Product Review (August 2003) - B&K Precision
Model 1253 Multi-Standard Video Pattern Generator

Video generators have come a long way from the good old days of NTSC products. The new breed of high-definition displays requires significantly higher scan rates and tri-level syncs. The need for high-definition capable video generators has also increased as more consumers hire ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) certified technicians to calibrate their displays and has become an important part of today's serious home theater enthusiast. Accurate color tracking and properly adjusted black and white levels produce the best picture possible. Video calibration requires a video generator capable of multiple scan rates and a variety of different reference patterns. B&K Precision has introduced the new affordable Model 1253 Multi-standard Video Pattern Generator to service this market. The Model 1253 is capable of generating 720p and 1080i high-definition timing as well as standard definition 480i and 480p video. Fourteen video patterns and twelve of the most popular video scan rates are preprogrammed into this video generator. Commonly used video patterns include SMPTE color bars, PLUGE, needle-pulse, staircase, multi-burst, cross hatch, focus and multi-level IRE windows. An overscan bounce test is also built into the 1253 for checking the high voltage stability of CRT-based displays. The unit is light and fairly small, measuring only 5.6" x 3.1 x 1.1" and operates from a standard 9 volt battery. The unit is even smart enough to warn the user when the battery level has dropped too low.

Three BNC connectors for component video (YPrPb) and the standard mini-DIN connector for the S-video connection are provided. The catch is the S-video signal really only contains the Y portion of the Y/C signals needed for true color reproduction. Therefore, the S-video output on the 1253 is monochrome. The Y output of the component signals can also be used to drive the composite input of the display under test when selecting NTSC, PAL or SECAM formats. However, this signal also lacks any color carrier information, so the image will always be black and white. The unit comes with a BNC to RCA adapter cable to accommodate the RCA jacks found on most consumer displays. In addition, a zippered case is provided to protect the video generator.

The 1253 is a very simple unit to operate. The unit defaults to 1080i during power-up. To change the video format, the user must press the VIDEO FORMAT button and then press the desired format button. This method allows the buttons on the panel to be used for two functions. Once the format is selected, the user simply selects the pattern depending on the type of calibration needed. The Window pattern used when setting the color temperature across various IRE levels start at zero and works its way up to 100 IRE units in increments of 2.5 IRE units. In other words, forty button pushes are required to reach the full 100 IRE level from zero. Once the peak level (100 IRE) is obtained, the level ramps back down in 2.5 IRE unit steps. This can cause some confusion if the user loses track of the current IRE level during the calibration. The PLUGE (Picture Line-Up Generation Equipement) pattern worked well for setting the black level with the flashing inner rectangle and provided a good way to check DC restoration on the display. SMPTE color bars looked good and allowed us to set the proper color saturation and tint adjustments. The Needle Pulse pattern was used to set the best possible white level without causing distortion on our display. The Staircase pattern allowed us to double check our levels and was particularly useful with digital displays such as plasmas and DLP projectors.

How it works
The 1253 only supports component (YPrPb) outputs and a luminance only S-video connection. The reason for this is that the video signals are not generated by a video encoder chip, but instead are derived from a Ubicom™ RISC-based embedded processor. The downside is there is no way to generate the chroma signal needed for the S-video or composite video. Therefore, both these outputs are black and white only. The processor uses a 27MHz crystal which means the highest resolution you'll see on the screen is 13.5MHz which is used on the multi-burst pattern for HDTV formats. The maximum burst frequency displayed for SDTV formats is 6.75MHz or half of the 13.5MHz.

Even with some of the limitations of the Model 1253, the unit offers consumers and professional calibrators a means to properly adjust a display without breaking the bank on an expensive high-definition video generator. The cleverly designed B&K Model 1253 is certainly affordable for calibrators and even most home theater enthusiast and allows them to properly adjust their display in both 720p and 1080i high definition modes. Since few tools are available to consumers for adjusting HDTV modes, the Model 1253 just may be the answer.
- Kevin Nakano

OneCall: Your Home Theater, Digital Camera, and HDTV Experts

Review System

Display: Mitsubishi - PD-5010 50" High Definition Plasma
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box #1: Mitsubishi HD-5000 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with MonitorLink
Set-top Box #2: Samsung SIR-T165 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with DVI
Set-top Box #3: RCA DTC100 HDTV/DSS Satellite Receiver
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: Monster Cable M Series M500DVI DVI-D Cable
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5500 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Colorphotometer with ColorFacts Software

Review - At a glance


  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Ideal for on-the-bench and in-the-field testing
  • High-quality BNC to RCA interface cable included
  • One year warranty

    Video Formats :

    1920 x 1080, 30i
    1920 x 1080, 30p
    1920 x 1080, 24p
    1280 x 720, 60p
    1280 x
    720, 30p
    1280 x 720, 24p
    704 x 480, 60p
    704 x 480, 30p
    704 x 480, 30i

    Video Patterns:SMPTE Bars 75%
    Color Bars 75%
    Cross Hatch [16:9]
    DVD Aspect Ratio [1.33:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1 and 2.35:1]
    Raster [75%: WHite, Yellow, Cyan, Green, Magenta, Red, Blue and Black
    ANSI Gray
    Window [2.5 IRE steps from black to white and white to black]
    Overscan - Bounce [High voltage stability]
    Interface:Component YPrPb [3 - BNCs]
    S-Video [monochrome only]
    Operation:15 - Buttons, 1 - Power Switch
    Accuracy:25ppm (0.0025%)
    Video Level Error:< 1.5%
    Power:Standard 9 Volt battery
    Size:5.6" x 3.1" x 1.1" (H x W x D) (142mm x 79mm x 28mm)
    Weight:6.2 ounces (176 grams)

    Data Sheet

    Operator's manual

  • Company Information
    B&K Precision Corporation
    22820 Savi Ranch Parkway
    Yorba Linda, CA 92887 U.S.A.
    Phone: 714-921-9095
    Fax: 714-921-6422

    Source: Manufacturer Supplied
    MSRP: $795
    Warranty: Limited One Year

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