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Do all HDTV's have a crappy picture when using standard basic cable?

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Do all HDTV's have a crappy picture when using standard basic cable?

Old 12-06-02, 11:16 AM
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Do all HDTV's have a crappy picture when using standard basic cable?

I have the Samsung TSL-2795HF, last years model, and it looks great with DVD's and great with xbox games, but it looks absolutely horrible when watching normal tv.

I got the tv for $800 last year, haven't had it calibrated, nor have I bought the AVIA dvd or the Video Essentials dvd.

I have looked up some simple tips to creating a more natural picture by turning the sharpness and contrast all the way down, and turning down the brightness as well.

I'm not sure if this helped too much. I have looked into set top boxes and satellite HDTV, but my cable company Cox Communications is about to start offering HD Digital programming, so I figure i'll stay with that.

While I wait, is there anything I can do to make my picture look better?? Should I really by the DVD'S? Calibration is expensive so I'm not altogether sure if that would be worth the price.

Thanks for any help or tips.
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Old 12-06-02, 12:46 PM
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Garbage in ...

Depending on how bad your basic cable signal really is looking, you may be able to improve it a bit, but it will still always suck in comparison. I'd visit www.avsforum.com or maybe www.hometheaterspot.com and try to track down someone with your same model and setup.

Good luck.

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Old 12-06-02, 12:48 PM
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I think "crappy" is all relative. I have a relatively new widescreen HDTV and while it really makes DVDs look tremendous, I think the flipside of that is that it is natually going to bring out the flaws just as well. I get used to it after a while, and for me it helps in picking the right aspect mode (I go with "panorama"--normal makes the picture look even better but I'm not a fan of the grey bars and don't want burn-in.)
I've got the Avia disc on the way and I'm hoping that will help some too. Most everyone recommends it for better picture.

Edits: Using S-video to run my DirecTV box right into my HDTV helped a bit, and using the Avia disc to adjust overall picture definitely helped too.

Last edited by uteotw; 12-09-02 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 12-06-02, 01:18 PM
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just in case you didn't understand what i was saying, the only problem with my tv is that it brings out all of the flaws in the cable signal i guess.

all of the standard definition tv's in my house look normal

i just want mine to look spectacular in all modes, but i guess i have to get some 40,000 dollar plasma screen for that..

urgh...

or pay some jerk off $500 or around there to come and mess with my settings, which may or may not work.
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Old 12-06-02, 01:31 PM
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Any HDTV, even a $40,000 plasma, will look like crap when fed a crappy signal. If you calibrate it on your own with Avia or Video Essentials you should be able to get it looking better. If you're watching with the factory settings it'll look horrible, Samsungs generally look terrible out of the box. Once you calibrate it a little (get the contrast, brightness, sharpness and colors to the right levels) it should look a lot better. If you think it looks great with DVD and Xbox games now just wait until you have it set up .
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Old 12-06-02, 01:43 PM
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There is truth to "garbage in-garbage out." Another common feature of HDTV is to upconvert the incoming signal to the set's native frequency (540p or 1080i, though you get a native 720p on some plasmas and newer RPTVs). Combine a crappy signal and then upconvert it with (possibly) questionable electronics, and you get an even crappier picture, and blown up to expose all the flaws if the set is large enough.

DVDs and consoles have a very clean signal to begin with, so don't suffer from the upconversion as much (though you do lose some resolution in the fine details if the upconversion electronics is merely passable).
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Old 12-06-02, 01:47 PM
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Basic analog cable in-and-of-itself is not the greatest video feed to begin with, and most cable-systems (as I understand it) generally split the main feeds over a few houses on any particular block, and depending on your home set-up, the feed could be split yet again (as in a second or even a third box in the house, etc.). With each split comes some loss of signal, thus causing a degredation of picture.

I had this problem with my tv (Sony XBR400, 36"), and through some research I saw that there really isn't much you can do other than looking into a line booster which essentially amplifies the cable signal to your box and eventually your tv. They're easily found at Radio Shack, and I don't recall mine costing me more than $35. Among the issues I had was also "dirty" electric, and I also invested some $$ into a power strip with a filter that more or less regulates the electric your components get (there's a name for the unit, I can't recall right now). In any event, after I installed the line booster and used the power strip, my picture substantially improved - mind you, some channels still look roguh, while others look perfect, but again the picture will only be as good as the feed being provided is.

My brother-in-law has Digital Cable on the same TV set, and while it looks better, it's still far from what a Satellite feed would look like - which is where I'm heading next, once I move into my new house.
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Old 12-06-02, 02:37 PM
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Calibrating your set using Avia or something will probably only make the picture look good for DVDs. The optimal settings for DVD are different than for cable. For example, SVM was developed to improve the NTSC signal, so you want that turned on while watching cable and off for DVDs. Likewise, you can turn the sharpness and brightness up and you'll probably like the cable picture better.

It's OK to fiddle with the picture settings to get the picture that you like. If that means you do things you're not "supposed" to do, that's alright!
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Old 12-09-02, 12:34 PM
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I have my Mits HDTV Avia calibrated, but regular cable looked like crap. there was so much snow, it was unwatchable. It didn't help that the cable had to be run over 50 ft since there isn't a cable jack in my HT room.
However, we have digital cable, and when i tried watching it through our digital cable box, as opposed to straight from the wall, the difference was amazing!! Some channels still look bad (mostly the main networks), but the movie channels look pretty good. Not DVD good, but definitely watchable.
I felt much better about my TV after I discovered this. I still watch 90% DVDs on this TV, but at least I can now watch Sopranos in all its 65" widescreen glory.
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Old 12-12-02, 02:18 AM
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looking into a line booster, thanks!!

also might get a monster power supply if it will really help
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Old 12-12-02, 03:00 AM
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I understand your disappointment because I have always been unhappy too. The Dvd's look awesome but until you get Satalite I think you pretty much have to learn to live with it. Digital Cable is kind of a lie, the regular channels are still analog. You have to get to the pay movie channels to get digital.
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Old 12-12-02, 08:02 AM
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Originally posted by BigHarp77
i just want mine to look spectacular in all modes, but i guess i have to get some 40,000 dollar plasma screen for that..
That is simply impossible. (I was at a bar the other day that had a 50" plasma with a terrible picture, probably basic cable) Any display device good enough to showcase HDTV and DVD's will expose how bad a basic cable signal is. A lot of people are keeping an old analog TV for watching basic cable on. Then only watch DVD and HDTV on your new HDTV, front projection system, plasma, etc.
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Old 12-12-02, 10:47 AM
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also might get a monster power supply if it will really help
It may help, but it may not - keep in mine the line booster should cost between $15 and $25 dollars, whereas the Monster Power supply (mine anyway, HTS 1000 I think - can't recall at the moment) cost be a little over $100. I got the power supply mainly because I felt I was a victim of "dirty electric" and severe power fluctuations in the apartment I'm in (the lights dim when we use the microwave or the vacuum - a slight dim, but a fluctuation nonetheless). As a result, I can honestly say my picture cleared up noticeably with the power supply, and we can throw a bag of microwave popcorn while a movie is in and the TV shows no sign of a fluctuation (it used to give a quick flicker).

In any event, if you decide to drop $100 or so on a power center to see if it helps, be sure that you can bring it back if it doesn't - some people will argue they're just overpriced surge protectors because they saw no appreciable difference in their video picture - and they may be right in their situations, but I am a believer
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Old 12-13-02, 09:13 AM
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Mine sure looks like @ss even w tuning using Avia etc. I console myself by telling myself that I bought it for movies, and games, in which case it looks fantastic.
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Old 12-13-02, 11:44 AM
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I just got a 46' Sony HDTV - I have it configured for a pretty good picture, but I was wondering if Avia does help a lot? If so, I'm interesting in picking it up. How much would you say you gain by using Avia to set your color?
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Old 12-13-02, 12:02 PM
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The satellite-vs-cable quality argument seems wrong to me. Doesn't satellite compress their digital channels just as much as the cable companies?

That's the #1 reason digital cable looks like ass on my 65" HDTV -- all the compression artifacts. The premium movie channels are okay -- less compression.
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Old 12-13-02, 01:17 PM
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Originally posted by LivingINClip
I just got a 46' Sony HDTV - I have it configured for a pretty good picture, but I was wondering if Avia does help a lot? If so, I'm interesting in picking it up. How much would you say you gain by using Avia to set your color?
It's a tremendous help. You may think you have a good picture now, but proper calibration will make it all that much better.

Avia's a great disc. If it is too expensive for you, though, try its little brother the Sound & Vision Home Theater Tune-Up. It doesn't have as many comprehensive patterns, but it's a little more user friendly and is much cheaper.
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Old 12-13-02, 01:34 PM
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The line booster will amplify the garbage as well, so it's best to put it as close to where the cable enters your house as possible. If you also subscribe to digital cable, and cable internet, a booster could have an adverse effect on that.

Compared to DVD's, anything coming from DirecTV or your Cable company is most likely going to look like garbage. If you have a screen 32" or bigger, even with a non HDTV, you will see a lot of pixelation on the digital channels because they are highly compressed. Most TV's have a noise filter that helps, but you will lose some of the sharpness if you turn this on. I can only imagine that the pixelation would be worse on an HDTV.
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