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Anyone else think the pillar box bars are not black enough?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by nowandthen, Mar 31, 2007.

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  1. nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    Wow, I can't spell today. :) Title should read: Does anyone else think the pillar box bars are not black enough?

    I got a new Samsung LN-T 4661 LCD TV. These new 2007 models have much better blacks. Now, when I watch SD programs (I don't streatch the image) I notice that the pillar box bars are not as black as my TV is capable of displaying. I can tell this because on some SD programs there is a very black bar about 3/8" wide (on my 46" TV) that is between the edge of the SD window and the pillar bars. That 3/8" strip is very black. If I adjust my TV by decreasing back light level and brightness I can get the somewhat black pillar bars to be as black as the 3/8" wide strip. Unfortunately this also crushes the blacks in the program material.

    I am using HDMI between the HR20-700 and the Sammy. Are there any adjustments on the HR20 to increase the black level. I already have the option set to black but it seems the HR20 should sender a blacker black (AKA blacker than black?). Does anyone else think we should request the black level of the pillar bars be increased?

    It really bugs me on SD when the pillar bars are kind of gray-black.
     
  2. davring

    davring Hall Of Fame

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    Jan 13, 2007



    I have a new Sony Bravia KDL40V2500 LCD and I see on occasion what you are seeing. I was just watching basketball on CBS and when they cut to commercail (4:3)there are no black bars generated by the HR20. Your TV does not (doesn't need to) generate the black bars. When there is NO signal what you are seeing is bleed through due to the lack of any signal. If your set is sent a black signal it would be a true black. I agree with you the new LCD's are capable of some awesome contrast levels.
     
  3. cygnusloop

    cygnusloop Hall Of Fame

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    Jan 26, 2007
    Couldn't agree more, and I don't think that there is a way to adjust black level on the HR20. I expect the HR20 does send "black", but it is coming through a calibrated input, so results vary.

    I also have other problems with the HR20's pillars. This is the key reason I use native mode. When I am watching a 4:3 program, my TV supplies the pillars. If you will forgive my short cross-post from another thread:

    Why I prefer my TV's pillarbars. A short Rant in two parts.

    Part One.
    I prefer my TV's pillarbars because they have some overscan. The HR20's pillarbars just append black (or grey) bars to the 640x480 frame. With the HR20's bars, you see all the "junk" in the "gutters" of the 4:3 frame. Sometimes this junk is not that bad, but sometimes it's a bright blue line. On some British programs, it's just hideous black and white checkerboard looking stuff. My TV's pillarbars hide all this "junk".

    Part Two.
    I prefer my TV's pillarbars because they are really, really black. I have a DLP TV. So I don't have burn in(out) concerns, but those equally apply. The DLP generated edges are razor sharp, and the bars are just dead, black pixels. IMO, the DLP creates a superior 4:3 frame for viewing 4:3 content when compared to the pillarbox mode of the HR20.
     
  4. mtsz52784

    mtsz52784 Legend

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    Jun 26, 2006
    Have a 42" Philips Plasma and have no problems with the black levels... i do notice it on my lcd, but the Plasma is as black as it could be
     
  5. cygnusloop

    cygnusloop Hall Of Fame

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    Jan 26, 2007
    Well, I would expect that your two TV's are calibrated/adjusted differently.
     
  6. jorossian

    jorossian Legend

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    Jan 21, 2007
    Totally agree. My Sony creates a much more elegant and crisp-edged 4:3 picture when allowed to scale and Pillar-box the native feed. I also love that allowing the Sony widescreen to do the pillar-boxing also allows the 4:3 TV's connected via RF modulator to view 4:3 content without having HR20 generated pillar-boxes shoved in there crunching the 4:3 image into a 3:3 image. Native On w/Stretch is the only way to go for best picture quality on all channels - especially if you're feeding other TV's that happen to be 4:3 via the extra outputs.
     
  7. Tiebmbr

    Tiebmbr Godfather

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    Mar 27, 2007
    I have a Samsung 32" LCD which creates a great looking black via adjusting the backlight (called "energy saver" on my set), and I don't really notice much greying of the black pillars.

    However, "black" in television is never of course truly black (0 IRE on a waveform monitor). Broadcast TV (and therefore a piece of gear such as a satellite receiver) almost always set black at 7.5 IRE, which still energizes the pixels enough to create a noticeible tone of grey, one that would be barely noticeable on a CRT screen, if even seen at all. I think plasmas function in the same way but by energizing pixels of gas plasma instead of phosphors. LCDs are different. All you can really do is adjust your viewing preferences to set what you feel you should see "black" as on your particular screen.
     
  8. Apr 3, 2007 #8 of 24
    nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    When I switch to Native mode my new Samsung displays "unsupported mode" on HDMI. SO I can't test this to see if the black level improves. :(
     
  9. Apr 3, 2007 #9 of 24
    nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    I need to play around with this. But as you can see from my post above my ne Sammy isn't happy with native for some reason. DOes this mean that you see 4:3 on your 4:3 TVs and it's pillar boxed on your 16:9 TVs? When HD is playing what happens on your 4:3 TVs? Do they display letter box or do they squish the image?

    Thanks.

    PS I need to dig out some component cables and see if the native mode "problem" goes away.
     
  10. nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    Bummer. Maybe we should lobby for a 0 IRE setting? Maybe on the same screen that allows you to choose gray or black bars have a third option for blacker than black or super black, or ?.
     
  11. cygnusloop

    cygnusloop Hall Of Fame

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    Some Sammy's don't support 480i (and sometimes p) over HDMI. 480p might work, or you could always use component, and save that HDMI port for your new HD-DVD.
     
  12. jorossian

    jorossian Legend

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    Jan 21, 2007
    4:3 standard definition channels appear 4:3 on my 4:3 TVs and pillar boxed on my 16:9 HDTV.

    4:3 HD programming (when the networks actually broadcast their own pillar boxes such as some ESPNHD and HDlocals shows) will still get scrunched into a 3:3 image on the 4:3 TVs but that's easily fixed by switching to the SD version of the channel (instead of 13-1 switch to 13 or instead of ESPN 73 switch to ESPN 206). Everything is always perfect on the 16:9 TV regardless of channel because the TV knows what to do with the picture based on the signal.

    16:9 HD programming will squish on the 4:3 TVs.
     
  13. nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks.
     
  14. Moocher

    Moocher AllStar

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    Feb 5, 2007
    I don't understand why anyone cares how dark the pillars are as long as you have satisfactory blacks in the picture itself.

    Mooch
     
  15. LDLemu4U

    LDLemu4U Legend

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    Oct 16, 2006
    I think you are experiencing the "super pillars" that some of us had with the latest update (0145). Your LCD should have only the pillar boxes on each side without the 3/8" strip. The pillar boxes is what your TVs "black" and the 3/8" is your HR20s "black".
     
  16. Michael D'Angelo

    Michael D'Angelo Lifetime Achiever

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    Oct 20, 2006
    I never use it but I just tried it to see what it looked like. It looks great to me.
     
  17. cygnusloop

    cygnusloop Hall Of Fame

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    Mooch, are there really "satisfactory blacks" in SD programming? They are what they are, IMO.

    What we are talking about here is setting up an esthetically pleasing viewing environment, for the aforementioned crappy 4:3 SD programming. For me that means non-distracting pillars, and some overscan to hide the ugly stuff. If the 4:3 frame generated by the HR20 doesn't bug you, the all the better. There are some advantages to letting the STB do everything. It bothers me enough to set my TV and the HR20 up in such a way that the SD stuff is as nice a possible (for me).
     
  18. nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    Because it bothers me when the picture is blacker than the bars. I just find it distracting. SImple as that. :)
     
  19. nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    I don't think I'm seeing "super pillars". Were these wider than they should have been. My gripe is that the black pillars could be blacker. I'm not sure I understand this. If I see blacker blacks in the 4:3 image then why can't the pillar bars be that black? Obviousoly the LCD can make blacker blacks so I am assuming it is the HR20 that is not sending the blackest black to the pillar bar areas. :confused:
     
  20. nowandthen

    nowandthen Godfather

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    Nov 18, 2005
    Today I switched to dark gray pillar bars. Not sure that it is acceptable but at least it's not the washed out black pillar bars, they're really gray now! :lol:
     
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