DVDO iScan HD Video Processor Review (Very long, but hopefully useful :))

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
Hi All,

I recently puchased and installed the new iScan HD and thought I would share my experiences and write a bit of a review. I am no videophile, by any means, but have managed to get a pretty good understanding of video processors from research on the forum. Although as I am no expert, please feel free to post corrections where necessary :)

I am not going to go into detail what the iScan is, and does, as this can be found at www.dvdo.com

How I set it up - Video Connections

My main TV source is via NTL. One of the first benefits of the HD is the ability to connect RGBS sources and not just component (YUV) like the Ultra. Although RGBS may not be familiar to you, it is actually pretty common in the UK and is often carried via scart by enabling RGB out. Therefore, in order to connect NTL to the HD all that is required is a Scart=>4RCA cable or a Scart=>4RCA connector. As I already had good quality YUV cables from
Scorpion Cables I chose the Scart=>4RCA connector which is available from Keene for £5.99 www.keene.co.uk part number KA150S (thanks for this find goes to Stuart (Stoomonster)). This allowed me to connect direct from the NTL RGB scart straight into the HD without using any converters (like the JS Tech RGB2YUV that I was previously using - sorry John ;)). The same connection should also work for any source which supports scart RGB output (if RGBS).

As for my DVD player, this was simply a case of connecting the YUV output direct into the HD using a YUV 3RCA=>3RCA cable.

In terms of connecting the HD to my Panny plasma, as I already had a DB15 (VGA)=>5BNC cable routed to my screen I reused this cable to connect the DB15 (VGA) output of the HD to my TM6Y video board.

How I set it up - Audio Connections

Another benefit of the HD is the ability to route audio connections so that video and audio can be sync'd. As those with video processors will know, lipsync can be a complete pain as the processor takes some time to process the video signal. This will put the picture out of sync with the sound causing 'lipsync'. Although this can often be cured to some extent by using a global delay on an AV amp, the HD can go that little bit further by assigning a dynamic, automatic audio delay based upon the video processing parameters. The HD can even add a further, configurable delay if for some reason audio is out of sync for some other reason (like dodgy broadcasting - Sky+???!!!! :)). Due to this mayor benefit to lipsync, I decided to route all my audio via the HD to take full advantage. However, the HD only supports digital audio inputs. This was fine for DVD (or Sky+ for that matter), but NTL only offers analogue audio outputs via two phonos on my STB. As NTL represents a major precentage of my viewing time, I decided to add a simple A/D converter to allow me to route audio from NTL through the HD and gain audio delay features. This A/D converter is pretty simple in that it has a single set of analogue phone inputs and converts to optical or coaxial
digitial outputs (PCM). The A/D converter is available from Keene for £39.99 www.keene.co.uk part number DIGAC (thanks for this find goes to Martin (MAW)). With the converter in place, the HD is able to keep NTL lipsync surprisingly accurate and maintains stereo and dolby pro logic encoding - this keeps the wife happy and I can say goodbye to constatly looking at people mouths in paranoia :D The only minor drawback I have noted is that the line level output from the A/D is quite a bit higher that the exisitng analogue connection...

As for DVD, I simply connected my existing coaxial digital output to one the HD digital inputs. The digital output from the HD then connects to my AV amp and carries both NTL and DVD sound including all processing like Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Digital, DTS etc...

Picture Results

With the HD in place, I was quite surprised at the benefit to the picture on my Panny plasma. NTL pictures are much improved and appeared cleaner with a smoother, more realistic image. Detail also seems improved with people faces looking much more natural and you can see real texture in the skin during close-ups. I also route my Xbox via the NTL RGB pass-through scart and with the HD in place, Xbox games are stunning with a real feel of depth and motion smoothness. The HD offers a much better option than chipping my Xbox to get high-def output. Note however that the iScan cannnot improve on crappy broadcasts with MPEG blocking and other digital artefacts, but if you have a good channel source then the HD will definitely make the best of it.

The improvement in DVD picture quality was not quite as dramatic as I already had a pretty good DVD player with SIL504 prog scan output. However, the picture now looks even more 3D, more realistic and again smoother - more cinematic maybe??? It is also worth mentioning that pictures are now free from the chroma bug (CUE) on both DVD and NTL as the HD has auto-CUE elimination for all sources. More importantly, the picture also doesn't seem to suffer from the slight flickering and slight banding I used to notice. Banding is still evident, but it does seem smoother and less pronounced.

I will be honest though, in order to get these improvements it did take a little work. Although I thought the default HD settings gave an improvment, I further added to the performance by configuring the HD such that I could achieve 1:1 pixel mapping. In basic terms, this means that the HD is taking the video input (be it PAL or NTSC) and scaling this to the exact resolution of the screen (in my case this is 852x480 pixels with the PWD6) without using the lower quality plasma internal scaler at all. In order to test if you are achieving 1:1 pixel mapping the HD includes some great in-built test patterns which are ideal. In addtion to scaling or formatting the output, I also experimented with changing the framerate that the HD outputs to the screen for PAL(50Hz) and NTSC(60Hz) signals. The idea here being that the screen may be better at handling video if it is output differently than the default rates. Again, there is a test pattern to help with this, which uses a moving bar to see if particular framerates cause judder. From my testing, I found that 50Hz was best left outputting at 50HZ and that 60Hz was best output at 48Hz. Note these are best for my screen and to my eyes and may not be ideal for everyone...

In addition to the picture side of things, I also noticed that my screen produced a slightly louder buzz when using higher framerates. I assume this is becuase the screen is being driven a little harder and hence the PSU is doing more. Those who are regular on the forum may remember that I posted my experience with a high pitched buzz when sometimes watching DVD's. After some more testing I found that by setting NTSC(60Hz) output to 48Hz that the buzzing was much reduced. I am not saying here that the HD is a cure for this, as some of you may notice a flicker when running at 48Hz, but for me this framerate side effect of reducing the buzzing noise is a great bonus!! :)

There's still plenty of scope for tweaking, but the great thing about the HD is that it allows you to configure it to get the very best out of your plasma or PJ. Obviously, I am a little biased in my review in that I haven't compared it against other video processors, but as a standalone review of how to get the best out of my sources with my particular plasma I am a very happy chap!!! :)

On the negative side, we have the power LED, which remains on constanly, is very bright , and is very distracting and much, much more so that LED's on my DVD player or plasma. Although I am led to believe (no pun intended :D) that you will be able to disable this LED in a future firmware release - hurrah!!!

Also, I won't pretend that the HD isn't a little comlicated to setup for a newbie, but hey, I am no expert here and I just learn't as I went along with help from Avforums and Avsforum (cheers Dale :)). But, the on screen menu's and great manual go a long way to make things as easy as possible - and I am sure help is normally on hand on the forums with experts like Gordon, Joe, MAW etc.

Pro's and Cons's Summary

Pro's

* Excelent video output with lots of options to get the very best out of your sources and display - even worthwhile on a SD plasma??? - YES!!!

* Audio sync is brilliant - goodbye lipsync!!! - Does it work??? - YES!!!

* Easy to use with a really nice on screen menu

Con's (Nit picking!)

* Price is quite high, but when you consider what you get (including global audio delay) it is well worth the money!!!

* The number of options can be a little daunting to the newbie - maybe help notes in the OSD or a startup wizard would be helpful???

* Bright power LED

Overall

Overall, I would highly recommend the iScan HD to any plasma or PJ owner looking to get the VERY BEST out of their display. In addition, a big thanks to Dale @ DVDO for his help and time on the forums and also to AV-Sales (www.av-sales.co.uk) who managed to get me one of the early HD's in the UK to me for nextday, at a great price - very recommended, as ever.

Cheers

JJ
 

Paden

Active Member
Very helpful review Jasonjo :smashin:

I too have a PWD6 & was specifically thinking of running everything at 60Hz to get over the quasi-100Hz thingy & the reduced colour pallet.
Obviously you've actually tried this & decided against it, what effects did you notice that put you off?
I don't know if you watch much sport but I particularly noticed it's detrimental effect on grass (Sky Sports/BBC/ITV) & on skin close ups as you did although you say this is improved :D
Just one other thing, are sources easily selectable from the remote?

Cheers, Paul
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
Cheers Paul

From memory, 60Hz and 75Hz both introduced judder and a bit of buzzing...hence why I preferred 50Hz...I guess it is pretty personal...as I said, I probs have got some tweaking to do when I get more time...

Yes, sources are easily selectable on the remote as each input had a discrete button...Dale mentioned that discrete IR codes for Pronto's etc should be available soon, but this only really applied to power and menu items.

JJ
 
J

jmack

Guest
Originally posted by Jasonjo
jmack...you HD'ing it???

You see my review?

JJ
will reply here instead of stealing buns thread.

i have found i good price at www.nexnix.co.uk (934.00)

i`m still not sure it will be worth me upgrading i have a denon 3803 so that cured my lipsync, i already own a js rgb to yuv box. i dont have the dvi board in my plasma and not sure there is a pal happy one anyway.
seems like i would have trouble getting a price for the iscan ultra i would be happy with.
if there was a upgrade scheme i would do .

so for the cash i think its alot for just pixel mapping, will see how things go for a while.

will there be an sdi upgrade for the hd ? i`m hoping to sdi my arcam and sky+ v1


keap us updated on your finds with the hd? do you still have your ultra how about some screen shots of the 2 to try to compare? i know it will be hard but i like looking at pics
:D :D :D
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
Fair play, you have similar reasons to steve (gmt steve).

Yes, IIRC there will be an SDI card available..not 100% though..

Sorry, but no comparision pictures - I am completely sick to death of cabling, uncabling and then recabling during my testing over the last few weeks...the ultra is also now boxed up ready for sale...

JJ
 
J

jmack

Guest
are there any suppliers/dealers that let you have one for testing/comparing at home for a few days?
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
Yes, AV-Sales let me have one for a few days on sale or return...however I have used them before and got my plasma there, so not sure for others...PM 'Alastair Collie' or have a look at their website www.av-sales.co.uk

Unfortunately, they have just put their webprice up to £998 (to match Ivojo I guess)...however, maybe they will price match Nexnix...maybe worth asking...

Having a home demo is probably the way to go...

JJ
 

andyatkins

Standard Member
Sorry to hijack the thread but I am considering the HD as an alternative to running an HCPC with Dscaler. The one thing that puts me off HD is the lack of HDCP support.

I would appreicate members views on how signficant this is likely to be in the future as more HD content rolls-out, or even if anyone is aware of a 3rd party / external add-on that resolves the HDCP issue?
 

Dale Adams

Novice Member
Originally posted by Gordon @ Convergent AV
Andy:
I know this is an Iscan HD thread but would just mention that the Lumagen. . .
Gordon,

I must say, this is a bit out of character for you (at least from what I've seen from your numerous previous posts). You've been very informative and helpful in the past and I'm sure your presence on this forum is appreciated.

However, it seems to me that it's generally bad form to go into a message thread concerned with reviews of one particular product and attempt to sell a competing product (you do sell Lumagen, don't you?). If you want to espouse the virtues of the product you sell in a thread on a general topic (e.g., "DVI output on scalers", or "HDCP and why it's evil" :D ) that's all well and good. But to hawk your 'wares (sorry for being blunt, but that's what you're doing) in a thread which is quite obviously concerned with a different product . . . well, that just seems a bit improper. You're certainly free to do this if you wish, and perhaps other forum participants think this is all well and good, but it doesn't seem quite right to me.

<My apologies for my previous message. I really am a bit testy before breakfast. ;) >

- Dale Adams
 

Clamicpo1

Banned
Hi, I've had the iScan HD for a few days now (Thanks to AV-Sales for thier excellent service) & so far I'm very impressed. Is there a DVI card available for the PWD5. Charlie
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
I think it is the same as the 4 series card e.g. TY-42TM4D.

However from memory, I dont think this supports prog scan PAL.

Maybe worth a post on the plasma forums as there are quite a few PW4/5 owners...

JJ
 
J

jmack

Guest
jasonjo cheers for advice

av-sales are going to lend me one.( i gave your name a referance for them incase i run off with it) :D :D :D only joking

would be intrested for someone to confirm the panny 4/toshiba dvi board is not pal compatable?

will keap you posted on my finds

feel free to pm me some setting to get me started if you have time
 

Gordon @ Convergent AV

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Dale: I think you are right in a way. It's out of character of me to hawk my wares. I am the Lumagen distributor. My signature kind of gives that away......It is not out of character for me to give folk the information they require when asked, even if it means recommending products that are competitors to me. I was answering a question. I am sure if you poll most folk on this forum it is unlikely that anyone is going to accuse me of being some spamming troll.

I deliberately refrained from commenting as to how important the features the poster asked about are. As it has upset you so much I will go back and delete the post. Hopefully the poster will find the answers he seeks on some other thread.


Gordon
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
jmack,

this might help with DVI: http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=115280&highlight=panny+dvi

In terms of settings I have temporarily decided on the following (from memory):

Output: Analogue VGA
Colourspace: RGB
Format: 852x480
Framerate: 50Hz output locked to 50Hz, 60Hz output unlocked to 48Hz
Picture sized to achieve 1:1 pixel mapping
CUE: Auto on all sources
Overscan: +5 on all sources (to avoid black borders with DVD and NTL)
Picture sized to achieve 1:1 pixel mapping

Probs best to have a play first and then post with specific questions and I can check my settings...

Be interested to see your results in Review Part 2 :) :smashin:

JJ

P.S. I took a plasma out of Av-Sales's demo room hidden under my jumper anyhow, so keep the HD without paying, it's on me!!! :D :D ....NOT!!!!
 
J

jmack

Guest
change of plan jasonjo , i sold my iscan and bought a iscan hd

hopefully be here tomorrow

:D :D :D :D
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
Yeah I noticed...thanks for de-value'ing all ultra's on the forum :mad: :mad: :devil:

Time for ebay me thinks :)

JJ
 
J

jmack

Guest
sorry about that but it would have only been put in the spare room and forgotten about:( :(

what is great news is that the misses wont even notice know as they look excaclty the same:D :D :D


whats the deal with the keene scart plug thingy? where and what does this connect to? do i need i composite for sync too? and where does this go?

cheers jasonjo and av-sales
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
Originally posted by jmack
what is great news is that the misses wont even notice know as they look excaclty the same:D :D :D

whats the deal with the keene scart plug thingy? where and what does this connect to? do i need i composite for sync too? and where does this go?

cheers jasonjo and av-sales
Apart from the nucleur reactor LED on the front :rotfl: :rotfl:

Keene connector goes into scart plug - you then need 4 video cables to carry RGB and Sync to the HD. The HD has two YUV inputs that auto switch into RGBS mode when you also plug in the sync cable...easy :)

JJ

P.S. LOL => Sig changed already :D
 
J

jmack

Guest
cheers got some good quality components can the sync cable be a crap cable as its just for sync?

LED???

is it brighter than the blue one on the ultra?

i have a cunning plan envolving blue tac? will sell you a little blob for the right price:D :D :D


what do you mean changed my sig?;) ;) ;)
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
The HD has a multi colour LED which seems really bright...

Yeah, I assumed sync wasn't too critical and just used an old crappy cable...didn't seem to make any difference when I used one of my DVD YUV cables as a test...

I was actually thinking of BlackTack that I have from my old hifi days for putting under speakers ;)

Enjoy!!! :smashin:

JJ
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hello Andy

Regarding HDCP or not on the UltraHD then yes it will be an issue for some - not having HDCP and limited Digital input resolutions on the UltraHD will not suit every potential customer.

DVDO and OTHER manufacturers will no doubt produce products that address this issue - Dale from DVDO has said as much elsewhere on the boards.

What you may not find is a product that does everything the UltraHD does do plus HDCP and a wide range of Digital video input resolutions for the same money as an UltraHD.

Dealers like myself offer a range of solutions to suit different systems, budgets and customer requirements and when your spending near £1k it is well worth discussing all of the alternatives.

Best regards

Joe
 
J

jmack

Guest
hi jasonjo

got my iscan hd today

went with your settings.

i get some tearing on the test patterns with 852/480 but if i select 480p output they are fine.

am using a rgb to yuv converter for sky but i cant select change sharpness in the picture menu?

any other tips

when you say you have adjusted size to get 1.1 pixel do you mean adjust on the plasma or adjust size on iscan?

sorry for all the ???
 

Jasonjo

Well-known Member
Originally posted by jmack
i get some tearing on the test patterns with 852/480 but if i select 480p output they are fine.

am using a rgb to yuv converter for sky but i cant select change sharpness in the picture menu?

any other tips

when you say you have adjusted size to get 1.1 pixel do you mean adjust on the plasma or adjust size on iscan?

sorry for all the ???
I had a similar problem with the test screens until I got exactly 1:1 mapping...by tearing, do you mean strange interference fuzzy type stripes??? If so, this mean that you haven't achieved 1:1 mapping at 852x480.

Basically I assumed at first that I would get 1:1 mapping just by setting the output to 852x480 - this is not the case, you will need to go into the plasma pciture controls and adjust horiz and vertical sizes until all three test patterns look right. By "look right" I mean all the fuzzy interference lines should go away and you should get a perfect checkerboard of pixels, a perfect series of vertical lines and a perfect series or horiz line for each of the test screens.

Not sure about the RGB2YUV converter, cos as you know, I use the RGBS connection as this negates the need for the converter completely...hence a cleaner input...you shouldn't need to use the sharpness control anyhow, I don't

Once you have 1:1 you can then look at the framerates to see which you are happiest with...the moving bar helps for this...you may need to revist the test screens for 1:1 if you change framerates, I cannot remember 100%.

Check out Dales quick guide posted on a reply to "Kanobi" here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=338670&perpage=20&pagenumber=47

JJ
 

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