380 of 391 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2008
I've been using the Digital Video Essentials DVD to calibrate my TVs for quite a few years and I've always loved the results, so when I heard that a Blu-Ray edition was coming, I was ecstatic.
Well, now that I've got it, it still does an excellent job, but for owners of the DVD edition, you're really not getting anything new. Almost everything on here is directly from the original DVD, only remastered in 1080p. There are a few things that have been added that pertain to LCD technology and explanation of the HD color standards, but the vast majority of content is exactly the same as the DVD.
The one thing that is a definite improvement over the DVD edition is the menu system. Instead of being forced to fast-forward through explanations to get to the test patterns, now you can bring up the pop-up menu and select a test pattern directly. So, once you've learned how to use the test patterns, you don't have to watch the explanations again in order to get to them.
So, if your Blu-Ray budget is a little short and you already own the DVD edition, then I'd say just stick with what you've got. After calibrating my TV again with the new Blu-Ray edition, I ended up with the exact same settings that I achieved with the DVD, so in that respect, you're not going to get a more enhanced calibration with the Blu-Ray edition. Apart from that, I'd say its worth it just for the improved menu system, if you don't mind re-purchasing basically the same thing over again.
If you don't own the DVD, I'd say buy this immediately, but don't let the "HD Basics" tagline fool you. This can be pretty technical if you've never used a disc like this before. Just take your time, watch all the intro videos (and there's a lot to the intros), and you should be fine.
222 of 245 people found the following review helpful
I've never owned a DVE calibration disc. Before this disc, I used to use AVIA to calibrate my TV. My TV is a Sony 32S3000, and it is connected via HDMI to a PS3, which I used as my BD player.
Opening the HD Basics case reveals three color filters all in one single item. This is great compared to AVIA. Lift the paper holder up and move you head up or down depending on the filter you want. And the paper holder itself is a tool to check the grayscale. AWSOME INCLUSION!
The HD Basics BD starts by giving you a crippled menu, but with a question: Where would you like to start? The question was a good start, but the execution reveals that they didn't even put thought into the menu:
COMPLETE PROGRAM MENU - Self explanatory.
HD IN DETAIL - Video shows how to setup Environment, Audio, and Video (more descriptions of Video things like scan-lines, color quality, etc).
SETTING UP MY HDTV - Video shows how to use Basic Test Patterns.
JUST THE TEST PATTERNS - Basic Test Patterns.
The three lower items act like short-cuts to items in the Complete Program Menu. I don't like this menu because it's so annoying to get back into it and because the title of each item is very vague. "HD In Detail" - How vague is that? "Setting Up My HDTV" - Do you mean how to connect the wires to it? Also, having the Complete Program Menu at the top sort of contradicts their efforts to make it simple. Instead it should have been last, and called Advanced Menu or some crap similar crap that would've kept the average Joe from venturing in there.
Once you enter an item you cannot return to this menu unless you press the Top Menu button on your controller, which shows a loading screen. When you enter an item, you can press Back to go to the Complete Program menu:
INTRO TO HD - Video shows why we need to calibrate, new technologies and CRT matching, how wide color gamut sucks (possible shot at Sony?), and video compression.
HD IN DETAIL - Video shows how to setup Environment, Audio, and Video (more descriptions of Video things like scan-lines, color quality, etc).
HD VIDEO CALIBRATION - Known as Setting Up My HDTV in the top menu, this video shows how to use Basic Test Patterns.
BASIC VIDEO SETUP PATTERNS - Known as Just The Test Patterns in the top menu, this item shows the Basic Test Patterns.
AUDIO TEST SIGNALS - Self explanatory.
ADVANCED VIDEO TEST PATTERNS - More test patterns. Allows the option of 1080p or 720p. Doesn't seem useful to me.
DEMONSTRATION MATERIALS - Some videos to look at for viewing HD picture. Allows the option of 1080p or 720p. Narration by Joe Kane is also an option, but only in 1080p.
CREDITS - Shows who you should complain about if you dislike the BD.
Alot of the information on the 90 minutes worth of videos can get very technical and is not important to calibration or to the average Joe. The narrator sounds monotonous and throws in a few, really stupid jokes. It can also seem repetitive sometimes because every time he refers back to something he repeats that something almost entirely. It also sounds like a rant sometimes as the Narrator tends to sound disgusted with certain practices of HDTV manufacturers and goes on to say the beliefs of JKP.
There are also no titles to each chapter of video and very little emphasis is place on calibration information that is mixed in with all the other technical information. So I watched everything and picked out the information that I thought was important, but it doesn't mean I couldn't have missed something.
None of the of the Video Test Patterns allow you to calibrate Tint. How did they miss that and why? They went in so much detail on everything else.
The Navigation Menu is similar to the HD DVD menu, if you're familiar with it, but isn't as easy to navigate through. When you enter a menu item, a chapter selection thing shows up. What sucks about this is that to select the next chapter, which is below the current one, you need to press Up instead of Down. Then if you want to get back to the Complete Program Menu, there is no item to do so. You have to figure out to press Back. In only three menu items is there the selection to go Back. This is inconsistent and isn't intuitive.
Every Menu item has a description of it on the right of it that tries to describe in more detail what the item does, or how to use the test pattern if the item is for one. However, it fails. It's too verbose and not simple enough for the average Joe to understand what to do with it properly. It is also shown in too small font.
I also found a bug. While look at a test pattern, if I press the Menu button, the image becomes cropped. I fixed this by going back to the Top Menu. It's happened to me twice so far. This is obviously something that can get very annoying and is the true testament of how much work JKP put into this BD.
DVE HD Basics isn't as easy as they say it is to navigate and understand the full use of video patterns. However, JKP do provide the nice color filter item and there are true HD color patterns here unlike SD calibration discs. If you're an enthusiast, you may also find some of the technical information fun to know. My main complaint is that they could've made it so much easier to use by using common sense. It's just plain ridiculous the mistakes that they made in this edition.
UPDATE: I just remembered, from AVIA, how to adjust the TINT control. Use the blue filter on the pattern used to adjust color. Make sure all the blue boxes are an equal shade of blue.
UPDATE 2: If you already have a calibration disc, you won't benefit much from buying this disc. It only made a slight difference in my color and sharpness settings.
81 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2008
Some quick info that I'm basing my review on: The TV I have is the Samsung LN52A750 (a very popular higher end TV right now). My HD sources are: Blu-Ray = PS3, Comcast HD cable, and an XBOX 360 for games. All of these are via HDMI.
I almost always have my TV on in a dark room which is what I wanted the calibration optimized for. I tried my naked eye, then the THX test pattern on the Terminator 2 Blu-Ray but I noticed some noise/graininess in background images sometimes.
1. Makes the THX test pattern that is available with some Blu-Rays a waste of time. I used the one that came with Terminator 2 (but they're all the same). I did not like the results. But I tried it because renting T2 on Blu-Ray was faster and cheaper than buying DVE so I thought I'd give it a try. To me, the THX patterns are next to worthless. I hate to be so critical but they really are.
2. In-depth education about HD in general, some tricks and methods used by TV manufacturers as well as movie studios, mastering firms, etc. This information is interesting, educational, and useful for optimizing your set. Even though a setting like "color" in your menu might seem obvious, this disc explains how it works within your set which does help in the calibration process.
3. Comes with a color filter that you hold up to your eye to get the red/green/blue correct.
4. If you set aside a couple of hours (yes, a couple of hours) and pay attention to the information presented on this disc (may take watching the same section a few times) you will get your set calibrated as close as you can. Skipping right to the test patterns won't do you any good because you won't know what you're trying to achieve. Spending hundreds of dollars to have someone come out is just crazy.
5. After adjusting some settings, my TV really does look even better than my own naked eye settings (which I was already in love with).
1. As I expected, there is nothing in this BD about my TV's unique settings for:
b. HDMI Black Adjust
c. Dynamic Contrast
d. DNR (digital noise reduction)
e. And other menu options (flesh tone, white space, etc.) included in my LN52A750. But I think the factory options for these are fine.
2. While it does include a wealth of info, it's sometimes narrated too fast and/or not clearly enough. I had to watch the section that explains the test patterns 3 times. I didn't mind doing it but thought they could have delivered this in a better way.
Parts of this disc may seem intimidating (even for those of you that consider yourself experts because you browse A/V forums LOL) but if you watch the sections a few times until you understand, you'll be happy you did. My picture really is improved, and I got rid of the background graininess and noise. I think this disc is worth hanging onto, mainly because of future environmental changes that may occur (i.e. you move, rearrange your room, change the lighting, etc.).
I struggled with 3 or 4 stars. I'm happy with the purchase but would have given it 4 or 5 stars if it included info on other menu items in my TV.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2008
Well, this is the 5th review of this product and the first one by someone who has actually used it...go figure.
This product is very similar to design and function of the original Digital Video Essentials (DVE) for standard DVD: it has in-depth explanations of current display technologies and how they differ from each other as well as (the most important thing) video and audio test patterns to setup and calibrate your video and audio system (as well as instructions on how to do so).
The HD test patterns are encoded as VC-1 (video) at 1080p and 720p, and Dolby TrueHD (audio). The basic video test patterns are essentially the same as what can be found on the DVE disc but the advanced patterns are different and include a one-pixel-on-one-pixel-off test for 1080p displays, as well as various shades of gray boxes with PLUGE patterns. (It may be of interest to some that the Toshiba HD-A35 HD-DVD player that I have does not pass below-black information. It does not, however, seem to clip the above-white signals). Through testing, I came to the (somewhat surprising) conclusion that my HD-DVD player and Panasonic standard DVD player require essentially the same settings on the display when using the HDMI cable.
The audio test signals (and my subsequent A/V receiver settings) were very different, however, from standard Dollby Digital 5.1. Because my receiver does not have any HDMI inputs, in order to enjoy 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, I have to utilize the HD-A35's internal decoders and analog audio outputs. Standard DVD's have sounded very different with this setup so I was looking forward to the audio test signals on this disc (particularly subwoofer level adjustments). However, the audio test signals are much more limited in quantity than the DVE disc. It's by no means spartan (and it even has a few additional tests over DVE) but the number of tests is small. There is a dedicated LFE signal to set subwoofer level, but the Full-Bandwidth test for all speakers is mistakenly recorded as Limited Bandwidth (which already appears on the disc) so there is no simple way to match subwoofer level to main speaker levels. There are separate Full-Bandwidth signals for the 2 front speakers (and they indicate that they were recorded at the same level as the LFE signal) so this is what I used. I was hoping there would also be DD+ test signals, but there was only the (superior) Dolby True-HD. Ultimately, I was not left high and dry by the audio test signals, but there could have been more of them to finetune the settings.
Navigation of the disc is fairly simple but because HD-DVD works differently than DVD, you may find yourself over-shooting the test you actually want.
All in all, I think you can probably use your original DVE disc for most video setttings and the audio settings can be done fairly accurately with your HD-DVD player's test tone (if it has this feature). There are additional tests that make the disc worth getting (or if you don't already own DVE, this is a must-have) but it's (few) shortcomings drop it to an overall 4 star rating.
For first time calibration disc users: 5 stars
For owners of the original DVE for DVD: 3 stars
78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2009
As an electrical engineer and a real HDTV enthusiast I was hoping for a number of useful tests to set up my high definition TV by EYE. This test disk failed miserably! I should note that my work experience has NOT been with video and engineers who have worked in the field may find this disk more useful.
I own a top rated 2008 plasma, connected with HDMI cables and I used a Sony PS3 for playback of this disk.
I'm at a complete loss to understand any of the positive reviews* (*see my conclusion).
Here are a few of the many flaws evident on this calibration disk:
1.) There is an exceedingly long and sophomoric explanation of the compromises made as television evolved from standard definition to high definition and the marketing techniques used to make an HDTV more appealing in a showroom. This is not only a major irritant - this material takes up the bulk of the disk.
2.) Where the disk really fails is in its tests. That's right - it won't help you to set up your TV. The explanations of how to use the tests are either hopelessly incomplete or more often - just missing! I find it absolutely amazing that this video has NO explanations for MOST of its tests. Not a single word!! Not a single word about how to use most of the tests is evident in the video, or in the manual or on-line, at the company's web site.
For example: Key factors like setting brightness and contrast are hopelessly confused or incomplete. After a a bit of searching on the web I was able to understand the usefulness of the "below black" signal on this disk. It turns out that "below black" is a test signal only useful for calibrating a TV but in your final calibration you don't want this signal visible. "Below black" picture information does not exist on any commercial DVD or Blu-ray other than a test disk. Trust me - the information I just presented is far more useful and clearer than what you'll find on the disk! Also, no mention was made that your blu-ray player has to be set up to pass this signal. While I was fortunate that I knew this ahead of time, there was not one word of warning to the user, let alone information in how to set up your blu-ray player to pass this signal. Of course if your blu-ray player is not set up correctly you render the test completely invalid. What a reader needs to understand is the test pattern provides various black bars and if the below black signal is missing - a person is not likely to know that it is missing! Even worse was there was no mention that all your room lighting should be turned off to achieve any meaningful results. Fortunately I knew that too. That is a "best case" review of one of the few tests that had an explanation.
Most of the tests have NO INFORMATION about how to use them. Unbelievable!!!!
3.) Some of the sample high definition pictures on this disk, which are included to promote the high quality of HD, have excessive noise. Unbelievable! I was very concerned how poorly some of these clips looked. Only briefly and NOT when these images were first displayed was there a mention by the narrator that this noise was due to flaws/limitations of the (vintage) digital camera used (remember this disk was produced in 2000/2001). In short, any big box store will have better high definition content playing!
4.) The menus are confusing and their titles change. The text that appears on the screen is so small that even on a 60" HDTV I had to get up from my seating position and move closer to read it
This disk had the potential to do a lot but it fails miserably. The disk was made circa 2001 and it clearly shows its roots in CRTs and Projector systems. For example: There is no help whatsoever in setting up the back light of an LCD. That is a key adjustment for adjusting the black level previously discussed.
I hoped to learn more at the company's web site and thought, maybe, I'd still be able to extract some utility from this disk. I could not have been more wrong. There were no technical discussions or anything that a user would find helpful. In fact, the overall scarcity of information was amazing. No forums, tech discussions, or help. Even more telling was there was NO contact information. Once you've bought this disk you are on your own and the authors clearly don't want to hear from you.
Quite honestly - save your money. If someone thinks this disk helps them I'm afraid they are very wrong unless they are far more sophisticated than I am and have extensive technical experience in how to use these test signals and, of course, have the needed instruments. I have no doubt that the test signals were generated with some care. But the question is - how to use them? Most of these signals absolutely need test instruments and the few tests that don't need instrumentation require far better explanations if they are to be done by eye.
Conclusion: I've come to believe that most but not all of the positive reviews of this disk involved people who never understood the tests they were performing and likely misinterpreted the results. For others who liked this disk maybe it was a revelation that the vivid settings, the default/out of the box settings present on many TVs, are not the best. In that case, I suppose the overly long and verbose explanation of how television evolved might be useful if it urges someone to play with the settings of their TV to get a better picture. In a similar vein - some of the tests might be helpful if the HDTV was grossly mis calibrated but even then, using this disk, the HDTV would only be marginally better.
You will do much better checking out CNET where they publish the settings they use for any TV reviewed or visit the AVS forum and look for a discussion on your make and model of TV.
Update: If you click on comments for this review you'll discover a link another Amazon member provided that directs you to a superb tutorial on calibration. As I suggested, you MUST HAVE a test instrument to use this disk (and put in the many hours learning to use it and the associated software). If anyone doubts that this disk is USELESS by itself they should read the tutorial.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2009
This is the most painstaking torturous accessory you can purchase for your home theater. Hours of garbage information with monotone robotic narration.
The menu layout looks like it could be straight forward and easy to use but far from it.
all i wanted was to know how to use the basic test patterns and what the correct settings should be, not listen to someone go on about every irrelevant detail from 4k transferring or how a cinematographer decided to do color timing on a piece of salmon on a plate.
WAY too much talk about system formats and equipment that are completely irrelevant to the flat screen/blu ray combo you picked up on sale at best buy.
i wouldn't take this again if it was free or force any of my friends to use this.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2009
Actually 3.5 stars, but some idiot gave this a 1 star rating because of shipping problems alone, so this helps offset it about 20%.
If you can make it through the technical drivel and history of TV's, from CRT forward, and IF you can stay awake to get to the test patterns, it WILL improve your TV. Give this disk about an hour or more of your time to understand the history and background of TVs, and then you can use the 5-10 minutes of calibration test patterns to tweak your TV. I used this to tweak a cheap LCD that had bluish washed out black levels that I could never get right, and it now looks incredible. This disc has WAAAY more information and test patterns than other disks.
The problem is that it's 60 minutes of technical drivel (and I'm an electronics and AV tech), with literally a couple of seconds of instruction on how to set your TV for each section. Each section is about 10 minutes of technical background, then ONE SENTENCE on how to use adjust your TV using the test pattern. Fall asleep and you'll miss the actual instructions.
Here's how to use this disc. You'll need to invest some time. Grab some coffee, and just WATCH the disk, all of it. Take breaks if you need to. Rewind if you have to. Pause the disc and take notes (when they actually TELL you how to use a pattern). It took me over an hour to get through this painful process. Once you understand it, then just load the test patterns and take the 5-10 minutes to tune up your TV. Go see your neighbor. Fix his TV. You'll be a calibration Disc guru. Tweak all your friend's TVs. If you don't, you will want to kill someone (maybe yourself) for wasting all your time for watching this drivel.
Advice to the publisher - Add a chapter called "I don't care how it works, just tell me how to do it, and tell me slow, because I'm not as geeked as you", that way people can get on with their lives, and actually will tell people your disc rocks.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2008
I thought my TV was well calibrated before I bought his product (I used to sell televisions)but I was wrong. The dvd does a great job of explaining exactly what to do with each test setups which would otherwise be complicated without the great explanations. The HD-DVD version is very well set up and has very well organized menus. You can even calibrate your sound system with many different tests. The DVD provides information on everything from ambient light to even the density you should build your walls in your home theatre setup!
Whether you know nothing about home theatre setups or know everything this DVD is essential to perfect picture quality. I appreciate the value of my home theatre investment much more now that I have it properly calibrated. MUST BUY.
33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2008
Let me start by saying that I have a BFA in film and I work as a director in the film industry for a decade now. I understand 95% of what Joe is talking about. But man... did he show anyone his final cut before he went to press?
It DID help me get better contrast, but the color section is so poorly narrated. you'll just get confused. There is NO explanation on HOW to use the color gels. what is the right configuration? or wrong one? especially for red and green.
If you go to his website, you'll find that there is NO phone number, NO email and NO support available! Perhaps he was overwhelmed with all the incoming questions that his video raises? but fails to answer?
This has the capacity a GREAT video... but only if there was someone more caring about the viewers experience... and not so self absorbed in jargon that really doesn't apply to the end result: A BETTER LOOKING PICTURE
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2009
I purchased the DVD to adjust a 50" Panasonic plasma TV. I tend now to think that these things are the toys of the compulsive. The actual number and degree of adjustment that you will likely encounter is borderline trivial. The final result is certainly trivial. The problem is not that it's too technical: in fact there is far less there than meets the eye. Perhaps the Panasonic comes so artfully adjusted there is no need, or alternatively the exuberance noted in some of the earlier reviews is rationalization for that "compulsive's" purchase habit. In any case - save your money, or if you are determined to buy... lower your expectations. I've used mine exactly once, and if you want it, pay the postage and you can have mine!
As for the retailer, Amazon has always proved reliable and a great value. You have to love them, even when you fall prey to your own compulsiveness.