TVs

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Thad
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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Sun Aug 30, 2020 11:46 am

From some reading, consensus seems to be that the best non-OLED TV is the Samsung Q90T, but the Q80T is almost as good and significantly less money. As it happens Costco has a Labor Day deal going on the Q8DT series (among others); Q8DT is the warehouse-store version of the Q80T.

The main dilemma I'm seeing at the moment is that the 49" version is a straight 60Hz, while 55" or higher gets you 120Hz and FreeSync support. I've been doing just fine with 60Hz on my plasma, but support for higher/variable refresh rates would probably make for some useful future-proofing.

Then again, 55" might just be too big. I've got a 51" right now and the speakers on the TV stand are already kind of covering up the corners of the screen.

I realize I'm deep into First World Problems here and I'm sure there are more important things I could be thinking about. Just heading over to the refurb TV store to look around is still an option.

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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Thu Sep 03, 2020 11:24 am

Got a good (better than Costco) deal on the 55" Q80T so I went ahead and went for it. Don't have it yet but I'm looking into "smart" features and whether I want to fuck with them.

The TV doesn't support Dolby Vision, so I guess I don't need to pay an extra $3 a month on my Netflix subscription.

It does support HDR10+. Amazon Prime uses that and I've still got an Amazon Prime subscription (which I don't feel great about, but hey, Good Omens was good).

Linux doesn't support HDR. They're working on it, and given how impressed I've been with the rapid development of the amdgpu open-source stack, I'm optimistic that it'll happen eventually, but I'd still wager it's likelier years out than months. (Still probably well within the lifetime of the TV.)

I've looked at various guides on "smart" TV privacy. HowToGeek says just don't connect it to the Internet at all, and if you really need those features use a dedicated device for them. Now, Roku can track you too, of course, but it's probably better at data security than Samsung, and anyway there's something to be said for siloing -- even if your Roku is spying on you, it can only spy on the stuff you're doing with your Roku. A TV can log a lot more than that.

(I wonder if there's a good way to set up an Android-based streaming device without GSM. I'm sure most of the major streaming apps require GSM, but I wonder if they might work with microG as a substitute. The advantage of an Android environment is access to settings and apps to enhance privacy; the disadvantage, of course, is Google, but again, if microG works as a substitute, then that's that taken care of.)

As far as disabling all the tracking shit the TV can do, it looks like the first step is just to say "no" to every opt-in prompt I possibly can that's not actually required for the TV to function. (And there are menu settings to disable things like voice controls and identifying every show I watch.) I think it's probably a good idea to disable all that shit even if I decide I'm never going to connect it to the Internet, because someday somebody else might connect it to the Internet. I'm not going to have this TV forever and someday I'll donate it and it'll end up with somebody else, and even if there's a Factory Reset button I'm not sure how confident I am that it'll delete all the tracking information. (Plus, it's always possible that I don't have a chance to reset it before I donate it -- maybe it quits working, I donate it to a recycle center, and they get it working again.)

I've also already got a whitelist of streaming-related domains in my firewall. I'm curious whether it would be possible to hook the TV up and deny it access to the Internet except for those domains.

But for the moment I'm leaning toward not hooking it up to the Internet at all. I like pretty colors but I'm not sure they're worth the hassle. I'm used to saying "Eh, I'll wait until I can do that on Linux."

(Tizen is technically Linux, but you know what I mean.)

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Thad
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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Thu Sep 03, 2020 12:07 pm

(And of course there's always the "buy a 4K Blu-Ray player and physical media" route, but that seems like a lot of money for a pretty limited selection. I'm sure The Wizard of Oz looks great in HDR, but maybe not "spend $250 on a set-top box" great. Seems like more of a "maybe someday if I buy a PS5" kind of thing.)

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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:43 am

Pretty happy with the TV so far. It's got this "adaptive picture" setting out of the box and y'know it'd be just swell if there were some way to set it to "yes, that thing you did with the color calibration, do that, but turn off that fucking motion smoothing." But apparently there isn't; it's either automatic picture or manual picture.

The soundscape is really quite impressive. Wife and I argued some about whether it sounds better than the 5.1 setup we've got with external speakers. (Which are cheapy Monoprice speakers, but on the other hand she keeps making me turn the subwoofer off so if there's no low end on the 5.1 that's on her.)

Haven't checked out any HDR content yet, or connected it to the wifi at all. I've got the weekend to figure out whether my "whitelist the servers it can access" plan is actually viable.

The PC I've got hooked up to it refuses to do 3840x2160 above 30Hz, which is annoying, because the Radeon RX 480 is supposed to support 3840x2160x60Hz through HDMI, but ultimately it doesn't really matter anyway; "4K" isn't really a superior viewing experience to 1080p unless it's got HDR, and since Linux won't do HDR anyway I'm perfectly happy with 1920x1080x120Hz. Haven't tried setting up FreeSync yet; I'd pretty much just be using it to watch benchmark videos anyway since I'm still not quite ready to play action games again.

Picture is really quite good, even at 1080p with no HDR. Fired up a Planet Earth, saw how bad the motion looked with the default settings, fixed them, admired the scenery, fast forwarded through some animals eating each other, admired more scenery. On the whole it looks a whole lot better than the poor ol' plasma; the blacks maybe aren't quite as deep but the colors really pop.

Ordered a string of 6500K bias lights from Medialight too. I've been using their previous model on the plasma and been pretty pleased with the results -- though one of the plasma's recent problems is that one day it decided the USB draw for the LED lights was more than it could handle and it started power cycling until I turned them off.

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Re: TVs

Postby Brentai » Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:55 am

Can't guarantee but your 4K@60 issue could possibly be your HDMI cable. Needs to be 2.0 or later compat. 4K@60 on anything but a dedicated console is kind of a massive pain though, even when it does work.
Image

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Thad
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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:03 am

Yeah, I tried swapping in a new 2.0b cable and that didn't work.

I do have one complaint with the TV:

Image

What the fuck is this shit? I don't want a MOMA display piece, I want a fucking TV remote. You know, like, with numbers on it.

Have I just fallen into some weird "old enough to still occasionally want to change channels on my TV, but too young to be doing it on a cable box" demographic hole? Or do they really expect me to push a microphone button and say "channel 8" into my remote instead of just pushing "8"?

Or did they just figure I'd only be using this ridiculous thing for the first five minutes I set up my TV, until I got my Harmony remote set up to work with it? Because if that was what they were figuring, then yeah, okay, touche, Samsung.

ETA: Okay actually I thought of a couple other things. One is that it's got this lovely cable management system where there are grooves on the back of the TV that you can run the (flat) power cable through, and then run it through the back of the TV stand, and this system is completely unusable because the bundled power cable is three feet long.

Another is that said TV stand feels flimsy and wobbly. Not the base; the base is a nice solid slab of metal. But the neck, the bit that attaches the TV to the base, is plastic, and it doesn't feel very solid. I'm thinking I might buy an aftermarket stand -- that would kill two birds with one stone, since I could raise the TV up a couple inches and not have my speakers covering up the bottom corners.

Something that swivels would be nice too. It's not like we're planning on having company over any time soon, but someday there may come a point where we want to adjust the viewing angle of the TV.

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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:29 pm

...man, is there anywhere I can find reviews of TV stands that aren't obviously the result of an automated aggregator slamming search results together?

I keep finding listicles that compare things that look like this

Image

to things that look like this

Image

Yeah, that's what I wanted. I was trying to figure out which of those two products I wanted to buy.

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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:54 pm

Okay, I've spent too much time staring at this stuff and from what I can determine Sanus is a legit brand and the ATVS1-B1 has solid reviews except apparently it doesn't come with long enough screws for Samsung TVs.

Costs about three times as much as the El Cheapo brands and $100 seems like kind of a lot just for a stand, but y'know, this seems like the sort of thing you maybe don't want to cheap out on.

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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Sun Sep 06, 2020 12:59 am

First World Problems cont.

I realized today that I'm not getting 5.1 audio out of my PC anymore.

PC used to be cabled to audio receiver, then to TV. But audio receiver only supports 60Hz video, so since getting new 120Hz TV, I've hooked the PC to the TV (HDMI) to the audio receiver (S/PDIF).

So apparently the TV can't convert 5.1 HDMI input to 5.1 S/PDIF output. It can passthrough HDMI audio on an HDMI/ARC connection (which my audio receiver doesn't support; it's no spring chicken), but if you input HDMI and output S/PDIF it downmixes to stereo. Or just drops 3.1 channels entirely, I guess, because I get nothin' when I click on any speaker in the test panel other than Front Left or Front Right.

Now, the PC's motherboard has an S/PDIF out, and as it turns out it's already cabled to my audio receiver, presumably from back when I first got my AMD audio card before the Linux AMD driver supported audio output over HDMI. But it only seems to output stereo. So I guess I can get some quality PCM audio, so there's that, but it still doesn't solve the problem.

So I think what I'm going to have to wind up doing is hooking up two separate HDMI cables to two separate HDMI ports coming out of my graphics card, use one for video and attach it to the TV, and use the other for audio and attach it to the receiver. Which seems awfully silly, but on balance it beats the hell out of buying a new audio receiver. Which I realize I'm going to need to do eventually, but seeing as I got a PS4 in 2018 and a Switch in 2020, I'm not due for another device with a higher video output than 1920x1080x60Hz until at least 2023.

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Re: TVs

Postby mharr » Sat Sep 12, 2020 7:37 pm

Hey, you know how some devices have mini or micro HDMI outputs and any cables you buy to connect them to a screen will work for like a month then start flickering and firing static any time you breathe too hard in an adjacent room?

Is there a fix for that or are all said devices fundamentally useless?

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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:27 am

I can't say I've found a reliable brand of HDMI cable; they all tend to wear out pretty quickly IME.

I've never tried crimping my own but IME the problems mostly seem to occur at or near the connector, so if you find yourself needing a lot of new cables you might want to look into what replacement connectors and crimping tools cost and whether it's worth the price.

NewEgg has a very good sale on Rosewill-branded HDMI cables going right now in the States; at a quick glance I see they sell in the UK, so it might be worth looking into whether you can get equivalent sale prices over there. If you can't get cables that will last, at least you can get a lot of cheap ones to swap out as they wear out.

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Re: TVs

Postby mharr » Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:08 am

Looking further into your idea of rolling your own, I see there's a standard ribbon cable available for HDMI with clip-on versions of all the connector options. Drone, rocketry and model aircraft communities make heavy use of them. This might be a catch-all solution.

You can even get 90 degree connectors pointing in either direction. Perfect.

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Re: TVs

Postby Thad » Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:44 pm

Thad wrote:The TV doesn't support Dolby Vision, so I guess I don't need to pay an extra $3 a month on my Netflix subscription.

On further reading, my understanding is now that anything on Netflix that supports Dolby Vision will fall back to HDR10 if your TV doesn't support DV. So you won't get the full featureset of DV/HDR10+ but it'll still presumably look better than SDR. So I guess I might end up paying that extra $3 a month after all.

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