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.

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 :)


demented said...

Agree completely. How good the upscaling on the V+ is one of the best things about the box I think and could be regarded as serious technological boost even if VM had no HD and it wasn't a PVR.

On Freeview channels 1-5 do look decently good but many of the channels that have an identical resolution like Sky News (which has a much more generous allocation of bandwidth than some equally lesser other channels) etc look rubbish. The 544x576 res channels such as e4 are incredibly annoying though as we all know a fair bit of their material will be very high quality originally to become washed out and fuzzy at the other end. Even UKtv History looks all right upscaled.

How I regard High Def is the spectrum of colours that appear. On most programs on V+ the primary HD colours appears when upscaling on some channels- additional reds, browns and flesh. I've yet to notice too much of the seconary high def colours appearing on upscaling (blue, white and greens) but will keep my eyes peeled.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the upscaling ability of the V+ is superb.

There is minimal difference to my eye, between upscaled BBC1 and BBC HD content.

(Samsung 32inch LCD)

Nialli said...

Given how little real HD is available (even on Sky), I think we've got a good compromise with the V+'s upscaling. On a 32" screen there is a difference with HD to my eyes, but on bigger screens it's even more apparent.