View Full Version : Has anyone had success making the picture look good with a large Plasma Display?
09-21-2003, 04:39 PM
We can make it look good with a regular 26" CRT television, but the 50" Plasma is another story. It still looks crappy.
We've tried everything we can think of- different imputs, the elecard software, different codecs, those plugins that Sage gives you, but we still haven't gotten the Plasma to look acceptable. And this is extremely important.
I just want to find out from other members if they've been able to get their plasma (50" or bigger) to look as good as it should? Or is it possible that Plasmas aren't ready for prime time yet, at least with TV.
I think it looks awesome with DVD's though.
09-21-2003, 07:10 PM
Unless you get a video processor, you'll never get NTSC video to look as good as DVD. The signal resolution just isn't there.
09-21-2003, 07:40 PM
Isn't that good enough?
And I'm not asking for DVD quality. I'm asking for it to be at least as nice a picture as my regular old CRT television. Right now I see all kinds of artifacts, tearing, and just an all around unsatisfying picture.
I ordered a better Direct TV receiver in hopes that it's my receivers problem because we've traced everything back we could think of and it still doesn't do so well. We have the plasma and CRT television hooked up at the same time so we watch both at once, and the television always looks far better.
When we use a regular televison in its place and compare, we like what Sage will do with the PVR350 card. But we aren't happy with anything we've done with the Plasma.
So I want to know if anyone has gotten their Plasma to look decent using Sage or just about anything else. If they have, please tell me what you did so I can try. So far the Plasma is only good for watching DVD's. But I have a projector for that, which blows away the plasma, so it's not good for much if I can't get it to look good with television shows.
09-21-2003, 10:33 PM
FWIW, I've got a 42" Panasonic plasma (TH42PWD6UY) that I'm running off my main SageTV box. I had a little trouble getting stuff to look good on the plasma, but it all boiled down to how I was driving the plasma (I'm using the analog VGA out of the PC, not NTSC.) Here's a quick rundown:
1) Initially, I set the PC to use 800x600 and let the plasma interpolate to its native 852x480 resolution. Regular TV looked pretty 'blotchy' and MPEG artifacting was very noticeable (ie. worse than it should be for the quality settings I was trying.)
2) Using Powerstrip, I tried to match the resolution of my video card to the plasma's native resolution. The closest I got was 848x480, but the plasma didn't grok it very well and despite all kinds of front/back-porch/video-clock/timing tweaking, I could never get my full-screen to map to the plasma's full screen.
3) Finally, I set the PC's native resolution to 1024x768 and let the plasma decimate/pixel-average down to its native resolution. This made everything look an order of magnitude better! When scaling regular (SD) TV to fit the plasma's 16:9 aspect ratio, it looks good (but a little wide and slightly fuzzy due to the pixel stretching) - especially from > 8 feet. When forcing the display to 4:3 mode (black bars on the sides), it looks EXACTLY like the CRT when doing a side-by-side comparison (no fuzziness or aspect ratio stretching issues.) MPEG artifacting is noticeable, but only if you know what to look for (I use the 2GB/hour 'great quality' setting on Sage for most of my recording.)
My SageTV setup:
- Shuttle SN41G2 (XP2500+) w/ PVR 250 tuner fed w/ std. CATV
- Panasonic TH42PWD6UY fed w/ Shuttle's VGA output
As a side-note, after I got everything working well (#3 above), I tried feeding the plasma the NTSC output of the Shuttle. Completely unacceptable quality, no matter how much I tweaked the settings.
I think I could probably get a slight improvement if I were able to feed the plasma straight DVI, but my PC doesn't produce it and I don't have the expansion card for the plasma to consume it. Overall, though, everything is looking really good now - all I have left to do is build my dedicated tuner box and add tuners :)
09-22-2003, 03:45 AM
How are you connecting the computer to the plasma?
09-22-2003, 04:06 AM
We've tried DVI, RGB, and coaxial. I'll try the new receiver tomorrow maybe, plus get up on my roof and tweak my Direct TV signal in hopes of making it better.
09-22-2003, 06:03 AM
Right now I see all kinds of artifacts, tearing
That is a byproduct of the MPEG2 codec and deinterlacing. Increase your bitrate and try different decoders with different deinterlacing till you find one you like. I recommend the Elecard with DScaler enabled. There are several deinterlacing options with that.
You will never get the picture to look as good as it did coming in (Though some people with digital TV's claim to like the deinterlaced image better). You are compressing the image so just by doing that you are loosing something.
09-22-2003, 06:38 AM
I don't have an HDTV plasma screen - just a regular old sony trinitron - and sometimes I have to watch the "normal" signal thru the "normal" TV because the encoding/decoding makes the picture juuuuust ugly enough to bother me.
This is most noticeable during football and other shows that require fast-moving complex video.
Of course, I'll still have it recording on the Sage box, so if something really neat happens, I can go rewind it and watch it again. That's still nice, even if it is a bit fuzzy.
My point? Even on a regular TV, there can be noticeable artifacting. It's not just an HDTV thing.
09-22-2003, 06:48 AM
The difference with a normal TV is that you can use the XCard or the 350 to output a perfect picture. With digital you have to deinterlace.
As far as macroblocking, that is avoidable by using a very high encoding rate and not using VBR. Same ways DVD's are encoded. Just be prepared to have it eat some serious disk space.
What I do for sports games, is actually select it as a manual recording before hand. I also adjust its recording quality higher at that point.
Some people also have their default recording quality set very high and adjust their favorites down accordingly. This method is probably not usable by those using IR though since all IR shows would be recorded using the default quality.
09-22-2003, 11:38 AM
Well, I have a Pioneer 503CMX plasma, and I find SageTV quality to be quite good. I use the 3GB/hr encoding rate and have the picture stretched horizontally to fill the display. I don't notice any major MPEG artfacts or tearing. I am using the standard Intervideo decoders.
09-22-2003, 07:58 PM
Charles, we have the same Plasma. I'm hoping to get my receiver hooked up tonight to test. Perhaps it's just an old crappy receiver. I also want to mess around with my dish. The summer storms knock it around a little and I'm in the low 80's in signal strength. Still looks solid on the smaller sets, though. I hope that makes a difference because we were recording at the highest rate possible.
09-23-2003, 11:54 AM
Just checking, but did you hook up your HTPC to the plasma via the VGA (or DVI) output on your video card? And you are running at 1280x768 resolution?
09-23-2003, 02:23 PM
Yes, did all that. I'm hoping it's the receiver.
09-23-2003, 03:34 PM
Ahh, finally figured what you meant by receiver. A new satellite box. I originally thought you meant an A/V receiver. Anyways, I once had satellite service, and I also noticed a lot of MPEG artifacting on a lot of the channels. (This was before I had SageTV). Don't know what your satellite signals are like, but my feeling is that what you are seeing is the result of an already highly-compressed signal being re-compressed by the PVR card. Watching the satellite TV on a large screen really magnifies the artifacts.
Hopefully the new receiver will help. Good luck.
09-24-2003, 03:21 AM
Hooked up the new receiver tonight. It helped. It actually looks better with Sage then it does straight from the satellite receiver directly into the Plasma.
All I can really say is that Plasmas suck for regular television viewing. Maybe the 480i image isn't meant for a 50" display. My friend that was helping was saying that it's as good as I could expect and better than what people will get that hook theirs up to their receiver. I still don't like it.
Oh, btw, we found that the Hauppage decoder was a little nicer than the Elecard one. We went through a few of those plugins and didn't really notice any difference. Tomorrow we are going into the Hauppauge registry and make a few adjustments, plus I'm going up on my roof and adjust my satellite to get a stronger signal to see if that will get us further along.
09-24-2003, 03:26 PM
One thing to remember with plasma is that they are fixed-pixel displays. The plasma must first de-interlace the TV signal, then scale the picture to its native resolution. Most built-in scalers in plasmas aren't very good. That may be why the pic quality is better running through your HTPC - your video card is doing the scaling.
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