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SD on a plasma; how bad is it?  

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've been researching for some time now and I'm really getting a bit nervous about SD. I'm looking to become a first time plasma, first time HDTV owner.

My TV usage breaks down like this:
40% recorded movies on DirecTV DVR (some will be HD)
25% sports (mix of HD and SD; mostly SD)
20% SD over DirecTV (news, weather, very few TV shows)
10% DVDs
5% Video Games/PC use

As you can see I have a fair amount of SD usage and I am a bit worried about some of the things I have been reading here on this forum. Exactly how bad is SD on a plasma? I haven't had many opportunities to view these sets outside of BB and Sears and so I haven't seen it for myself yet.

To give an idea of what I am looking at my current favorite models are:
Pioneer PDP-4271HD
Samsung HP-S4253
Panasonic TH-42PX60U

I've read all the recent threads on all these models.

So how bad is bad where SD is concerned?

Thanks!
post #2 of 25
I've got the Panasonic 50PX60U.. and the SD is a LOT better than I expected. I too had concerns about the quality of SD.. but once I saw the picture I felt relieved.
post #3 of 25
Recent discussion on this topic is here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=694816
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzureKnight
So how bad is bad where SD is concerned?
I think it depends on your set top box (STB) and how you connect your components. From what I've read the SD is converted by the STB before being sent to the TV. Some STB's do a better job at this conversion than others.

My STB is connected to the TV via component cables. The SD channels are "okay". My local channels come in SD and digital flavor, I watch the digital channel even if they're not broadcasting HD, it's just better.

I'd say we watch SD only about 20% of the time, so it's not really a problem. I did connect my STB via s-video, and while it's different than SD it's not better.
post #5 of 25
I have a pioneer 1130HD, and the SD quality is very good. It's just that it looks bad in comparison to the HD channels.

You notice that if you look at a small SD picture (using the split view) where the picture is about the same size as my old 32" TV the picture is actually better than my old TV, but on such a big screen the poorer color and clarity do show up. I watch mainly SD material (since most of the shows I like are in SD) and find I enjoy the shows just as much

Another thing that takes some getting used to is the stretch modes. There is no one stretch mode that suits all material. I flip between modes until I find one that fits the show. Wide mode works well for drama's, for sports I prefer zoom or 4:3 mode. I would use 4:3 all the time but I am afraid of burn in.

Don't read this and decide not to get a plasma. It is well worth it to watch HD shows (especially sports) and DVDs with great picture quality.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by c627627
Recent discussion on this topic is here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=694816
This is one of the threads that scared me :o


malaugh:
Thanks, I think I'll have to go in and see what it looks like. One issue for me is my wife who HATES any kind of stretch mode. So I have to take that into account, but my guess is that it will grow on her.

DeltaOne:
Also, thanks. I don't know what my STB will be yet. I'm getting one from DirecTV but they don't specify a model up front...but at least I know if it sucks I can look into buying a better one.
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzureKnight
This is one of the threads that scared me :o


malaugh:
Thanks, I think I'll have to go in and see what it looks like. One issue for me is my wife who HATES any kind of stretch mode. So I have to take that into account, but my guess is that it will grow on her.

DeltaOne:
Also, thanks. I don't know what my STB will be yet. I'm getting one from DirecTV but they don't specify a model up front...but at least I know if it sucks I can look into buying a better one.
if it is the one with the dvr, it will be the h10-250 (mpeg2), if not, it will be the h20 (mpeg4)
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzureKnight
This is one of the threads that scared me :o


malaugh:
Thanks, I think I'll have to go in and see what it looks like. One issue for me is my wife who HATES any kind of stretch mode. So I have to take that into account, but my guess is that it will grow on her.

DeltaOne:
Also, thanks. I don't know what my STB will be yet. I'm getting one from DirecTV but they don't specify a model up front...but at least I know if it sucks I can look into buying a better one.
Well then, if you don't plan on stretching SD, then it should look better than when stretched. You may find one or some of the modes to be acceptable though, like something similar to Panasonic's "just" mode, or one of the "zoom" modes.

Remember too, that 4:3 material is not going to give you a very large picture on a 42" display.

You can always consider an ED display, if you're that worried. Then, all it will have to mainly do is line-double the SD signal.
post #9 of 25
I bought the Panasonic TH-42PX60U in April and one of my biggest surpises was how good SD material looked on it.

Mine is connected directly to my cable TV coax, which was replaced with new wire to the pole when I upgraded to cable internet. I have no set-top box of any kind. I get the regular analog channels plus the over-the-air HD through the QAM tuner.

I can report is that SD and HD with the built-in tuner is excellent. Judging by the many posts that claim it's bad I think it's probably due to set-top box issues or simply poor signal quality to begin with.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski

You can always consider an ED display, if you're that worried. Then, all it will have to mainly do is line-double the SD signal.
That is exactly what I did.

Since my viewing would be 80% SD from 11' distance, and I am not a big fan of Discovery HD and Sports,
I bought a 42" NEC EDTV.

DVDs look great and so does SD.

Hdtv is also great ,as an added bonus.

So, if you are planning to buy a 42" Panel ,anything more then EDTV is just an overkill and a waste of money.
post #11 of 25
I just bought the Panasonic Plasma 50px60u TV. I use Comcast as my cable provider and have a Motorola DCT6412 III High Def/Digital DVR hooked up with the HDMI cable to the TV.

I used the setup on the cable box to have TV Type: 16.9, HDMI/YPbPr Output: 1080i and 4:3 override: 480p. The High Definition shows look great (a little plastic look to faces though). However, on all the digital channels the picture quality is very poor. They look fuzzy and out of focus. The digital channels come in better on my old (1994) Hitachi 50†rear projection TV set. I tried using different cable connections (component) but the picture quality was the same.

Is there anything I can setup to make the digital channels look better? I’ve tried playing with the picture setting. I changed it from vivid to standard but that didn’t seem to help.
post #12 of 25
I just got the Samsung HPC 4252 and the SD is just fine.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PAC88
I just bought the Panasonic Plasma 50px60u TV. I use Comcast as my cable provider and have a Motorola DCT6412 III High Def/Digital DVR hooked up with the HDMI cable to the TV.

I used the setup on the cable box to have TV Type: 16.9, HDMI/YPbPr Output: 1080i and 4:3 override: 480p. The High Definition shows look great (a little plastic look to faces though). However, on all the digital channels the picture quality is very poor. They look fuzzy and out of focus. The digital channels come in better on my old (1994) Hitachi 50†rear projection TV set. I tried using different cable connections (component) but the picture quality was the same.

Is there anything I can setup to make the digital channels look better? I’ve tried playing with the picture setting. I changed it from vivid to standard but that didn’t seem to help.
Definitely sounds like something isn't right. You should be getting nice crisp SD-digital channels. As an experiment, try turning off your 4:3 override. Is this one of the ones that won't take 480i over HDMI? If not, you could also experiment with 480i.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PAC88
I just bought the Panasonic Plasma 50px60u TV. I use Comcast as my cable provider and have a Motorola DCT6412 III High Def/Digital DVR hooked up with the HDMI cable to the TV.

I used the setup on the cable box to have TV Type: 16.9, HDMI/YPbPr Output: 1080i and 4:3 override: 480p. The High Definition shows look great (a little plastic look to faces though). However, on all the digital channels the picture quality is very poor. They look fuzzy and out of focus. The digital channels come in better on my old (1994) Hitachi 50†rear projection TV set. I tried using different cable connections (component) but the picture quality was the same.

Is there anything I can setup to make the digital channels look better? I’ve tried playing with the picture setting. I changed it from vivid to standard but that didn’t seem to help.
Also as a side note, I've read in some of the 50px60u threads that you can fix the plastic look to the faces with some settings changes. You may want to look in the thread dedicated to it under clayface.
post #15 of 25
If you are planning to not stretch SD, then use the gray bars and get a set that is not prone to burn-in. The Panasonics seem to have less burn-in than Pioneer/NEC.

I'm surprised more people don't use gray bars for 4:3

down with s--t-ret-c--h!
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by tvbug
That is exactly what I did.

Since my viewing would be 80% SD from 11' distance, and I am not a big fan of Discovery HD and Sports,
I bought a 42" NEC EDTV.

DVDs look great and so does SD.

Hdtv is also great ,as an added bonus.

So, if you are planning to buy a 42" Panel ,anything more then EDTV is just an overkill and a waste of money.
So you did finally get your set? I thought you had some issues. Did you have to do a lot of tuning to get SD to work well? I set my 4:3 override on my Comcast box to 480p and SD looks shockingly good. I'm surprised you don't care for DHD or HD-Sports -- MLB on INHD is awesome!
post #17 of 25
Well OP, speaking from a 50px50u owner's perspective I can say that SD material is about what I expect. Some SD channels are broadcast better than others. My overall impression of PQ on a plasma watching SD is that it is an unfair comparison, sure it doesn't look like crap, but it's not great either. I usually end up watching more HD or DVD content on my plasma. The digital SD channels do look better though.

As an aside, when I'm viewing in just mode, some SD channels (eg. FX, MTV) don't actually take up the whole screen and I can see a small veritcal bar on only 1 side of the display (left side), and other SD channels (eg. VH1, SciFi) when viewed in just mode fill the whole screen. Anyone else notice this? It's sort of annoying, and at first I was paranoid about having a potential uneven burn-in. After several months I no longer obsess about burn-in as much as I used to.
post #18 of 25
I have a similar setup to Pac88.
Comcrap Moto 6412 PIII STB connected via HDMI to my Panny 50" - 8UK.

HD image is stunning.
SD image - from 8-9' is very good on some chanels, lousey on others.
By very good, I mean it's not much worse (if at all) than it was on my old 32" CRT tube. It's just bigger. When I keep things to 4x3, it's all very watchable. :)

When I stretch it to 'full' or 'zoom' the image can break-up a bit, but honestly, it's a LOT better than I expected. All the horror stories about SD being unwatchable and terrible and ugly just have not played-out with my setup.

I notice how NOT-HD it is when I'm viewing things where I really WANT to see a great image... like Battlestar Galactica or Rescue Me... or some other good show that I can't get in HD. But honestly... it's still ok. ;)

shane

Edit... HA! Looks like Hedonist and I were on the same track at the same time. ;)
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55
I notice how NOT-HD it is when I'm viewing things where I really WANT to see a great image... like Battlestar Galactica or Rescue Me... or some other good show that I can't get in HD. But honestly... it's still ok. ;)

shane

Edit... HA! Looks like Hedonist and I were on the same track at the same time. ;)
Yup!

Hey, u are aware that Universal HD runs episodes of BSG in HD, right? Six looks AMAZING in HD! :D
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedonist
Yup!

Hey, u are aware that Universal HD runs episodes of BSG in HD, right? Six looks AMAZING in HD! :D
Man, I can't wait to see her in all her glory on my new HD TV (58 or 60"). Man, she is soooo smoking hot. :) Even my wife comments that she is such a beautiful woman. :D
post #21 of 25
Rather I go from the wall right into the tv or through the SA 8300 STB it is better than I feared. No complaints. I use Adelphia Cable, 30 miles north of Atlanta.
It will most likely be as good as it is provided to you. I hear the Satalite providers are compressing the signal too much for SD.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedonist
Yup!

Hey, u are aware that Universal HD runs episodes of BSG in HD, right? Six looks AMAZING in HD! :D
Ah.... if I only got Uni. HD. :(
(6 looks pretty good in SD too!) ;)
post #23 of 25
I have panny 8uk with directv and SD sucks.But since i got a DVDO vp30 with ABT card sd looks good.
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmos5861
I have panny 8uk with directv and SD sucks.But since i got a DVDO vp30 with ABT card sd looks good.
I think I can safely say I won't be getting one of those in the near future :)
post #25 of 25
It depends on the signal really. Overall I'd say with comcast digital with a digital connection an their moto STB, it's decent on the pure digital channels. It's pretty aweful on the lower, still analog channels, but watchable otherwise- not worse than my old 34" XBR in any event. HD is in another league (sharp and clean) of course and is immediately apparent. I think this has more to do with the bandwidth compression than anything else though. DVD looks fine and it's the same resolution. YMMV.

Stretch vs OAR is a totally different discussion though. For what it's worth I prefer Just mode for SD on my 7UY since network TV that is 4:3 is generally not what I'd consider to be critcal viewing.
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