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1st test of HTPC - a near religious experience!

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Yandros, Jul 3, 2004.

  1. Yandros

    Yandros
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    I've been toying with the idea of setting up a HTPC for some time, since I'd got the impression that our Sony 725 was holding back the performance of our Z2.

    So, there was only one thing for it - I lugged my regular workstation PC downstairs and pressed it into service as a test, to try and convince girlfriend that this is going to be a sensible use of our hard earned pennies.

    Fortunately, although Mr Heath Robinson would be proud of the cabling, said PC is no slouch...

    P4 3.0, 1Gb RAM
    Geforce 5900 connected via a 7m DVI
    Audigy2 ZS connected via digital coax
    WinDVD6 Platinum

    My girlfriend is a HUGE LOTR geek (We watched the cinema release trilogy back-to-back yesterday. We've seen each one about half a dozen times. After much tweaking, the HTPC/Z2 was ready, so it seemed logical to fire up something LOTRish, since we know it so well. We tried The Two Towers this evening, running at 1280x720 (1:1 pixel mapped I assume) and with this super new Trimension DNM enabled on WinDVD6

    Generally speaking my girlfriend is not easily impressed by boys toys, and almost always unable to see or hear any difference whenever I upgrade or play with settings. This time though, she sat there with her jaw on the floor! :D

    The clarity is outstanding, and the frame rate increase from DNM is positively unnerving.
    I now virtually have a blank cheque to build a proper HTPC. :smashin:

    I've got a couple of questions though...

    I noticed some shimmery blocky artifacts at times, usually on large patches of colour. I don't think this was introduced by the DNM, as it was there on windvd5. Is this "one of those things", or can anyone suggest any tweaks?

    Secondly, the top or bottom edge of the picture occasionally jumps in a rather distrating way. I think it might be related to the deinterlace mode, or the DNM, but I'm not sure yet. Any ideas?
     
  2. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Yandros

    Welcome to our world :)
    The pretty much undisputed champion of DVD playback software is Theatertek - http://www.theatertek.com/ , it is really the purists choice.

    all the best
     
  3. sweetmate

    sweetmate
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    I'm surprised you like this Trimension DNM stuff so much, when I tried it (on a CRT monitor) it looked utterly horrendous. Makes film source look like it was actually filmed on video and then transferred from NTSC to PAL and back again a few times. I loathed it.
     
  4. zAndy1

    zAndy1
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    Yeah, try Theatertek, there's a new version imminent that looks sweet but even the current version is fantastic!

    Cheers,
    Andy.
     
  5. Yandros

    Yandros
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    Thanks guys. I was toying with getting a copy of TT to try, so you've probably convinced me to give it a go.

    One other question:

    I was able to select 1280x720 as a standard res on my nvidia5900 as soon as the Z2 was set to HDCP. If I go for something like the Sapphire 9600XT (which I'd prefer from a noise and picture quality standpoint), will I be able to do the same, or will I have to muck about with Powerstrip and other Black Arts.

    BTW, if anyone is considering the Sapphire card, I've built 3 silent PCs with them for work, and they're lovely bits of kit.

    As for Trimension, Sweetmate, I know EXACTLY what you mean, and completely understand why you don't like it. It doesn't look like film anymore - it looks much more like a very sharp video picture. On a 96" screen it's a little like IMAX - you feel more drawn into the picture - but our initial reaction was "OOOERRR- THAT'S WIERD!"

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's adding extra interpolated frames. I seem to recall reading something about frames per second and the effect it has on the brain. Apparently there is a peak in brain response at about 50-60 fps when the brain accepts a moving image as "real". Makers of high frame rate projection systems apparently tend to avoid the absolution sweetspot, because viewers start suffering from motion sickness and get seriously freaked out. I'm guessing the Trimension fps is getting nearer to this peak.

    Maybe Trimension is the HCPC equivalent of Marmite - either love it or loath it ;)
     
  6. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker
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    Hi Yandros,

    The shimmery blocky artefacts may have been due to having the brightness set too high. Get yourself a DVD calibration disk such as Avia, and use it to set the white and black levels. It should improve the image by reducing artefacts in dark areas.

    I currently use PowerDVD 5, and after trying TT, found there was no difference in image quality that I could see. I also found PDVD easier to use with files, so got TT refunded and stayed with PDVD.

    I've always found WinDVD to have a noisy image with solid colours, but PDVD is always rock solid with no artefacts and good detail. If you can, try them all out and see which one works best for you on you system.

    Gary.
     
  7. UrbanT

    UrbanT
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    Another Z2 owner with an HCPC. I use an ATI 9800 Pro and do not have to use Powerstrip to set 1280 x 720, I'm using Cat 4.6 BTW.

    By coincidence, I tried the demo of Windvd 6 at the weekend, having used Theatertek for past 2 weeks. Trimension is just horrible, nice idea but it just doesn't work for me. I'm delighted with Theatertek and FFDshow :)
     
  8. philipb

    philipb
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    Install ffdshow as a postprocessor to Theatertek, and see yet another jump in PQ.
     

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