Myths and Lies
Myth: A DVD and a good scaler will make an image just as good as HD DVD or Blu-ray
Nope. No way, no how. No matter how good your scaler is, it can not make an image as sharp as HD. This is either marketing fluff gone bad, or a lack of understand of what scaling can do. DVD is roughly 720x480. To blow this up, much like you would do with an image on your computer, on an HDTV you need to create 1,728,000 pixels (345,600 for 480p v. 2,073,600 for 1080p). Create, as in make up. The better scalers can do a good job making DVD sharper, but it can’t compete with either next-gen format which is HD natively.
Myth: People with small TVs won’t be able to see a difference with HD DVD or Blu-ray.
This one is sort of true. If you have a 42-inch or smaller display, and are sitting 10-feet or more away from it, then yes, you’ll have a difficult time telling the difference between HD and SD. That said, if you see a difference between HD broadcasts and DVD, then you will definitely see a difference with HD DVD or Blu-ray, as these look even better than broadcast HD.
Myth: Movies look their best on DVD, making them HD won’t yield any better picture.
Very, very, wrong. A single 35mm frame of film has roughly 4000x3000 resolution. Because film grain is random, this translates to roughly the same as HD. Some films are a little sharper, some softer, depending on the quality of the film, lenses, restoration (if needed), artistic choices and so on. Some films are shot on even larger negatives (like 65mm) which have vastly more resolution than HD. Either way, there's more detail than what is available on DVD. DVD was great, as it was a big step up compared to what people were used to (VHS), but it is not as good as HD.
Myth: Every HD DVD and Blu-ray title will look amazing.
Yeah, right. Some look better than others due to how well they were originally shot, transferred, and encoded. Take The Fugitive which looks barely better than DVD, and then something like Firewall which is breathtaking (the image, not the movie).
Myth: You can only see the difference with HD DVD/Blu-ray if you use HDMI -or- The component output doesn’t work.
Not true. There is this little bugger of a thing called the ICT, or Image Constraint Token. It allows the studios on a per-title basis to reduce the resolution of the component outputs to 540p. No studio so far has been stupid enough to say they’ll use it, and most have said they won’t for the foreseeable future. That means that the component output is the same 1080i as the HDMI output (except for the obvious digital v. analog aspect).
If you can think of any others, let me know and I’ll add to this list. Also, I’ve gotten the first Blu-ray player, a Samsung. It’s…interesting. I’ll try to put up a first look review in this blog next week.