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Do I need powerstrip?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by bbq, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. bbq

    bbq
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    Ok, so I'll start with I am a newbie

    I am just commissioning my media system (running MCE 2005)
    I am lucky enough to have a Panasonic Plasma screen TH-50PHD30 (1366x768 pixel) that I am intending to connect the PC to via VGA
    (other options are component via my AV amp which currently feeds component in from tivo & DVD player)

    My graphics card (X800XL) supports 1360x768. The machine will be used occasionally for games as well as TV (the idea will be to eventually give my parents the Tivo)

    So in my ignorance, I'd like to ask - Do I need anything like Powerstrip?

    Am I best sticking to VGA or should I try to get component working?

    When I watch Live/Recorded TV from MCE, the displayed images are considerably smaller than possible size on the screen, leaving me black bars perhaps 15% wide both sides of the image. Is the NORMAL???

    Sorry for the simple questions.

    If the answer is YES - can anybody help me through setting up powerstrip

    If it matters - I am using the DVD codecs from NVidia - but have not tested any of the others.

    Thanks
     
  2. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    Since your card supports 1360x768, I wouldn't have thought you'd need powerstrip. If you can switch to that resolution from windows, and the desktop fills the whole screen, you don't need powerstrip. Powerstrip is used when the card supports resolutions that Windows doesn't allow you to access by default.

    If VGA works, I'd use that (and not component). VGA is five signals (RGBHV), whereas component is only three, and so VGA is better, as a rule.

    As far as MCE showing black bars - this doesn't sound right, but quite plausible (I don't use MCE myself, so I'm not an expert). I do know that windows media player used to play media using the wrong aspect ratio (particularly on widescreen displays). Sometimes the media/video itself uses unusual pixel sizes (eg. anamorphic video can appear squashed on playback, with black bars either side). I expect this is what you are seeing. However I haven't seen this problem lately with the latest windows media player versions - they handle the aspect ratio correctly (regardless of the internal pixel size) - the aspect ratio information should be embedded in the media file itself. So I am not sure why it is failing for you.

    However, if the recorded material uses a 4:3 aspect ratio (non widescreen material), you will see black bars either side, and you are seeing the correct behaviour. It does this to avoid distorting/stretching the video (to fill the screen).

    I guess I'm saying, if it looks squashed or stretched, there is a problem, otherwise it's fine.

    If you just don't like black bars, when you watch 4:3 material, then you'll have to stretch/zoom the video to fill the screen. There are players out there to do this - most noticeably Zoom Player, which is designed for this.

    I hope that helps a bit.
     
  3. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I could be wrong but I think your plasma is one which causes PCs problems since they can't output 1366 horizontal resolution since that has to be a multiple of 8. In this case you can't completely bypass the plasma's scaler so I think your best bet is to select the 1360x768 resolution that the ATI offers.

    That said, Powerstrip can be used to fine-tune the refresh rate to eliminate judder due to the graphics card's unstable system clock which allows the refreash rate to drift .. this is where Reclock comes in to stabalise it but fine-tuning the card's settings helps eliminate audio glitches which Reclock introduces while trying to stabalise the refresh rate.

    One other thing that Powerstrip pmay still be useful for is easier switching of refresh rates if you watch a mixture of NTSC and PAL videos, PStrip can help automate this process or at least make it a simple 'click the icon' operation.
     
  4. bbq

    bbq
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    Thanks folks for the clues

    Being still a bit of newbie to this, I think I can forgo the 6 pixels and stick with the ATI resolution of 1360x768. Certainly the windows screen looks great and fills the available space.

    Kragorn you mention that Powerstrip and Reclock could help neaten this up. Sorry to be slow, but what would are the symptoms, and can you give me the (initial) baby steps to powerstrip.

    I had a look at a how-to and boy it looks pretty complex. Is reclock the same?

    Mike - As for the black bars. I'll have to check again (tonight), I am currently in Sud de la France for work and since I have only watched two programs with the system I can't remember if it was only Recorded TV that had the black bars or if it was Live TV + Recorded TV.
    The source is the Black Gold digital tv card. And I would normally expect everything to fit the widescreen fully (well it does from tivo)
    I have not yet tried DVD source.

    thanks again
     
  5. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Ultimately if the Windows desktop displays okay and the text is perfectly readable then even though the plasma's scaler is still being used it clearly isn't degrading the PQ to any significant extent.

    To expand on Powerstrip and Reclock ...

    Powerstrip's main use is to program a custom resolution into the graphics card. Until recently device drivers only supported standard VGA/SVGA/XGA etc. resolutions which Windows knew about, in particular wide-screen sizes such as 1280x720 and that of your plasma weren't supported even though the hardware was perfectly capable of generating them.

    The point of the exercise is to obtain what's known as 1:1 mapping, where the PC's desktop (and hence video output in normal situations) is the same as the display to which it's connected .. the issue is how the image coming of a DVD say (720x576 for PAL) is re-sized to that of the display, I won't complicate matters here by going down that road. :)

    In your case it doesn't seem like this is really needed, but there's another parameter to video display in addition to resolution: refresh rate.

    Put simply, to play back PAL DVDs you generally want a refresh rate of 25hz or multiple thereof, for NTSC movies you want 24hz or mulitple and NTSC video 30hz (well 29.something to be precise) or multiple.

    Graphics cards are not good at generting a perfectly accurate refresh rate, it's rarely exactly 50.000 (PAL) and can drift .. enter Reclock. Its' job is to fiddle with the system clock so as to adjust for the graphics cards' inaccuracy,how it does this again isn't really useful to discuss here suffice to say that it sometimes has to do quite a lot of adjustment which in turn can cause audio glitches, these can be minimised by using Powerstrip to fine-tune the graphics card's clock so that Reclock doesn't have to work so hard.

    The other thing that PStrip gives you is an easy way to switch refresh rates, which can be automated in various ways, whereas IMX ATI and NVidia's custom resoluton and refresh rate capability isn't so reliably automated.

    As for complexity, PStrip can be intimidating but in reality it's very easy for 99% of what you need to do with it, Reclock is even easier .. now, if you want to look as something REALLY complex check out FFDSHOW. :D

    HTH.
     
  6. bbq

    bbq
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    WOW!
    THANKS KraGorn

    I think I start simple - VGA as MikeTV suggested, ATI's resolution and then work on my black bars.

    Then I might come back to you when I want to be clever :)
    I had heard of FFDShow, but thought it was mutually exclusive to MCE.

    Thanks again - It is so refreshing to find the answer is "don't do anything" :)
     
  7. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I can't speak for FFDSHOW and MCE as I don't use MCE but I don't think it does, you probably need to use a player such as TheaterTek or ZoomPlayer, but there are many MCE users round here so if it's possible someone will know. :)

    Your idea to start with simple VGA to begin with is definitely the best approach and could be all you need depending on your personal taste and what sort of display you are using. None of this is deeply complex, but some aspects (FFDSHOW, ZoomPlayer) need a good amount of background understanding before they're anything except intimidating. :)
     
  8. gordonfmoore

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    They all intimidate the hell out of me... :D

    Nice explanations as well. Please go into them further when you get the time...
     
  9. RLT

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    Just get your self a Mystique 7.1 dolby digital LIVE sound card
    Cured all my judder problems
    1280x720 setting on ATI card
    NO Powerstrip
    NO Reclock
    No messing about
    Keep it simple
    Plays all Reg 1 and 2 dvds @ the standard 60 hz on my AE500 projectorhttp://www.avforums.com/forums/newreply.php?do=newreply&noquote=1&p=1575198#
    Clap
     
  10. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    If you play PAL at 60hz you can't avoid stuttering due to the framereate mismatch, you're lucky in that you don't notice it. :)
     
  11. RLT

    RLT
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    Kragorn I get absolutly No Judder/ Stutter what so ever since installing the MYSTQUE sound card.
    Perfect pans etc etc
    Have used powerstrip previously with inconsisant results
    Using DVI link from Computer to AE500 plus new Maxtor 16mb cashe hard drive which seemed to improve judder problems a tad.
    Then come along this sound card and all I can say is PERFECTION
    Nothings a problem nice and easy, with DD decoding on the fly for my WMV-HD IMAX discs.
    Life is now stress free
     

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