4K, Online Content, AVR Upgrade

Whither 4K?
When I got my first
 real job, I decided to buy a 
big TV, so I got a 65-inch Mitsubishi rear-
projection TV that accepts 1080i signals. As the years have passed, 1080p showed up as 
well as HDMI and other features. I started looking around and decided I wanted a Pioneer Kuro, but then Pioneer stopped making them. From everything 
I've read, Panasonic plasmas can't match the Kuro in picture quality, and I couldn't 
care less about 3D.

So, here are my questions.

 Should I wait for 4K to become mainstream? Do you know 
when such TV sets might become available? Do you have any idea
 what the 2011 line of Panasonics will be?

Matt Hedges

I wouldn't wait for 4K. In my opinion, we won't see mainstream 4K displays for several years at least. Then there's the issue of 4K content, which will require a new disc format or a major increase in widely available online bandwidth. I'm not holding my breath for 4K in the home any time soon.

I agree that the Panasonic plasmas do not match the Kuro for picture quality, but the best from Panasonic is pretty darn good. And since Panasonic acquired Pioneer's plasma technology, I expect its plasmas to continue to improve as that technology is incorporated more and more into each generation of products. I have no idea what the 2011 line will look like, but we'll find out next month at CES. Of course, most of what we see in Las Vegas won't be commercially available until months later.

You Can't Always Get What You Want
I have a question about my new Sony BDP-S370 Wi-Fi Blu-ray player. I have found nothing in the menu that will let me watch podcasts on twit.tv, including yours; I can see them only on YouTube. Is there a way to download an app or something to watch the podcasts on TWiT?

David Potter

Sadly, no. This is the problem with most Internet-enabled Blu-ray players and TVs—they offer access only to certain content providers with whom their manufacturers have established partnerships. In the case of the BDP-S370, those providers are Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora Internet radio. Other providers can sometimes be added by the manufacturer via firmware updates, but not by the user. I want an appliance-type device that allows access to any online content, but so far, the only thing that will do that is a full-blown computer.

Upgrade Path
I have an old 42-inch 
Fujitsu Plasmavision P42VHA20U that does not accept HDMI, 
but it does accept DVI. I am not ready to 
upgrade my TV, but I would like to upgrade my A/V receiver to one that 
accepts and outputs HDMI signals. My 
current receiver outputs component video.

Does it make sense to get 
an HDMI-equipped A/V receiver and buy an HDMI-to-DVI 
adaptor to connect the receiver to the TV? What kind of 
picture quality can I expect? 1080p? 720p? If the receiver can 
output 1080p via HDMI, will the TV receive 1080p and be able to display in 1080p, or will the picture quality 
suffer due to the conversion? If the picture 
quality will degrade, how will it compare to component-video quality? Should I 
connect the new receiver to the TV via component connections?

Ramon J. Terrazas

Let's start with the TV, which has a pixel resolution of 852x480—in other words, it's standard definition. You're not going to see 1080p or 720p no matter what you do. The DVI input is intended to be used with a computer, not an A/V source, though there's no harm in using it that way. Neither is there any harm in using an HDMI-to-DVI adaptor—this won't degrade the signal at all.

However, I'd be very surprised if the TV can accept 1080p or even 720p signals via any connection. If it can, it must downscale the image to fit its native resolution; otherwise, any high-def source, such as a Blu-ray player or cable/satellite receiver, must downscale the image before it's sent to the TV. Either way, I don't think you'll see much difference between HDMI and component.

If your current receiver can handle high-def content via component, I recommend upgrading the TV first. That way, at least you'll be watching true high def, and you'll be ready for an HDMI-equipped receiver when you can afford it. If you upgrade the receiver first, you won't see any benefit until you upgrade the TV.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

Mike's picture

WOW,yet another format!. I just went from s-dvd to blu-ray and 4k? Can wee stay with one format! same for computer gaming,new game comes out,i have to upgrade. Sick of playing this upgrade game!!

Ryan's picture

4K is light years away for home theater. Most digital cinemas today use only 2K. You would have a difficult time telling the difference between 1080p and 4K on a 65" screen.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Mike, the upgrade game is a never-ending process, so you might as well get used to it. Still, as Ryan points out, 4K is years away, so there's no need to worry about it just yet. To Ryan's other point, seeing the difference between 1080p and 4K on a 65" screen depends on how close you are. I've seen 4K on such a screen that looked amazing, obviously better than 1080p, but that was from a few feet away.

Ryan 's picture

Scott to expand on your point. Is there a screen size, in your opinion, that is so large that that even 1080p sourced material begins to lose its image quality. In particular, I'm thinking about front projector screens sizes.As you pointed out, distance from the screen is important but I would imagine there is a case where you would need to go so far back that it is unreasonable.

dakmart's picture

To David P.: Roku offers TWiT, as well as the services Scott mentioned, Hulu Plus, Revision3, MLB TV and a wide array of other services, and adds new services all the time. Considering that Roku boxes are only $60-$100, it's an easy way to expand on whatever web offerings your TV or Blu-ray player has.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Ryan, the screen size at which 1080p begins to lose its image quality is mighty big. Most commercial digital cinemas have a resolution of 2K (2048x1080), which is very close to 1920x1080, and they use much larger screens than just about any home theater. Sitting at a normal distance from those screens, the image looks very good to me. Now, I never sit in the first few rows of such a theater, but I'm sure I'd be able to see the pixel structure in that case, whereas I might not see the pixels in a 4K image under the same conditions.A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to see a split screen with 2K on one side and 4K on the other on a very large commercial screen, and I was able to walk right up to the screen. With my nose nearly touching the screen, I could see the pixel structure on both sides, but obviously, the 4K pixels were much smaller.

Robert Gallo's picture

While I agree that 4K won't be viable for several years if at all for the home, I disagree with the statements about Panasonic. The Kuro's were Panasonic Professional Panels with Pioneer power supplies and GUI's. If you want a Kuro picture look to the Panasonic Professional series. Which incidentally doesn't crush the deepest blacks as the Kuro's did.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Robert, I've never heard anything from my technical contacts at Panasonic and Pioneer that corroborates your statements, but I'll try to verify this specifically. And my Kuro certainly does not crush the deepest blacks, so I'm not sure what you're talking about there.

Matt's picture

Isn't Ramon still not going to see a high-def picture if he upgrades his TV but uses his AVR component out? Doesn't HDCP prevent a full high def signal from going out any other way but HDMI?

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Matt, component-video will convey 1080i, but not 1080p for the reason you cite. So Ramon will see HD with a new TV.

Enrique.'s picture

4K is not years away. JVC Pro makes them and Meridian re-badge them. I had the oportunity to see one in action on a 20FT wide screen with a 1080P BD as a source, upconverted to 4K and it was the best presentation I've ever seen. The real benefit however is on a very large screen.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Robert, according to the former plasma guru at Pioneer, you are not correct. He has watched Kuros, up to and including the last generation, being manufactured in Pioneer factories. Also, he says that if you see crushed blacks on a Kuro, try turning down the room lights.Enrique, yes, JVC and Meridian make 4K projectors, as does Sony, but they are hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I'd hardly call them mainstream. I still maintain that mainstream 4K is years away. And yes, 1080p upconverted to 4K looks great, but not as good as native 4K content, which is also years away from being mainstream. Finally, you are correct that the real benefit of 4K is on a very large screen.