To begin, I issue the following Proclamation: I was basically clueless about HD formats, signals, settings, et cetera before purchasing my first HDTV. I am still basically clueless, as I find all the HD information and multitude of settings and conversions very confusing.
I bought the Olevia 232 32" LCD from Circuit City on Black Friday. I hooked up my DVD player, and was seriously disappointed in the resulting picture. Movement looked blurry, and/or absent of clear definition.
A few years ago I watched an HBO film on DVD, which I believe was shot digitally, titled Paradise Lost. Even on a regular TV (CRT?), it looked like the faces were blurring when they moved; detail would drop out, people looked like they were in the earliest phases of morphing into some odd looking alien beings, et cetera. This is the exact same effect I noticed on this Olevia 32" LCD when testing out DVDs of Frailty and The Big Lebowski.
I then tried watching regular cable TV (no cable box, just connected directly in to the Olevia), and the picture was lousy. A little snowy, a little blurry. Definitely not as good as the regular old TV I was watching.
A few days later, I got an HD STB from my local Time Warner office.
*** Wow, what a difference! ***
Now, watching regular cable channels was absolutely, brilliantly, completely horrible! More snow, worse picture, and all that fun stuff.
Granted, I have my HD STB connected using the component inputs. After seeing how disappointing the picture was watching regular old DVDs, I didn't want to buy an HDMI-DVI cable to connect the HD box to the TV, because if my new HDTV cannot make basic movie watching on DVD look good, the HDMI-DVI cable is just something else I'll have to return.
I took the advice in the instructions included with my Motorola HD box for which setting to use to output the signal from the HD box to the HDTV. This seems to have solved my problem. Well, it solved my problem of watching a horrible picture for non-HD cable channels, as now they were almost 100% snow. Barely an image could be made out!
As far as the HD channels themselves, I even notice a perceptible blurring of moving images, and some pixelation here and there. I know the unanimous consensus in this thread is that anything above a 480 input is fine, but I detect the blurring and pixelation even at the optimum settings on this TV.
I must say that I have yet to be impressed by HDTV in any way, shape, or form. It has been said that HDTV would be as revolutionary to television viewing as the introduction of television in color instead of black and white. Sorry, I just don't see it. I have certainly seen HDTV pictures that look gorgeous, but never anything to the extent of such a miraculous conversion as going from b&w to color.
I never really bought into the hype since the first time I saw an HDTV picture years ago. But this Black Friday, I got excited about the low prices, compact size, low weight, myriad inputs, and all the other hypothetical awesome features of LCD HDTVs.
Now, my skepticism has been renewed, and reinforced, with a fury. HDTV is an overhyped scam, deliberately made confusing, to sucker us into overpaying for an image quality that for 95% of TV viewers is actually lower quality than our old, heavy, massive TVs.
I have no doubt that someday HDTV will be great to watch, and be superior to regular television. But I fully believe that HDTV is still in it's early phase and should be pursued by early-adopters who possess the time and patience to put up with the many negative aspects of HDTV (such as needing upconverters, scalers, and any other crazy necessities, or a huge wad of cash to buy a truly good set).
HDTV manufacturers are relentlessly pushing a technology that is not ready for prime time, and is much less so ready for the average TV viewer who cannot, will not, or does not want to invest hours and hours of their time, and bundles of their cash, to get an acceptable picture on their HDTV.
As for my Olevia 32" LCD HDTV? It's going back to Circuit City. If they want to offer me an awesome deal on a set without the ATI Xilleon chipset, maybe I'll give another HDTV a chance. But if not, I will wait for the day when an HDTV exists that I can afford that I can plug my gear into, turn on, and not have to change resolution inputs, change the size of the picture, jump the hoops, add different equipment to alter the input signals, and spend days researching the internet to try and figure out how it all works.
Sorry to turn this into a diatribe against the "mainstreaming" of HDTV upon the public, but I am seriously disappointed in the state of the technology. Unless there is something major I am doing wrong in setting up my TV and HD cable box, I sand by my opinion. When I found this forum, I thought, "Aha! There is a problem with the chipset, and that is why I am so dissatisfied." But no one else notices the defects I still see even in the highest resolutions, so I guess I am out of luck for a few years...
Also, sorry about the length of this "book" I have just written. Good luck to all of you with your HDTVs, I truly hope you get them set up and working to beyond your highest expectations.