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TMCNet:  Sound Advice: Not all high definition signals are created equal

[June 01, 2011]

Sound Advice: Not all high definition signals are created equal

Jun 01, 2011 (McClatchy-Tribune News Service - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- Q. I recently purchased an LG 47-inch LED-LCD HDTV. I connected it to my wireless network and viewed VUDU, Netflix, etc. At the store the picture looked amazing but at home it is not nearly as sharp and colorful. What settings do you recommend for this set? _ A.R., San Leandro, Calif.

A. I don't think the problem is with your television or picture settings, but with the signal. High definition television streamed over the Internet doesn't approach the picture quality of other HDTV signal sources such as over-the-air broadcast, cable, satellite, or Blu-ray Disc. The store certainly has a very high-quality signal, as well as top-quality program material hand-picked to make the televisions look their best. Video streamed over the web can't compare.

About a year ago I posted a review of Netflix streaming on my website. While I was disappointed by the picture quality I liked the convenience of having such a large library of movies and television shows at your fingertips, especially since streaming is free with a regular Netflix membership.

I purchased a Panasonic ST30 plasma for my bedroom and once I had it mounted connected it to my wireless network. I was pleased to find Netflix's HD picture quality much improved from before. Unfortunately the sound quality still rates as poor to fair. The sound broke up at times as well. Still, it's nice to have for watching old TV shows.

If you do not have cable or satellite service, buy and connect a small antenna to your TV. Go into the setup menus and set the antenna to "Air," Run the autoprogram and the TV will seek and load all the stations it can detect. You will find the picture quality from a local HDTV broadcast to be a dramatic improvement over Web sources.

I have not tested your TV so do not have any specific setting recommendations. Using a mode such as "Standard," "Custom," or "Movie" along with Color Temperature at "Warm" is a good start for any TV.

___ Thanks goes out to Cas Gromadzki of The Villages, Fla., for this interesting email about why television commercials are so loud. I've never heard this theory before and thought it worth sharing.

Cas writes, "Your column on loud TV commercials appeared in our local newspaper last week. Like most such articles it does not shed light on when and why the loud commercials started.

"In 1998 when I lived in Jackson Heights, NY an article appeared in the newspaper's local news section. Recently the New York City water department had noticed that water pressure was dropping dangerously low in the evening hours, at regular intervals. After a few weeks of monitoring the situation they determined that TV viewers were going to the bathroom in huge numbers during TV commercials, and the water pressure drop was not a problem as it lasted about 5 minutes each time a commercial aired.

"Obviously the article was also noticed by the TV stations and within weeks the era of very loud commercials began. The broadcasters still deny they make commercials louder than other parts of their TV broadcasts, but it is clear the volume is greatly increased so the commercial will still be heard while the person is away in the bathroom." ___ Read past columns and product reviews by Don Lindich at, and contact him using the "submit question" link on that site.

___ (c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune News Service Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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