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December 8, 2006

HD DVD vs. DVD...Fight!

Filed under HDTV, Xbox 360

I received "Superman Returns" from Netflix yesterday. This disc is a HD DVD/DVD combo...HD DVD on one side and a regular DVD on the other. I figured this would be a good disc to test the difference between HD DVD and DVD.

I used my 5 MP Sony CyperShot to capture the images. I captured two scenes from 8 feet away (my normal viewing distance) and the same two scenes from 1 foot away (to better show the detail from HD). My TV set is 46". I did not use zoom for any of the shots. The images were captured in jpeg, so there may be some compression artifacts from my camera that are not in the source material.

The first shot I captured is of a newspaper clipping. I captured this one because of all the small text. Click on these images to see the full resolution...make sure you aren't zoomed out (i.e. should be viewed at 100%) or you won't get the full effect.

This image is from the Superman Returns HD DVD (1080p) on a 46" TV from 8 feet away.




This image is from the Superman Returns DVD (480p) on a 46" TV from 8 feet away.




I am a bit surprised by the results...the images are not that different! HD DVD is a bit sharper, but not significantly.

The next shot is of Lex Luthor in front of a elaborate model train setup. I chose this shot because it has a lot of detail.

This image is from the Superman Returns HD DVD (1080p) on a 46" TV from 8 feet away.




This image is from the Superman Returns DVD (480p) on a 46" TV from 8 feet away.




Same results...the HD DVD is sharper...but not dramatically.

These results are specific to my situation...a 46" TV from 8 feet away. The further you sit or the smaller your set, the less advantage HD DVD has over DVD. The converse is also true...a bigger set or sitting closer will accentuate HD DVD's better image quality. I can't get a bigger TV for quite some time, but I can sit closer. So these next shots are from the same scenes as before, but are from one foot away. At one foot, my camera could only frame a portion of the TV screen. Using the chart at the end of this post, I estimate I would need an 85" TV at my current viewing distance to get the same results as the 1 foot viewing distance with a 46" TV.

These results are from a camera, which does not have the same ability to capture images as the human eye. I can see more of a distinction between HD and SD with my eye than I can with the camera, but these results are at least in the ballpark.

This image is from the Superman Returns HD DVD (1080p) on a 46" TV from 1 foot away.







This image is from the Superman Returns DVD (480p) on a 46" TV from 1 foot away.







At one foot, you can actually see the individual pixels on the LCD display and the black around them (a.k.a. the screen door effect). I can make out some of the article text in the HD DVD, but you can't even read the date/web address in the upper right on the DVD ("Tuesday, February 13th, 2005 www.dailyplanet.com"). Also note the color of the newspaper is more yellow in the DVD and more natural in the HD DVD. Resolution is certainly an important aspect of HD, but the better color reproduction is impressive as well.


This image is from the Superman Returns HD DVD (1080p) on a 46" TV from 1 foot away.







This image is from the Superman Returns DVD (480p) on a 46" TV from 1 foot away.







Look at the lit up windows in the background. There is a clear on/off pattern on the HD DVD, but the windows are just a blur on the DVD.

These photos show how important screen size *AND* viewing distance are for HD content. Here is a good article about this issue. The best part of the article is a viewing distance/TV size/resolution graph, reproduced here because I know I will refer to this quite a bit...


Comments (12)

Can you post a link to a larger graph image? It's a little hard to read, and I need to measure our living room viewing distance.

I fixed that...it was orignally supposed to link to a bigger picture.

I also redid the the 8 foot photos so the zoom is off...which makes HD and SD look almost identical.

Thanks - much better with the 8' pics.

It's easy to see the difference with the still photos, but how about while the movie is playing?

About the chart - do I want to be anywhere within the green, red or purple shaded areas, or below/above the lines? The shaded areas are the sweetspots that one wants to be in, right?

I intentionally picked shots that had very little action. With motion, the image quality delta becomes even smaller.

As for the chart...it depends on what content you are interested in (480p, 720p, or 1080p).

To use the chart, pick your viewing distance. Then slide to the right until you hit the line for the content you are interested in looking the best. This is the largest TV size you should consider. Moving to the right of the line (i.e. bigger sets) means the content will start to break down and get pixelated.

This would be easy if we just cared about 1080p...but there is a lot of 480p content out there that is not going away anytime soon!.

For me, I wanted something that made HD look good, but didn't destroy SD. I'm pretty close to the green line, and I'm happy with SD (480p), and HD looks good...but not as good as it could. 720p and 1080p look about the same on my set. My next set (5+ years) will err on the side of HD looking good at the expense of SD...probably around the red line.


Interesting stuff. Actually this goes to show you, the average home viewer will probably never notice the difference between a SD DVD and a HD. One of the reasons that I went with a 720p TV...not that there isn't a difference...but from where I'm sitting, I might not miss the resolution...that and I saved a few bucks!


I sit pretty close to my 60 incher and there is a noticeable difference between SD and HD. When can we get this 1440P? I want it.

I have never heard of 1440p before...it is 2x 720p. I *have* heard of 4k (a.k.a. 2160p...2x 1080p). 4k is what movie theaters are moving to for DLP/SXRD movie theater projectors.

I don't think we will be seeing anything in the home better than 1080p for quite some time. I haven't heard of *anything* for consumers that can output HD material better than 1080p.


According to this article


1440p (2560x1440) is not an official spec but a TV maker has announced they will come out with a 1440p TV in Q2 2007.

Reading the comments from the website, Japan is broadcasting a signal 4 times 1080p rate.


2160p (3840x2160 )is is due next after 1440p.

People also commented about 1440p and ps3.

Couple of corrections on Ultra High Definition Video (UHDV)...

It has 4 times resolution vertically *and* horizontally...so it is 16 times more resolution than 1080p.

Japan is *not* broadcasting this...UHDV is experimental.

I saw a demo of this at SIGGRAPH about 3 years ago by NHK. You could get really close to the movie screen and it still looked very sharp. The plans at the time were for museums...places that could afford to produce their own UHDV content and could setup the special playback equipment. This won't be in the home for a *long* time, if ever.


is watching a movie upconverted to 1080i the same as watching a movie on blu ray or hd dvd but on 1080i aswell? cuz my tv doesnt have 1080p

DVD has a resolution of 640x480.

HD DVD/Bluray has a resolution of 1920x1080.

Upconverting a DVD does not add any new detail, it just enlarges the detail it already has (i.e. it makes small blocks into bigger blocks).

So the answer is no, an upconverted DVD will not look as good as HD DVD/Bluray. HD DVD/Bluray have about 7 times more detail than DVD does, even if it is scaled up to fit on a 1080i screen.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 8, 2006 12:24 AM.

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