Archive for April, 2017

Fidelity without truth?

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Samsung has released a new TV.  It could be a very good TV.  But this blog is not about the TV. This is about its misleading manufacturer.  And others like them.  It’s about right vs wrong.

Let’s begin with a historical perspective.  In the fall of 2007 or there about, 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 an unexpected frustrating search, I confirmed that it wasn’t.

To my ultimate surprise that search was impeded by Samsung.  Although the term LED was ever present in their advertising copy; the term LCD had been completely omitted.  Any website association between the terms LCD and LED was buried in a hard to find Samsung spec page. As is now commonly understood; that page revealed that their use of LEDs referred only to LCD TV back lighting.

Samsung’s 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 TV’s such as plasma.  Half truths such as the LED TV offered longer life than 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 panels.  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 back-lighting.

In retrospect, I suspect the naive ill-informed ‘big boxers’ were also mislead by Samsung. Therefore I am cutting them some slack.  Although they have done little since to back off the LED only theme.

In any case Samsung’s campaign was successful.  Their promotional slight 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 plasma and previous LCD TVs.  Thin and bright still sells a lot of TVs.

CES January 2017 – Samsung has introduced their new quantum dot QLED TV.  Wait, I didn’t think quantum dot TV technology was ready for mass production.  I’m perplexed.  After another impeded search I have confirmed that real Q-Dot pixel TVs are 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 isn’t new technology.  The QLED moniker is primarily a re-branding of their SUHD models.  It’s the third-improved-generation of their SUHD TVs that place a quantum dot film in front of LED back-lighting. The film corrects the blue leaning color of the LED.  That is; the film provides a brighter more accurate white back light.  Sony Triluminos LCD TVs have used this quantum dot film technique for many years.

The new Samsung’s, as the Sony’s, appear to very good UltraHD HDR LCD TVs with an impressive palate of color; However they do not yet support all UltraHD HDR content formats. This is an issue for consumers who want high end video performance.  Sony supports Dolby Vision but lacks support for the HGL or Phillips/Technicolor HDR formats. Samsung currently does not support any of these significant formats.  And as with the Q-dot and LED truth, the HDR facts are 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 mislead. I do not like folks who attempt to deceive me.  This blog is about right vs wrong. It’s wrong to lie.

Samsung is not alone.  In addition to misleading TV facts, many manufacturers of AV receivers are currently misleading customers about their power ratings – they’re lying.  Some manufacturers refer to their 3 inch speaker as a ‘woofer’ – What?  Some are touting blue-tooth speakers as a high fidelity product. I’m sure they’re OK – as a decent boom-box was in the 1980’s; 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 laywers and politicians, but I draw the line at my high fidelity audio/video 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.