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DBSTalk.com First Look: HR23-700

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by Doug Brott, Nov 2, 2008.

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  1. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    My very favorite of the backlash posts. So far. :D

    Realize, what I was pointing out was the reference to "sharper", which is what I posted a particular example of and how that can't actually be the case. While I did not refer to general PQ, which indeed has other factors behind it, I am skeptical of many of those factors as well, and for very similar reasons. What is truly unfortunate is that if you catch just one misperception and give smoking-gun evidence of why it is a misperception in a report that is supposed to be water-tight, that this can undermine the credibility of the entire report. That's not fair, but that's what happens.

    While I am well aware that sharpness is only one large part of PQ (and the chief improvement, possibly the only real improvement that HD brings over SD), I guess it still never hurts to point that out. So thanks.
  2. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    But the science proves that it doesn't. You either have to believe the science or believe what you think you see, because they are completely at odds. Both can't be true. Historically, whenever there is such a conflict, the reality of the science outweighs the fragility of human perception, so I think the odds are in my favor. The only other course is to disprove the science. Good luck with that.

    And OK, maybe the "shiny new toy" thing was perceived as harsh and painted a picture that was perceived as making certain folks look a bit foolish. But those are again, misperceptions. The intent, however it may have missed the mark, was not to do that, but to be truthful. The truth can be blunt. The truth sometimes hurts. Folks sometimes have a problem accepting the truth, and it hardly surprises me that this might be one of those times. It certainly was not meant as an accusation, but I can see how you might have perceived it to be one.

    I apologize for not being able to come up with a less inflammatory way to make that point, but then I am somewhat flawed as well, and I regret not being able to say that in a way that had less potential to hurt your feelings. I'm sorry, please forgive me. I know it sounds hypocritical to point out that other folk's perceptions are not always to be swallowed whole, when I have obvious flaws of my own. I tried my best to explain things, and it is what it is. We're all works in progress.
  3. Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 24, 2007
    Are you arguing semantics?

    Please tell me it isn’t just about the word “sharper”. Please tell me that you considered the possibility that, in your eyes, “sharper” wasn’t the correct term. Please tell me you didn’t dismiss out of hand the possibility that we may have actually seen an increase in PQ?

    Because if you wrote those overly verbose posts to explain that it’s impossible to have a sharper picture then you wasted your time and ours.

    Maybe you should have read the explanations of our perceptions before you went off half cocked.

    In the following I detailed my perceptions of the picture quality.


    Keep in mind that I swapped cables and even directly connected the two receivers to my TV. Keep in mind that each time I did the results were the same. Keep in mind that I make my living troubleshooting, and problem solving, requiring lateral thinking with verification of results. Keep in mind that this kind of testing, comparison, and analysis is what I do for a living. Keep in mind that we each came to this conclusion independently. Keep in mind that it’s highly improbably that the descriptions of what we had seen were so closely correlated.

    Now, explain to me why it’s impossible for me and others to have seen what I’ve seen.

  4. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    These are all great points, and I hope you understand that none of them have anything to do with disproving the points I was making (and I also hope you'll forgiove me for assuming it was a reaction to my post, which it may not be).

    A DAC is a DAC. The errors in D-to-A are neglible, and the difference between modern DACs is also negligible. That is also mostly true for scalers, believe it or not. High-dollar scalers that have other features may be better than typical DVR scalers, but if you compare the actual scaling algorithms, the math is the same and the results are too, unless you "misperceive" quality where it isn't because "that one" costs a lot more and has it's own box, which is kind of the point I was making regarding perception and how tricky and malleable it is.

    The decompression algorithm is the same (MPEG-4 AVC part 10). There is no difference between things that are exactly the same, after all. One DVR doesn't do it "a little bit different". If it did, that would not be MPEG-4 AVC Part 10. Decoding is supposed to be a mirror-image reversal of encoding. Any variance from the standard just on the decode end is bound to have more errors, not improvements.

    Also, good A/B testing typically rules out most of these things in an attempt to hold the playing field equal, which makes them irrelevant (assuming the testing was done properly, that is).
  5. Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 24, 2007
    I sounds like you are actually saying that there is no difference in picture quality between any DVR on the planet.

    Further, it seems as if you’re saying that if a group of HD-DVRs is connected to a given HDTV it is impossible for a human to see a difference in picture quality between any of them.

    Is this true?

  6. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    I am not arguing at all, and certainly not about semantics. I focused the discussion on "sharper" as a more precise term so that it could be discussed in precise terms. That was your word, not mine. And that was just one example. I could probably do the same thing with all other aspects of PQ, as well as the other aspects of claims about audio.

    I read it all. I did not dismiss it "out of hand", I dismissed it only after vetting it thoroughly against the evidence. You have assumed I went off "half-cocked", which is unfortunately just one more misperception. I always try to be well thought out. Especially if there is the possibility of backlash. You have to have your ducks in a row to make an unpopular statement. I always try my best to do the due dilligence, and I'm sorry it might not have met your standards, but I'll probably get over that.

    It was not about wasting your time. It was not even about you. It was about those who might swallow whole the unsubstantiated and scientifically impossible notion that this DVR has better audio and video. The post was for them, not for you. I think "overly verbose" is your personal code for "part I won't read and wouldn't understand if I did". That's unfortunate, as I know you are smart enough to understand this. You simply don't want to, and I understand that and sympathize.

    Mike, it doesn't matter what the particulars were of your testing, I'm willing to concede that they were beyond reproach, because I am certain they were, knowing the participants as well as I do from their posting history (which is exemplary). But all of this laundry list is about what lead to your perception, and nothing is about the science that subjectively disproves the credibility of that objective perception. There is no new information there that would change at all what I posted.

    I honestly hold no ill will, and it gives me no pleasure to upset people, in fact it makes me very uncomfortable. Somehow, I still summoned the courage to point out the truth. I'm really sorry if that upsets you, as that was not the intent at all. You are perfectly free to dismiss ME "out of hand" if you like, as a crackpot troublemaker. I can take it. I know the real truth, and any reader can draw their own conclusions, but a tip: the more you attack me the more difficult it will be for those on the fence to want to come to your side of the matter. Just ask John McCain. He knows first-hand how that works. But go ahead, tell everyone how I pal around with terrorists if it makes you feel better.

    The explanation has already been made. It's in there. You just have to have the personal integrity to challenge yourself to read and understand it. You could find that motivation. But if you approach it with the preconceived notion that you're "not having any of it" then you'll just never know. That's just one more example of how state of mind alters perception.

    And it is NOT impossible. As I said before, there is no question. It's very possible that you see what you think you see. I'm sure you believe it. Unfortunately, what you believe can't have any basis in reality, which is proven by the science. That doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you. It's human perception that is flawed. We're all slaves to that. But the more you tend to simply attack me, the more obvious it is that your motivations are skewed towards not understanding. Pity.

  7. HDPeeT

    HDPeeT New Member

    Dec 14, 2008
    [:eek2: :nono2:
  8. Pia-chan

    Pia-chan Cool Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    Wow. (given the last few posts, I can't think of anything else to say :( )

    This thread could definitely use some :D right about now, so I'll throw this into the ring for discussion/thought: based upon the First Look objective opinions, there is a a 'high' probability that the HR23 represents a deployment of new hardware (specifically, new silicon). If this proves to be the case, then there would be a concurrent probability of a change in PQ (note that I didn't promise an improvement).

    Hypothetically speaking, if I were D* I would want to give customers the impression that PQ has improved over time. As such, I might consider cranking up contrast and/or brightness and/or color temperature and/or sharpness to artificially create that impression for the 'average' user. Please keep in mind that that this is irrespective of the HD vs. SD debate, as all channels would look 'better' to most users. As long as I'm fiddling, I might as well crank up the audio gain, as this might give users the impression of 'better' sound. I hate to use a hometown band as an example, but the latest Metallica album is evidence of recent deployment of this (unfortunate) strategy.

    Bottom line: I don't deny the possibility that PQ has improved with the release of the HR23...I simply want to understand the "why".
  9. Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 24, 2007
    Obviously I have not made myself very clear. Sorry for that. Lets start this discussion over more civilly.

    I think your last paragraph sums up all my objections to your analysis so I'll start there.

    Here you concede that it is possible that we saw an increase in picture quality.

    Here you state it is impossible and has no basis in reality.

    Can you see the completely contradictory nature of these two sentences? It is either possible or it is not possible but not both. One could argue that this statement also implies that anyone who thinks they see a better picture is lying to themselves. Further, this contradiction is implicit or expressed throughout your posts on this subject.

    BTW, I was not speaking in “code”. I fully read all you posts on this subject. I did understand it. I just didn’t agree with it.

    The following is implicit/expressed in all your analysis so correct my if I misunderstood:
    • All HD-DVRs will produce exactly the same picture quality no matter what the hardware.
    • It is impossible or nearly impossible to improve upon that picture quality.
    • Digital is digital making it impossible for what is passed through a given system to be altered. What goes in will be identical to what comes out.
    In the face of the apparent contradiction of it being both possible and impossible for us to have seen an increase in picture quality, I’ll ask you just one question.

    Is it or is it not possible for the picture quality of one HD-DVR on a given HDTV to be better than another HD-DVR on the same HDTV? A simple yes or no will do.

    I look forward to your answer.

  10. reweiss

    reweiss Godfather

    Jan 27, 2007
    Pia-Chan, that is the crux of the issue. We did not have a way to scientifically measure the levels of improved audio or video. It was all observations and we stated it as such. Side by side comparisons allowed us to observe what appeared to be better video and audio, regardless of how it was accomplished. We can all debate this for months, but the reality is everyone will have to make their own judgement call and use our statements as an "observational recommendation" if determining whether you want an HR23 or not. There certainly are enough other features that are objectively better where it is worth purchasing this DVR.

    As far as observations, my wife (not involved with te details of my testing of the HR23-700) even made a comment to me (an umprompted statement) about the video seeming somewhat improved on channels/shows she watched on a regular basis. So it was not just me being dazzled by a new DVR. Tomcat is right tha it is an easy trap to fall into where you can see improvements just because something is newer. However, I submit I personally was aware of this issue before I started testing the HR23 and tried to protect myself from falling into that trap. Having my HR20 side by side helped me avoid such 'placebo-like' subjectiveness. Again, I can only speak for myself. However, it is odd that most of us involved in the testing, on our own, seemed to observe the same improvements.

    I stand by my statements and my fellow testers statements that to us, the audio and video seemed better.

    I am not offended by Tomcat's statements. However, I do not think he can stand by his statements when he was not looking at the DVR and TV with our eyes or listening to the audio with our ears and had an HR23 to validate his claims. He's made certain assumptions and is trying to pass them off as facts (or truth). I will not attack his comments. Just the opposite; I ask anyone here who was not part of the initial testing but has purchased an HR23 and owns another DVR to compare it to, to either validate or dispute all of the observations made in this thread and the "first look" document.
  11. Lord Vader

    Lord Vader Supreme Member DBSTalk Club

    Sep 20, 2004
    Galactic Empire
  12. LameLefty

    LameLefty I used to be a rocket scientist

    Sep 28, 2006
    Yep. Those were my thoughts exactly: new video chip and/or CPU under the heatsinks, and some post-processing of the outputs to give the impression of "better" PQ. That's why I would love to see screen caps and/or photos.

    Query: did any of the field testers do the majority of their testing using component cabes and if so, were they any of the ones who independently perceived better PQ output? If so, are any of them in the position of doing some screen grabs with, say, an HR20 or 21 connected to the same component inputs using the same cables?
  13. Mrmiami

    Mrmiami Legend

    Oct 3, 2006

    Yes True but it also goes by a different name called "MO MONEY and MO SPACE!"
  14. loudo

    loudo Well-Known Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    Central Maine
    When I look back at some of the hardware features we used to have, on the first HD sets (standard lighted remotes, OTA tuners, etc), compared to what we have with today's today's HR series, we are now getting the stripped down models. But of course the HR series are light years ahead of the older ones when it comes to software features. kind of a trade off.
  15. Uncle Lar

    Uncle Lar Cool Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    I made a switch from Dish (after 3 years) to DTV today. Mainly to take advantage of promotional prices (my commitment to Dish is long up) and for the better sports (e.g. MLB package). They installed a HR23-700 DVR. As a person who never subscribed to DTV before, nor having any real preconceived notions about which was better, here are my observations:

    First and foremost, the channel change time is unbelievably SLOW, as compared to Dish. So much so, that my audio/video receiver thinks its lost its picture, and flashes up a blue screen, only to have it suddenly come back on again. Probably takes about 6 seconds. Unbelievable. I thought the Dish was kinda slow at a couple of seconds, but this is unbelievable. Oh well, I guess I will choose channels from guide, and not manual up-down change.

    I use closed captions quite a bit, due to some hearing disability (old rock-n-roll days). The closed captioning is very jagged looking on the DTV vs. Dish, and the background translucency is not a "clear" as on Dish. But, turning CC on/off is much simpler vs. Dish, which was about a 10 step process.

    The overall menu system is definitely "slicker" on Dish, with a more polished look, but I guess it's no biggy, if it gets the job done. Maybe I'm just used to the Dish menus, but, for example, recording a "seasons pass" seems easier, since you don't have all these "drop-down" type menu selections.

    Picture quality: If I use my TVs split screen capability, to compare the DTV local HD signal to the same channel received directly to the TV via OTA antenna, the OTA signal is better, especially colorwise. The DTV definitely adds a reddish tone to skin colors. The OTA picture looks virtually perfect. Image quality is also slightly better on OTA.

    How come theres no PIP cabability? I used to love tuning to two different channels using the two different tuners, then switching instantly between them. No way in DTV. Guess I'll be using the TVs split screen system, but only with OTA locals and DTV sources.

    The remote seems awkward. Navigation buttons should be in middle. Arrow buttons aren't used that much, but they are right in middle. No matter, will be programming my universal with DTV codes later anyways.

    Although DTV provides integrated local channels, they only give you 1 per network, instead of my Dishes ability to integrate into the EPG ALL the sub channels. No big deal I guess, since I didn't watch them anyway.

    It remains to be seen how things record, and hopefully, I don't experience some of the horror stories I've read (recording black, no audio, etc.).

    Overall, I think it's gonna be just fine. Just gotta get used to it.
  16. say-what

    say-what Active Member

    Dec 14, 2006
    New Orleans
    The only way to get sub-channels is if you add the AM21 OTA tuner.
  17. RAD

    RAD Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2002
    Uncle Lar, welcome over to DirecTV. If you haven't already I recommend looking though the threads in the hints/tips section at http://www.dbstalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=115. There are a few things in there that will help you getting used to the DirecTV boxes, like getting a 30sec skip vs. the default 30 second slip. As for the channel change speed if you have native resolution turned on in the HDTV section of setup try turning it off and see if that helps. With native on the box and your TV need to resync if the resolution changes between the channels.

    Also don't forget to connect the box to your internet connection so you can use the on demand feature and media share and any other little things DirecTV has coming down the line for the network connection.
  18. Uncle Lar

    Uncle Lar Cool Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    thanks for the native "off" thing. that did indeed speed channel changes greatly! question now is, do i set the receiver to 720p or 1080i. some channels, like espn look better at 720p (its native res i think). tv supposedly upgrades automatically to 1080p anyways.
  19. RAD

    RAD Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2002
    Using the 720p or 1080i setting is your call, basically just compare the settings, see which one you're happy with and use that one.
  20. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    Coming into this discussion late, and not sure I want to get in the middle of this, but it would seem to me that:

    1 and 3 are true for digital connections like HDMI and coaxial or optical digital audio, when each HD DVR is fed audio/video data from the same encoder. Only exception I can think of might be digital audio volume levels.

    1, 2 and 3 could be false for component video and L-R audio out, because in each of these steps there's an digital to analog conversion involved prior to delivering the signal to the electronics in the display or audio output device.

    Make sense? So reviewers might see a difference in PQ when comparing component, but shouldn't when comparing HDMI.

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