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  1. Member
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    My grandma needs a bigger TV because she can't see the numbers/letters on her game shows and sporting events (football, baseball). The problem I'm having is that she lives in an assisted living facility (ALF) that only gets SD cable (480i, I think - it's Comcast), plus all her game shows and favorite TV shows are 480p anyway. So I have no idea how that would look on a bigger TV, we're either going to get a 43" or 50". I'm also having trouble understanding how viewing distance plays into that.

    Additionally, I want to consider the possibility that at some point in time she could get HD cable, but I doubt it. I did hook up a Fire TV stick for her, but she cannot use it on her own. I turn something on when I'm there and the HD picture is so much easier for her to see.

    So... How can I know what size TV to get with SD cable? I've seen SD satellite (Dish) on both a 43" and 50" from maybe 7-10 feet away and it looks horrible, though the 43" is better. But that's Dish and both TVs are hooked up to the STB via HDMI, whereas Grandma's TV will likely be hooked up via coax/RF.

    I'm sitting here looking at these viewing charts and it's honestly confusing to me. Grandma doesn't care that 480 or 1080 looks best at a certain distance, she just wants to be able to see numbers/letters better and not have a horrible picture when viewing SD content. Unfortunately, because of the room layout, she's stuck sitting about 12.5 feet away from the TV. According to the viewing chart, it looks like at that distance, anything over 40" will produce a grainy picture at 480p.
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  2. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
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    As long as the sd is good quality broadcast then there should be no issues,if it's the usually crappy sd broadcast then it will be hard to see numbers.
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  3. It sounds like the issue is lack of quality in the 480p/480i broadcasts, and that the size of the set doesn't really make the fuzzy text any easier to read.

    Since you can use a Fire TV Stick, that means you have wireless Internet. Getting streaming HD is clearly the way to go, but if the minimalist Fire TV Stick remote is too confusing to use, you might look at other alternatives to the Fire TV Stick that might have a remote that would be easier for her to use.

    The other option to consider is a universal remote that could be programmed to more closely mimic the remote she is used to using. If you are going to use it with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, it will have to be a universal remote that outputs RF, not infrared. So, since you have a solution that fixes the problem (the Fire TV Stick) focus instead on how to create a way for her to control it.

    I use the Logitech Harmony universal remotes and, having used dozens of universal remotes over the past thirty years, these are by far the best. Out of the box they won't control the Fire TV Stick, but this product may let you simply and easily accomplish what you want to do:

    How to Use a Universal Remote with Amazon Fire TV
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 2nd Sep 2019 at 14:33. Reason: added link
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    Originally Posted by johns0 View Post
    As long as the sd is good quality broadcast then there should be no issues,if it's the usually crappy sd broadcast then it will be hard to see numbers.
    As an Xfinity subscriber, I can confirm that Comcast's SD version of any channel available in HD is poor quality when watched on HD TVs. They assume anyone with SD service is watching on a 4:3 TV and letterbox all HD content when it is re-formatted for SD service. The only exceptions are local channels broadcast at 480i with (anamorphic) 16:9 aspect ratio.
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    Go with the 50" and I cringe saying this, crank up the sharpening if you're going to upgrade. The size difference between 32" and 40" at 12.5' is negligible http://displaywars.com/32-inch-16x9-vs-40-inch-16x9, http://displaywars.com/32-inch-16x9-vs-50-inch-16x9 if Grandma is struggling to see the text on a 32". Yes, a poor quality SD signal will be more pixelated on a larger set, but the tradeoff is not having to strain to see a smaller, sharper image.

    I upgraded my Mom's set from a 32" to a 42" and at first she said it was too big, but later joked that she could go bigger saying she no longer had to strain to see the letters on Wheel of Fortune. We had HD cable, but her favorite shows (Kdramas) were SD and while they looked bad to me when I passed by, she was happy. And ultimately that's all that mattered.

    I'm not familiar with FireStick (though I had a Chromecast and Roku and didn't like the interface), but I'd recommend swapping it for a Android Box that you can setup a custom desktop with shortcuts to her favorite streaming channels. Another advantage is you can put movies and TV shows on a HDD or SD card so she can watch them when she wants. I highly recommend the Pro version of MX Player as your media player. Again, just put a shortcut to it on the desktop and make a playlist of the videos Stay away from VLC which is still buggy on Android.\

    Edit: Visual perception for many of the older generation (those of us who were happy to see anything on the TV, even if it was full of snow and ghosts) is different from those who grew up with HD. When I first got my 55" HDTV, I played around with the settings and cranked up it up to where I could see the individual hairs on the actresse's head in the drama I was watching. Most people would be wowed by the detail, but after a few minutes, I grew tired of it and tweaked the settings to where they should be for proper viewing.
    Last edited by lingyi; 2nd Sep 2019 at 15:41.
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    Thanks for the replies.

    For the record, I'm trying to focus more on finding a TV size for SD content rather than using HD streaming. I just wanted to keep the streaming option open. Grandma has enough issues with changing the channels. I think the streaming option is better suited for when family visit and can do everything for her.

    The thing that scares me about the 50" is that I've seen how horrible it looks with Dish satellite's SD content. The old shows were horribly pixelated. Grandma's eyesight is pretty decent for her age, so she would be able to see that.
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    Can you take her to the store to look at look at the different sizes herself? Take a flash drive with some SD content. Here's a SD Wheel of Fortune episode from YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5GgVqEAr8g. Move her as far away from the screen as possible (there likely isn't 12.5" of open space in a store) to approximate what she'll be seeing. Also keep in mind that the sets in the store are set to Vivid or Display mode which is overly bright, color saturated and sharp to attract customers.

    Her current set likely has a Zoom or Fullscreen setting that can give you an idea of the increase to a 40" display may look like. I have a 32" and 40" HDTV in addition to my 55" and as I stated, the size difference between 32" and 40" isn't that great, especially if seeing text is the issue.

    Ironically, the reason I got the 32" is for playing old arcade games on it (using MAME). My joystick setup is ~2" away from the screen (like a standup arcade machine) and I had to move my head when playing on the 40".
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  8. Originally Posted by lilblu View Post
    because of the room layout, she's stuck sitting about 12.5 feet away from the TV
    You definitely want a 50" TV. That's even close to the optimum size for SD video at that distance. Many older people don't have great visual acuity anyway (cataracts, etc.) and won't even notice if the picture is a little fuzzy.
    Last edited by jagabo; 2nd Sep 2019 at 18:18.
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  9. Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Here's a SD Wheel of Fortune episode from YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5GgVqEAr8g.
    That's even worse than SD. It's 240p, was captured from low quality VHS, and way over compressed. 480p broadcast TV (or downscaled HD) will be significantly better than that.
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    Gave that as an example of poor quality SD. If grandma can make that out on a 50" TV, cable SD as you stated will be better.

    Seems to me the OP is putting his/her modern criteria for a good picture over what Grandma would be happy with. I'm somewhere between the layperson and videophiles like yourself and some of the other regulars here, so more tolerant of fair to good picture quality.

    I'm currently watching a series of Korean drama specials that range in quality from 4K to Youtube quality on my 40" set (can't watch them on my 55" plasma because of the logos (burn in).

    Edit: I watch the poor quality videos by setting my PC to a 4:3 aspect ratio which allows me to watch them fullscreen on a portion of my set.
    Last edited by lingyi; 2nd Sep 2019 at 19:07.
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  11. Size of the TV is not the metric on which you should focus. Instead, look at sites like AVS Forum and search for a discussion on which sets scale SD content most successfully. Unfortunately, there is less and less demand for this, so that spec may no longer be discussed as much. However, if you simply make a fuzzy video larger, it does not get any easier to read unless the scaling algorithms are good and possibly some sharpening is added.

    I'd also pay attention to how the SD content is piped into the set. In your original post you only say that she has SD cable, but didn't mention how the cable box is connected to the TV. I think you will find that there may be a VERY big difference in the quality of what you get on the TV depending on what connection you use between the cable box and the TV set.

    I have an older TV set, and for my remaining SD sources I can connect with:
    • RF (coax, tuning to channel 3 or 4);
    • Composite (single yellow-tipped RCA round connector);
    • S-video (single multi-pin cable);
    • RGB (three separate RCA-style connectors) and;
    • HDMI.
    I listed those more or less in the ascending order of picture quality, although the actual picture you get will depend on so many factors that you really need to try them all to see which gives you the best result. The ideal way to do the test is find a channel that is just scrolling text, like a weather or stock price channel, and then change the connections and either look at the results or capture it with a camera so you can compare side-by-side.
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 2nd Sep 2019 at 20:02. Reason: formatting & typos
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    The analog hole with cable is quickly closing. Some companies are requiring the use of cable boxes with no RF or analog outputs, even for basic cable. Some low end TVs have done away with away all analog connections other than the coax input. My current cable box from Spectrum doesn't have an RF out, but has composite and component in addition to HDMI.
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  13. Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    The analog hole with cable is quickly closing. Some companies are requiring the use of cable boxes with no RF or analog outputs, even for basic cable. Some low end TVs have done away with away all analog connections other than the coax input. My current cable box from Spectrum doesn't have an RF out, but has composite and component in addition to HDMI.
    True. Fortunately, you can still get a few home theater receiver/amps that have analog inputs that they will convert to HDMI output.
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  14. As others have suggested, the difference between 32" and 42" is not that great in terms of what your Grandma is looking for. So go for the 50" or 55" and cross your fingers she'll be OK with the utterly atrocious SD feed she's stuck with via her facility's building-wide RF distribution thru ComcCast (aka CrapCast). The larger screens will exaggerate how bad the feed is, but with careful adjusting of picture controls you can optimize it for the text displays of her game shows etc. It will never look great, but as long as she's comfortable reading it she'll likely be happy.

    Testing TVs in stores can be difficult. Aside from the trouble of getting her there and coaxing her on how to evaluate each TV, chances are the large TVs are glued to the wall and permanently connected to a repetitive HDTV demo feed. Salespeople are often in no mood to mess around with settings to let you play a USB stick with demo files. And you'd be amazed how often the video players built into TVs will immediately corrupt and destroy the files on a USB stick, or refuse to play them at all unless they're formatted to precisely the .avi or .mp4 spec they prefer.

    Ask around to everyone you know to see if they have a TV of 50" or larger size. Switch channels to show MeTV or Buzzr or some other retro channel with crappy compressed SD quality old TV series. If it looks passable to you for Grandma's use, get her a similar brand/model. If all else fails and you can't decide, gamble with a midrange Samsung: in my experience these do a bit better with crummy SD feed. Sony and some other brands start to fall apart with poor SD input, tho they do a decent job with excellent SD input or typical HD.

    Perhaps you could speak to the client services dept of Grandma's facility, and ask if theres any chance she can get her own personal cable box with HDMI connection for her new TV. This would vastly improve the clarity of text on current game shows and sports, but won't help much with old syndicated reruns of classic TV series. Of course she would likely be billed extra each month for the upgraded cable connection, which she may prefer not to pay.
    Last edited by orsetto; 16th Sep 2019 at 19:47.
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  15. My 2 cents Get her some prescription glasses ..Talking from experience... For example Netflix subs are tiny even on 40 or 50 " sets at 6 or 7 feet away ... And the app doesn't even allow font resizing.. At my age, i cant even make out the captions on Cable TV shows without going close to the TV
    So either get her the glasses or make her site closer to the TV
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  16. Mountains of gear vaporeon800's Avatar
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    Wait, what is the current 32" TV? Model number would be most useful, but it's not even clear to me whether we're talking about a 4:3 CRT or a 16:9 LCD from 15 years ago.

    Personally, I've ended up with a 16:9 EDTV (480p) plasma monitor wall-mounted next to my 65" OLED (B7 aka 2017 model) because I'm so disappointed with scaling quality. I think it's 42", maybe 40". I feed an HDMI splitter to both, so maybe I can take some photos to demo text being easier to read on the unscaled display compared to the 4K-upscaled one.


    Also, my gf's hand-me-down plasma, panel resolution 768p, makes decent DVDs look nearly as good as Netflix 720p or downscaled-1080p input, to my subjective impression from the other side of the room.


    So my own advice would be to seek out lower-resolution panels with good contrast on Craigslist. And you can confirm ahead of time whether the seller can hook it up to a cable box for you to preview.
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    The analog hole with cable is quickly closing. Some companies are requiring the use of cable boxes with no RF or analog outputs, even for basic cable. Some low end TVs have done away with away all analog connections other than the coax input. My current cable box from Spectrum doesn't have an RF out, but has composite and component in addition to HDMI.
    Some nursing homes have a distribution system setup that converts the cable tv / satellite to broadcast tv. These are used so that really really old TV (have seen small crts still in service) can be used and also prevents the need for residents to use cable boxes.
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    Honestly, I have found the Best Help for this here > https://www.facebook.com/groups/797811300603551/ - Great!
    Burning speed plus good quality is WHAT COUNTS!
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  19. way to Rigel 7 cornemuse's Avatar
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    Move the TV closer & turn down the brightness?
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