Thursday, October 26, 2006


Home Theater Ugly Secrets Revealed - Secrets #8, 9 and 10

Secret 8: YOU MAY NOT SEE A PICTURE AT ITS BEST.

What you should do about it:

Depends on how deeply you want to crawl into this.

Warning!

This is technical but I'll simplify. Each piece of electronics - a display device (Hi-Def, digital television) has its own way of showing the picture, involving a fixed number of pixels (picture pieces). This isn't the same for all sets. It isn't the necessarily same for DVD players, converters, or whatever else you plug in to see a picture. So somewhere the data is converted. ALL CONVERSION SCHEMES ARE NOT EQUAL. THERE MAY BE LOSSES of resolution, or clarity. There may be what they call artifacts.
And here's a thrill: The TV stations don't have to use all their new digital bandwidth to broadcast in full high-definition. For example, rather than being limited to providing one analog programming channel, a broadcaster will be able to provide a super sharp "high definition" (HDTV) program or multiple "standard definition" DTV programs simultaneously. Providing several program streams on one broadcast channel is called "multicasting." The number of programs a station can send on one digital channel depends on the level of picture detail, also known as "resolution," desired in each programming stream. DTV can provide interactive video and data services that are not possible with "analog" technology. They may use some of it for something else that makes them more money. They - or the satellite channels - can, in effect, send a degraded picture alongside another new channel of degraded picture. There's nothing you can do about this. Nice.

Secret #9: ARTIFACTS.

Important background on nasty artifacts:

Warning:

Like a pimple on a teen, after they see it, that's ALL they see. If you want to live in denial, skip ahead to Number 10. And these aren't REALLY secrets, because you can see them, but you might not notice right away.

What you should do about it:

Decide which you can live with and which you can't. It will drive you crazy if you let it. Or spend a fortune to get the latest technology that might have it fixed. Or just ignore it. Life isn't perfect. Be VERY CLEAR on what the warranty covers or doesn't.

Mosquito noise.

Not buzzing. It's a swirling that looks like tiny bugs flying around. You'll see it - if you do - in saturated colors.

Screen Door Effect.
It looks like looking through a screen door into your picture. (Especially - to my eye - on Plasma sets.) It's because of how the set is built (you are actually seeing the holes or spaces between picture elements). Manufacturers are aware of this and doing all they can to fix or mitigate it.

Blocking.

The picture breaks up into little (or bigger!) blocks. This is horrible to see unless you love modern art. It'll be seen in moving pictures of detail. This is the worst sin.

Rainbows.

Certain people see a rainbow effect in certain DLP (Digital Light Projector) sets. You might notice it if you look slightly away from the screen. It's caused by the way the DLPs work. Some are better at this than others. There's no pot of gold at the end, either.

Pixel failure.

Since there are so many elements (pixels) to a picture, one or more can fail. THE WARRANTY MIGHT STATE that a certain number of failures is okay with them and may even be expected. IF you saw it you'd only notice it up close (see section on where to sit in relation to screen - you shouldn't BE that close. One or more might also stay lit permanently. That'll be more obvious, a tiny, tiny red in a black scene, for example. There may be millions of these dots on your screen, to give you a sense of scale. This isn't the end of the world.

Secret #10: SPEAKERS NEVER SOUND THE WAY THEY DO IN THE STORE.

What you should do about it:

Just know it. There's little you can do. (But in the audio section of www.GreatHomeTheater.com I'll tell you all about how to get the best out of your sound.)

Why? It has to do with the acoustics of the room in which you listen. Each room makes the same speakers sound differently. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. You could buy a subwoofer and bring it home and HEAR NO BASS where you sit. But this will be covered in the audio section. Along with what you can do about it.

There. Now you know 3 more Ugly Home Theater secrets.
But, it isn t quite that simple. At www.GreatHomeTheater.com there are more secrets revealed. I promise you won t get neurotic or your hands dirty, and I won t talk you out of what can be a tremendous and highly enjoyable leap forward in home entertainment.


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