Parents Just Don’t Understand (Color Space)

 In Blog Post, SDVoE Academy

My father bought a new TV earlier this year. While we were at the TV superstore he asked me which one I thought was best. The short answer was, “that one, over there.” Quite honestly, if I’d pointed my finger for long enough he’d have probably just gone with it. He didn’t, because the next question he asked was, “Why?”

I presumed that, whatever I said to him, the deciding factor would probably be price, but I couldn’t allow my presumptions to get in the way of the request for help. I felt flattered, he looked to me for my professional opinion, so I got to work.

Apart from being made by different manufacturers, these TVs appeared to be exactly the same. Obviously to him they weren’t. The one he’d fallen in love with was 20% more expensive. The images on the two screens made it clear why. The cheaper counterpart had a much flatter, less vibrant image from the same source, and yet, both TVs were UHD, so I knew that they were both capable of displaying the Rec.2020 color space. Both TVs were about the same size and they were both showing the same source image.

So why was there such an obvious difference in image quality?

Distribution matters

An investigation began. I found a technical chap to ask some technical questions to. Rather than just ask him why the image on the cheaper set was worse than the image on the expensive set (duh), I asked him if the source I could see was the same source displayed on all the TVs.

It turned out it was. I probed further to find out how that source was being distributed to so many different TVs in the store. Much to my surprise it transpired that a number of different distribution systems were in place. Suddenly it became abundantly clear to me why the images on these two TVs were so very different. I thanked Mr. Technical and went to find my father.

While the penny had dropped with me, I wasn’t prepared to start educating my father in video distribution so I just did the right thing and said, “You should buy that one,” pointing to the cheaper set. “It’s the one I’d choose out of the two.” “Why?” he asked me again with a look of surprise on his face. “Well I’m confident you’ll have the same stunning image as the more expensive one when you get it home because your sources are connected directly to the TV, whereas in this place, they’re not.”

Nobody wants advice – only corroboration

He didn’t appear too convinced, but he did seem to accept my answer. Feeling quite proud that I’d used skill over judgement to bring what I felt was the best possible piece of advice to my Dad, I went back to the car while he carried out the transaction. My work here was done.

He bought the expensive one!

Perhaps I should have spent some time educating him on the potential effects video distribution can have on a display.

Type “color space” into Google and spend just 5 minutes of research. It gets really complicated really quickly. Yet in the world of pro AV we can’t avoid it. New terminology is creeping into our industry language every year, and as professionals selling concepts to customers rather than products, we need to be comfortable with it.

Why not take a look at the new course on the SDVoE Academy for a soft and gentle explanation to help you understand color space, and maybe even advise your family on which TV to buy? Visit the SDVoE Academy and sign up. If you are already signed up, you can go directly to Color Space & Color Depth.