hdtv and the "soap opera" effect

We recently got a new HDTV. Our old TV was a standard definition 34” (or so) CRT. It was about 12 years old, but still worked perfectly. The issue was just that having been forced to get an HT TiVo and upgrade to digital TV, I started to resent all the HD programming that I was watching in SD. Also, I saw my buddy Pez’s Xbox on an HDTV and that was pretty cool.

Last night, Gloria and I sat down to watch our first full HD show, an episode of Psych. Within the first few minutes, I complained that it looked like it was being played at slightly the wrong speed. The mouth movement had a 10% kung-fu movie thing going on. Gloria said, after a bit more, “I’ll give it a chance, but everything looks like it’s a soap opera.”

This was such an incredibly apt description of the awful look of the show that I googled for “HDTV soap opera” and found a thread on Amazon explaining exactly this problem!

Apparently some new 120Hz HDTVs have a feature that takes the existing 24fps video and computes an additional 5 frames to make things smoother. Take it from us: you want to disable that feature. It was actually really amusing, to me, to see how very unwatchable that little tweak made the show. Once it was off, everything was fine.

Written on February 19, 2010
hardware   tv