Will You See All The HDTV Resolution You Expected? 125 2008 Model Test Results- HD GURU Exclusive

September 27th, 2008 · 40 Comments · LCD Flat Panel, Microdisplay Rear Projection, Plasma, Reference Materials

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Posted September 27, 2008
Choosing the right HDTV is difficult. One important consideration is to know how much resolution a particular HDTV extracts from a 1080i high definition signal. The HD Guru put 125 2008 HDTVs (plus one 2009 prototype) through a series of test signals to learn how different brands and models really perform. The specific results appear in the 2008 Resolution Tests PDF link below. Here is a brief rundown of these tests. For more testing information please refer to my previous articles that appeared in Home Theater magazine. You can find them at:

http://hometheatermag.com/hookmeup/1107hook2/
http://hometheatermag.com/hookmeup/1106hook/
http://hometheatermag.com/hookmeup/0506halfrez/

Deinterlacing Test

All LCD flat panels, microdisplay rear projectors and most plasma HDTVs are progressive displays, meaning they (should) process all 1080 lines within a 1080i signal and display them at a set’s native resolution. (1080i is the broadcast standard for most HDTV networks including CBS, NBC, CW and HBO.) This is accomplished by deinterlacing the interlaced broadcast signal into one that’s scanned progressively. An HDTV that does not properly deinterlace the signal will only process a single field, reducing vertical resolution to 540 lines. Last year the HD Guru tested 74 2007 models and found that slightly fewer than 65 percent passed this test. This year’s sets fared much better with 96% of the 125 HDTVs passing!

The deinterlace test was conducted using the Silicon Optix HQV HD test disc. You can purchase this disc in the Blu-ray or HD DVD format, at a 25% discount through a coupon. Information on how to order and the coupon code can be found at www.hdguru.com/?p=153.

3:2 Tests

Most scripted television programs and almost all movies are filmed at 24 frames per second. 1080i broadcasts require that the 24 frames be split into two fields that must be recombined in the proper sequence in order to produce a 1080p signal that is artifact-free and retains full resolution.

The Silicon Optix HD HQV disc also includes a test of this key performance parameter. Last year’s results were disappointing with only 14 out of 74 sets passing (18.91%). The 2008 models showed a slight improvement with 29 out of 125 sets (23.2%) properly handling the signal. Only 1 out of 28 Samsung models passed this test and the model that passed (LN-46A950) only did so after the set’s two anti-motion blur features were shut off.  Activation of either of the anti-motion blur circuits caused the set to fail.

Upon learning of the high failure rate, a Samsung spokesperson claimed newer production models of these sets will pass the test and that a downloadable firmware update, available now for owners of the failing earlier production units, fixes the problem.

(HD Guru policy is to report the results obtained, dealers sold a number these models without the latest firmware and many units may remain in their current inventory). Testing occurred between July and September 2008. The HD Guru will try to obtain samples loaded with the new firmware to confirm Samsung’s claims. If confirmed, the article and chart will be updated.

One LG’s plasma TV passed and two failed. An LG spokesperson indicated a running production change might have affected the test results. If there was any change (such as a firmware upgrade or special setting needed), it will be tested as well.

Bandwidth Tests

Can a 1080p HDTV resolve all horizontal detail down to a single pixel (out of 1920 pixels across)? To perform this test, I used a Sencore 403 HDTV signal generator with a pattern that has vertical alternating black and white lines, one pixel wide. If a set passes this test, every vertical line should be clearly visible (as black and white). If there is some roll off in bandwidth, the lines appear as dark gray and light gray. If an HDTV was unable to resolve down to a single pixel, the area of the screen would appear blank. Out of the 76-1080p sets tested, 68 displayed full bandwidth (one Philips was not tested due to its inability to sync with the Sencore generator). The remaining 1080p HDTVs exhibited some signal roll off. Note: all bandwidth, static and motion resolution tests were only performed on displays that are 1920 x 1080  “full HD” resolution. Displays with lower resolution, for example 1366×768 (listed as 768p in the chart), cannot fully resolve a 1080i HD signal.

Static and Motion Resolution

An HDTV may resolve a stationary test signal at full bandwidth, displaying all the detail within the 1920 individual pixels that appear across the screen, but not necessarily when motion is introduced, which on some sets causes a resolution drop. This can significantly degrade your viewing experience, especially if you watch a great deal of sports and/or action-oriented movies. How much resolution loss occurs? To find out, I used a test tool called the FPD Benchmark Software for the Professional.

This Blu-ray disc contains a Monoscope pattern (pictured above) which is made up of a series of four black lines that gradually come together in a wedge-like pattern that appears at the top, bottom and sides. Numbers adjacent to the lines indicate resolution. There are both stationary and moving versions of the pattern. In both instances, a number corresponds to the location of where all four lines can still be distinguished as they converge.  The maximum resolution is 1080 lines “per picture height”. If you want to calculate how many pixels a given display can resolve across the screen, simply multiply the resolution number by 1.77777.

Results

The motion resolution winner, displaying all 1080 lines through processes called motion interpolation (used on all 120Hz LCD panels) and sequential LED backlight control (called Motion Plus) was the Samsung LN-46A950. It is the only display ever tested that resolved 100% of the moving image’s detail. Congratulations to Samsung’s engineering team for eliminating motion blur on an LCD display! Please note: this performance level resulted from activating the display’s Motion Plus control and setting the interpolation (called Auto Motion by Samsung) to “low.” Any other combination of the motion control settings resulted in motion blur, dropping the perfect 1080 line score down to as low as 330 lines!

The next highest motion resolution results came from plasma HDTVs. The best 2008 models were the two Pioneer plasmas at 900 lines, followed by the other plasma displays, with results in a range of 800-850 lines. (The 150” Panasonic plasma prototype scored 920 out of 1080 lines).

Moving down the list are the 120Hz LCD flat panels. The results ranged from 550-620 lines of motion resolution, depending on the make and model of the display.

The lowest “motion resolution” group of displays were the 60 Hz LCD flat panels with a maximum of just 340 lines out of 1080. The biggest “loser” of resolution goes to the 37” Sharp LC-37D64U, recording just 260 lines out of 1080 on the Motion test, a disappointing 75%+ loss of resolution. The lone rear projector tested was a Samsung DLP. It joins this group with 330 lines of motion resolution.

Use the chart attached to this article to help you make an informed decision when choosing a new HDTV. While other factors such viewing angle and color reproduction are also important to consider when shopping for a new display, excellent image resolution provides the “high” in high definition TV viewing

2008-resolution-tests-125-hdtvs.pdf

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru®  All rights reserved. HD GURU is a registered trademark.  The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.

The HD GURU is looking for an intern. The Candidate should reside in the NY Metro area, have journalistic ambitions, a knowledge and enthusiasm regarding consumer electronics and a willingness to work with an award winning CE journalist. Computer literacy is a must have. The work would initially be about 10 hours per week but may grow. A  very modest compensation will be available. To apply, please email a resume, plus short covering note to hdguru@hdguru.com


Email The HD GURU:  hdguru@hdguru.com

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40 Comments so far ↓

  • neven

    Please, where could I find calibration settings for LCD TV: Samsung series 8, typ LE40A856S1M?
    Thank You in advance.

  • facesnorth

    Your study a year or two ago showed the Sharp LC-46D64U to pass both tests. Now it fails the 3:2 pulldown test. What gives?

  • Jeff Jones

    Samsung owners that want to update their FW to the latest (Paul) can find the update thusly;
    Go to the Samsung’s product page for the TV you own,
    Scroll down and on the right side you’ll find the
    Download Center link, use it,
    There is a tab, Firmware, use it
    You’ll find the latest FW and instructions.
    Mine was here for the LN52A650;
    http://www.samsung.com/us/support/download/supportDown.do?group=televisions&type=televisions&subtype=lcdtv&model_nm=LN52A650A1F&language=&cate_type=all&dType=D&mType=FM&vType=R&prd_ia_cd=02010100&disp_nm=LN52A650

  • Samsung LE-A656 FULL HD 100Hz(50.000:1 CONTRAST,USB,6ms RESPONSE TIME)*FAQ 1st Post* - Page 543 - AVForums.com

    […] Re: Samsung LE-A656 FULL HD 100Hz(50.000:1 CONTRAST,USB,6ms RESPONSE TIME)*FAQ 1st Po Hi Guys Came across some comment on HD Guru’s site that said about some problems with 3:2 Tests on the 6 Series, please see below. Does anyone know if the subsequent firmwares have resolved this issue? "The Silicon Optix HD HQV disc also includes a test of this key performance parameter. Last year’s results were disappointing with only 14 out of 74 sets passing (18.91%). The 2008 models showed a slight improvement with 29 out of 125 sets (23.2%) properly handling the signal. Only 1 out of 28 Samsung models passed this test and the model that passed (LN-46A950) only did so after the set’s two anti-motion blur features were shut off. Activation of either of the anti-motion blur circuits caused the set to fail. Upon learning of the high failure rate, a Samsung spokesperson claimed newer production models of these sets will pass the test and that a downloadable firmware update, available now for owners of the failing earlier production units, fixes the problem." Will You See All The HDTV Resolution You Expected? 125 2008 Model Test Results- HD GURU Exclusive » HDGURU.Com […]

  • Josh

    I’ve found an error:

    “Sony KDL-40W4100 40″ LCD 1080p/60Hz Pass Pass 1050 600 Full”

    The KDL-40W4100 definitely has a 120 Hz refresh rate.

    Also, I have a question. How can the TV have have “Full” bandwidth, but then only display 1050 out of 1080 lines (without motion)? If it has “Full” bandwidth, then shouldn’t it display all 1080 lines (without motion)?

  • MR

    Is there any testing for 3:2 update on the Samsung LN46A950 firmware update?

  • Paul

    Note from the Samsung website: Only NTSC video contains this 3:2 pattern. PAL video – which is the format used in much of the rest of the world – runs at 25 fps and requires an altogether different pattern to solve this problem (24:1 pulldown). http://ars.samsung.com/customer/ctry/jsp/faqs/faqs_view.jsp?isREL=Y&SITE_ID=58&AT_ID=48791&ARS_ID=8153456

    In the United States, televisions use the NTSC broadcasting format. Film is shot at 24 frames per second (fps), but NTSC television signals run at 30 fps. As a result, it is necessary to convert the 24 distinct frames in a second of film into 30 new frames that can be played back on television. If you were to ignore this different frame rate and attempt to play back your film material at a 1:1 ratio with video frames, your material would play back at 125% of the actual speed — a one minute film clip would playback in 48 seconds!

    During “telecine” ( film-to-tape transfer) when film material is converted into video, a 3:2 pulldown sequence is introduced into the footage which mixes alternating combinations of 3 and 2 video fields. This process stretches the 24 frames per second of film into 30 frames, so that when a converted film is played as video it has the appropriate number of frames per second.

  • dave

    I bought a Pioneer Kuro 5080hdtv 720p last january, and have the scientific atlanta hd box supplied by cablevision. I have hooked up hdmi cables and movies and most hd programming is amazing. the world series was also a flawless picture, but hd football is a different story. The white lines on the field, in the crowd, or on helmets (esentially white blocks of color) are blurred, or more accurately, seem to vibrate on the field. The picture is beyond a nuisance, almost unbearable. What is the deal??

  • Paul

    The Samsung spokesman that said a downloadable firmware update is available now for owners of earlier production units (and that prbably implies vitually all TV units), must please provide a URL link to where the update can be downloaded from as well as the implementation instructions. Samsung agents are totally unaware of this and don’t seem to care.

  • Daniel

    The LN-46A950 looks to be the winner of best overall HD display that properly render most HD standard. Am I wrong?

    Yes there is more 720P broadcasting now but as a full HD TV, this is the one that will give you most of your Full HD experience. No?

  • etype2

    Gary,
    I was looking for the proper section to add this to.
    Be aware folks.
    The link: http://gizmodo.com/5075139/how-best-buy-sells-its-pricey-hdtv-calibration-service-deception

  • Paul

    The 3:2 Test failures is not a new issue. I was reported in a few previous years’ tests. All the manufacturers should by now be aware of it. For example see a 2007 report http://www.hometheatermag.com/hookmeup/1107hook2/
    Why should we now believe the Samsung spokesman that a firmware update is now available while the Samsung agents and distributors are totally unaware of the problem? Why did the manufacturers not aqct on the reports from previous years?

  • Darrin Maunders

    All I want to know is. Which is the best buy over 40″ :)

  • Paul

    Although a Samsung spokesman said that a downloadable firmware update is available for customers already having these Samsung models, I have not yet been successful in finding information regarding Samsung’s strategy, process or procedures for informing customers of the availability of the update and the imp-lementation method. (South Africa)

  • Bob Stone

    Thanks to HD Guru for publishing this data.

    Two Questions:

    1.) The term “Motion” seems a bit vague. Can we further define that word? Does resolution drop even further if the screen information changes more rapidly than tested? What were the exact test perimeters?

    2.) I would like to see some subjective evaluations to this loss of resolution when objects are in motion. In short, how noticeable is it to the average viewer?

  • Griffin Klema

    It would be nice to get these results in a spreadsheet format. Could you publish the data in an .csv or .xls file?

    Thanks.

  • Jason

    I understand that the focus of your chart is whether or not you’re getting ALL of the 1080 lines you’re paying for. Is that why you didn’t include the resolution results of the TVs that fit in the 720p category? I was considering the Samsung LN52A650 (or 630 for the matte screen), but now I wonder if I’d be better off to save some money and just find a 720p that is compatible with 1080i/1080p signals. After seeing the Motion Res results of those $2000+ 1080p TVs, I’m now thinking I’d be just as well off with a 720p at half the cost(that’s assuming that they’re producing 580 or more lines of Motion Res).

    So my big question is: can you fill in the blanks of the “720p” TVs’ Motion Res results? I’d like to avoid spending an extra $1000 on ‘hype’.

  • Steve

    Why does this year’s DLP do less than half as well as last years (330 versus the HLT6756 with 700 lines)?

    Why would DLP tech have a problem at all here?

    I love the price/performance of DLP for big screens and have never noticed them losing resolution in motion as I can clearly see on LCDs.

    What gives?

  • dsunglasses

    Great article and good work. I’d love to see some updates and additions. Is there an observable difference between the motion resolution on a 600 lcd versus an 800 plasma? The motion resolution comparison was quite interesting, but if its possible, I’d like to see an objective comparison of black levels, color accuracy and contrast added to the list. It would make this list an invaluable research tool. I’d also like to see the LG 47lg90 and the Sony xbr8 series, the 2008 Hitachi 50″ plasmas and lcds, the Vizio vp505xvt, and the JVC x899 series added to the list. Oh, and the Sony 52xbr7 with 240hz would make an interesting comparison here. And yes, I’m never satisfied.

  • EGo

    Can you test projectors next? Please.

  • egm23

    I have had a Samsung 52a650 for about a month and and it was shipped with version 2004.0 FW. I’m sure its the latest.

    Also, I’m not sure about how the 3:2 pulldown was tested but to my understaning, when AMP is on, 5:5 pulldown is used, and when AMP is off, the 3:2 pulldown is used. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Robin

    I think this is great and have shared the link with many others who also like the tests.

    I do have one request for the next series of tests. Can contrast be tested. I find that contrast is the main reason I have stuck with my CRT. I have read and looked at many different sets but the contrast in normal lighting (at least the level my wife likes) is quite poor.

    I would like to see both Static and Dynamic contrast tests as many of these new TV’s can be used as computer monitors for viewing pictures (digital slide shows).

  • FiguredMaple

    What about the Panasonic TH-50PZ850 that you reviewed earlier this year?

  • Jeff

    Hello,
    As other people have asked did you use the latest firmware for the Samsung 650 series panels. I cant understand how come the 46″ 650 had a static res, of 1050, and the 50″ & 40 ” had a static res of 900? They are the same panels?

  • Roger

    Do projectors lose any lines of resolution during motion sequences?

  • opuntia

    Just an update that a tech with Samsung Tier II support stated that their sets never had a problem with 3:2 pulldown.

  • opuntia

    do you have a contact name with samsung concerning the firmware status. I have the 650 series LCD and the samsung website has a fairly old FW (dated 5/2008) as the latest version. However, sets shipping out now are loaded with a much newer version.

    Basically, samsung is not making these new FW available to older sets.

  • John

    I noticed the Vizio’s scored pretty well, the one I own the VO32 passed both tests.

    Good job Vizio

  • bleze

    On the LG’s was the XD engine turned off? On the LG60PG60 was the THX mode enabled or disabled?

  • sharkcohen

    I have the HQV HD DVD Benchmark disk that they are using. With firmware 1009, Film Mode set to Auto1, and AMP Off, my 46a750 PASSES the 3:2 test. Turn AMP on, and it fails (but I would expect that). I question what firmware their 650/750/850 test sets had installed, and what their settings were during the tests. However, I can’t speak for their static/motion resolution results, I do not have the software they are using for that.

  • Alexander Scoble

    Yes, I’d like to see the latest DLP (particularly the LED lit DLPs from Samsung) added to the list.

  • Chris

    what about Rear projection TVs , LCOS , DLP , HDILA , do those fall in with low rez on motion

  • cdh

    On the tests, the Panasonic TH-65VX100 65″ plasma set did very well and I was ready to buy it. However, I cannot find this set on the Panasonic, CNet or any other website. Could the model number be incorrect? Any information about where to find this set would be appreciated.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Panasonic’s hi-end TV’s aren’t on here. The 850 series is the highest. Panasonic will make Pioneer’s panels but not there processors. I don’t think Pioneer will lose any steam now that they will focus on technology rather worrying about panel production.

  • toasty

    i noticed that on the lone DLP set tested (HL61A750) it’s listed as failing the 3:2 pulldown. it doesnt do 3:2, it doesnt have to, it’s a 5:5 set.

  • SaidiaDude

    Great study! Thanks for publishing the PDF. A suggestion for the next study – please consider testing the following Toshiba TVs with the Cell processor:
    http://www.engadget.com/2008/08/28/toshibas-new-zf-lcds-include-cell-based-resolution-upscaling/

    I think these are 2009 models (not sure)? A big problem is that they are not available in America yet. The specs on these are amazing and the prototype demos showed the Cell processor handling 4 1080P streams. I’m hoping that this processor will be a huge leap forward in providing true 1080P.

  • Keith

    Nooo! My beloved Sony KDL-46v4100 failed it’s 3:2 pull down test whereas all the other models in the V and S series passed. Any idea what the difference maker was?

  • Hoot

    On one of the Sony TV’s you have the model number listed as “LN37A450″. That’s a Samsung model number.

    Other than that thanks for the great research! I can’t wait for you to try out the new Samsung firmware and to add the new XBR models.

  • xnappo

    The Philips 47PFL7422D/37 will pass deinterlace if you turn off noise reduction.

  • Michael

    Will you be evaluating the 2008 XBR8 series soon? The sets should be available this week. Thanks!

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