's - They sent the wrong Filters. I got no Blue. I cannot contact them for support. No number or email on the official site. I would have to chase Amazon for that and we know where that would lead. Nowhere fast. Use of the Reverse Greyscale RAMPS pattern is described more for CRT and could result in an incorrect Contrast setting on a fixed pixel display. This is only my opinion though and I am just a joe user. See my comments on Contrast above.Getgray
Pro's - Fairly easy to use. Bang on Brightness same as the other 2. Contrast is WAY easier to set with their instructions and the picture ends up resulting in a better overall PQ to me. As a result of the contrast Getgray arrives at (Generally higher than DVE likes), my colors are more vibrant yet still accurate and depth of feild is better as a result as well. This is not because DVE's patterns are wrong. Just the direction given with Getgray about Video Levels 16 - 235 is more accurate for fixed pixel devices (Or I am assuming they are) allowing the user possibly a more accurate Contrast setting. Which in turn gives a better Greyscale which in turn allows for color to look better. ect...
Con's - Would be helpfull to have Red and Green based patterns right after the blue based one? Or at least their uses described and recommended that you get the Red and Green Filters as well to make sure your not pulling Red and Green out when dialing the tint with just the blue filter. The SMPTE pattern they provide works for this but you need to be told (until you already know better) to use the Red and Green Filters.
I am always open to criticism as I understand I am no calibrator. Just going on what I have been reading and using some common sense.