I've got a V+ (HDMI connection), Freeview on my Toshiba Regza 32WLT68 and also Freeview on my Panasonic HDD DVD recorder (also upscaling via HDMI), so I've made direct comparisons.
On BBC1 and BBC2, the TV's Freeview picture is just beaten by the DVD recorder's. ITV1 is pretty similar on both. But once you move beyond channels 1-5, the Freeview PQ on both devices deteriorates rapidly. Although BBC4 and News24 are good, E4, Film4, ITV3, ITV4 and particularly More 4 all have what I would classify as "poor" digital pictures - no breakup (I'm only a few miles from Crystal Palace and have excellent Freeview reception) but they don't handle dark background, flesh tones or rapid movement at all well. On Film4 and More 4 even faces can appear 'blocky'.
The V+ SD pictures are so superior there's no comparison you can make without sliding into superlatives. Skin tones, movement, muddy backgrounds - all near perfect. And that's true of all the channels available on Freeview when viewed on the V+ - even Dave. Picture quality when viewing HD-filmed content, such as Cranford or Sky Sports main matches, is close to HD when viewed from around 9 feet away. There is a difference when switching to the BBC or VOD HD content, but it's not that dramatic. That's not just my eyes, but the whole family who were round at Christmas - the PQ drew many envious comments, including a Sky HD customer who was pretty much blown away (and was subsequently talking about moving to Virgin).
It's not scientific, but I'd always trust my eyes over a bunch of stats in a Home Cinema title compiled under lab conditions rather than living ones :)
January 12, 2008
Standard Definition on the V+
I've just posted the comments below on a thread over on AV Forums discussing the upscaling capability of the V+. I think Virgin's box is so good with standard definition it sometimes undermines the case for more HD, especially for those with screens smaller than 32in. Anyway, here's the post - let me know what you think.