Archive for April, 2017

Fidelity without truth?

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Several years ago, Samsung released a very good TV.  But this blog is not about their TV.  It’s about manufacturers misleading their customers and right vs wrong.

Let’s begin with a historical perspective.  In the fall of 2007 or thereabout, Samsung introduced an LED television.  At the time, I was perplexed.  I didn’t think real LED TV technology was ready for mass production.  After a frustrating search, I confirmed that it wasn’t.

To my ultimate surprise, Samsung impeded my search.  Although the term LED was ever-present in their advertising copy, they omitted the term LCD.  They buried any association between the terms LCD and LED in a hard-to-find spec page.  As is now commonly understood, that page revealed that LED referred only to LCD TV backlighting.

The campaign of misinformation was further advanced by the ‘big-box’.  The ‘box’ promoted the LED theme that minimized the term LCD.  They also parroted half-truths that slandered competing plasma TVs.  Half-truths such as the LED TV offered longer life than a plasma TV.  The LED TV was more energy-efficient than plasma.  The LED TV offered 120Hz processing.  Plasma did not.

In truth, an LCD or plasma panel has a half-brightness life expectancy of 15 years or more.  Their power supplies are more likely to die long before the TV panel.  LED/LCD is more energy-efficient than plasma, but only by an insignificant margin. Plasma did not offer 120Hz processing.  Well, plasma didn’t need it.  120Hz processing is an exclusive band-aid for slow LCD pixel response and continuous ‘on’ LCD backlighting.

In retrospect, I suspect the naive ill-informed on the floor ‘big boxers’ were also misled by their management and Samsung.  Therefore I am cutting them some slack.

In any case, Samsung’s campaign was successful.  Their promotional sleight of hand had differentiated their TV on crowded retail floors.  In my view, their campaign was a prominent factor in vaulting Samsung sales beyond the bigger players of the time – Sony, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Pioneer.  In fairness, the new TV did offer two popular features.  It was brighter plus thinner than the plasma and previous LCD TVs.  Thin and bright still sells a lot of TVs.

CES January 2017 – Samsung introduced quantum dot QLED TV.  Wait, I didn’t think quantum dot TV technology was ready for mass production.  I was perplexed.  After another impeded search, I confirmed that real-Q-Dot pixel TVs were not ready for mass production.  I found the truth at websites such as pocket-lint.com. techradar.com, gizmodo.com, pcworld.com, and others.  I did not find it via Samsung.

Samsung’s QLED TV wasn’t new technology.  QLED primarily re-branded their 3rd generation SUHD models.  They promoted the placement of a quantum dot film in front of LED back-lighting.  The Quantum-dot film corrected the blue-leaning color of the LED.  That is, the film provided a more accurate white backlight.

Sony Triluminos LCD TVs had used the quantum dot film technique for many years.  The new Samsung as Sony was a very good UltraHD HDR LCD TV.  However, it did not support all UltraHD HDR formats.  This was an issue for consumers who wanted high-end video performance.

Sony supported Dolby Vision but lacked support for the HGL and Technicolor HDR formats.  Samsung did not support any of these formats.  And as with the Q-dot and LED truth, the HDR facts were not easily accessible.

Keep in mind – the primary theme of this blog is not about the TV.  It’s about the omission of essential facts by the manufacturer.  I’m tired of being misled.  I do not like folks who attempt to deceive me.  This blog is about right versus wrong.  It’s wrong to lie.

Samsung was not alone.  In addition to misleading TV facts, many manufacturers of AV receivers are misleading customers about power ratings – they’re lying.  Some manufacturers refer to a 3-inch speaker as a ‘woofer’ – What?  Some tout Bluetooth speakers as a high-fidelity product.   They’re OK – as a decent boom-box was in the 1980s.  But HiFi – no way.  I can offer more examples.  But, I think you get the point.

Look, I expect to be lied to by sleazy lawyers and politicians.  But I draw the line at my high fidelity AV world.  Fidelity should apply to how we behave — not just the picture and sound.  Without truth, how can there be fidelity?  Help me, save the world from poor fidelity,.

HDR Ultra-HDTV Part 7

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Ed’s AV Handbook
Saving the world from poor fidelity
HDR Ultra-HDTV

Part 7  System compatibility.
Ultra-HDTV home theater system compatibility is critical.     All components and interconnecting cables must be capable of passing a 18Gbps Ultra-HD video signal. This includes the source component,  AV receiver, AV preamp, plus the TV or Projector.

However the ISF’s Joel Silver has discovered that many     AV receivers and switchers lack 18Gbps bandwidth. Many squeeze a 13.5Gbps UHD Blu-ray down to a 9Gbps standard dynamic range image.  In some cases screens ‘blank out’ except for the text message “Incompatible Signal”.

TV setup is another issue.  The ‘Deep Color’ setting in the TV’s menu must be enabled for the playback of Ultra-HD HDR Blu-ray discs. This may also require a reboot of the TV.

Then beware of TVs advertised as “HDR enabled” or “HDR compatible”.  They may recognize HDR content. And they will produce an image.  But they do not process HDR content.  “HDR enabled TVs”  “de-tune” HDR content to standard dynamic range performance.  This process is referred to as “Color Mapping” or “Tone Mapping”.

Therefore I offer this recommendation.  Set up all UltraHD systems at your shop to confirm performance.  Even if the product spec sheets state all is good.  This simple rule will avoid an embarrassing situation.

Hurry up and get to the chorus
Customers do not pay for lectures.  They just want to have fun.  Indeed, you must meet, greet, and qualify customers. But keep buzzwords to a minimum.  Assess their wants and make your recommendations. Then, as they say in the music world, “hurry up and get to the chorus”. Let an HDR Ultra-HD home theater demonstration sing for itself.

That concludes this 7 part blog.