Big Picture Big Sound

Why Does my DVD Player Look So Bad on my HDTV?

By Chris Boylan


Hi, Big Picture Big Sound,

I have an HDTV and connected it using component video cable to a DVD player with component output. The DVD player is a Pioneer model made in 2000. I couldn't get a high quality picture using the above cable.

Please help me.


Selva P.


Hi, Selva,

Well a lot of improvements have been made in video processing in the past seven years but you should be able to get a decent quality picture out of just about any DVD player as long as it is properly connected and the HDTV is properly adjusted.

First of all, make sure you've gone into your Pioneer DVD player's set-up menu to select "16:9" for your TV Screen shape (the set-up menu option on the Pioneer player should be called something like "Initial settings... Video output... TV screen"). If you don't do this, then your DVD player may still think your TV is the old 4:3 roughly square shape and widescreen DVDs will not play back in their correct aspect ratio.

As for "progressive" vs. "interlaced" you can really select either one but start with progressive and see how that looks, then try interlaced. Chances are the de-interlacer and video processing in your HDTV will be better than the deinterlacer built into your player due to its age so setting your player to "interlaced" might actually look better than "progressive." In either case, your HDTV will then scale the player's output to match the native resolution of your screen.

Assuming you set-up your player properly, and assuming you are using high quality component video cables (red/green/blue) not composite video cables (single yellow cable), then the most likely cuplrit for bad-looking video would be the picture settings on your TV. Most TVs come from the factory with picture settings that are too bright. If the current picture mode or setting on your TV is something called "vivid" or "dynamic" or something similar, then try using a different screen mode such as "cinema" or "movie" mode. These picture settings tend to be closer to a properly calibrated setting.

To really get the best picture out of your set, consider paying someone to calibrate it or buy a calibration DVD such as Avia Guide to Home Theater or "Video Essentials." These DVDs include test patterns and instructions on how to set your TV to get it as close as possible to industry standard settings.

Some newer upconverting DVD players can do a pretty nice job of improving the quality of DVDs by up-converting the resolution to 720p, 1080i or 1080p. It won't look as good as a real high def disc (HD-DVD or Blu-ray) but good upconverting players can make a big difference in picture quality when compared to older DVD players.

It's still pretty up-in-the-air which of the next generation DVD formats will eventually win the format war (HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray), but players of either format will allow you to watch movies in full 1080p resolution (assuming your HDTV supports this). Also, many of the HD-DVD players and Blu-ray Disc players also do a good job of upconverting standard DVDs too, so your current collection of DVDs will benefit from a next generation player purchase.

Hope that helps and good luck with your HDTV!



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