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Addicted to High-Def


Help me. I'm turning into one of those "once you go high-def, you can't go back" kind of people.

The object of our adoration is the Panasonic TH-42PX75U, a 42" plasma screen with glare-resistant coating. I decided 1080p wasn't that big of a deal, considering the extra cost and how close our couch is to the TV. I got it at Circuit City, and they ended up throwing in a free Panasonic DVD recorder/player that upconverts to 720p or 1080i. Is that enough techno gobble-gunk for ya?

Suddenly, we can stare at flowers on PBS HD for infinity. And we're totally not even high. Slo-mo bullets and blood in Iraq? Yeah, awesome. We'll watch that. The hard part, of course, is all the stuff we wish was in HD. We're getting our Comcast DVR switched to the HD model this weekend, but that meant having to suffer through Lost in suckass standard definition. There was one theoretically breathtaking scene of rainclouds rolling over the island beach where Lori and I simultaneously gasped, "I bet that would look awesome in high def."

DVDs have been problematic, too. There seems to be a wide range of encoding quality, or maybe sheer compatibility. Strangers with Candy looks terrible, with lots of interlacing or some sort of jaggy artifacts. Season six of Sex in the City looked pretty darn good, but an earlier season didn't hold up. Anybody have advice in this arena? We'll eventually get a PS3 for the Blu-Ray player (uhh, yeah, just for that) but obviously we still want our library of olde fashioned DVDs to look good.

Of course this means I want to start offering my online video productions in HD. I've got my eye on the lil' Canon HV20. Cameralust is not a treatable condition.

April 20, 2007 at 03:52 AM in Television | Permalink


Oh man, whatever you do, don't get cable. HDNet Movies -- run by Mark Cuban, I think -- has so many awesome movies in HD that your few precious moments of freedom will be sucked right up. There was a week where Freejack, Porky's, and American Ninja (damn you Cuban, how do you know?!) were all on and it was bad for business.

Posted by: Taylor at Apr 20, 2007 9:22:44 AM

I am sad because I can't even edit the HD footage i am shooting until I get my imac! it is killing me, and even then, the only person in my family with an HD TV is my parents

Posted by: Josh Leo at Apr 20, 2007 2:41:24 PM

*note - must be a tech nerd to enjoy.

So, I just took out the big loan and got Sonic HD cinevision / scenarist up and running to offer HD-DVD's. I contact our favorite customer, who releases Public Domain box sets at Wal-Mart, talking up the future of HD and their response was, "So, if we encode the features in SD at a bitrate of 1.9 than we can we like put 20 features on a single HD disc??" .....yeah, but NOOOOO !!!!

Posted by: brian dehler at Apr 21, 2007 12:01:45 AM

Chuck, I need a high def interview with you for an article I'm writing about blogs. I sent an email to an old email address I had for you, but never heard back. I have to turn this puppy in late Sunday night (April 22). Would LOVE to have your input. Call or email, please!

Posted by: David Heath at Apr 21, 2007 2:01:57 PM

Strangers with Candy looks terrible on our Panny, too, both the original release and the Trapper Keeper release, and I've tried watching it on four different DVD players in 480i and 480p. Even with the very good deinterlacing capabilities of the Denon DVD-2900 it still looked like crap. I think it's a combination of bad video encoding and something about the way the TV handles it. The only other thing to try would be a DVD player with Faroudja DCDi which is supposed to be good at handling bad video jaggies, or, better yet, the newer HQV Realta chip that's in the Denon DVD-3930ci. That's if you want to spend $1500 on a DVD player.

The good news is that the stuff which has looked bad on our TV has mostly been TV shows. Movies generally look great, even if they aren't in high def, and even some video-sourced DVDs look good, too (e.g. some documentaries).

Posted by: Jonathan at Apr 24, 2007 9:41:52 AM

Whew, that's a relief.

Lost in Translation looked good, as have some other show DVDs, so I was really hoping it was the Strangers DVD.

Posted by: chuck at Apr 24, 2007 1:02:40 PM

Also, one of the best things you can do with your TV (old or new) is to calibrate the brightness and picture levels. I can lend you my Digital Video Essentials DVD, or, a relatively accurate quick'n'dirty method is to use the THX Optimizer that's on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones DVDs. The nice thing about DVE is that it will help you with color settings, too.

Make sure you don't leave your new plasma on the "vivid" setting or you might have burn-in problems...go easy on it for the first few months. Usually out of the box they've got the damn things cranked up to blazing, blinding levels.

Posted by: Jonathan at Apr 24, 2007 4:25:18 PM

Do try to wrap it in a blanket when you are away on trips, and speak gentle, kind words to it at sunrise when it first awakes. Leave a plate of cookies for it on Sunday evenings. Lovingly slather some Pearl Cream on all cords leading to and from it, and use Cardas caps on any unused inputs.

Posted by: Jonathan at Apr 24, 2007 5:20:54 PM

You're totally tv-sitting for us whenever we leave town.

(Note to self: turn down the vivid.)

Posted by: chuck at Apr 25, 2007 5:01:56 PM