Good Video Gone Bad

Having already vented on the state of sound, I have to now address video. Having been around the video business since 1980, I can recall seeing my first studio quality picture, in that day in the early 1980’s – I witnessed a DX satellite receiver on a C-band down link connected to a Sony CRT TV and let me tell you, that picture looked like you could step into it. It virtually jumped off the screen. There was no video noise. The colors were saturated to perfection. The image was extremely sharp. And best of all, there were no issues with motion lag or, in today’s language, what you would call digital blur or artifacts.
So what do the manufacturers do? They build blur reduction into their televisions. I am currently installing a lot of televisions for clients which they bought on their own, mostly LED or Edge lit models which have terrible out-of-focus looking pictures, the worst and biggest offender being Samsung. There are very few of these TV’s that I like. The lesser models seem to have the better pictures. The picture is never sharp. It looks like water color painting, there is no detail in anything, except for when they show you a still frame of a exceptionally sharp well lit video (which is what they show you all the time in the stores). Put on a football game or an action movie and the picture looks terrible. If you go to look at TV’s in the store and all they will show you is their own pre-made video (or worse)-cartoons or animated video -leave the store. This is amazing to me because if you were looking at an 8 year old Panasonic 720p plasma you would be looking at a incredibly sharp picture with excellent color and no digital artifacts at all. I have said it before but I must repeat it: are the numbers on the box more important than the picture on the unit within? Quality pictures do not come from a manufacturer’s specs. Specifications mean next to nothing. Want to see a good LCD based picture? Look at a Sony regular LCD based TV with 60 Hz processing. There have been many of these built. Get one soon because Sony is reportedly getting or has gotten out of the TV business. If you, like most people, have been brain washed into believing that plasma TV’s are power hungry, hot, and unreliable, please do yourself a favor and read what Consumer Reports says about TV manufacturers and reliability. Panasonic is the number one brand. Further more it rates top picks in the 50 inch and over category‚Ķ10 out of 15 are plasma.
For reliability, CR says that in order- the top 3 are Panasonic, Sanyo and Sony.
The bottom 3 in reliability are Phillips, Westinghouse and Mitsubishi.
The last word on this is that brightness does not make for a great picture, only tired eyes. High quality pictures have excellent contrast (the range from black to white), a sharp picture with little or no digital artifact, correct color across the spectrum, and a picture which doesn’t seem like you are looking at the sun. Often times the TV which first seems impressive on the showroom floor is a very poor choice.
To be fair, there are some good LCD, LED, and Edge lit TV’s out there. They are just hard to find, and believe me the specs will not point you in the correct direction.