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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Are SD channels supposed to be THIS bad?


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65 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   F1aReD

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 08:54 AM

I just got DIRECTV installed yesterday, went well, dish is installed kinda low, not a big deal I suppose.

Anyways, HD looks beautiful, SD channels look horrible. Especially DIY Network, there are bars on the top and bottom, almost like it's in Widescreen, or is that just how compressed it is?

Is there anyway I can make it so that the SD channels are in the middle of the TV (with bars on the sides) and HD fills the screen? Right now SD also fills the screen, which I hate, and they are extremely pixelated....Receiver is an HR24 and an H25, both look horrible.

I knew SD was going to look "bad" but I didn't expect "unwatchable" Anyway to fix this?

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#2 OFFLINE   fleckrj

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:11 AM

SD quality varies by channel. If there are bars on the top and bottom (as well as on the sides), then the original material is 16x9 format that has been reconfigured to show in 4x3 then back converted to show on your 16x9. You can eliminate the bars by changing the aspect ratio on your TV. This will fill the screen but make the picture quality worse.

SD programs that are originally SD are not as bad as HD programs that are downconverted to SD then upconverted to show on your HD TV.

Both your TV and the DirecTV receiver have the ability to upconvert the SD feed to display on the HD TV. Also, if you are running the signal through an AV receiver, the receiver might also be able to do the conversion. You might try going into the DirecTV setup and try playing with "native on" and "native off" to determine which gives you a better picture. You also might play with the settings for what your TV will accept. You can click all of the boxes that your TV supports and try that, then click on only the top value that your TV supports (i.e., 1080i or 720p). Doing the former forces the TV to do the upconversion. Doing the latter forces the DirecTV receiver to do the conversion. Which will be best depends on which TV you have.

#3 OFFLINE   JcT21

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:25 AM

misread post... but i agree, most of SD is unwatchable

Edited by JcT21, 10 February 2012 - 09:27 AM.
misread op

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#4 OFFLINE   CCarncross

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:28 AM

SD is unwatchable.......:lol:

#5 OFFLINE   samrs

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:34 AM

Anyways, HD looks beautiful, SD channels look horrible. Especially DIY Network, there are bars on the top and bottom, almost like it's in Widescreen, or is that just how compressed it is?

Is there anyway I can make it so that the SD channels are in the middle of the TV (with bars on the sides) and HD fills the screen? Right now SD also fills the screen, which I hate, and they are extremely pixelated....Receiver is an HR24 and an H25, both look horrible.


Experiment with the format button on your DirecTv remote.
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#6 OFFLINE   F1aReD

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:44 AM

I've played with the Format button, but no matter what there are bars at the top and the bottom, but none on the left or right. The SD channels fill the screen, but the bars are on the top and bottom (not the left and right).

When I had OTA, if a show or channel wasn't HD it didn't fill the screen (which was fine, because atleast it wasn't stretched out) As soon as something was HD, it filled the screen. Directv can't do this? I've seen it on cable too.

#7 OFFLINE   zimm7778

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:59 AM

The other thing to keep in mind is a lot of this kind of thing is being done by the network itself. Not always but many times. I know football games are broadcasted in the wide screen look on SD now. Personally I've never had a problem with SD. I think there was one station I saw in SD a few weeks back that looked atrocious and and said something on the board about it. Oh I remember now, it was the free preview of ESPN Full Court at mid season and there was some game on there and the picture was so bad you could barely make out the team names, score, quarter, and time left on the score bar.

#8 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 10:15 AM

The other thing to keep in mind is a lot of this kind of thing is being done by the network itself.

If it wasn't happening OTA, it isn't likely that they started now.

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#9 OFFLINE   charlie460

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 10:17 AM

It's not just "SD is bad" -- DirecTV really compresses them down resulting in a much worse picture.

#10 OFFLINE   fleckrj

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 10:19 AM

What DirecTV can and cannot do depends on what signal is provided to them. That varies by channel.

Of course, HD is always better than SD, but depending on the channel, SD can range from not very good to unwatchable. ESPN Full Court and Universal Sports (channel 625) are the worst. DIY is really bad, but WE, Nat Geo Wild, Sprout, and a few others (including one of my local PBS subchannels) are not nearly as bad as DIY or any of the SD sports channels. Also, none of the SD channels look as bad on my one remaining SD television as they do on any of my HD televisions.

Something does not sound correct if you always have bars on the top and bottom but can eliminate the bars on the sides. With a 16x9 HD TV, an SD show in original format should either fill the screen from top to bottom with bars on the side (4x3 image on a 16x9 TV) or have bars on the sides as well as the top and bottom (a 16x9 image broadcast for 4x3 - which adds bars at the top and bottom - and then displayed on a 16x9 TV - which adds bars on the sides).

If it is a 4x3 SD image, trying to eliminate the bars on the side will distort the picture. Some people prefer the distortion to not using all of the display area on the TV. I prefer to keep the image in its original aspect ratio. Either way, there should not be bars on the top or bottom.

If it is a 16x9 image that was broadcast for a 4x3 TV, most newer 16x9 TVs have a mode that will eliminate all of the bars. The picture will fill the screen without being distorted, but the amount of visual information will not have changed. Thus, although the picture fills the screen, it looks even worse because it is blown up.

#11 OFFLINE   dpeters11

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 10:24 AM

I believe I read recently that ESPN SD is downconverted HD which would explain why it seems worse.

Having said that, yes, DirecTV SD always has seemed bad, but their HD is better than some cable providers.

We have been told some new basic HD is coming in the next month or two, so hopefully this will be less of an issue.

#12 OFFLINE   samrs

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 10:28 AM

I've played with the Format button, but no matter what there are bars at the top and the bottom, but none on the left or right. The SD channels fill the screen, but the bars are on the top and bottom (not the left and right).

When I had OTA, if a show or channel wasn't HD it didn't fill the screen (which was fine, because atleast it wasn't stretched out) As soon as something was HD, it filled the screen. Directv can't do this? I've seen it on cable too.



On an sd channel the format button should cycle through crop, strech, original and pillerbox. Pillerbox being what your looking for, some tv's have a justify or auto setting that will wreck havoc with this feature. Check your tv's settings.
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#13 OFFLINE   F1aReD

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:21 AM

I think something is wrong, because no matter what I have bars at the top and bottom. I can change the Format to 1080i + Pillar box, but then I have bars on all 4 sides. I tried Ch 283, 230, and others, but they ALL have bars at the top and bottom. Does anybody else's have bars at the top and bottom?

#14 OFFLINE   F1aReD

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:23 AM

All the SD channels have bars at the top and bottom, not the HD ones

#15 OFFLINE   adkinsjm

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 12:28 PM

I think something is wrong, because no matter what I have bars at the top and bottom. I can change the Format to 1080i + Pillar box, but then I have bars on all 4 sides. I tried Ch 283, 230, and others, but they ALL have bars at the top and bottom. Does anybody else's have bars at the top and bottom?


Try Ch. 291 or Boomerang. You should just get bars on the sides with most shows on those channels if you use pillar box. Original format would stretch it to fill the screen. You can also see if your receiver is set to 16:9 widescreen. That's in the HDTV menu in settings.

#16 OFFLINE   Carl Spock

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:37 PM

Your TV's aspect ratio setting also could also cause you to see SD pictures with bars on the top and bottom. You basically have three adjustments to play with: your TV's aspect ratio, DirecTV's aspect ratio and Native On/Off under Menu > Settings and Help > Settings > HDTV > Video.

By playing around with those three things, your TV's aspect ratio, DirecTV's aspect ratio and Native On/Off, you should get what you want.
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#17 OFFLINE   F1aReD

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:43 PM

It happens on my other TV as well, so I don't get it. I've played with all the settings, but nothing seems to change it. I'll keep trying though.

#18 OFFLINE   SParker

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 04:56 PM

If its not in HD I generally can't watch it anymore. I've been spoiled by HD.

#19 OFFLINE   hasan

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 05:20 PM

That's almost true for me, but there are a few things I like to watch that are only available on SD. (and I don't have bars on any of them, vertical or horizontal). I have stretch mode on for the few times I watch an SD recording.

Examples where I still watch SD:

Current: Young Turks
LinkTV: Democracy Now, Al Jazeera, Arab Labor

The video quality of both channels is pretty poor, with LinkTV being downright horrible.

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#20 OFFLINE   mreposter

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 05:33 PM

The video quality of both channels is pretty poor, with LinkTV being downright horrible.


Yeah, it seems like the less popular SD channels have the worst picture quality. I'm not sure if that's just because Directv is compressing them the most or the actual source is bad.

But in general, Directv's SD compares unfavorably to other provider's SD picture quality. Dish, TimeWarner, Uverse, etc have much better looking SD channels.

Some people may say, "if it's not in HD I don't watch it," that's fine if your favorite programming is in HD, but with many channels still only available in SD, people that want to watch that programming are stuck with a really bad product.
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