Tag Archives: lcd

1080p, HDTV and HD Ready makes me sad

In the old days, when I was a boy, it was usually the case that if you bought a monitor that was larger than your current one (diagonally larger screen), it supported more pixels as well.  These days, it’s sad to see monitor vendors sticking to the flawed idea that somehow, 1080 pixels is the new one size fits all.

If you buy a bigger monitor, you don’t get more pixels, you just get bigger pixels.

This is because monitor vendors have bought into the HDTV size of 1900 x 1080.  Why would anyone want to use anything different?  I think it’s actually because monitor vendors realised they were being dumb.  I mean, people spent thousands of pounds buying larger and larger televisions in the old days, and they never got any increase in resolution?  If people would pay top dollar for huge TV’s at the same resolution as 14″ portables, why the hell couldn’t they bring that business model to the LCD monitor market.

So they did.

There’s a good rant on this over here.

When I bought the LCD’s we use at the moment, I got 5:4 ratio LCD monitors.  People probably laughed.  They’re 19″ displays.  That means (sorry to switch units), that the actual screen is ~30.5cm high and ~37.5cm wide.  That gives about a ~48cm display (diagonal).  We were thinking of getting some new monitors, but I knew it wouldn’t be that easy so I made sure I had the measurements.  These monitors run at 1280 x 1024.  A 19″ widescreen (16:9) might give 1900 x 1080, but it’s vertically much smaller than the monitors we have.  That’s okay, 21″ widescreen?  Still shorter.  22″?  Still shorter.  23″?  Still shorter.  I’d have to buy a 24″ monitor, running at just 56 more pixels high, to give me roughly the same physical height as my existing monitor.  And the screen would be ~20 inches wide (or ~50cm).

To get 56 more pixels (vertically).

And that’s it – you have to be specifically looking to find anything higher than 1080 vertical resolution and you pay for it.  And there’s no good reason for it.  If I want to watch movies, I do that on my television.  So we didn’t buy any new monitors.

I want a choice of monitors, with a choice of native resolutions, in a choice of ratios.

PS3 / Blu-Ray

I did quite a bit of standby and call out (and a little overtime) in November and December and due to various timings, all my claims got stacked up and paid in February.  Which was good news because I needed to pay off the dental work on the visa card and think about organising the rest of it.  But it also meant we had a little spare cash, and that was added in to the reduction of my mortgage by £100 and not having to pay council tax this month.  So I decided to do my bit to end the recession by spending and not saving1.

After wavering a lot recently about Blu-Ray, and deciding not to get a PS3 when I finally did go for Blu-Ray but to get a dedicated player, I did a complete about-face this morning.  Playstation 3 bought from Tesco (proof that supermarket points schemes work, price was roughly the same as other places, but we get points at Tesco that we can buy food with when the vouchers come through).  I also bought the Matrix Blu-Ray set (needed something to watch on it), and we got LittleBigPlanet free with the PS3.

Got it all home, disconnected the optical audio from the Sky+ box and plugged it into the Playstation2, and it was all up and running.  The PS3 did some updates (two, I think), and LittleBigPlanet tried to do some, but it got a big confusing, and then finally worked.

We watched bits of the Matrix and were awed by the clarity and the colour and the detail.  I also put our original DVD Matrix in and tried it with and without the PS3 upscaling.  I even took some photo’s to try and show people how clear Blu-Ray is, because I can’t find any good examples online.  While I was looking at the photo’s I noticed the Matrix Blu-Ray pictures were a totally different colour to the DVD.  Seriously, much more blue and green.  I was a little worried, was that normal?

Then I played LittleBigPlanet for an hour or so – looks like it might be fun.  Between levels the screen goes fully white though and after that hour I was getting a headache.

We eventually settled on watching the Matrix tonight to really see how good Blu-Ray was, and to try and convince myself the colours were okay.

And then I remembered – our TV sets preferences on a per-input basis, so the HDMI2 channel we were watching the PS3 through was set to all the defaults.  Those defaults include Backlight set to 100, Contrast and Colour are also pretty high.  On my regular setup I run Backlight set to 20 (yes, 1/5th of the default) and Contrast and Colour differently.  In fact, I don’t use any of the TV defaults.  I set them through a lot of playing around when we first got the TV and again recently using a THX calibration section of the Star Wars DVD’s, so I’m pretty happy with how they look, and they don’t give us headaches.

Setting those values on HDMI2 has left us with a much kinder Blu-Ray image and none of the retina burning sensation that the defaults give you.  Also, some searching online showed that the 2004 DVD for The Matrix (and also the Blu-Ray print) have a different colour setup compared to the original DVD release which is the one we own.  So, those two things together make me much happier, the on-screen image is now less obviously different, and where it is different I know it’s because the print is different this time around.

If you were ever wondering, can upscaling DVD players really give you Blu-Ray quality images – the answer is no.  Maybe with newer DVD’s that were created with upscaling in mind they may come closer, but comparing the original Matrix release and the Blu-Ray release is like comparing the granularity of gravel and sand.

Really pleased with it.  Also glad I bought surround sound first, rather than Blu-Ray.

  1. this is my regular behaviour as well, but during a recession I have an excuse []
  2. so, no more surround sound from Sky+, which I think we’ve used about twice since we got the surround sound system []

Star Wars and Goose Pimples and All Things Nice

I used one of my Star Wars THX DVD’s to check out what Rab had said about tuning your TV with THX, and he was right!  In the language settings section there’s a THX logo and it runs you through some picture setting stuff, mainly around contrast and brightness, along with some diagnostics.  Lo and behold, my TV was already spot on!  I’m really picky about contrast and brightness, because I’m really sensitive to bright lights.  I always have my computer monitor set very dark, and I try and have the TV set so that it’s not too bright, and I’d got it spot on in terms of being able to pick out the different white and black contrasts on the THX thingy.

Very pleased.

Of course, as soon as I stuck the DVD in, the surround sound popped into life and I was able to enjoy the intro Star Wars music blaring out.  Man it’s fantastic, and it evokes such an amazing set of memories.

I still can’t watch the 20th Century Fox logo/intro on movies without expecting it to fade into Star Wars.

And Sunday arrived in that usual Sunday arriving style

In which every paragraph is a segway.

Lovely fresh November morning.  No rain yet although it looks like we might be in for some later.  I’m not sure how it works but during October it’s always too cold to have the patio doors open, where-as in November there’s nothing better than sitting in the computer room with the door open enough for the crisp clean air to sneak in.

Because spending 7 hours at a craft exhibition wasn’t enough, the girls are all going to Hobbycraft in a bit, maybe it’s considered a suitable ‘warm down’ after the full on exhibition.

A friend of mine found a screen callibration bit on a THX DVD and mentioned it to me, so I may spend the time they’re out seeing if I can tune our screen any more.  I’m quite happy with how it looks but there’s always that vague concern that you’ve picked some weird settings and pink skin is looking orange but you never noticed.  Sunday’s just the kind of day for doing lazy LCD screen tuning I think.

John Scalzi wrote up a Quantum of Solace review, which I totally agree with.  Despite the fact that I still don’t really know who John is (I just stalk his blog) I feel at least now I could share a pint of beer with him and have one topic to chat about that we agreed on 🙂  That’s the internet, bringing together people who don’t know each other and fooling them into thinking they do.

Mark wrote a blog update, which I really enjoyed, despite his implication that he shouldn’t write them too often.  How am I supposed to live vicariously through other people if they don’t tell me what they’re doing?

We watched a comedy show on ITV last night, in honour of Prince Charles’ 60th birthday and some of the acts were really funny.  One guy stood out, I’ve seen him before and really enjoyed his stuff.  He’s Omid Djalili and you can check out his web site over here.  He manages to poke fun at a lot of racial issues and particularly racial accents and still stay on the right side of the line (in my view) and is pretty funny.  There’s some videos of him on the site, check them out.