Angry Robot

Into the Vale of HD Tears, Part 1

Say hello to my Scarface reference

The TV came first, after many treacherous yet not really very interesting battles with Future Shop delivery people (who either have primitive brains, or simply are not capable of understanding linear time). However, I noticed in dark scenes that there was a large patch of lighter pixels in the center of the screen. My first instinct was to ignore it, but it became like the telltale heart, throbbing at me during every fade to black. Anguish! Was I going to have to fight the delivery idiots again as I arranged for a replacement? Luckily, no. Don’t know exactly how I wound up massaging the screen, but that’s what I did and it fixed the problem. You know how that happens with LCDs, if you put pressure on them the screen temporarily lightens. I guess something about the packing and shipping of the thing put some pressure on it, but it went away.

Generally, this TV is sweet. It has plenty of inputs, including component, HDMI and DVI. Most importantly it has a great picture and it just works. Here are some things I’ve heard from people who have bought cheaper LCDs: the images stick on screen (bad refresh rate). It takes forever to change channels. The blacks are too bright (bad contrast ratio). Avoid all this by doing your research and getting something decent. You want it to last a few years, after all. For example, at this point you probably want a 1080p TV. Check the native resolution of the sets you’re looking at, as some of the 40-plus inchers I was checking out were stuck at 1366×768, which is only 720p. Not to mention that my 15” laptop has better resolution than that.

TV, meet 360

At first, the only device that I could get HD signals from was the 360, so that’s how I rocked it. The picture, on Bioshock and then basically any HD-res video file I could find on Live Marketplace, was very very good. For the games anyway, the difference from my old 27” tube is remarkable and is not only more immersive, it’s useful in a pragmatic way. Since you see things better, you aim improves, you find hidden items etc.

How best to connect the 360 is a confusing issue. There was all that gnashing of teeth about HDMI and the lack thereof on the 360 until the latest revision. But a little bit of AV nerd research reveals that there is no real quality difference between HDMI and component. I hooked up via the default component cables and my TV informed me it was getting a nice, clean 1080p signal, which is all you can ask for. I guess some TVs don’t allow for 1080p through component, but mine does, and I’m all set.

Or am I? The one thing that is sub-optimal in my 360 setup is that DVDs are not being upscaled. They fill the screen and everything, but it’s a 480p signal. Now, in some way upconverting has to be voodoo science since you can’t just magically make pixels out of thin air, but I’m looking for any picture quality increase I can get.

Well, the 360 can upscale DVDs, but only if you connect via VGA. Why the fuck that is, I have no idea. But it’s not much help to me because my TV has no VGA in. I suppose I could find a VGA to DVI or HDMI adapter, but that’s expensive since it has to do analog to digital conversion. Hell, even the Xbox VGA adapter, sold separately, is $46. Seeing as you can get a dedicated upconverting DVD player for $90 at Future Shop right now, it seems like a bit of a waste. Might as well just spring the $200 for the Xbox HD DVD add-on… but that’s a whole other tale of misery that I will take up later.

In summary, HD games: good, cable confusion: bad. Next time: hooking up the computer and the cable box. Thrills! There will be payoff by the end of this, I assure you, in the form of a survey of the state of HD content, and the best way to get said content into your living room.

3 comments on "Into the Vale of HD Tears, Part 1"

  1. smbm says:

    I find it strange and exhilarating that we both recently purchased and blogged about our recent tv upgrades on almost the exact same day!

  2. Nadine says:

    I try and tell myself that I’m not a techie and really I just want to wait til all the cable packages and stuff settle down before I do this…But really I just can’t afford it.

    So I say to you thus: I jealous, I jealous twice times.

  3. jibjsw says:

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