AE100 initial thoughts

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Mr.D, Jul 23, 2002.

  1. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    I LIKE it !

    Reconditioned unit from discount TV.

    I'm using it with an HTPC at 856x480 at 60Hz.
    Theatertek is the player using scoped display settings (radeon VE)
    using flat white wall . Image is about 7ft diagonal (16x9). Room is painted white! Fortunately its almost light tight. Zoom is to min with no keystoning. Unit is on a cheapo jessops tripod ( which I broke in about 1 minute flat!) No dead pixels : slight purpling in top left corner but hardly noticable on normal viewing will keep an eye on it though.

    Good points: colour is pretty good ( very vibrant) out of the box flesh tones are maybe a little bit flat looking (using normal settings and low lampmode) dropped the brightness a bit (-7 i think contrast is 0 for the time being) colour temp setting is warm (looked more accurate to me but I'll play a bit).

    displayable intensity range is good: by this I mean there is no clipping or crushing of the grayscale of the image: intensities near black are visible and peak whites don't clip out and there is no posterisation I can honestly say isn't there in the source material.(things can look a little grainy sometimes but I suspect its MPEG2 artifacts) I couldn't be this positive about the sharp 9000 I saw but then it was going via s-video.
    No tearing , detail levels are surprisingly good

    Black level is visibly higher than than ideal optimum (as expected).
    Screen door is visible (I can see it pretty much 20 feet back to the end of the room but I'm a bit like that see!).
    Fan noise higher than I was expecting given all the press on how low the noise output is (certainly louder than the HTPC which is pretty low admittedly but also louder than a PS2 or Xbox: not as loud as my normal PC but that sounds like concorde so not a good comparisson)

    Can I live with the screen door ? Yep a little defocus does help (I'll use a resolution pattern to see if its possible to blur the image without visible damage to real detail) but I don't find it too offensive although I can see it all the way back.

    Can I live with the highish black level ? I think so mainly because the whole available video intensity scale seems to be intact above the black level : if it wasn't I'd be annoyed. Panasonic have done a good job of mapping the incoming video image to the available dynamic range of this projector. I will be trying a filter to knock back the blacks as soon as possible but its certainly watchable as is.

    What did I watch on it? Only Toy Story, Shrek and Final Fantasy....


    Only joking! I had a look at Dracula (coppolas one) , Matrix , Video Essentials ( cause Avia has too many jumpers and theatertek doesn't like it) Apocalypse Now (yeah the really dark stuff) Seven Samurai (sheer joy to see this beyond usual TV sizes in my own home and the subtitles are good for screendoor defocus experimentation !)

    Then found out theatertek won't play black hawk down or Castaway!

    So in closing . I am way more pleased with this wee bugger than I thought I'd be. Lets just hope it stays operational ! (otherwise I'll have to take the enclosed stylish carry bag away from my youngest daughter who is currently in her handbag phase)

    On incidentally the missus saw it briefly and she got a real buzz out it!

    Next week I'll sort the PC out with a capture card and run through HALO again at 7 feet wide...bliss
     
  2. jrwood

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    Go and buy a fairly large piece of MDF (as a test) and paint it with ICESTORM 5 or ICESTORM 6 Dulux matt paint, then put it next to your white wall and see how the blacks and contrast improve considerably!. If you want to try it then get

    ICESTORM 5 Dulux matt finish paint (small paint pot will do) 4 quid? (B&Q)
    MDF say 60" wide or so (about 4 quid?) (B&Q)
    Foam roller from homebase (about 3.99)
     
  3. RichardH

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    Thanks for the suggestion re what to do with the carry bag :D
     
  4. Timh

    Timh
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    Mr.D

    You should here my Brothers Sanyo plv-30, that doe's sound like Concorde taking off :)
     
  5. ROne

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    Mr D, you are abviously are quite surprised at the quality and I know it's early days but now you have seen this projector has it changed the way you think about LCD, in other words do you think LCD could be developed to be a home-cinema contendor rather than an office toy.

    I can't really quote you from your past (without doing a horrendous amount of searching) but given your down beat thoughts of the sharp has this made you think LCD could be a viable alternative to DLP?

    Just interested.


    PS. What would you say is the best film effects processing plug in for after effects between cinemotion and bigfilm fx and any others you may have come across?

    Cheers
     
  6. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    The thing that impressed me most about the ae100 was its handling of a video intensity range ( dvd from a properly set-up HTPC in this case).

    The Sony 10HT and sharp 9000 I saw were not correctly mapping the intensity range of the incoming video to the available intensity response from the projector. Basically intensities were either being mapped on top of each other (crushed -posterisation) or clipped altogether (blacks and whites in the case of the sharp).

    In both cases this was after I'd set the black and white points correctly using test material. Now you can probably improve this aspect by tweaking gamma or building profile LUTS ( custom response curves) to better map the intensities but this wasn't something I was able to do in a 40 minute demo.

    There is a lot of importance attached to percievable black level and rightly so and both the 10HT and the sharp 9000 had a lower black level than the ae100 ( on the 10HT I'd say its marginal). However a low black level is no good if its at the expense of intensities just above black and I for one will take a slightly elevated black point with those intensities retained over a clip off on the lower details ( as long as its not at the expense of posterisation further up the intensity range : digital panels have a fairly lowly available dynamic range (think its something like 200 recordable steps between black and white which is enough to display video adequately but doesn't leave much margin for error : crt can disclose about 1000 intensity steps so even if you up the black level and have a bonky gamma its unlikely you'll see posterisation in the remaining mappable intensity range)

    The Sim2 HT200DM was doing a much better job of mapping the intensity range correctly ( no posterisation and detail in the blacks albeit they were visibly raised all the detail was there) in comparrison to the sharp and sony.

    Similarly the ae100 in spite of its high black level shows the correct intensity relationship so once you are used to the higher starting point if you like , the image still appears to have depth.

    Film doesn't have a completely off black point on projection either but the hugely expanded intensity range relative to video normally embues it with a greater sense of depth relative to the same image on video even if said video version was projected in idealised circumstances (ie black was completely black)

    Your brain likes tonal variations in an image in addition to a huge dynamic range ( newspaper print has a huge dynamic range but that doesn't exactly look dimensional does it) Secondly your visual system is more adept at percieving tonal variation in the lower end of an intensity range compared to the high end ( you notice more detail in the darks than whites). A video distribution curve takes advantage of this ( video is not completely linear) however if you display it on a linear device that doesn't correct for video space properly it will show posterisation and or clipping: add a pc with a linear graphics card into the mix and it gets more messy) A lot of digital display devices are still not very good at handling video for this reason : coupled with the lower intensity response relative to CRT and you get a really nasty image.

    Whilst I totally accept that the sharp and sony are capable of improved performance over what I saw and superior to the ae100 in probably most areas the panny cost me 950quid and so far seems to do an acceptable job as far as my criteria are concerned and bearing in mind how rapidly the cost of digital projectors are falling whilst quality is inversely improving I'd be wary of dropping 5 grand on a panel device that may well be matched in performance by a 2grand machine in a couple of years time.

    I'm not biased with regard to any technology . There are good and bad units of all types for example some people may not be able to live with the screen door on the ae100. I couldn't live with the rainbowing on the sim2 although I was fairly impressed with its display abilities. I've got high hopes for LCOS once they realise that people want to use them for more than powerpoint presentations. ( which is exactly what panasonic have realised with the ae100 if you ask me).

    If a CRT was suitable for my circumstances I'd have one of them but it isn't so I can either moan about that or take the train instead of the plane and accept the disadvantages.

    RE: AE , I don't know never used a film look plugin (don't have to when using film!) what are you trying to do with it ( deinterlace ? add motion blur ? grain? remap colour? if its just to add pops scratches and jitter for oldie silent film look you can use other tools instead) I did treat some DV footage the other day but got told off for making it look too much like 16mm which struck me as rather impressive considering!
     
  7. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Watched Gladiator last night in my proper home cinema room with the HTPC hooked up to my amp (took a bit of fiddling to get the spdif to work but got there in the end).

    Was great fun raised black level hardly bothered me and this was in a predominately white painted room using a bare wall for a screen.

    9ft diagonal I estimate ( down to about 7ft with the zoom at min)
    The projector was about 3 feet away from my head and I did notice the fan noise a bit but I could tune it out most of the time.

    Noticed I seem to get some tearing from my HTPC if I enable hardware support but running in software its fine.

    The Mrs too was most impressed and declared she'd never go to the cinema again so in this respect at the very least the panny is a success.
     
  8. MartinCo

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    Mr D, any example scenes/ timecodes?

    I'm just trying this sort of thing out with my ae100 and laptop/ htpc so it would be handy to check.

    I've tried some scenes in gladiator and didnt notice anything.

    a few details of your htpc setup might be handy if its not above already.
    what resolution and gfx card? dvd software player?
    [EDIT] oops just spotted it all at the top.
     
  9. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    No specific timecodes but I noticed it with the original region1 of The fifth element first of all. Its definitely the hardware accelleration I have heard the radeon VE and W2K require a bit of a registry hack about to get working. To be honest it seems ok on software decode (although I will have to adjust the dot clock and phase on the panny at some point as I noticed some vertical striations on the image here and there ( no worries though)

    I'll be doing a clean install on the HTPC once I get the time to set up the Dscaler side of things.

    I also get a few discs on theater tek which lock at the menu screen which I need to investigate: others play just fine though
     
  10. General Skanky

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    Your wife is happy.:D

    Of course she is. Your new toy fits in a 'handbag', and doesn't need an industrial crane to bolt it to the ceiling.:rolleyes:
     
  11. MartinCo

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    Mr. D .. and anyone else dont suppose you have Seven SE R2 to try on your htpc - the classic denon problem?

    wondered if it showed in theatretek..

    can see a little bit in windvd and dont have another software player to try it in yet.
     
  12. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Yep she's not mad about the tripod its mounted on though. She commented wouldn't it be nice if you could install it permanently somewhere !

    Reinstalled both the soundcard and the graphics card with the recommended drivers from TT : thought I'd already done this. Now using 6025 driver for graphics and 0027 driver for audio. Result: previously unplayable discs now play with hardware accelleration and no tearing the spdif out seems to be solid and reliable with regard to autoswitching my amp now.

    Did get some glitching last night after the HTPC had been running constantly for 4 hours in a very very hot room so I might up the fan speed on it a bit ( it will still be quieter than the panny though).

    Whats the denon problem Martin? Chroma bug ? Not got Seven R2 to try.

    Hopefully get all my necessary bits for running dscaler this week ( idea is to reatin the RGB paths for normal TV use for all my sources but be able to route them all to an RGB to s-vid convertor then to the PC: slight chroma delay error on the convertor but not a lot I can do about that ( I checked).
     
  13. MartinCo

    MartinCo
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    artifacts... posterisation... if you've got it, try scene 1 as morgan freeman talks to the other cop on the stairs. the walls behind him move.

    it affects a few hardware players but not all.

    seems to affect WinDVD 2000 a little bit, but not as bad as some of the Denons.

    just wondered about people using Theatretek, powerdvd and others, or maybe different graphics cards.
     
  14. GearHead

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    Just tried this with a non-ATI Radeon 7500/PowerDVD3, Region 2 Se7en and it looks fine to me. Isn't there meant to be a more severe test where they are in the alley in the rain against an almost black brick wall ? Vaguely remember reading about this causing a few problems.

    Allan
     
  15. MartinCo

    MartinCo
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    Allan try these more accurate times... you may need to do this at 1/2 speed - others have played it through originally and havent noticed it.. touch your brightness up possibly.

    definitely there is WinDVD and a mobile Radeon.

    it has to be Seven R2 SE by the way, also visible in the R1 but much less so.

    Ch01 00:01:20 - 00:01:50 first murder
    Ch15 00:43:11 - 00:43:15 getting fingerprints
    Ch22 01:06:16 - 01:06:22 chase looking downstairs

    all these scenes show blocking in the background/ wall textures either right or left.
     
  16. GearHead

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    MartinCo,

    I tried it on your timings and I managed to see it this time. Is this what you call posterisation ? during subtle gradual colour shifts, instead of the colour changing in a smooth seamless way it seems to jump in small steps.

    Thanks for pointing that out :rolleyes:

    Allan
     
  17. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    aye that will be posterisation. Its not normally all that obvious on DVD : certainly not any more evident than it would be on the original master.

    Normally its down to inadequate ADA conversions somewhere in the pipeline

    What display device are you using ? Digitally sampling displays ( 100Hz , Plasmas) can show this fairly badly. Although it could equally be in the player.

    The AE100 doesn't seem very bad for this but I'm using the RGB input from the HTPC so I don't know about the bog standard interlaced video inputs.
     
  18. MartinCo

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    its not the display doing it...

    its some interaction between the player (in this case software) and disk.

    its there in the R1 but just looks like shimmering/ pixellation, in the R2 its very defined moving "blockiness" in background walls.


    its much worse on the Denon though.
     
  19. Guest

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    If you're still talking about Seven SE R2 then I've seen that blockiness on just about every player/tv I've watched it on. I think it is just an incredibly poor transfer.
     
  20. MartinCo

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    yep.. still talking about Seven SE.

    not all players are affected... (toshs for example)
    but agreed it does seem to cause problems with a good percentage.

    the R1 does have some evidence of it.. but much less so.
     
  21. GearHead

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    I'm using an Epson TW100 projector fed with DVI but agree with the others that say its a problem in the source not the display. I'd even go as far as to say its probably encoded on the disk and not a problem with the software DVD player or graphics card.

    In fact my HCPC is remarkably artifact free, certainly compared to my Sony DVP7500 DVD player. The only artifacts I ever see with the HTPC is motion-blur but again, thats probably unavoidable. I do get the occasional dropped frame but thats another story.

    Allan
     

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