Review: Panasonic TX-L42E30E LCD TV

I bought and/or used quite some new gear the last couple of months and I’ve been meaning to write about my experiences and never got around to actually start. Because I like reading other people’s reviews before I buy anything, I’ll start writing my own now! Let’s start with the biggest one:

Why I ‘needed’ a new TV

When digital TVs came out, the price for full HD (1080 lines instead of 720) was very high. I remember seeing all those 2000€+ beasts and it just didn’t make sense to switch yet, also there was almost no source of Full HD video. Blueray was launched around 2008 and seemed more like a ploy to make you buy all your old films again in a slightly better format. However, the prices of Full HD has dropped a lot, and I had more and more devices at home that had HDMI outputs and 1080p output that I could not show in full glory. So I started shopping around beginning of this year.

I knew I wanted an A-brand, which boiled down to Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, LG or Toshiba. Shopping for digital TV is exhausting. Each brand  seems to have 150 different models which are sometimes hard to tell apart. I know I was thinking during the shopping: I wish Apple made TV screens: they would have a 32, a 44 and a 56″ model: just pick one. I wish I was able to say that I made a huge spreadsheet with all models, features and prices, created a N-variable price model and chose based on that, but honestly, I just picked one that looked nice in the shop (Vandenborre) and seemed like a good bargain. So I now have the Panasonic 42″ Viera TV. Vandenborre offered to come bring and install it, but I opted for picking it up in the shop.

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Apple trailers: when 720p isn’t always 720p

One of the best places to look for high-quality movie trailers is Apple Trailers. They have lots of bandwidth and a large selection (altough they don’t have e.g. the new Indiana Jones 4 trailers, which are exclusively on Yahoo HD trailers).

Apple typically offers its HD trailers in 3 formats: 480p, 720p and 1080p. The “p” stands for “progressive” i.e. not interlaced, every frame is a full picture instead of only the odd or even lines. The 480 in “480p” stands for the number of lines in the image. 480p is roughly equivalent with DVD quality, 720p is “HD Ready” and 1080p is “Full HD”.

But let me give a concrete example of the resolution of 3 trailers:
resolutions of Apple Trailers
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Buying an HD-Ready TV

I get the question a lot, so I thought I might write a post about it as a ready-made answer to the next few.

“I’m gonna buy a new (LCD) TV, should I go for HD Ready or for Full HD?”

Nothing even remotely like HD

1. What’s the difference?

Full HD is (at least) a 1920 x 1080 pixels (also called 1080i or 1080p, depending on whether the signal is interlaced/not as good or progressive/better) resolution. An HD Ready TV will typically only have a 1366 x 768 (WXGA) resolution, but it will still accept 1920×1080 input (that’s why it is ‘ready’).

2. What’s your budget?

You will have a hard time finding a TV that is “Full HD” under the 1000€ mark (Pixmania now has 1 Hitachi of 975€). If you want to spend more like 600€, that solves a lot of difficult choices!

Continue reading Buying an HD-Ready TV

What is HD-JPEG?

While reading the specs of the PackardBell Store & Play, I fall upon “Foto formaten: JPEG, HD JPEG” As I am working with several aspects of HD (High Definition) video all the time, I am of course intrigued. There is a standard for HD JPEG? Wow, tell me more!

HD JPEG = HD Photo = JPEG XR (my guess)

Well, it’s not that easy, actually. When you do a search for “HD JPEG” on Google, all you see is promo talk. Vendors like Philips and Panasonic use it as a feature on their devices, but there is no official definition of what it stands for. What I think happened is:

  • Microsoft developed a standard “HD Photo” (formerly Windows Media Photo) that corrects some of the disadvantages of JPEG:
    • It can store color information at 32 bit per color instead of 8 or 12. (In current JPEG, “24-bit colour” means: 3 x 8 bits for R, G and B.)
    • All encoding steps of the algorithm are lossless (except for quantisation). So it has a true lossless mode (all coefficients = 1). JPEG does not have this (at least, not implemented).
    • All kinds of tech mumbo-jumbo reasons (read the Wikipedia article)
    • “HD Photo offers image quality comparable to JPEG-2000 with computational and memory performance more closely comparable to JPEG”
  • The JPEG committee announced that they would (consider to) adopt HD-Photo as a standard, with as a working name JPEG XR. Provided that, of course, …

    One important aspect regarding the standardization of HD Photo is Microsoft’s commitment to make its patents that are required to implement the specification available without charge. Microsoft’s royalty free commitment will help the JPEG committee foster widespread adoption of the specification and help ensure that it can be implemented by the widest possible audience. The JPEG committee hopes and encourages all participants in its meetings to consider this royalty free approach when offering patented technology as a candidate for standardization.

  • The hardware vendors didn’t like the “JPEG XR” name (it doesn’t really show clearly that it’s an upgrade from JPEG), so they combined it with an acronym that consumers know and associate with “better” and “more expensive”, so was born “HD JPEG”.
  • in short: Technically, it does not exist. Practically, it sells flat screens.

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