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Nov 23, 2020
Bit sad there is NO DISCUSSION going with this; for a few reasons- TV manufacturers are happy to market anything (even if the tech is not Pro consumer) We have had so many TV techs this last decade that it has gotten ‘overwhelming’ sometimes even for tech pundits. eg curved screens/3D screens/OLED (and nonsense made up to sound similar)/HDR/High refresh rate/variable refresh rate/latency/viewing angles of the panel etc and things relevant to low quality parts to generate confusion (edge lit arrays/multizone dimming/ QLED with white pixels (are these things even truly 4K)/ and ‘switching speeds’ of the pixels... (etc) Plasma TVs were the thing we had for viewing actual content, and in that war, they kept dropping prices to try to compete with ‘cheaper and cheaper’ (read:disposable) LCDs. Sales agents got little commission selling a TV at 1/4 the cost of what an equivalent quality LCD would cost, and so never recommended plasmas, and knew not to engage with customers who came in asking for one. True, plasmas were known for potential screen etching or burn in (vastly different contrast points on the set, left up for hours as a still image ‘think VIDEO GAME HeadsUpDisplays/HUDs’ could remain etch/burn into the screen; certainly in the 90’s but less so by 2012 when plasmas ultimate fold happened) Plasmas left the market when 4K became ‘a thing’. For plasma to do higher resolution it required smaller pixels and those smaller pixels required more power. Magically 4K plasma was ‘just outside’ the energy efficiency level required to sell into California, and the manufacturers closed production, knowing that consumers buy based on numbers and 4K was going to sound impressive. A lot of effort went into burying OLED before it ever became affordable (and now they even move the goalposts of HDR to keep excluding them as ‘sounding cutting edge’, OLEDs weakness being ‘extreme brightness capability’ making OLEDs sound weak on paper for not delivering HDR 1200 etc. We learned in the Plasma vs LCD days, extreme brightness is mostly relevant only in the showroom and seldom by actual viewers in real world conditions. (OLEDs true black anywhere on a screen, even next to lit pixels, makes it the best technology by far, especially for HDR, but that is a whole new rant) What is relevant to many is motion resolution. for games. for movies with action sequences and sports in general. Many 4K sets, a technolgoy foistered on consumers simply because it cut down Research and Development, simply allowing 4x smaller panels (as used already) to be ‘left together’, required no retooling of production facilities, and/or may have happened to kill plasma, or just to give us larger screens. I’d like to believe it was purely the latter (which bragging rights demand ‘biggest screen’, but those in the know are likely to simply run a projector, admittedly not always viable due to light conditions and/or space) 4K came out of nowhere simply cause it was cheap for manufacturers to make (practically nil cost) and reinvigorated the market. With no media to back it up. (Most 4K media, the weakest adopted format in the history of formats, are many times just remastered from 2k sources),.. 4K wasn’t well a well conceived platform for the consumer. Gaming consoles shouldn’t be trying for 4K resolution at high refresh rates (even super consoles would do better rendering 20x more detail at resolutions we already had and the lesser ‘absolute’ resolution works fine from a few meters away)... but I am clearly opinionated. That being said I will stop sounding like a 4K hater. I calibrate screens and know how to get the best from them. I did upgrade my last gen panasonic plasma (they equalled the best ever made, the pioneer kuros) to a reference 4K OLED, but then I had a PC with dual video cards that could drive every game at 4K ultra at 60 frames per second, and even my Ultrawide monitor just wasn’t making my video cards sweat.. Xbox games, in particular last gen, really dropped the colour output to net those extra frames (even at 1080 resolution on the xbox one/one s)(exceptionally weak hardware vs high end PCs), and so many are loving the shift to High Dynamic Range (HDR) itself worth buying, vastly more so than 4K technology offers. HDR is a technology worth buying (but generally only on OLEDs, that do not have to obsficate the numbers and give real/proper HDR easily). Consumers have certainly been missing out on good colour. LCDs mostly didn’t give it. (exaggerated colour, sure..) LCDs generally proved stronger than plasma at rendering kids cartoons and animations due to their nice vivid colour. Plasmas generally delivered nicer skin tones and motion resolution etc (stuff that many/most actually wanted). Colour and Contrast ARE the two most important metrics to get right when buying a TV. (next would be motion resolution, but that can be more so ‘user dependant’) Moving on.. I won’t disagree that the text in the Witcher is easier to read in 4K. Many games run the overlay of games in true 4K res, but generally use tricks to get close to 4K resolution as often as they can (even the new super consoles aren’t happy targetting the resolution, and the games that do it will often be at the expense of actual graphics quality evolution and to the detriment of the amount of things actually happening on screen..) What I want to talk about is motion resolution. (the actual number of correctly rendered pixels when fast movement is being attempted by onscreen objects) Lets start with some sort of discussion about TV panel technology and not just give the marketing teams a free run with lots of misleading BS... Tube TVs those big cathode ray tube TVs that allowed the age old joke “I was on the tele last night”, “really”, “yeah when I am drunk I will sleep anywhere”.. TVs were big! CRTs fired from individual emitters red/green and blue and all colours hit the front screen within 1 millisecond, equally. At full resolution. (ie what was fed to the TV generally showed up and was accurate to the source). With LCDs we lost a lot. (but they do keep getting thinner, certainly bigger, and the power draw can often be misled by ramping down the TV brightness on next years models) Some can argue it doesn’t matter about individual colours all flipping at different speeds 3/4/5ms because it is generally 6-16ms between updates or ‘screen draws’. Manufacturers like to quote grey to grey switching speeds because they sound vastly better than what the TV can actually do. Some LCD panel technologies flip faster than others. VA and TN panels have lesser viewing angles than IPS (In-plane switching) panels and varying success with black levels, but will miss out on extreme colour accuracy that generally IPS gives (or did until the market started giving ‘cheap’ IPS panels) with their advantage being ‘faster switching time’. IPS switching time isn’t as bad as the spec sheet might suggest, still mostly being faster than the required ‘next frame’ (even at 60 frames per second/vastly faster speeds than movies or video content) IPS screens had two gates per pixel, and lead to dead pixels being stuck off (black) rather than on like TN/VA panels give (hot dots of colour always viewable), but they are notably slower in their switching speeds. IPS screens being generally the most expensive were often paired with the better processing chips, certainly with regards to colour, so as to show off their technical merits. Do switching speeds equate to better motion resolution? They SHOULD. But the answer is a lot trickier than ‘Grey to grey’ numbers can suggest. Motion resolution is governed by the controller chips. Controller chips get better in better quality/higher priced TVs. Those higher quality/higher priced IPS panels could likely render better motion resolution, but the reality is (especially with a market focused on marketing and selling where the ‘trends’ are) is 6 bit colour in IPS panels, clearly using cheaper parts.. and will probably NOT have better processing chips (motion) to control the signal getting to the screen. So the technology type of the LCD (IPS/TN/VA) probably do not guarantee a performance level, nor will any ‘unreviewed’ set deliver an expected performance baseline. There is an old adage ‘you get what you pay for’, but with TVs that has proven to be far from true, certainly for at least the last seven years. When TVs were built to last, the quality of the front panel (the optical clarity) was a thing. Buying top of the line panels might ensure terrific optical quality, and look more amazing, but may not get anywhere near close to delivering 4K of motion resolution. Motion resolution in 4K sets is pretty bad. I used to say that the motion resolution in my girlfriends 720p set was generally better than most of the 4K sets available. -the statement was generally true, due to the first wave of 4K sets, at high cost, having already been sold. At that time the lionshare of sales was ‘cheap 4K sets’, trying to sell themselves as something they were not. (good televisions- implied by the sense of being ‘cutting edge’ with the 4K logo on the box). My Gf’s TV was a flagship tele, and even its’ resolution was stupidly low at the time of sale (a beautiful philips ambibright with light bars all around it that switched with the onscreen colour/content). It cost us vastly less than the most basic of basic TVs from any mainstream electrical outlet (was a second hand bargain). Her family didn’t understand why she would get such an ‘outdated set’, but I can vouch for it as being a reference grade TV and absolutely gorgeous to watch anything on (including 4K HDR content, not rendered in 4K or HDR). Something about the way it handles motion. At full res or as close to full res as is technically possible. Watching fast camera pans in nature documentaries shows ‘all the detail’. It has now been rendered as my daughters gaming TV, and I have no problems enjoying games on it vs my reference OLED. ( which is 4K HDR1000 etc) What I cannot handle is poor motion resolution. Something I learned, coming from the PC monitor space, watching Skyrim on a (modern) TV. When walking the camera goes blur-blur-blur, then when the player stops doing anything the screen snaps into a photorealistic scene. This didn’t make sense to me. As a gamer I hated plasma due to their ‘fuzzy’ pixel nature. I wouldn’t want to sit 2ft in front of one and use it as a monitor. (for movies it made sense as it wasn’t a deficiency having pixels that were ‘fuzzy’ when viewed up close) For gaming, LCDs with their crystaline pixel edge, sharp as a tac, should prove better for rendering lots of individual pixels (picture elements) to the screen. But LCD screens have atrocious motion resolution, certainly vs my plasma at the time, that by plasmas nature, offered fast pixel switching, all colours equal, kind of like tube TVs from days’ of old. The same game, Skyrim, on a plasma rendered photorealistic imagery even when I was walking. Running. Falling. Fighting. (etc etc) Skyrim is a slow paced game. Race games and sports games (and in fact racing events and sports streamed live featuring real humans competing to show their excellence) also were fluid and sharp at every point of their respective games (unless programmed motion blur in a video game demanded otherwise) What went in is what came out. I could trust the plasma with its’ full 1080 lines of motion resolution to deliver a great gaming experience (just so long as I turned off the HUD or switched the screen up every so often to protect from screen burn!) LCDs having pathetic motion resolution was such a thing, that when LCDs came to market all of our sporting events had to change their camera angles to not give ‘fast motion’. (TV sales go up massively near to major sporting events) So OLED have the best colour, the best blacks (required for great contrast) and therefore can give the best HDR experience (itself better than 4K, but I am yet to see any 1080 res HDR sets, not that I have looked). Its no accident that QLED and various other obsficating naming structures are used to relabel LCD technology. The only thing worth buying, if you want great games and movie/TV experiences - are great OLED panels. They will cost you. Otherwise make sure you have a high numbered HDR set. And don’t be afraid to ask what the motion resolution is.. Just know that the quoted number will be ‘with the picture enhancer mode engaged’, which will probably add lag to the sets input and not be too useful under gaming conditions (the times it is most sort after). Generally without the picture enhancement circuits engaged you get half the manufacturers quoted numbers. The best consumer mainstream TVs seem to top out around 1200 lines of motion resolution (technically able to give more than my 8 year old ‘3D capable’ plasma, that I sold with a flagship 3D bluray player for a few hundred aussie dollars. freshly calibrated even) All other 4K sets might give 800 or even 600 lines, and remember, halve those numbers for fast paced ‘twitch’ gaming. VS say my ‘clearance sale’ OLED set, the same used by Hollywood for monitoring, gives great motion resolution with all the processing turned off. And perfect colour and contrast. And HDR1000. (was 1/3rd the cost of new, bought over a year ago). I picked up another top tier amibright philips TV a few weeks ago for $35 (aussie) dollars. In this age of misleading (intentional) advertising and ‘trumped up numbers’ for technology that is ‘still settling’ (HDMI 2.1 anyone?), perhaps some bargain basement flagship television (with an ultra clear panel) might be the best way forward. The savings that you net will pay for the console upgrade, and when the tech settles a bit, (and you have had a chance to read reviews and ask questions about motion resolution etc) the money saved might just pay a significant amount into the new set. possibly even a flagship OLED with variable refresh rate, marked down generally in March when the new models are all due out. Of course discussions started by rants like this, should hopefully lead to Drop community coming together and masspurchasing a set that meets end users expectation AND requirements. After all THIS is what Drop(.com) is all about! Many paths to the summit. Colour/Contrast/HDR1000/motion resolution- a jedi craves much these things
Nov 23, 2020
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