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Blu Ray player not upscaling DVDs - help!


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Old 13-05-2013, 10:27
faye10910
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I happened to be over at my sister's house on Friday night, and stuck one of my DVDs in her Panasonic Blu Ray player. The effect of upscaling on the quality of the DVD was spectacular - almost like HD quality, and certainly streets ahead of how it looks on my DVD player at home.

So I went out on Saturday and bought virtually the same Blu Ray player as hers - the next model up actually - a Panasonic DMP-BDT220. Got it home, hooked it up to my HD TV...and the same DVD that upscaled so brilliantly just played in normal rubbish DVD quality, exactly as my old SCART-connected DVD player does. So I tried hooking the Blu Ray up to my other TV, and exactly the same occurred - no upscale in quality at all.

Both my TVs are HD - one is a Philips full HD and the other is a Sony HD-Ready. We have Sky HD, and that displays in lovely quality. We factory reset them both to make sure no custom settings were interfering with the Blu Ray player's upscaling. We're connecting the Blu Ray player via HDMI (have tried two different cables). We've tried different DVDs, including the one we know will upscale really well, and they all just play at DVD quality. Blu Rays play in HD, but most of my library is made up of DVDs, and the whole point of getting the Blu Ray player was to improve the quality of those, rather than rush out and buy loads of Blu Rays.

Does anyone have any idea what might be wrong?! We've been tearing our hair our all weekend trying to get this to work!
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Old 13-05-2013, 11:07
chrisjr
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What settings have you made to the output of the Blu-Ray? If you have set it to AUTO then it will not upscale DVD playback but send it to the TV "as is" and let the TV do the upscaling. If you've set it to output at 1080 then the player will upscale, effectively bypassing the TV's scaler.

So you need to dive into the player menu and see what effect changing the video output has on the image quality. And of course the ultimate quality also depends on the TV display panel and how well (or otherwise) you have set it up.
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Old 13-05-2013, 11:18
faye10910
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What settings have you made to the output of the Blu-Ray? If you have set it to AUTO then it will not upscale DVD playback but send it to the TV "as is" and let the TV do the upscaling. If you've set it to output at 1080 then the player will upscale, effectively bypassing the TV's scaler.

So you need to dive into the player menu and see what effect changing the video output has on the image quality. And of course the ultimate quality also depends on the TV display panel and how well (or otherwise) you have set it up.
Hi Chris - thanks for this.

I've just double checked, the Blu Ray player's HDMI output is set to 1080i (this for my HD-Ready TV). I went through all the options - 720, 1080p, 1080i - and the quality doesn't change at all.

The TV is good enough quality to show Sky HD and actual Blu Rays, so I don't think its quality is the problem - but DVD content just isn't being upscaled in the slightest...
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Old 13-05-2013, 11:23
Chasing Shadows
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Next thing to do is borrow your sister's Blu Ray player, connect it to one of your tellies, and try playing the same disc (using the same HDMI cable, the same input HDMI connection on your TV etc). If that proves awkward, take your Blu Ray player round to her house and do the same.

If it looks good when played on hers, and not so good when played on yours, then your new Blu Ray player is to blame. If it looks poor when played on hers also, then the fault is not with the player.
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Old 13-05-2013, 11:31
faye10910
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Next thing to do is borrow your sister's Blu Ray player, connect it to one of your tellies, and try playing the same disc (using the same HDMI cable, the same input HDMI connection on your TV etc). If that proves awkward, take your Blu Ray player round to her house and do the same.

If it looks good when played on hers, and not so good when played on yours, then your new Blu Ray player is to blame. If it looks poor when played on hers also, then the fault is not with the player.
Problem is my sister's an hour away, so it's not quick and easy for me to pop round and try things out...I know basically I need to try someone else's Blu Ray player (that's been proven to upscale) on my TVs, and my Blu Ray player on someone else's TV (that's been proven to display upscaled DVD)...it's just finding willing volunteers!

Thanks for the advice Chasing Shadows!
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Old 13-05-2013, 11:49
chrisjr
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The player or TV is upscaling the picture if it fills the TV screen. If it wasn't being upscaled in any way shape or form then the image would be a box in the middle of the screen surrounded by thick black bars.

Upscaling cannot make a DVD any better than the source. All it does is invent a shed load of pixels to pad out the original so it fills the TV display. With a full HD 1920x1080 resolution display almost three quarters of what you see on screen is invented!
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:02
faye10910
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The player or TV is upscaling the picture if it fills the TV screen. If it wasn't being upscaled in any way shape or form then the image would be a box in the middle of the screen surrounded by thick black bars.

Upscaling cannot make a DVD any better than the source. All it does is invent a shed load of pixels to pad out the original so it fills the TV display. With a full HD 1920x1080 resolution display almost three quarters of what you see on screen is invented!
Thing is I don't think anything IS being invented to fill the gaps. It's no different to what my standard DVD player produces. The description I'd use would be 'blown up' - like when you take a JPG photo and increase the image size, it goes all pixelly and crappy.

The upscaled version of the very same disc on my sister's TV - which is even bigger than mine - looked like near HD quality - the difference was stupendous! But on my Blu Ray player theres NO difference. I literally had one disc of the boxset in my DVD player and another in my Blu Ray player at the same time, and when flicking back and forth between the SCART-connected DVD player picture and the HDMI connected Blu Ray player picture, you couldn't have told the difference between the quality at all.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:03
grahamlthompson
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The player or TV is upscaling the picture if it fills the TV screen. If it wasn't being upscaled in any way shape or form then the image would be a box in the middle of the screen surrounded by thick black bars.

Upscaling cannot make a DVD any better than the source. All it does is invent a shed load of pixels to pad out the original so it fills the TV display. With a full HD 1920x1080 resolution display almost three quarters of what you see on screen is invented!
Perfectly true but a DVD played back with my Sony Blu-ray player looks remarkably better when the Blu-ray player is set to scale from 576i to 1080i rather than leaving the player to output 576i and leaving the scaling to the TV (also a Sony).

It also looks better than a much older and far more expensive Denon DVD player is used to playback the same DVD, either at native resolution or set to output at 1080i.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:10
grahamlthompson
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Thing is I don't think anything IS being invented to fill the gaps. It's no different to what my standard DVD player produces. The description I'd use would be 'blown up' - like when you take a JPG photo and increase the image size, it goes all pixelly and crappy.

The upscaled version of the very same disc on my sister's TV - which is even bigger than mine - looked like near HD quality - the difference was stupendous! But on my Blu Ray player theres NO difference. I literally had one disc of the boxset in my DVD player and another in my Blu Ray player at the same time, and when flicking back and forth between the SCART-connected DVD player picture and the HDMI connected Blu Ray player picture, you couldn't have told the difference between the quality at all.
Of course it's being invented. Your TV screen has a fixed number of pixels. 1920 x 1080 to be precise if it's a Full-HD panel. To fill the screen you have to have RGB data for each one of those pixels. If you don't then you will be looking at a tiny picture surrounded by black borders (A UK DVD has data for 720 x 576 pixels). Having said that the improvement in scaling quality of even relatively cheap Blu-ray players these days is pretty impressive. See my above post.

If you look closely at the DVD picture it will have scaling artefacts that may not be obvious at the distance you view the TV from. It can't possibly be as good as a picture derived from a 1080p24 Blu-ray source.

Taking your photo analogy, by blowing up the image you are simply making the pixels larger on the display reducing the resolution. To do the same as a TV you need to use a photo editing package like Photoshop to re-sample the image to increase the physical number of pixels (again by basically guesswork).

As an example monitors often use a native resolution of about 70 pixels/inch.

Say you have an image 210 x 210 pixels

If you displayed it on screen at the best possible quality then you would use 1 screen pixel for every pixel in the photo. This will give you a 3" square image with a resolution of 70 pixels/inch.

If you blow up the image to a 6" square then the resolution will fall to 35 pixels/inch, hence it looks awfull.

Open the image in say photoshop and resample it to 420 x 420 pixels and now display it at 1:1 it will be 6" square and look a whole lot better than it 35 pixels/inch
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:16
chrisjr
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Thing is I don't think anything IS being invented to fill the gaps. It's no different to what my standard DVD player produces. The description I'd use would be 'blown up' - like when you take a JPG photo and increase the image size, it goes all pixelly and crappy.

The upscaled version of the very same disc on my sister's TV - which is even bigger than mine - looked like near HD quality - the difference was stupendous! But on my Blu Ray player theres NO difference. I literally had one disc of the boxset in my DVD player and another in my Blu Ray player at the same time, and when flicking back and forth between the SCART-connected DVD player picture and the HDMI connected Blu Ray player picture, you couldn't have told the difference between the quality at all.
If the image fills the screen then it is being upscaled. So something is being invented to pad out the gaps between the pixels in the original image. That is all upscaling does. It cannot invent detail that was not present in the original. It cannot turn a SD resolution DVD into an HD Blu-Ray.

Are you in fact certain that your sister was using the upscaler in the player and not the one in her TV? Are you absolutely certain that your Blu-Ray player is doing the upscaling? From what you are describing I have a feeling the TV is doing the upscaling not the player. Unless the scaler in both is doing an identical job.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:18
faye10910
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Of course it's being invented. Your TV screen has a fixed number of pixels. 1920 x 1080 to be precise if it's a Full-HD panel. To fill the screen you have to have RGB data for each one of those pixels. If you don't then you will be looking at a tiny picture surrounded by black borders (A UK DVD has data for 720 x 576 pixels). Having said that the improvement in scaling quality of even relatively cheap Blu-ray players these days is pretty impressive. See my above post.

If you look closely at the DVD picture it will have scaling artefacts that may not be obvious at the distance you view the TV from. It can't possibly be as good as a picture derived from a 1080p24 Blu-ray source.
But shouldn't I be able to see SOME difference between a DVD being played in a DVD player via SCART, and the same DVD played in a Blu Ray player that's meant to upscale via HDMI? Something? Not just an identical quality of picture? Because otherwise, what's the point of the much-vaunted upscaling technology in the Blu Ray player? They might as well have it back if it can't do any better than a SCARTed DVD player I've had for seven years!
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:20
chrisjr
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Perfectly true but a DVD played back with my Sony Blu-ray player looks remarkably better when the Blu-ray player is set to scale from 576i to 1080i rather than leaving the player to output 576i and leaving the scaling to the TV (also a Sony).

It also looks better than a much older and far more expensive Denon DVD player is used to playback the same DVD, either at native resolution or set to output at 1080i.
There is no doubt that different scalers produce different results. At the most basic all a scaler has to do is repeat each pixel the required number of times to fill the display.

A more sophisticated approach would be to analyse the surrounding pixel values and try to "guesstimate" what the value of the "invented" pixel should be. Obviously it is possible to make good, bad or indifferent guesses at this value
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:23
Chasing Shadows
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If your TV is as good at upscaling as your Blu Ray player is, then you wouldn't see any difference between the HDMI connection from your Blu Ray player and the scart connection from your DVD player - because both would be filling in exactly the same gaps from an SD picture with exactly the same pixels prior to outputting (or displaying) the 1080 resolution to/on the TV screen.

Neither will be a patch on a true high definition version of the same source.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:30
chrisjr
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But shouldn't I be able to see SOME difference between a DVD being played in a DVD player via SCART, and the same DVD played in a Blu Ray player that's meant to upscale via HDMI? Something? Not just an identical quality of picture? Because otherwise, what's the point of the much-vaunted upscaling technology in the Blu Ray player? They might as well have it back if it can't do any better than a SCARTed DVD player I've had for seven years!
Not necessarily. If you have a HD resolution display and feed it a SD resolution source then somewhere along the line it has to be upscaled if you want the SD image to fill the HD display.

If two different scalers do a very similar job of upscaling the image then you may well not see any difference between them. It is nothing at all to do with using Blu-Ray or standard DVD players. You can get DVD players with HDMI outputs and upscaling technology.

The only way you will truly benefit from the Blu-Ray player is to play Blu-Ray disks that have a true 1920x1080 resolution to start with and hence have no need of upscaling.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:31
grahamlthompson
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If the image fills the screen then it is being upscaled. So something is being invented to pad out the gaps between the pixels in the original image. That is all upscaling does. It cannot invent detail that was not present in the original. It cannot turn a SD resolution DVD into an HD Blu-Ray.

Are you in fact certain that your sister was using the upscaler in the player and not the one in her TV? Are you absolutely certain that your Blu-Ray player is doing the upscaling? From what you are describing I have a feeling the TV is doing the upscaling not the player. Unless the scaler in both is doing an identical job.
Invention is a bit strong, it's perfectly possible to use intelligent interpolation to create extra detail that will be very very close to what is missing. This is something that photoshop is very very clever at. The algorithms used in modern scalers are capable of creating some pretty realistic 1920 x 1080 images from a 720 x 576 source. Of course it's never as good as a genuine 1920 x 1080 source but it can come remarkably close given a really good source.

I have a THX DVD test disc with some clips from Movies that I actually have the blu-rays.

Played this back in my Sony Blu-ray with it doing the scaling sitting at normal viewing distances it's very hard to tell which is which (I tried a blind test on a friend). If you get very close to the screen though the difference is much more apparent.

Again the size of the the TV in relation to the viewing distance is a factor.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:32
faye10910
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If your TV is as good at upscaling as your Blu Ray player is, then you wouldn't see any difference between the HDMI connection from your Blu Ray player and the scart connection from your DVD player - because both would be filling in exactly the same gaps from an SD picture with exactly the same pixels prior to outputting (or displaying) the 1080 resolution to/on the TV screen.

Neither will be a patch on a true high definition version of the same source.
That would mean that my TVs - which are 4 and 5 years old respectively - are upscaling DVD as well or better than a brand new Blu Ray player - which seems counterintuitive to me!

And that the only reason DVDs look so good on my sister's TV is that her TV upscales dramatically better than her (almost identical to mine) Blu Ray player?

If 5 year old TVs upscale as well as modern Blu Ray players, why would anyone need a Blu Ray player to improve DVD content when their existing TV would do the job as well or better?
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:34
grahamlthompson
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The only way you will truly benefit from the Blu-Ray player is to play Blu-Ray disks that have a true 1920x1080 resolution to start with and hence have no need of upscaling.
Mine improved playback of my existing DVD collection despite having a very expensive Denon DVD player.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:38
chrisjr
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Invention is a bit strong, it's perfectly possible to use intelligent interpolation to create extra detail that will be very very close to what is missing.
Point is that the extra pixels in the displayed version of the image did not exist in the original. Therefore some process has to create that extra information. So why not "invented".

Doesn't mean it was some random process - eg selecting all black pixels when the original is all white or something equally bizarre.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:41
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Something I don't thinks been taken into consideration is apart from the 2 tv's being a different make so will more than likely give different results anyway, but also what picture settings have been applied to the sisters tv.
As said above, the only way to know for sure is to test the player on the sisters tv or even try the sisters player on the OP's tv.
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Old 13-05-2013, 12:42
Nigel Goodwin
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That would mean that my TVs - which are 4 and 5 years old respectively - are upscaling DVD as well or better than a brand new Blu Ray player - which seems counterintuitive to me!

And that the only reason DVDs look so good on my sister's TV is that her TV upscales dramatically better than her (almost identical to mine) Blu Ray player?
Presumably you mean WORSE, not better?.


If 5 year old TVs upscale as well as modern Blu Ray players, why would anyone need a Blu Ray player to improve DVD content when their existing TV would do the job as well or better?
A good TV has a good scaler, and Sony ones have always been particularly good, although a Sony BD player will usually make a small but noticeable improvement. I can't comment on how good you Philips set might be.

However, you appear to be unaware of what 'upscaling' is and does, as others have said it simply makes the picture fit the screen. It doesn't magically increase the DVD resolution, but a better scaler will produce better results with less artefacts, it's this lower level of artefacts that makes it look better.
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Old 13-05-2013, 13:22
faye10910
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Presumably you mean WORSE, not better?.
No - better. We have the same Blu Ray player. If the upscaling I was already getting from my old DVD player + TV is as good or better than the Blu Ray player can produce, then what's making the display for my sister so much better is her TV's ability to upscale BEYOND what the Blu Ray player can do. Sort of makes the Blu Ray player redundant for me, no?

However, you appear to be unaware of what 'upscaling' is and does, as others have said it simply makes the picture fit the screen. It doesn't magically increase the DVD resolution, but a better scaler will produce better results with less artefacts, it's this lower level of artefacts that makes it look better.
I don't think I'm being completely naive in expecting to see an increase in quality. Certainly from the extensive reading of reviews I did before buying the Blu Ray player, a lot of people commented on the quality of the upscaling - they weren't simply marvelling that the DVD picture wasn't a tiny square in the middle of the screen. There's plenty of commentary around about how the upscaling on this model gets the picture closer to HD quality - not as good as a real Blu Ray, but markedly better than just DVD. Hell, plenty of people in this thread have commented that they saw an improvement when they moved to Blu Ray. For me, there's precisely no change.

Is it just that my 5yo TV and 8yo DVD player are such ahead-of-their-time behemoths in upscaling that they're still outperforming a new Blu Ray player, and thus I can't expect any more improvement out of a DVD than I've had all along?
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Old 13-05-2013, 13:28
Nigel Goodwin
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No - better. We have the same Blu Ray player. If the upscaling I was already getting from my old DVD player + TV is as good or better than the Blu Ray player can produce, then what's making the display for my sister so much better is her TV's ability to upscale BEYOND what the Blu Ray player can do. Sort of makes the Blu Ray player redundant for me, no?
No, you've got it the wrong way round - using the BD player means the TV doesn't upscale at all, it's all done in the BD player.

If the upscaling in the TV is poor, then watching DVD's through a BD player via HDMI can make an appreciable difference. It may just be that your sisters TV is particularly poor, and that's why you notice the difference so much.

I might also be that your sister was watching DVD's via composite and not RGB, that makes a HUGE difference in quality, and would explain the improvement with the BD player which is RGB over HDMI.
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Old 13-05-2013, 13:34
grahamlthompson
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Point is that the extra pixels in the displayed version of the image did not exist in the original. Therefore some process has to create that extra information. So why not "invented".

Doesn't mean it was some random process - eg selecting all black pixels when the original is all white or something equally bizarre.
It sort of evokes abracadabra to me and there they are , rather than interpolation which examines surrounding real pixels and makes a guess based on this information.
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Old 13-05-2013, 13:35
chrisjr
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If your DVD player is connected via SCART then it is not upscaling anything. SCART is strictly SD. So the TV is doing all the upscaling. And the TV could also be upscaling the Blu-Ray as well.

In the Picture settings menu of the Blu-Ray player is a sub section for HDMI output. If the Video Format is set to AUTOMATIC in that section then the player is not upscaling. If it is set to 1080 then it is.

And why is it so strange that a 5 year old TV could do a good job of upscaling? There is no reason why it could not be doing a particularly fine job. Or at least is doing an equal job to the Blu-Ray. Unless as I have suggested the TV is in fact doing all the upscaling regardless of which player or connection you are using.

If the Blu-Ray has a SCART socket (not always a given these days) then you could try plugging it into the TV as well as HDMI. Then just flick between HDMI and SCART when playing the same disk on the same player. If the Blu-Ray is doing the upscaling then that will also flick between TV upscaling (SCART) and Blu-Ray upscaling (HDMI).
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Old 13-05-2013, 13:57
faye10910
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No, you've got it the wrong way round - using the BD player means the TV doesn't upscale at all, it's all done in the BD player.

If the upscaling in the TV is poor, then watching DVD's through a BD player via HDMI can make an appreciable difference. It may just be that your sisters TV is particularly poor, and that's why you notice the difference so much.

I might also be that your sister was watching DVD's via composite and not RGB, that makes a HUGE difference in quality, and would explain the improvement with the BD player which is RGB over HDMI.
I might not have been clear here...the jump up in quality that made me go out and buy the Blu Ray player in the first place was seeing a DVD played on my sister's BR player, which was astronomically better than the same one played on my DVD player at home. She does have a newer TV than me, but my TV isn't rubbish even at five years old - it's a pretty decent Sony Bravia that displays Sky HD beautifully.

So, same Blu Ray player, different TV. On mine, DVDs look exactly the same whether played via DVD player and SCART or BR player and HDMI. No appreciable difference in quality at all. On my sister's TV, a DVD in the Blu Ray player looked VERY close to HD quality. Enormously improved over how the same DVD looks via the same BR player on my TV. I can't easily test how the same DVD would look on her TV via my old DVD player, because she's in another county...

But if I'm not seeing a difference between my DVD player and my BR player, then presumably that's because my TV was already upscaling my DVDs as well as it could, and the BR player can't do any better than that.

In which case - I need a better TV?!

If your DVD player is connected via SCART then it is not upscaling anything. SCART is strictly SD. So the TV is doing all the upscaling. And the TV could also be upscaling the Blu-Ray as well.

In the Picture settings menu of the Blu-Ray player is a sub section for HDMI output. If the Video Format is set to AUTOMATIC in that section then the player is not upscaling. If it is set to 1080 then it is.
The DVD player is definitely SCART, so that's not doing any upscaling, ok. So my TV must be doing the work. But when the BR player is in use, either the BR player can't do any better, or something isn't working, because it's just the same. The BR player is definitely set to output at 1080i.

And why is it so strange that a 5 year old TV could do a good job of upscaling? There is no reason why it could not be doing a particularly fine job. Or at least is doing an equal job to the Blu-Ray. Unless as I have suggested the TV is in fact doing all the upscaling regardless of which player or connection you are using.
If that's the best it can do, it's not very good - that's the problem. Unless, as I alluded to above, I basically need a better TV!

If the Blu-Ray has a SCART socket (not always a given these days) then you could try plugging it into the TV as well as HDMI. Then just flick between HDMI and SCART when playing the same disk on the same player. If the Blu-Ray is doing the upscaling then that will also flick between TV upscaling (SCART) and Blu-Ray upscaling (HDMI).
It doesn't unfortunately, or I'd try that... I can flick between DVD and BR output but there's no SCART socket on the BR player.

Really appreciate all the help here guys...just feeling very frustrated at having seen how nicely a DVD can display and then coming back to earth with a bump when it doesn't on my TVs!
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