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DVDO iScan HD -- awesome Sky solution?

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by StooMonster, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    All the best features of iScan Ultra, and more!
    • Accepts RGsB as input: take signal straight from Sky scart, no more JS-Tech RGB2YUV convertors (bad luck John Sims :()
    • Lipsync correction: includes digital optical so good news for Sky+ and Sony digibox owners. Automatic settings, and user preferenced (up to 255ms) too.
    • Chroma bug fixer: improved version of killer function of iScan Ultra (for Sky anyway) that now automatically detects and corrects the Chroma Upsampling Error.
    • Native pixel output: for bypassing plasma's internal scaler,
    • Aspect ratios: if it had a switch it would be perfect, but it has an RS232; wonder if a Andrew_B's auto-aspect switch would be compatible?
    • Frame rate conversion: less for Sky, but R1 movies can be played at 2:2 pulldown (48Hz) or 3:3 pulldown (72Hz) thereby removing 3:2 pulldown (60Hz) judder. R2 can also be played at 3:3.
    • Firmware upgrade: bugs can be fixed and software updated.
    I thought about changing my iScan Ultra to a Lumagen scaler, until I went to The Event 2. Now I see this puppy and think, I want one, I want one now!

    More info:


    My questions to Dale Adams:
    1. Have you fixed the slow motion judder on PAL material seen on iScan Ultra
    2. What's the colour bit depth of the iScan HD? Many plasmas there days are 30-bit but achieve that through their internal scaler, feeding a native resolution 24-bit image would not be good.
    3. Does the HD have test pattern generators (different resolutions vs refresh rates): geometries so I can "snap in" my plasma at native resolution? As every resolution vs refresh has it's own settings. Also, grey boxes on blacks would be great for ISF / greyscale calibration.
    4. Native resolutions, seen loads listed but not 1366x768, the resolution of my 50" plasma.
    5. Can you control Aspect Ratio with RS232 -- or even better a pin in -- as digital satellite has widescreen flag on Scart cables and could tell the iScan HD if material is 4:3 or 16:9 format.
    6. Overscan control: may here in UK would use iScan HD for digital satellite where each channel has different overscan; is this user controllable or configureable?
      [/list=1]

      StooMonster
     
  2. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Thanks to RAMiAM for pointing this lovely new kit out to me whilst I've been too busy working and not reading anything AV.

    Cheers mate :clap:

    Also, corrections to the above:

    Accepts RGBS (RGB sync on composite) not RGsB (RGB sync on green); RGBS is the output of RGB on scart. :rolleyes:

    Read (on brouchure and AVSforum.com) that it generates test patterns, wonder what though?

    StooMonster
     
  3. loonatic

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    I asked Dale the very same question regarding the PAL stuttering and he seems to be saying that yes the HD will fix this problem...which is enough of a reason to upgrade in itself for me.

    He also says that it will indeed support 1366x768 out of the box but that you may need to play with the timing. The manual for the 50" PWD6 says that 1366x786 is supported only at 60Hz though - but I'm sure I've seen you say that you've had your PWD5 running upto 75Hz - surely the iScan HD will either support 50Hz (PAL) or 59.xx/60Hz (NTSC). How would this work out ?

    I too was tempted by the Lumagen but this looks like it will fit my requirements perfectly - kinda like an Ultra on steriods.

    There is a thread running here on the Progressive Scan and Video Processing section so best to ask Dale any Q's there I'd say.

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=108276

    Also the test patterns are generated and not fixed so getting 1:1 pixel mapping should be easy to confirm.

    The big question is when will it be available here ?

    Cheers, Lee
     
  4. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Questions from the world of PAL

    We haven't been able to reproduce exactly this problem (which you've described elsewhere), so I can't be sure we've fixed it. However, we have identified an issue with the SiI504/MC504 deinterlacer/microcontroller combo, where there is a 1 frame difference between video and film processing modes. Film (3:2 or 2:2 pulldown) delay is 4 frames, while video processing has a 3-frame delay. Because of this, you can get a stutter in motion when the 504 transitions into and out of film lock. This would be most visible on a slow pan, so this may very well be what you're seeing.

    This problem is fixed in the iScan HD. The solution requires an extra external frame buffer so we couldn't fix it in the Ultra.

    The bit depth varies depending on which aspect of the iScan's processing we're talking about. The video decoder has 10-bit 4X oversampling A/D converters. The SiI504 is only an 8-bit processor, however, so this somewhat reduces the effectiveness of the converters (although some benefits are retained).

    The scaler processes data internally at whatever depth is required to maintain full numeric accuracy. Some portions the scaler data path are well over 10 bits. The output of the scaler to the DAC is 9 bits for both luma and chroma. The DAC itself is a 12-bit implementation. As long as you're using the analog output port you should get at least 9-bit accuracy. If you're using the DVI port, however, the resolution is reduced to 8 bits since that's all DVI can handle.

    Yes. The test patterns are produced at the output resolution, so you can verify that you have 1:1 scaler-to-display mapping. We will be supporting a variety of output test patterns, but the initial shipment will likely only contain a few which are needed for matching the scaler output resolution/timing to the display. More will be available at a later date via a software download.

    That is one of the included resolutions. Even if it were not, you can always define your own resolution or tweak one of the predefined ones.

    The iScan HD does allow RS-232 control of aspect ratio. There is no separate pin to do this, however. The iScan also supports RGBs input. I believe the video decoder we're using does detect widescreen signaling standard, so we may be able to offer this in the future as a means of automatic aspect ratio detection (at least in PAL countries).

    Yes. You can zoom, pan, and crop the input.

    First of all, component passthrough is format agnostic. It doesn't care what you feed in - it just passes it through unchanged to the analog output.

    Secondly, the iScan will accept and scale 480i, 576i, 480p, and 576p. This means that all the signals you mention above (although I'm not quite sure what 480p@30fps is) can be scaled to your plasma's native resolution by the iScan.

    The iScan's component inputs also have an auto-passthrough mode for video formats which the iScan cannot process otherwise. If a component input signal is one of the formats which the iScan can process, it will. If it is in an HD format, for example, the iScan will automatically convert to passthrough mode. This is all on a single component input, so you should never need to move cables around. If you want, you can also manually force a component input into the passthrough mode.

    Yes. We've tracked this down to the way the SiI504's companion microcontroller programs the 504 deinterlacer. It chops off 2 lines from each incoming 576i field so there are only 572 output lines available in PAL/SECAM. We've fixed this for the iScan HD by reprogramming the SiI504. There are issues with a number of PAL video sources sending out fewer than 288 lines per field (which may be why the 504 was programmed that way in the first place), but the iScan HD's input cropping allows you to compensate for this.

    - Dale Adams
    Source: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=338670&pagenumber=5
     
  5. Dale Adams

    Dale Adams
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    The iScan HD does perform frame rate conversion, so you can get 50 or 60 Hz out, as you wish. There is a mode in which it will simply track the input frame rate. In this mode if you feed in a 50 Hz source, the output will be 50 Hz. If you give it a 59.94 Hz input, the output will be 59.94. Alternatively, you could just configure to always output a single frame rate, say 50 Hz. You will be able to configure it (on an input-by-input basis) to specify what frame rate you want for 50 Hz sources, and which one you want for 60 Hz sources.

    - Dale Adams
     
  6. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Panny5 50" manual doesn't even mention 1366x768 as a resolveable display resolution, however, I run my gaming PC on it at 60, 70, 72, 75, 80 and 85Hz with no problems.

    Therefore I very much look forward to iScan HD where I could use the frame rate conversion. :)

    I understand that DVI on series 6 is limited to 60Hz though -- which is quite frankly rubbish.

    StooMonster
     
  7. Jasonjo

    Jasonjo
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    So, looks good...

    Important questions are then:

    When is it available in the UK?

    Who can we buy it through?

    How much will it be in the UK?

    Cheers

    JJ
     
  8. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    I bought one of the first iScan Ultras in the UK, and if this goes the same way...

    When is it available in the UK? End February or beginning of March 2004 is my guess; iScan Ultra was available about a month later (or less) in UK than USA.

    Who can we buy it through? Owl Video Systems Ltd are the UK distributors, but you need to buy through a reseller; I bought mine from Ivojo Ltd, but I expect everyone who sells iScan Ultras will sell these.

    How much will it be in the UK? IIRC USA launch price of iScan Ultra was $1200 and UK price was £800 (inc VAT) and was €1600 in rest of EU; current UK price is £500-£550 and US price $800-$900. So on similar basis I recon £950 ish (inc VAT).

    StooMonster
     
  9. MAW

    MAW
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    So, JJ are we delaying our fun and games till the new one is out? I'll be getting one as soon as, I can see a hole in my life without one.
     
  10. jmack

    jmack
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    will there be a way to upgrade our iscan ultra or even trade them in?

    is there a stereo audio delay on there?
     
  11. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    The Americans can trade their in, they get $300 off an iScan Ultra with iScan Pro or iScan V2 or iScan Plus (URL). But that is buying directly from DVDO and not going through any third parties. Can not see that happening in the UK, or outside the USA because of the cost of shipping and hassle with taxes and duty.

    Is it worth the price of a plane ticket to USA, or for one person to trade-in a bunch of them in a US trip, who knows? Yet. ;)

    Digital only, so Sky+ or Sony digiboxes; however, you can pick up analogue stereo to digital (optical or coax) and vice versa boxes for £15 or so.

    StooMonster
     
  12. jmack

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    cheers stoomonster

    maybe i power buy or some sort of deal could be worked out. ;) ;)
     
  13. Jasonjo

    Jasonjo
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    :) Cheers Martin....

    Probs wont delay the screen purchase ;) , but based upon the results I get then I will probs go for one of these rather than an IScan Pro/Ultra plus an audio delay box.

    Looks like a great one box answer for most owners...I predict lots of Pro's and Ultras will start to appear in the classifieds early next year ;) :p

    JJ
     
  14. Paden

    Paden
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    The iScan HD looks an exciting bit of kit Stoo :smashin:
    Can you tell me why The Event 2 changed your mind about a Lumagen though, as previously I'd been thinking along similar lines.

    Cheers, Paul
     
  15. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    What really interests me about the iScan HD is the digital audio delay and the additional display options over and above the iScan Ultra; the scaler part I'm less interested in.

    Why?
    Most independent press/articles I've read about scalers says that it's the deinterlacing chipset that counts for 90%+ of the performance, then quality of DACs, and lastly the actual scaling (usually up-scaling resolution). I have read that scaling in projectors used to be / is terrible, but plasmas’ internals tend to use “bicubic scaling” which is the same method used by many scalers.

    For most purposes using the internal scaling chip inside a plasma is not worse than using an external scaler (note: scaling, not deinterlacing); furthermore, in some circumstance the internal scaler may be required, for example to change a 24-bit picture (17m colours) to 30-bit image (1bn colours).

    I know this can be different with projectors, but by auditioning scalers/deinterlacers on my plasma I could see no difference between using internal scaler or external one. For example, CentreStage scaler set to plasma's native resolution (therefore no internal scaling) versus set to DVD's native resolution (therefore using internal scaling) produced identical results. Furthermore, the iScan Ultra with the same deinterlacing chipset as the CentreStage produced pretty much identical results to CentreStage (with internal or external scaling) on my Panny5 50" plasma (1366x768 pixels).

    The Event 2
    The Beekeeper did an excellent session about scalers at “The Event 2”, demonstrating (in effect) one deinterlacing chipset versus another with some difficult source material. Apparently all scalers were set to native DVD resolution for the comparison, except the Lumagen one which was set to 720p. When queried about this by RAMiAM, The Beekeeper said that it didn't make any difference to the picture quality if the scaler was set to output a scaled image or a native DVD resolution one; therefore confirming the independent press/articles I mention above.

    For those who weren’t there, the Silicon Image SiI504 chipset trounced all the others in the demonstrated tests.

    Lumagen
    Although it has some great plus points: 30-bit colour for scaled picture, SiI504 deinterlacing chipset, good DACs
    It has some bad points: fewer connections (unless spending three times the price of iScan Ultra), can not scale to native resolution*.

    *IIRC it scales to plenty of HD resolutions, but not my plasma’s native one for example. Lumagen’s PR and Marketing explain this away by claiming that one gets a better image by feeding a plasma a scaled up image and letting the plasma’s internal scaler down-scale it than one would by feeding the plasma a native resolution image.

    Seeing as one can not set a Lumagen to native resolution there is no way to check the validity of such a claim -- which they “explain” as an improved signal to noise ratio -- and as it does not by-pass the plasma’s internal scaler at all, it begs the question “what is the point of using an external scaler (Lumagen) versus an external detinterlacer (iScan Ultra) when they both need to use the plasma’s internal scaling chipset anyway?”

    Same could be said about using a DVD player with same SiI504 chipset and using the plasmas internal scaler; why go through an additional digital-to-analogue-to-digital conversion to use a Lumagen external scaler which will reduce more quality than scaling alone could bring, particularly when said scaler needs to use plasma’s internal scaler anyway. Accepting that one could use SDI from DVD player, but what would be the point if the detinterlacing chipset is the same in both and the scaler makes no real difference?

    My Conclusion…
    …was that a Lumagen/Leeza/etc scaler would do nothing at all for the picture quality on my plasma, compared to the current iScan Ultra solution for Sky+/games and Arcam FMJ DV27+ DVD player directly connected to screen. Therefore, waste of money (for me); and I would have to change (expensive) video cables to BNC ones.

    As I said at the beginning of this post, it's not the scaling in the iScan HD that makes it interesting to me over-and-above an iScan Ultra.

    StooMonster
     
  16. Paden

    Paden
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    :eek: Wow! Now that's an answer!
    Thanks for that info StooMonster:smashin:
    Think I'll have to read over it a few times though :D

    Cheers, Paul
     
  17. Dale Adams

    Dale Adams
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    Let me give you my understanding of how the Lumagen works. This may help to explain why it behaves as it does and does not produce your plasma's (or probably any other) native resolution. Note that this explanation is deduced from posts on the AVS Forum by Lumagen engineers and by examining a unit in my lab. I do know at least a bit about video processing, so I think my understanding is valid. (If I'm wrong here, please let me know.)

    The Lumagen scaler operates with a constant frequency output pixel clock - 108 MHz. It does not change the clock for different output resolutions. This means that it while can exactly match a particular resolution vertically, it does not do so horizontally. Once the total number of lines vertically has been determined, the horizontal resolution has also been determined due to the fixed frequency output clock. It will essentially oversample the signal horizontally in order to operate at the fixed 108 MHz frequency.

    I'm sure that operating at only a single output clock frequency simplifies the design of the Lumagen scaler. Also note that it only outputs an analog signal. If this signal is correctly filtered to remove the pixel clock frequency and any image frequencies, then there really won't be a 'resolution' in the horizontal direction at all. Rather, it will be a continuous analog signal which has a signal bandwidth as opposed to a specific number of pixels. If a display device samples this analog signal at the display's native horizontal rate, then there really shouldn't be any negative effect. If it does not, and has to digitally re-scale the image, then there will likely be some negative effects incurred, although they may be very minor.

    One other note: because of the fixed output clock, the Lumagen scaler will typically be unable to exactly produce a specific output timing in terms of sync width, front porch, etc. It can come close to a specific timing, but will not be able to match it exactly unless the specified output clock is an even multiple or divisor of 108 MHz. This means, for instance, that it cannot exactly produce 1080i timing. It can come close (and probably close enough for virtually all displays), but it can't exactly generate 1080i timing (or most any other, for that matter). Most of the time this doesn't matter, but it might in a few odd cases.

    As I said above, this is my understanding of how the Lumagen works. I'm not a Lumagen engineer and I didn't design the Vision, but I think my understanding is correct. If anyone has a better or more accurate explanation, please chime in.

    - Dale Adams
     
  18. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Stoo: I am confused about what was set at what at Event. The Omega1 was only doing line doubling. The Zinwell should have been set to 800x 600, the Lumagen was set to 800P or perhaps 840P and the HD Leeza was either 960 or 720P. They were NOT all at the same output. This was done so that the PJ could load up different memory banks easily otherwise we would have had PJ and processor configuration issues. Nic should be able to confirm that this is the case. (It was what I asked to happen and what we set about trying to do before I had to leave room to do other set up on Friday night)

    Dale: This is how I believe the Lumagens work as well. I find it is effective. They do warn that if you use the genlock feature they now provide it will alter timings to a degree that some displays will not like. I have not come across this problem in general use.

    Look forward to seeing you guys over at CES next week.

    Gordon
     
  19. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    I am now confused too. :confused:

    Just telephoned RAMiAM before posting this to ask him his recollection of The Event 2, and it was also that The Beekeeper said that all scalers were just deinterlacing and not scaling except the Lumagen which was doing both and outputting 720p; which was why RAMiAM asked him why and what difference it make, and he said "none". (And that he was going to show us Lumagen running with no scaling also, but ran out of time.)

    Furthermore, if we recall correctly, the scalers were all running through a video switcher, and not directly into the PJ; therefore fewer PJ configuration issues I guess.

    Perhaps Nic needs to confirm. :)

    StooMonster
     
  20. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Thanks Dale, great post. This was my assumption of how the Lumagen worked -- with a fixed output clock -- although my only basis being the product collaterol stating "Programmable output resolution from 480p to 1080p in scanline increments, plus 1080i" rather than "scales to any pixel resolution". Although from your explanation I understand that a continuous analog signal per raster isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world.

    StooMonster
     
  21. marshallp

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    I'm a complete novice when it comes to Plasma; I've just got hold of a Samsung PPM42S3. It has S-Video, Composite, SVGA, DVI, Component (BNC & RCA).

    I get a bad "Solarization" on NTL cable using composite video, it's slightly better with Freeview using S-Video, and my DVD is almost perfect using component YUV.

    I've invested in good quality cables but the picture quality hasn't improved.

    Will a device like the DVDO Iscan HD reduce "Solarization" on my Samsung or do I need something else????
    :confused:
     
  22. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Setting the Contrast and Brightness on the input by using PAL Digital Video Essentials DVD will help -- just run the DVD player to the Composite input and calibrate that, or to S-Video and calibrate the screen -- rather than by eye will help reduce solarisation.

    If your cable / Freeview outputs RGB you could try that to the screen, and again calibrate the input with DVE. (If the screen only accepts component and not RGB you may have to buy an RGB2YUV convertor.)

    ISF Greyscale calibration by the likes of Gordon @ Convergent AV will help and improve DVD picture quality too.

    I have an iScan Ultra, and for my screen, it improves Sky Digital output no end.

    StooMonster
     
  23. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Stoo: If each device was just set to to de-interlacing the PJ would have difficulty loading up individual memory banks as it does this by scan rate. With several units doing 576P or 480P the chances are the timings would all be slightly different resuklting in not quite right images for some if wrong memory banks was loaded.

    Also the Lumagen will always have a signal going through it's scaling solution regardless of whetehr it's set to 480P or 576P I'd guess, so you get benefit of the CUE filters etc.

    I don't know whether the HD-Leeza had its resolutions switched on during the demo but it cannot change output res on the fly so it will have to have been configured to do 576P then re-configured for 480P with that sor tof material.

    The switcher was for ease of use. At event 1 we had all the video processors outputting same 768P signal. We then had lots of memory banks on Barco for each 768P signal input dependant on scaler. It was a nightmare with the wrong memory bank loading up when you didn't want it. If this is how Nic did it again then that's another lesson doubly learned for Event3......DOH!

    Speak soon,

    Gordon
     
  24. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Gordon, I am sure you are correct; just reporting what we were told (and checking with mates first to ensure memory not faulty).

    Also under the impression that the demo materials ("Star Trek: Insurrection" and "Titanic") were all 480p not 576p and fed from the same Meridian DVD player; except the HD demo bit. :) Could be wrong, it was ages ago now. :p

    Eitherway, it was a really interesting comparison and demostration of the most popular deinterlacing products out there. Results shocked some.

    StooMonster
     
  25. patmyhead

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    Just a quicky
    How many video outputs are there?
    how does it, or can it deal with a HDMI signal?
    P@T
     
  26. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I'll try and speak to Nic to see what he did. It was an Arcam DVD incidentally.

    Gordon
     
  27. StooMonster

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    He said it was a Meridian DVD player modified to output SDI, which is how he demoed SDI via Lumagen. (Didn't think Arcam SDI mods were available at the time of The Event 2.)

    StooMonster
     
  28. Arshad

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  29. Jonesthegas

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  30. StooMonster

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    Yes, there are several scalers available aren't there? Anyone goinig to CES should check this brand new one out at booth 55090, as well as the iScan HD.

    There appears much to like about the Crystalio (especially the Ethernet and USB connectors for PC software update, three SDI inputs) however there are a few things that put me off.

    The first thing I don't like is the deinterlacing chipset is the DCDi by Faroudja. Although this chipset has great PR and Marketing (Genesis is a much bigger company than Silicon Image), and does well with video based sources, in the comparison at The Event 2 the SiI504 by Silicon Image wiped the floor with it on film based DVD sources used; which suprised many Faroudja fans, but backed up "
    Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity". After that demonstration I'd mostly go for the SiI504 chipset, same as the higher end DVD manufacturers choose.

    Second thing is this thread is about one-stop-shop solution for viewing Sky digital satellite (or digital cable or digital terrestial "Freeview") on a plasma/LCD and the iScan HD's digital audio delay will improve the experience no end for many people; those without programmable delay facilities in their amps. The only other product on the market that does this is the Vigatec Wave which does the sound delay alone and retails for £1000.

    It also appears to lack a PC video pass-through; but I've probably glanced over the PDF.

    Apart from that it sounds like a fantastic product.

    StooMonster
     

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