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New HDTV picture is fuzzy -- but no HD service yet-Is this normal?

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Showing 1-25 of 36 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 1, 2010 3:03:44 PM PDT
JLF says:
is this because DirecTV has not yet installed their HD service? I am worried I bought a lousy TV. Right now I have regular DirecTV service and the picture is not sharp at all, it's actually worse than my old 32" tube tv.

Posted on Aug 1, 2010 8:40:49 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
Wait till you get your new service. New HD TV's notoriously suck on SD content.

Posted on Aug 1, 2010 9:05:29 PM PDT
JLF says:
Thank you! I guess I missed that tidbit in all the research I did before buying.

Posted on Aug 2, 2010 8:41:49 AM PDT
Matt says:
Oh course it will look like crap with out a HD signal. Trying to display a 640x480 picture on a TV that's designed to display 1280x720, or 1920x1080 is going to look like crap. Your stretching the image to fill the entire screen.

Getting a blu-ray player will help with old DVDs you may have. They look very good on HD TVs. I have seen DVDs played on a 55" HD TV and it looked very good. Of course blu-ray is going to look the best because it is in a HD resolution (720 or 1080).

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2010 11:18:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2010 11:19:01 AM PDT
EdM says:
First, make sure you have it hooked up properly.

Second, if you lack a Blu-Ray player, attach a DVD player using component cables for the video. While DVD is not HD, you should see a nicely improved picture, compared to watching an old tube set. If the DVD looks bad/fuzzy, then I'd be concerned.

BTW - you didn't say which HDTV. Some HDTVs are much better than others, and sometimes you really do get what you pay for, when you get a really cheap product.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2010 12:46:36 PM PDT
JLF says:
It's a Panasonic 42" plasama.

My DVD player is too old -- no HDMI input. Or maybe you meant attach it with any cables... I'll try when I get home.

All I needed was a new TV -- I hate that now I also need to subscribe to HD service and get ($158) a new HD receiver from DirecTV plus get a new DVR (I have an old Tivo Series 2).

Posted on Aug 2, 2010 2:44:41 PM PDT
MikeT says:
My 42" Panny plasma is nowhere near as good as my 42" NEC plasma when displaying SD content, particularly SD cable programming. Some do a much better job with SD content (DVD, cable, sat) than others.

I'd definitely look into properly calibrating your TV to that specific cable/sat input using a DVD calibration disc, or hiring a pro to do it. This may well improve your picture quality for such content.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2010 3:39:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2010 3:44:31 PM PDT
EdM says:
JLF - I actually meant something of this sort, like these:
Belkin PureAV AV21000-06 6-Foot Component Video Cable

Otherwise, s-video should also do:
Belkin F8V308-06 6-Feet Gold Plated S-Video Cable

[Cables chosen for illustrations, rather than any particular good deal or better quality.]

In any case, you'd also need audio interconnects, possibly analog L/R to the TV set or A/V receiver. If there's a digital connection, use a coaxial cable or Tos-link fiberoptic cable, whatever your receiver has [providing you have one]. If you don't have an A/V receiver now, I'd shop around but wait a bit before pulling the trigger, to become familiar with's on offer.

You might be able to receive OTA, antenna based digital TV. To check on this in the USA, go to

Go through the steps to "choose your antenna". You tell them where you live, and they advise what channels you may receive and what antenna you need. If you have no coverage, they'll advise on that also.

Yes, there is the cost for it, but DirecTV is better than most cable systems for HD picture quality. OTOH, it's not comparable to viewing blu-ray discs, regardless of what their advertising might say, IMO.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2010 2:58:12 PM PDT
Geek Noob says:
You could possibly plug in a receiver that can upscale the video, but a good one costs good money too. The HD programming from DTV will look pretty good, but you will pay more for it. You can always plug in an antenna for local channels; those will look the best. (I did this myself - and just dropped my sat provider while adding Netflix) If DTV wants to charge for a DVR upgrade, call Dish. Between the two, I'm sure there's a sweeter deal in there for you.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2010 3:28:12 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
The bigger problem with Dish Network over Directv...If you choose the "upper tier" HD packages on Dish it requires 2 dishes on the house, and depending where you have to cycle through 2 program guides instead of just 1.

Directv is the best picture there is for a non direct signal (direct being Blu Ray and OTA).

Posted on Aug 5, 2010 7:35:11 AM PDT
JLF says:
Thanks for all the tips. Once I get the HD service I'm confident now all will be right.

But if I'm disappointed and wanted the picture fine tuned, other than Geek Squad, how do I get the TV calibrated (for less than their $300!)? I live in Los Angeles (West San Fernando Valley) -- recommendations?


In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2010 7:51:24 AM PDT
Matt says:
Plug everything in and see how it looks. No way in hell I would pay geek squad $300. Thats insane.

Use HDMI and component cables when ever possible. Component cables will display up to 1080i. HDMI cables will display 1080p and beyond. Your TV should look good right out of the box with out any setting adjustments. If it has a display mode, like gaming, movies, TV, sports, use those first. See which one looks the best for what you are watching. If you think it looks good thats all that matters. It's your TV, if it makes you happy then sit back and enjoy the TV.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2010 8:54:46 AM PDT
Geek Noob says:
Calibration, esp for $300, is not needed. You can usually navigate the TV's menus and go to the setup and configure the settings as you need. It's pretty well labeled too. Typically there's a "reset to defaults" option in case everyone turns purple! Defaults are usually pretty good and my opinion is just tweak when you see a need to.

You won't need HDMI for non-HDMI sources, like your DVD player. Just connect it with your red/white/yellow a/v cable. Most TV manuals diagram quite a few hook ups. Of course, an upscaling BluRay player will make the DVD's look better, and BluRay discs are the best audio and video you can get - will really make that HDTV shine.

Try connecting an inexpensive TV antenna. You can have it and your sat connected at the same time on different inputs. Anything from the old rabbit ears to the big metal fishbone on the roof will do. There are a lot of decent small tv antennas to be found, for cheap too. You can get some nice 1080i content for free, and there's a lot of local sub-channels that the cable and sat guys won't give you. I did a simple chart with LA - you can redo w/your street address - but it looks like a small antenna pointed east will give you lots of content. View the chart here:
I'm in the sticks, but we went from 2 to 6 PBS stations, which we think is a good deal with kids around.

Posted on Aug 5, 2010 9:35:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2010 9:35:35 AM PDT
A/V guru says:
Calibration is only necessary if your TV has a service port (USB or RS-232-ish). If you have a USB or "computer monitor-ish" hook-up on your TV and it is labeled "service only", it is only for diagnostic. If your tv has either, then a $300 calibration could be done sometime between the 500-1000th hour of usage (you don't do calibrations strait from the box).

Personally...I wouldn't trust Geek Idiots to do anything. I'd call a small local mom & pop shop for that. $300 is reasonable...but you might get it done for $250.

If your tv does NOT have a service can pick up a calibration DVD or BD for under $50 new...if you look on Ebay, you can get one somebody else used first for $20.

Posted on Aug 5, 2010 11:31:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2010 11:33:54 AM PDT
Irishlady says:
IMO, why buy a big screen HDTV unless you plan on getting HD content? As others have said, some HDTVs show non-HD content better than others. My 50" Panny plasma with Directv HD is awesome. Because I'm so used to HD, the channels that don't broadcast in HD look kinda fuzzy and just plain bad. I don't like paying for the HD package but then again, my big screen is wasted on anything less. You will be blown away once you get the HD box and/or a blu ray player. I have also hooked up an OTA antenna to my Directv HD box so I can get local HD channels on the "TV" input and the picture is great.
Once you get HD, you'll never go back--it's that good. You'll notice the difference when you watch an old non-HD TV and wonder why you thought it was a good picture. :)
Also, check out CNET or do a search for "calibrate 42 inch Panasonic" and you may be able to find a site that will help with settings on your TV for the optimum (or close to it) viewing experience. Enjoy your new TV!!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2010 10:02:00 PM PDT
JLF says:
Another dumb question: Antennae? Like rabbit-ears? I thought there was nothing was over-the-air (OTA?) anymore since everything went digital and people who did not have cable had to get an adaptor box or something. Now even with an expensive TV and satellite receiver I still need an antenna to maximize viewing?

I am in an apartment-style condo -- am not even sure what the antenna situation is on the roof.

I'm so confused. I almost long for the days of having to get up to change the channels, or the remote control that had to cycle all the channels in order, and if you held the button too long you had to spin around one more time.

Thanks for all your patience.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2010 10:41:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2010 10:46:17 PM PDT
EdM says:
"I thought there was nothing was over-the-air (OTA?) anymore since everything went digital..."

Absolutely NOT. If you could get old, analog OTA TV, you can get [in almost all cases] digital HDTV OTA. Usually, the best signal is Blu-Ray movies and shows, but second to that is usually OTA HDTV shows. [Ignoring 3D for now.] I actually have an external antenna plus DirecTV for cable type shows, and I actually get more channels/better reception with HD digital TV than I did with analog TV, but that includes all the subchannels. I did have to re-aim the external TV antenna a bit for best reception.

In a few rare instances, some PPV movies are fairly good quality and may exceed OTA HD, but then you're paying more for those HD movies also.

"I am in an apartment-style condo -- am not even sure what the antenna situation is on the roof."

You'll have to ask your condo association, but you may be stuck with whatever external antenna signal the condo association provides or permits. OTOH, some digital HDTV channels can be received with indoor rabbit ears or similar antenna. To repeat from above, check out:

Posted on Aug 6, 2010 3:49:39 AM PDT
MikeT says:
Digital OTA via simple antenna offers HD resolutions, sub channels, Dolby audio, and program data.
Converter boxes are only needed for the older analog TV's (non HDTV's).
Any old UHF/VHF antenna will work, the antenna spec was never changed for Digital OTA, a 1958 TV antenna will work fine.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2010 6:13:34 PM PDT
Geek Noob says:
Nothing dumb about an antenna question. It's a confusing issue. The digital change over is still like the old TV signals; they're still broadcast from tall towers to your living room. My point in this has been that cable and sat compress signals to maximize the number of channels they can "stuff in the pipe." That's mostly good for all. Details are lost though. What is compression? Its lke ths sentnce - its stil prety cler, bt fin detls r gon! But your local broadcasters send you a much better quality version of CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, etc, right over the air and it's free and it's not overly compressed. Your eyes will tell you which is which. Plus there's subchannels you won't get elsewhere. All you need is one of these: Basic Indoor Antenna You can hide that behind the tv or a console. There are some good low profile indoor antenna's out there. You'll see em on Amazon. Read the reviews to find a winner. That's the cheapest and easiest way to get HD content. Then add the BluRay. Then add the HD sat subscription.

Posted on Aug 9, 2010 9:30:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2010 10:19:39 AM PDT
A correction to a previous post made by the a/v "guru".

The a/v "guru "said this: Calibration is only necessary if your TV has a service port (USB or RS-232-ish).

While I don't believe calibration will in any way solve JFL's problem - virtually any HDTV made has a service menu and can be calibrated regardless of the type of ports the HDTV may or may not have. To put it clearly - the 'guru' is wrong but that is a minor technical point and not relevant to this conversation.

JFL - the one thing to consider is that the larger the picture - the worse it may look. You had a 32" and now have a 42" - big difference. A grainy picture, as you blow it up, will always look worse. As other people have noted - a lot of high definition TVs do not handle standard definition great but frankly I believe most of your disappointment is due to an increase in size and the inherent flaws and low definition of standard definition picture

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2010 9:54:22 AM PDT
A/V guru says:
First...I'm not "wrong" about HOME calibrations. If a TV does not have a service port, the calibrations it has are limited. Also, not every shop has the means to do EVERY TV. Haier, for instance, does not have a service port...nor do their TV's offer any form of "calibration" ability beyond using a disc in a dvd player.

So, Mr. Opinunated...

You are wrong, once again.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2010 10:10:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2010 10:20:44 AM PDT
While not relevant to the topic at hand ---- Many TVs, most Panasonics included, don't have service ports but have been calibrated with considerable success.

A/V "guru" You have changed what you have said only a few days ago. A few posts ago it was " Calibration is only necessary if your TV has a service port (USB or RS-232-ish)". Now you are saying something different. A few days from now -- I suspect you'll be saying something different again.

The likely problem here is a bigger screen showing low resolution video

PS: as a side note - calibration often takes the form of either a blu-ray or signal generator inputing test signals into the TV via an HDMI input. I've never heard of a professional calibrator bemoaning a lack of a USB or RS type of input. EVER!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2010 10:22:09 AM PDT
A/V guru says:
The point is...I'd never pay somebody to do a calibration from a disc in a player...which is how a tv, such as a Haier, is done.

Posted on Aug 9, 2010 10:28:21 AM PDT
Bill says:
You might also try turning off(or on) any image enhancing features. They usually make things worse.

I use DVE: HD Basics to calibrate my TV's. It's fairly simple to use and explains a lot about how television works from the source to the the final display.

Most sets I've owned had a service menu that was accessable by punching in a code on the remote.

It's too bad you already have DirecTV. If you were a new customer you could get HD channels free for life. Unfortunately they aren't as generous to their older loyal customers. You would still probably have to pay $5 a month for the extra HD channels. In all it's about $10 to $15 a month extra for the HD package which I don't think is all that expensive. Especially concidering what I pay before HD.

Posted on Aug 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2010 11:04:46 AM PDT
Off topic but a technical note that needs correcting. A Haier HDTV or any other brand of HDTV can be calibrated with a signal generator inserted into an HDMI input.

A blu-ray test disk is useful for (you guessed it) for calibrating the input used for your blu-ray player and if you have nothing else it can be used universally for the entire HDTV. Most professionals would use a signal generator for the cable/over the air/satellite source and a test disc to calibrate the blu-ray or DVD input.

The "guru's" post is confused. I believe he has confused firmware updates that may/or may not be available from the manufacturer with calibration, an entirely different animal.
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Discussion in:  Television forum
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Total posts:  36
Initial post:  Aug 1, 2010
Latest post:  May 9, 2012

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