1. Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark Disc 2nd EditionThe 2nd Edition of the Spears and Munsil High Definition Benchmark Disc provides great tools for both the professional installer and average consumer for setting up and testing the audio and video performance of HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players, or external video processor/scalers,.
The disc features a variety of tests and video footage that check deinterlacing, scaling, noise reduction, and color accuracy, as well as, motion response of TVs that incorporate 120Hz and/or 240Hz screen refresh rates.
Also included are a series of tests that can evaluate 3D performance, including brightness and crosstalk factors. The included audio calibration tests check speaker phase, frequency response, and A/V synch.
The disc package includes both a Blu-ray Disc that contains the high-definition version of the 2D and 3D video tests, as well as a DVD that provides 2D-only tests tests that can check video upscaling capabilities DVD players, HDTVs, and video projectors.
The disc starts with scenes that contain complex shapes that test the limitations of your equipment. The disc also takes the user through a series of technical tests: Color Bars, Gary Scale display, Black Level, Image Geometry, Jagged Edge Tests, Film and video cadences, Video Title overlays, and even provides samples of Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and PCM audio codecs. For a detailed look and explanation of the tests, check out my Photo Gallery and the Spears and Munsil User's Guide.
Note: This test disc is now out-of-print as of the release of the 2nd Edition listed above, but may still be available through third-party sources.
5. Disney WOW (World of Wonder) DVD and Blu-ray Test DiscsThe Disney WOW discs provide consumers with an easy way to set up and test their home theater systems. There is a "discovery" section that explains home theater basics for both novice and more advanced users, as well as a host of audio and video calibration tools to aid in getting most out of a home theater system. There are also scaling, viewing angle, and grayscale tests to see if your DVD, Blu-ray Player, TV, or projector is as good as its specs say it is.
The DVD and Bu-ray also come with sample Disney movie and nature film clips that can be used to show off your system.
6. Silicon Optix (IDT) HQV DVD Benchmark Test DiscThe HQV DVD takes the user through a series of video performance tests. The tests include: Color Bar/Vertical Detail, Jagged Edge Tests, Motion Tests, Overall Picture Detail, Video Noise Reduction, Progressive Scan performance, and more. The DVD starts off by giving the user an overview of the tests and how to score them, by showing simulated examples of what to look for. A scorecard is also provided with the HQV DVD that you can use to easily quantify the test results for your video components. The HQV Benchmark DVD is a very useful, easily understood, and affordable tool that anyone can use to evaluate the video performance of their home theater without the need of a high-priced technician.