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Although the XS was always my ideal TV due to it's sharp looks and XBR-like quality, I initially was ready to "settle" for the 34HS420 and its easier to handle price. When my wife and I went to the store to finally bite the bullet we ended up getting the XS after all -- both tubes were side by side, and there was a noticeable difference in picture quality, not to mention the aesthetic appeal of the 955 with its darker bezel and attractive on-screen menu. (You know there was a difference when even my wife was able to say she could see it! :)


We did not need a built-in tuner as there is no OTA where we live, but what the hell. Someday it might come in handy, especially if we ever move back to Ontario.


By comparison, the 420 had what I would call an excellent picture, but the silver casing and the on-screen menu gave it a "cheap" kinda feel. The menu reminded me of those video game graphics from the 80's, like old Atari or Coleco. So with a free matching stand and delivery thrown in and a few bucks off the posted price (it ended up about $600 CDN more than the 420 after taxes) we did the deal for the 955.


I hooked up my Motorola DCT-2500 digital cable box with S-Video to VIDEO1, and my Toshiba SD-4900 DVD player via component to VIDEO5, both via my Yamaha RX-V740 receiver.


Out of the box I noticed a few things right away:


- Too much red push, which was easily disabled by selecting "monitor" from the "advanced video" menu settings.


- My digital cable provider has yet to convert all of their feeds to true digital and still uses analog for most of the lower channels (blech!), and the SD picture overall was downright offensive. The cheapest piece of crap TV at Wal-Mart would've been better. After about an hour the tubes must've warmed up because the picture improved enough to watch without feeling half-sick about the money we spent.


- The digital channels were a bit better, especially the movie networks, which looked excellent. But general TV viewing will never be the same as the picture, despite tweaking and calibrating, will always look flawed. We prefer "Pro" setting with "Widezoom", and some channels, like CBC, look great while others like SpikeTV and TLC look like total crud.


- Tilt had to be adjusted to +3; everything else was ok. A few minor geometry issues (as expected), but nothing too noticeable, some very slight bowing in the upper left and right corners.


I'll admit - it feels a bit disheartening to know that the tube you paid big $$$ for looks like s--t compared to your old faithful 10 year old RCA, but that's sadly to be expected with the new HD sets. I had though (perhaps foolishly) that by sticking with tube I would be avoiding this SD problem that owners of LCD's and other fixed-pixel tv's were complaining about. Thought we would still get the best of both worlds.


- DVD's look AMAZING. I'm seeing things I never noticed before, like the small batch of fireflies buzzing around behind Gandalf as he drives up to the Shire in "Fellowship". I can count wrinkles and pockmarks on faces, see where they might've missed shaving a bit. And this was before I popped in DVE to try and tweak it up. Outdoor shots look stellar, with bright colors and rich detail, though sometimes things look a bit dark. I've tried to get a balance using the "Picture" and "Brightness" settings.


My overall impressions are mixed. As a non-expert I can only judge by what I've seen and had experience with, and I do think we would have been just as happy with the 420, or one of the Toshiba or Panny models. But we still would have had to fork out a few hundred for a stand (we got the matching one for free), and after reading the reviews from experts and others on this forum, the 955 is not a bad choice if you're going to take plunge and get something half-decent. And would SD from my particular digital cable service be any better on those ones? I don't think so. I also like the memory settings for each input, so I can tweak each one the way I want.


Maybe after proper calibration and some time, the SD picture will warm up to more acceptable standards. It could just be our cable provider as well, and maybe a switch to a HD cable box or satellite (all digital?) might do the trick. Watching SD right now is distressing for the most part, especially darker, grainier shows like CSI or Seinfeld.


But when all is said and done, the TV was bought for home theatre and eventually HDTV, so I guess I shouldn't cry too much for a dying technology that has always looked subpar anyway. But still, I can just imagine the non-savvy friends saying "man, all that money for a TV and the picture looks like that?"


But then I'll pop in "Empire Strikes Back" or "LOTR" and blow them away... :)


Cheers,


SithLord
 

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I just bought the 30" model of that. I have DirecTV, and all channels are digital, and some looked a little bad, but that can be expected with a digital television. On the anallog signals, it will be much more noticeable, because the tv must convert those to digital. Use the DVE or AVia CD and you will improve the picture. I use movie mode on all of my settings, with sharpness turned down about 10 notches from factory default. SD would look worse on the other ones you listed. You should see what SD looks like on my Mitsu 65 inch projection. Its absolutely horrible.
 

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Nice post. I was considering this TV, but I've found a really good deal on the Sony KD-34XBR960 and am ordering it next week.


Regarding SD signals, they will vary from channel to channel. Analog channels will look MUCH better if you use a splitter and run one line to the cable box and the other to the TV RF input. Try it and you'll see what I mean. I have the Motorola DCT-6412 HD DVR box and analog channels look pretty bad (major dot crawl, graininess), which prompted me to split the lines. There's too much D/A or A/D conversions which causes a degradation in PQ using the box for analog. Digital channels vary in PQ as well depending on the amount of compression used by your cable provider.


Garbage in, garbage out.
 

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I have the similar tubed 34xbr960 and I use cable straight in, no box. SD picture improved dramatically as I tweaked the settings - turn everything down, down, Sharpness- try 0, brightness and picture as low as you can go. If the TV has low hours give it 100 hours or more to break in. After some viewing and tweaking the SD picture looks great to me and I had a high end Sony 32XBR100 ($3000) SD set before this new HD one.
 

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Quote:
On the anallog signals, it will be much more noticeable, because the tv must convert those to digital.
are you sure about that? why would the TV need to convert the analogue video to digital? does this have something to do with the line doubler?
 

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I've spent a month with this same exact TV. I use a cable card-if your cable company offers it-get one. Analog SD look no worse (and most of the times better) than the fine analog Toshiba it replaced and the digital cable channels look close to HD. Use the interlaced setting of DRC and fiddle with it a bit. I am completely satisfied. A first class piece of equipment.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kny3twalker
are you sure about that? why would the TV need to convert the analogue video to digital? does this have something to do with the line doubler?
There's more to it than that. There are several features requiring digital processing. Here's an example: the 3D Comb.
 

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(1) The XS/XBR CRT sets are mixed analog/digital. The block diagram is confusing because the lines labeled YCbCr (digital) and YPbPr (analog) are generally mislabeled! But is seems apparent that, for example, the component inputs are processed and switched as analog signals thru the 2171 chip. Then they are digitized for the common MID processing, then back to analog for the CRT drivers.


It is particularly confusing to note that the ATSC digital tuner shows an analog output and that the HDMI input seems to follow tha same path as the pre-digital component inputs. And what is the meaning of the line labeled "RGBYsYm" going from the ATSC tuner thru OSD mix over to the 2170 chip that drives the CRT board??


(2) Comb filtering is used solely to separate color from luminance on *composite* inputs, and it appears to be an analog process here.


(3) The 3D noise-reduction works on Y/C signals (analog) for S-Video inputs. Also looks to be analog.


(4) DRC processing for SD line doubling and all MID processing appears to be digital in the 2097/95 and MID chips.


Bottom line: infer what you can from this diagram. But without a savvy (and likely drugged) Sony engineer on hand, as lot of this is speculation. Other Sony service-manual diagrams have numerous errors, I have found.

 

XS955|XBR960 Block Diagram.pdf 139.0234375k . file
 

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KenTech, about your (2)... OSD diagnostic info from ATSC tuner to be mixed with the video output. Regular OSD also ends up at the OSD mix. I believe Digital CC must go through that red line too.


Oops I wasn't thinking. The 3D comb is indeed analog. The DRC circuitry and the main processor are digital though.
 
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