Question: My wife has approved the purchase of a big
TV to watch the World Cup next summer.
Reading S+V has proven invaluable in the search.
What guidelines can you offer when shopping for
a 50-inch HDTV that will produce a decent (not
soft-looking) picture when watching standard-def
channels on Comcast cable? Will the cursed Motorola
DCT2000 set-top box provided by Comcast help
at all? | Bill Holloway | Alameda, CA
Answer: Different TVs all have varying levels of success
upconverting standard-def cable TV
signals for display on their high-def screens, but I
wouldn’t expect any one model to work miracles
in this regard. (The same situation applies to cable
set-top boxes.) The truth is that SDTV tends
to look soft when compared with HDTV, and no
amount of video processing wizardry can fully
get around that fact. One relevant feature that
you can compare when set-shopping is noise reduction.
Along with looking soft, SD signals tend
to be full of video noise.
A TV with good video
processing should be able to suppress some of
this noise without further softening the picture.
(Noise-reduction performance is something
that we regularly comment on in our TV test reports.)
Sitting too close to the screen can also
make gnarly-looking SD programs appear even
more so. For a 50-inch, 1080p-rez TV, you should
plan on sitting about 7 feet away — a distance
that will not only prevent you from being overwhelmed
by imperfections in upconverted SD
programs but also let you enjoy the full detail level
in 1080i and 1080p-format high-def ones.
-- Al Griffin
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.