LCD HD TV Picture Quality Lacking

My Dad recently purchased a Sony Bravia LCD and my father-in -law just bought a Magnavox LCD. These are the 1st HD tv's I've had a chance to spend time viewing. Compared to standard televisions I find the color on both TV's to be unnatural (even after adjustments) and the pictures often lack clarity, and definition. They are fuzzy (cloudy looking). My Dad's Sony is connected to a digital HD cable box from the cable company. My father-in laws' LCD is still connected to a standard digital cable box. In the stores when I've seen true High Definition demos, like the NFL it is awesome. Are there any LCD televisions out there with natural looking color? (especially skin tones) Is this cloudy affect, lack of clarity and definition present on all these HD TV's or are there exceptions? Are there HD TV's that are clear in Non HD broadcasts? I do realize the source of the signal matters greatly, but why would my old JVC look clearer, more focused, and have more natural colors than these LCD tv's? Frankly before I shell out the cash, I want to see better performance than I saw from their TVs? Is this a question of something I heard about called "calibration."
Adjustments have been made to my Dad's TV by me and it still looks subpar unless it's an HD broadcast and some of those look unnatural too. Thanks for your thoughts.
The cable source in both cases is adding an extra layer of confusion. Connecting an antenna to each set should allow you to determine what is going on. A new HD TV should simply not deviate that much in any of its adjustments to account for what you describe. The HD signals via our outside antenna provide an excellent picture on our Sony Bravia.
Yes the best way to see what these TVs can do, is to use an antenna for HD broadcast or go Direct TV / Dish.
Cable TV hasn't quite caught up yet. Especially the channels still broadcasting in analog.

Quality also varies depending on the model and set. The lower line Bravia looks OK, the top of the line models do have better color contrast by comparison. I think Mitsubishi's LCDs has a terrific picture as well. Sharp and Samsung are good ones.

As you've pointed out, it is all about the signal received. Hook up a true Hi Def source..especially 1080p and no analog TV can match them.
How are you connecting the HD cables boxes to the LCD? If by standard cable from the cable company to the back of the TV, that is a problem right there. You should be using a high quality HDMI cable or at very least a high quality component cable.
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Thanks. I'm not sure what kind of hookup to the cable system it is since the cable company connected my Dad's tv and I was not there at the time. My father-in-law hooked it up himself to his digital cable box. My Dad and father-in-law subscribe to the same local cable system.
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I prefer plasma to LCD, much more CRT like, less artificial looking. I agree with others here that the signal-in is just as important as the type of set you have. They are basically computers in the sense that garbage in equals garbage out. What I have a problem with is Hi-Def Low-Res, there's no winning these days.
Non-HD channels generally tend to be only fair at best on large screen, HD or ED sets. If you do not have an HD cable box, (or if you are not paying extra for the HD package even if you have the HD box), you cannot display HD. They both are an extra charge option, at least on my cable service (comcast). If either of the sets has a built in HD tuner, you may be able to receive HD via antenna, just like the old days (called OTA, over the air).
I like both Plasma and LCD. Both work well depending on the environment they are in. For a well lighted room the LCD is the better choice. They are much brighter by comparison. Mine a (Sharp) has a light sensing mechanism. The more light that enters the room the brighter it becomes.The screen also absorbs light.Plasmas have a glass/glossy screen. They look great in a dark room, but have glare in a sun filled room.

LCD is lees likely to have burn in, plasma will eventual have burn in. If you use your display as a computer monitor, the Lcd is the better choice.

So all this must be taken in to account when choosing between the two.
Swampwalker I believe has the answer. But here is a twist;
When I bought my HDTV I had no idea that most channels broadcast two types of signals. For instance there is NBC for std broadcasts, and KNBC for the digital type. The std channels are blury. The other is fine, even if it is not a HD program
I watched supercross for two weeks before I fugured out it was being sent out on two channels. Call me slow, but don't call me stupid...
Good luck, John
You likely are either watching the Standard Def. broadcast or the TVs are hooked up using a low-resolution analog connection. Verify the the TV is connected using either HDMI or DVI first, then verify that you are watching a high-def channel.

You need to use good quality HDMI or component (3) cables between the receiver and the monitor/TV. We have two Sony XBR LCDs and a 36 XBR that we use with DirecTV HD/DVRs and an HD TiVo. The picture quality is excellent in each case. I highly recommend DirecTV as an HD source.

which Sony Bravia is it? There are a bunch of different levels. I have an S series in the bedroom and it is only 720p, and looks OK. The W series 1080p one that I just got for the living room (120hrz refresh rate) looks amazing. If you get a simpple Digital Video Basics disc to tweak the color, it makes a huge difference. If you get one of the computer tuning testers, such as the Eye One, for about a hundred bucks you can lock them into great color, pretty much any of the new monitors.

I'm a big believer in quality cables, except for video. I may be wrong, but almost any halfway decent HDMI cable that is 1.2 or above (for the audio and future upgrade capabilities) should be fine. Some of the engineers I work with made a point of testing different cables, and found the info in all of the HDMI cables they tested to be basically exact. Not so with the performance of analog cables, but that's a differnt discussion.

Good luck.
IMO, there is no way that the PQ problem the OP is talking about could be the result of the diff btwn 720p and 1080p, or the result of improper levels. I'd bet the price of a good steak dinner he is watching an SD signal (either digital or analog) or possibly an upconversion of SD source material to HD.
my experience thus far has been that, even with the best digital sources (I prefer satalite over what cable is doing -probably less compression, as well), especially HD DVD/Blue Ray, that most plasmas and LCD's suffer from lots of digital artifacts, depending on how good the processing and scalers and such are, that are being utilized! - among other issues. Basically, I think things have a way to go to improve in this new ALL DIGITAL world of tv's.
What I notice most when going through the line-up of flat pannels at the local chain AV stores, is lots of digital pixelization, motion artifacts, and moire problems in large video fields, even from HD sources! This is rather anoying to me, personally. I much prefered HD on analog equip over the years, consistently.
That all said, I think (hands down) the Pioneer Plasma's wipe the floor with the competition for pic quality from most any source out there currently! When I watch HD sources, especially sports on these sets, I find much more stable images, less "blocking", motion problems, and get an overall fealing of a more accurate image from Pioneer's than any other sets I've seen!
Has anyone else experienced this with the Pioneers?
The amount of HD programming by all sources; cable, dish, fios, is meager at best. I have HD Dish Network and am not all happy with the service. Can't get Directv or Fios and cable is too expensive for not much, if anything, more so I am stuck with Dish. Non hd programming looks horrible on a HD tv.

I have a Pioneer Kuro and love the picture when I can watch HD. Unfortunately there is not much too watch.
Flrnlamb I agree 100% with you on the Pioneer Plasmas. I shopped for close to a year before settling on a PDP 5080. It's a real joy to watch!
Makes sure the cable box is outputing 1080i or 720p. I know the Motorola boxes from comcast have an adjustment by pressing the power button and menun button on the box at the same time. Do a search with the model # on the box to make sure it's hooked up right. The standard def box will need to be replaced.

As for standard def, I have yet to see any hdtv look as good as my old Sony trinitron but my Sharp Aquos comes close.
try a terk digital "rabbit ears"
for the local channels in HD
Thanks for all the feedback. Not sure what model Sony Bravia it is. I'll try to check.
There is no question in my mind that Pioneer is the best out there. I did alot of research before I bought my 4340 which is a few years old and it still smokes the comp.My neighbor bought a 60 In. Pioneer last year and it is to say the least stunning. Just bought a bulb for my Runco projector . I hated to spend $900.00 for that bulb but what a difference . Every time we watch a movie I just say to my self Now thats what Im talking about Hey.