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4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

LF1949
I plan to stick around

Yesterday my eleven year old SA8300HD PVR failed with an ER01 error which I've read is a memory error. No combinations of boots, resets or iHHD replacement would bring it back to life. I was able to get a one year free rental from Rogers and was offered a Nextbox 3 or the newer 4K model. Although I have no plans to get a 4K TV, I assumed the 4K PVR would be faster and selected that model.  What I've noticed is the picture quality is not as good as old PVR and was wondering if I should have picked the Nextbox 3. I was hoping someone here would have some advice. I don't want to exchange it and find the same poorer quality. My TV is old (768) so I have the output set at 1080i. I've done some adjustments to the TV and it's a bit better, but sill not the PQ of the old PVR.

 

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Re: 4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

57
Resident Expert
Resident Expert

@LF1949 : If you don't have a setup DVD (and instructions), then perhaps the following will help.

 

1. Choose a channel like CP24HD.

2. Choose a picture mode like "cinema, movie, pro, user, custom" depending on your TV.  Do not use "Standard" or "Vivid" modes.

3. By choosing this, most of the automatic settings are usually then set to the optimum or turned off. If they are not "off", try turning off any automatic settings to see if that helps.

4. Use the "black level" (often called brightness) and turn it up until the blacks appear grey. Then turn the black level down until the blacks get no blacker. This will usually be at around 50 out of 100, but could be as low as 40 or as high as 60.  This will prevent black crush where you cannot see shadow details.

5. Contrast (white level) is a bit more tricky. Find a good HD news channel (CTV, CBC) and find someone wearing a white shirt. You should be able to see the wrinkles in his shirt.  If not, lower the white level until you see the wrinkles, but the picture doesn't get too dark.  Often with new TVs there is a screen brightness option, which should also affect how bright the TV is (not to be confused with Black Level).  Use that so that the screen is not too bright, especially if you usually watch in a dark/darkened room.

6.  Colour levels are usually too high, try lowering them while still seeing good colour in people/clothes, grass.

7. Tint/hue is usually easy to set - temporarily crank up the colour and adjust tint so it's not too red or too green in the faces of people on a good channel.

8. Sharpness if often set too high. On CP24 or another channel that contains writing, you can look for stairstepping, macroblocking, mosquito noise, halos around the writing.  Set the sharpness down to eliminate these.  (Look them up if you're not familiar). The appropriate setting is usually around 0-20 out of 100.

9. Set the colour temperature to the warmest or second from the warmest setting (if there are 5+ options). Most TV images are way too "cool" (blue).  The ice in hockey arenas is usually closer to cream coloured than white.  Most people set their TVs way too blue/cool.

 

There will be differences between channels and especially with movies since some movies have certain colours due to "director's intent". For example, the Matrix movie is quite green. Most technical movies are quite blue, etc.  Set it up so that it looks good for your most-watched channels.

 

Here's more on the topic:

 

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/30-57s-home-theatre-faqs/76161-faq-what-you-need-do-your-new-hdtv.ht...

 

http://www.digitalhome.ca/2009/10/why-you-should-optimize-your-home-theatre/

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6 REPLIES 6

Re: 4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

57
Resident Expert
Resident Expert

See my previous post on this topic in the following thread:

 

http://communityforums.rogers.com/t5/TV/Nextbox-4K-PVR-might-look-best-with-1080i-output/m-p/414067#...

 

It appears that you've already tried some of the "tricks". The 8300 may have "looked sharper", but you should find that the 9865 or CAV10455 both have superior picture quality with regard to various compression artifacts.  Many people confuse a "sharper looking" picture with "better" when in fact the high sharpness causes many artifacts that make the picture "worse overall".  People do the same with Sharpness levels on their TV. They crank them to the max when it's usually best to have sharpness near the lower end of the scale to prevent stairstepping, mosquito noise, macroblocking, halos around objects, etc.  I did a thorough A/B comparison of my 8300 which is still working with my 9865 and with the 4K boxes and found the 8300 to be inferior in almost every way - picture wise. The macroblocking on the 8300 was much worse - a paused picture was typically quite bad, especially if there was any movement. The newer boxes handle macroblocking much better. 

 

The firmware is another matter...  Many people prefer SARA to Navigatr.

Re: 4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

LF1949
I plan to stick around

57:

Looks like I have my work cut out for me. I haven't had to adjust the settings of the TV for years and it was a struggle then. The first thing I notices was the picture on the 4K was very soft, almost blurry. I had the sharpness set quite low for the 8300. Although my adjustments have made an improvement, I can't seem to remove some blotchiness in skin tones (faces). Do you have any "pro" tips for an amateur?

Re: 4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

57
Resident Expert
Resident Expert

@LF1949 : If you don't have a setup DVD (and instructions), then perhaps the following will help.

 

1. Choose a channel like CP24HD.

2. Choose a picture mode like "cinema, movie, pro, user, custom" depending on your TV.  Do not use "Standard" or "Vivid" modes.

3. By choosing this, most of the automatic settings are usually then set to the optimum or turned off. If they are not "off", try turning off any automatic settings to see if that helps.

4. Use the "black level" (often called brightness) and turn it up until the blacks appear grey. Then turn the black level down until the blacks get no blacker. This will usually be at around 50 out of 100, but could be as low as 40 or as high as 60.  This will prevent black crush where you cannot see shadow details.

5. Contrast (white level) is a bit more tricky. Find a good HD news channel (CTV, CBC) and find someone wearing a white shirt. You should be able to see the wrinkles in his shirt.  If not, lower the white level until you see the wrinkles, but the picture doesn't get too dark.  Often with new TVs there is a screen brightness option, which should also affect how bright the TV is (not to be confused with Black Level).  Use that so that the screen is not too bright, especially if you usually watch in a dark/darkened room.

6.  Colour levels are usually too high, try lowering them while still seeing good colour in people/clothes, grass.

7. Tint/hue is usually easy to set - temporarily crank up the colour and adjust tint so it's not too red or too green in the faces of people on a good channel.

8. Sharpness if often set too high. On CP24 or another channel that contains writing, you can look for stairstepping, macroblocking, mosquito noise, halos around the writing.  Set the sharpness down to eliminate these.  (Look them up if you're not familiar). The appropriate setting is usually around 0-20 out of 100.

9. Set the colour temperature to the warmest or second from the warmest setting (if there are 5+ options). Most TV images are way too "cool" (blue).  The ice in hockey arenas is usually closer to cream coloured than white.  Most people set their TVs way too blue/cool.

 

There will be differences between channels and especially with movies since some movies have certain colours due to "director's intent". For example, the Matrix movie is quite green. Most technical movies are quite blue, etc.  Set it up so that it looks good for your most-watched channels.

 

Here's more on the topic:

 

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/30-57s-home-theatre-faqs/76161-faq-what-you-need-do-your-new-hdtv.ht...

 

http://www.digitalhome.ca/2009/10/why-you-should-optimize-your-home-theatre/

Re: 4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

LF1949
I plan to stick around

57:

I do have a setup DVD and will dig that out. I used it to set up the DVD. Since each input retains it's own setup I thought I would have to use a TV source to setup the TV input. I remember years ago using a set of images that were broadcasted on a very HQ HD channel for a few minutes once a week. At one time I had them saved on my PVR. Can I just transfer the settings from the DVD input to the TV? I guess it won't hurt to try. I'll try the alternate method you've laid out as well.  

Re: 4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

57
Resident Expert
Resident Expert

LF1949 wrote: Can I just transfer the settings from the DVD input to the TV? 

Usually when you use HDMI, the settings will be similar enough to simply transfer, followed by a quick tune up using the tips I posted previously.  PBS (Seattle?) may still have a test pattern once a week.

Re: 4K PVR Picture Quality Poor on 1080i TV?

LF1949
I plan to stick around

57:

Just wanted to thank you for the help. I followed your advise and I'm heading in the right direction. It may just be in my head, since I can't do an A-B test, I still remember the old 8300 looking a bit better. I'll continue to tweak and I'm sure I'll get use to the look. It may be the 12 year old Panasonic TV was more compatible with the 8300. Thanks again.

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