Bottom Line: Although presented in a highly technical manner that could prove frustrating for novices, the information in Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics is extremely valuable. The Blu-ray disc not only explains many home theater principals, it’s packed with video test patterns and audio test signals that will help average users hone the settings on their equipment.
One of the first things you learn while watching Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics is that TV manufacturers often go out of their way to make sets display images differently than content providers would like. This can mean oversaturated colors, ultra-bright pictures or any number of other discrepancies built into the factory settings of a set, all so that it will stand out on a crowded showroom floor. The problem, of course, is that the standard settings on such TVs don’t properly reproduce the images that television and movie producers worked hard to create. Therefore, serious home theater buffs find it imperative to calibrate new TVs and projectors, bringing them as close as possible to the high-definition standard.
While there’s no substitute for a professional calibration, not everyone can afford that luxury, and that’s where Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics comes in. This nifty Blu-ray disc – created by home theater guru Joe Kane – not only contains a 97-minute program explaining the principals of high-definition television and surround sound systems, it has tutorials and test signals that will help consumers calibrate their own setups.
Technically knowledgeable home theater buffs will find Digital Video Essentials handy just because of the many video test patterns and audio test signals that it contains. These can be used make sure a surround sound system is properly hooked up, that the video settings on a TV or projector are reasonably good and that the volume levels of surround sound speakers are correctly set.
Folks who are new to home theater calibration will do well to go through the disc’s HDTV overview and tutorial sections several times because the information is presented in a technically complex manner. A more user-friendly approach would have been preferable, but newcomers willing to invest some time with the disc will still get a lot out of it, even if they only absorb half of the information presented.
Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics can be found at a variety of online and brick-and-mortar retail outlets for around $20, a reasonable price considering the wealth of information it contains and the fact that the audio and video test signals will come in handy for years to come.