Fireplaces, Upconversion, Kuro Settings

Fireplace Folly
I have a flat screen on a mantelpiece shelf leaning against the chimney of our fireplace. I've been hesitant to use the fireplace because the flat screen lies against the chimney. Will lighting a fire affect the TV?

Rufus Abelsohn

It should not affect the TV—if your fireplace is not well insulated, you've got bigger problems than a hot TV. However, placing a flat screen over a fireplace poses a serious ergonomic problem. If you mount the panel over the fireplace, you'll have to crane your neck upward to watch it, which will get very uncomfortable in a hurry. To make matters worse, your TV is leaning against the chimney, which means it's facing slightly upward. If it's an LCD TV, this will make the picture looked washed out because you're not looking at it straight on.

I strongly recommend that you mount the panel elsewhere so the center of the screen is at eye height when seated. Otherwise, you'll never make it through a 2-hour movie without getting a crick in your neck.

Upconversion Conundrum
I'm wondering if it's possible to upconvert the standard-def signal coming from my cable company to 720p or 1080p. Do you know of a way to do this? I'm trying to avoid paying extra for an HD set-top box and paying extra for HD broadcasts. One more thing, my over-the-air HD is good but limit to only three or four channels.

Manny Reyes

Actually, all HDTVs do this automatically. When they get a standard-def signal, they upconvert it to their native resolution, be it 720p, 768p, or 1080p. However, what you see in this case is not high definition—it is upconverted SD, which is softer and less detailed than true HD.

The only way to see true HD is with a true HD signal. Just look at your over-the-air (OTA) HD signal to see what I mean. Since you only get three or four OTA HD channels, it would behoove you to spend the dough and get an HD set-top box and HD service. In my view, the difference in picture quality is definitely worth it.

Kuro Query
I just bought the Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD plasma. Which settings should I use for this TV? Would you recommend the Optimum setting or the Movie mode? Does using Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics on Blu-ray make a big difference in getting the settings just right?

Richie Hernandez

I would not use the Optimum mode, which dynamically changes the picture settings according to the overall brightness of the image and the ambient light in the room. I prefer to set up a TV manually and leave it be. The 5020FD's Movie mode is closest to correct, so I would start there and see how it looks.

Using DVE: HD Basics does help get the basic picture settings just right, and I strongly recommend that all HDTV owners use it or another setup disc to adjust the picture controls. Start by selecting the Movie mode, which has the best color temperature, then adjust its picture controls with DVE: HD Basics.

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

Mark G's picture

With all due respect to the fireplace answer, not all of us have the option of placing our TV somewhere else in the room. When we did a family room reno last year, I was very concerned that the Plasma TV would be too high if we put it over the fireplace, but we had no other choice. However, I have found that at a viewing distance of about 10’, with the center of the TV raised about 2’ above seated eye level, I only have to tilt my head about 1/2” at the most to watch the television, which is barely noticeable. I also used a tilting wall mount so that the screen is angled slightly toward our main seating area. Its been just over a year since the TV was mounted, and no one in our family has ever has an issue with its placement. A bigger concern was proper ventilation. I wanted the TV to be flush with the wall above the fireplace, so I built a recess into the wall. In doing this it is important to make sure there is plenty of clearance around and behind the TV for ventilation.PS.I’m a big fan of your

Bruce in CO's picture

While heat from the fireplace may not affect the picture, I have a hard time believing that the rising heat from a lit fireplace won't eventually wreak havoc and cause premature failure of the delicate microprocessors that drive the HDTV. Cooling and ventilation are critical to computers, and HDTVs are now essentially computers. Personally, I keep my plasma as far away from heat sources as is possible. Is there something from Pioneer or Panasonic that would relieve that concern?

Scott Wilkinson's picture

I agree that I don't want my plasma near a heat source, but as Mark says, he had no choice in this case. And if I understand fireplace physics correctly, a vast majority of the fire's heat is carried up the flue, sucking air and heat from the room as it does. As a result, fireplaces don't make good room heaters unless they have a surface like glass or iron to radiate heat into the room. So assuming Mark's fireplace has nothing like that—and the chimney's flue is properly insulated—I really don't think that heat is a significant issue.Mark, I'm glad you found a way to make over-the-fireplace mounting work for you. Certainly, a tilting mount helps, as does a longer distance from the screen. But that also makes the image smaller, decreasing the sense of immersion you get closer up. Still, I think you did the best that could be done under the circumstances.BTW, you ran out of characters before you could finish "I'm a big fan of your..." A big fan

Scott Wilkinson's picture

...As I was saying, a big fan of what?(Obviously, the character counter in this blog CMS is not accurate. That last post said I had 32 characters left.)

Lucas 's picture

So I just want to back up what Scott said. When mounting a t.v. above a firplace your not going to run into an issue. The heat from your fireplace is not direct enough to damage. The flue does not get hot except for maybe interally. And if your flue is getting hot on the outside then you probably need a knew flue. Just for safety percaussions. I'm an audio/video tech and well above the fireplace is where most if not all my customers want there t.v. mounted. And in 4 years of putting plasma or lcd above the fireplace the company I work for has had no issues.

Mark G's picture

Scott,the lost word was website, "I’m a big fan of your website". Yes I agree that heat was a big concern when we were trying to decide if we could put a TV over our fireplace. I have a 50” Panasonic, and the Panny (Canada) website says it is okay to place a TV over a fireplace, as long as the location complies with their temperature and humidity guidelines. I checked the area before we made our decision. One of the reasons for recessing the TV into the wall was so that any heat that does come up the front of the fireplace is deflected away by the mantle, which sticks out 6” past the front of the TV. The Panny manual states the clearances required to allow proper ventilation, so I made sure that I made the recess big enough. I know that placing a big screen over the fireplace may not be for everyone, and I would never suggest that anyone should just go ahead and do it. But for those who want (or need) to, with research and planning, it can be done.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Thanks for the kind words! If someone has no alternative, I agree that fireplace mounting can be done safely, though it's not ideal ergonomically. I strongly prefer eye-level placement if at all possible.

John In Missouri's picture

Though I do not have my TV located over my fireplace, I do have a warning. Many gas fireplaces are so efficient they can be vent free. The intent of these is to not waste heat up the chimney by drawing room heat out of the room. They do warm a room much better than a conventional gas or wood fireplace. You cannot close the glass doors on these even if you do vent them up the flue. The heat that rises up past the mantle makes things on the mantle very hot.

Brian Carkhuff's picture

My TV is a Panasonic 42" plasma model TH-42PZ80U and my bluray player is a Samsung model BD-P1500. I'm connected through an HDMI cable. I've noticed some bluray discs aren't as sharp as others and really look just like a DVD were playing. Am I being ripped off? Are some bluray discs simply masquerading as DVDs and labeled bluray to make more money? I can't imagine anything wrong with my setup. Has anybody else had the same problem and how do I fix it so I get bluray quality every time I watch a bluray?Thanks,Brian C.Denver, CO.

Dai Nguyen's picture

Through installation of several fireplaces, my experience suggest that it doesn't effect the TV. Some more picture are available here showing fireplace install.

ventilator associated pneumonia 's picture alwasy has new good idea to share with us. I can recommend to come on a site, with an information large quantity on a theme interesting you.