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When Scott Wilkinson, a reviewer for The Perfect Vision (a home theater magazine), was reviewing some recent BluRay movies, he kept thinking that the picture quality just wasn't up to the same level as HD-DVD titles that he had seen. Even though there aren't any direct comparisons that can be made since no movies have been released on both formats yet, he sensed something was wrong.
Some contacts were made between Sony Pictures (the studio responsible for the movies he was reviewing) and Samsung (the manufacturer of the only BluRay player available), and it was determined that a noise-reduction feature on a video processing chip was inadvertently turned on, and this feature was creating a softer image than desired.
According to Jim Sanduski, senior vice president of marketing for Samsung’s Audio and Video Products Group, “Samsung is currently working to revise the default settings on the noise-reduction circuit in the Genesis scaler chip to sharpen the picture. All future Samsung BD-P1000 production will have this revision and we are working to develop a firmware update for existing product.”
An easy fix, but still…
To see the difference for myself, I went to Sony Pictures, where Eklund had set up and calibrated three identical displays (the Samsung LN-S4095D 40-inch 1080p LCD flat panel) driven by an unmodified BD-P1000, a modified player (with the noise reduction turned off), and the master tape from which the Blu-ray disc being played had been encoded.
We looked at two titles, “Memento” and “50 First Dates,” and sure enough, the modified player looked much closer to the master tape and far better than the unmodified player. Disabling the Genesis chip’s noise reduction improved sharpness significantly and reduced the occasional temporal artifacts that were sometimes evident in dark, solid backgrounds on the unmodified player. Also, it allowed the film grain - an intentional form of noise - to become more evident.
Such is the fun of being an early adopter of new technology. If you already have one of these players, be sure to register with Samsung's tech support center. Firm but fair pressure is usually the best way to get manufacturers to fix things like this in a reasonable timeframe. If you haven't bought one of these players yet, be aware of the issue so you can see for yourself if it's bothersome to you.
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