Black Dots, HDMI, Blockbusters

What Black Dots?
I enjoy your segments with Leo Laporte on The Tech Guy radio show and podcast, but I really must disagree with your comments on plasma versus LCD. I agree that plasma blacks are blacker and that colors are more vivid. But I just cannot stand the matrix of black dots on plasma screens. I also dislike the reflective screen—the distraction of reflections more than offsets any loss through a non-reflecting screen.

We live in a bright house with lots of windows, so plasma is at a disadvantage from the start. But I'd like to hear your comments on plasma's black dot matrix. That alone was the tipping point for me.

Bill Jackson

Actually, I don't recall saying that plasma colors are more vivid than LCD—both can be plenty vivid. As for plasma's "matrix of black dots," I'm afraid I don't know what you mean. Each pixel in a plasma screen consists of three tiny cells—one each for red, green, and blue. These cells, sometimes called subpixels, are separated by thin walls as depicted above, so I suppose the intersections of horizontal and vertical walls might look like black dots. But I've never seen anything like this at a normal seating distance. Also, LCDs have the same type of pixel structure with boundaries between the red, green, and blue subpixels, so if this is what you're talking about, you should see it on LCD screens as well.

Bottom line—if you see something that bothers you in plasma TVs, get an LCD, which is better in a bright house anyway.

Pioneer All The Way
I recently purchased a Pioneer Elite A/V system: PRO-141FD 60-inch monitor, SC-05 receiver, and BDP-05FD Blu-ray player. My question is, what's the best HDMI connection scheme? Some say to run directly to the plasma, and others say to run through the receiver. The SC-05 receiver simply passes HDMI with no picture upscaling. If I run directly to the plasma, I will need to run audio from the Blu-ray player to the receiver, requiring extra wires. As it is now, I have a 4-foot Monster Cable M1000 HDMI cable from the Blu-ray player to the receiver and 8-foot M1000 from the receiver to the plasma. Is my current method the best quality?

Xavier Alvarez

You've got the HDMI connections exactly right. I would not run HDMI directly from the Blu-ray player to the plasma because that would prevent you from hearing the new high-res audio formats. Well, actually, you could run six or eight analog cables from the player's multichannel output to the receiver's multichannel input and hear the high-res formats that way, but this means more cables as you point out.

Running HDMI from the Blu-ray player to the receiver and then from the receiver to the plasma is the best way to go, as long as the receiver doesn't do something stupid like clip above-white and below-black (which the Pioneer does not). The fact that the receiver simply passes HDMI signals without processing is no problem in my book, since the PRO-141FD deinterlaces 1080i very well. Just be sure to select the Pure AV mode on the plasma for the most accurate picture.

You Can't Always Get What You Want
Catalog titles such as The Chronicles of Riddick, Primal Fear, Brokeback Mountain, Silence of the Lambs, Capote, and a number of mediocre movies such as The Pelican Brief, Napoleon Dynamite, Doom, etc. are now available on Blu-ray, but big-ticket movies such as the Indiana Jones trilogy, Star Wars trilogy, Star Trek movies, Lord of the Rings trilogy, and so on are not. One would think that releasing the Lord of the Rings movies on Blu-ray would bring in millions more that ten releases of movies like 13 Going On 30. This would also bring many more customers into the stores for Blu-ray players.

I love that many catalog titles are coming out, but what's the deal with the studios spending money on these lousy movies at the expense of releasing their blockbuster features?

Mike McCormick

Here's UAV movie reviewer David Vaughn's take on your question:

Right now, penetration is decent, but the demographic is much younger than the Blu-ray Disc Association would like due to the overwhelming number of PS3s on the market. Even so, the format is relatively young and just ending the "early adopter" phase, so we'll start to see more big-ticket movies hitting the street over the next couple of years. For example, the first six Star Trek movies will debut in May, and the Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings trilogies are rumored to be released in the fourth quarter of this year.

There are some big franchises available on Blu-ray, so they haven't all been neglected. Examples include the Spiderman trilogy, the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, the X-Men trilogy (coming later this month), the Terminator movies, and the Harry Potter films, all of which hit the PS3 demographic right between the eyes.

While I would love to see the Star Wars movies on Blu-ray, knowing George Lucas, this won't happen for another couple of years at least. It was virtually the last major franchise to be released on DVD (along with the Back to the Future trilogy), and I expect the same this go-around as well. Lucas wants a maximum number of players on the market, and he'll most likely release them in a six-movie boxed set for an ungodly sum of money to help make ends meet. After all, he has a family to feed!

I know that consumers want their favorite movies released now, but the studios want to maximize profits (can't blame them there), so they'll trickle out titles that appeal to people who have players now and release the bigger franchises around the holidays over the next couple of years to spawn new adopters. I don't think Blu-ray will be is as successful as DVD, but I hope it's profitable because I can't see going back to watching DVDs or, even worse, downloads!

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to

Masud Kabir's picture

Is there any chance in near future we can see the price of Blue Ray will come down to a reasonable level in Asia.Right now it is equivalent to USD 45 to 50.

David Vaughn's picture

Masud,I didn't realize they were so much in Asia. Here in America, day-and-date releases are $5-8 more expensive the first week of release, and many catalog titles can be found for under $20 (I've seen them as low as $9.99 in Costco), and has some great 50% off sales. There aren't many movies that are worth $40-50 in my opinion. Is there a "Netflix" like service in your country? If not, maybe you should start one!David

Matt Wright's picture

FYI: The first 6 Star Trek movies are coming to Blu-ray on May 10th.And the BTTF trilogy has been hinted at by the producer, so there's some hope :)

darrell hodges's picture

why do i need a separate cable with my hdmi cable to get sound out of my x box 360 thats hooked up to my surround sound system? I thought that hdmi carried both audio and video in one without using more wires.

Paul fishing's picture

Good work here... effort definately pays off as you have a ncie site

Soccer clothing's picture