High-End DVD/HD-DVD/BD player available!

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by charris cy, Apr 23, 2007.

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  1. charris cy

    charris cy
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    I am posting this here so that people that do not visit the pc forums can read it.

    As other people in these forums I have managed to build and use a computer (htpc) for dvd playback that can exceed in picture quality most of the high end dvd players that I compared it to. I have been using that for two years and the amazing picture quality and also the added bonus of having all your dvds ripped on hard disks and playing them at the press of a button through my movies (www.mymovies.name) , left my Lexicon RT-10 and Denon 3910 unused. The key to perfect upscaled dvd playback is Theatertek (www.theatertek.com) and using an Nvidia card (7600 and higher).

    Now with the release of Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 I have added the Xbox360 drive and the LG DB drive to the same pc and everything works perfectly and I can get excellent picture quality from the hd formats as well. The picture is as good as the hd stand alone players and the software can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD. You need also to buy the Anydvd HD from Slysoft which removes region coding on BDs (big advantage to the stand alone players), HDCP protection and also lets you rip the HD-DVDs and BDs to your hard-disks.

    I have tested about 20 HD-DVDs and about 20 BDs (regions A and B) and they all work perfectly.

    Also mymovies is being updated at the moment so that you if you rip your HD-DVDs and BDs you can catalogue them as you do with your dvds and play them at the press of a button but instead of launching Theatertek you will be launching Powerdvd.

    For audio I am using the SPDIF of my motherboard (toslink is preferable for pcs) for dvds in theatertek so that my processor does the decoding, and the 6 analogue outputs for the HD formats so that Powerdvd does the decoding. The good thing is that both outputs work at the same time so changing from Dolby Digital (DVD) to DolbyTrueHD and PCM (HD-DVDs and BDs) is just a button press on my processor.

    I believe anybody that is a bit comfortable with pcs should consider the above solution. As i mentioned the pq is exceptional and also the cost of the Xbox HD-DVD drive is quite small (you will need powerdvd ultra 7.3 and Anydvd HD though). The BD drives are quite expensive but I heard rumours some cheaper (half-price) ones are coming out in a month.
     
  2. sdu1975

    sdu1975
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    Good stuff!:thumbsup:

    This is exactly what i'm looking at doing.

    What spec is your PC?
     
  3. Rich777

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    Yes, as you say the only downside is the expensive BD drive , otherwise its very cheap to get into HD-DVD with the microsoft drive.

    It makes for a better solution than the 360 imo because of the noise issues, in my case 360 is reserved for games only.. drive is attached to a new whisper quiet HTPC.
     
  4. sea surfer

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    Sounds superb, any chance of some pictures of your set up?

    I never thought you could add the 360 add on drive to your pc, so all you really would need, would be the above software and you have the equivalent or better, than one of the latest HD-DVD players then, what about the sound card what are you using?
     
  5. TiVoMad

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    There is also the LG combo drive which I believe is out in the US already - http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/09/lgs-hybrid-blu-ray-hd-dvd-standalone-drive-coming-soon/
    It's a bit expensive but with the £ so high against the dollar, it's not too bad. I like this drive as my HTPC looks very nice and I would rather not have an external drive hanging off it.

    I'd love to try this. My questions are :-

    1) How powerful does the PC / Graphics card have to be ? I have an old 3.4GHz Northwood P4 with 1MB cache and a pretty average nVidia card.

    2) How well can PowerDVD be integrated into Windows Media Center ? (I.E. Can you launch it from MCE and control it with the MCE remote ?)

    I can feel an upgrade coming ... :)
     
  6. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Here are the specs:

    Case: Origen X15v2

    Hard Disk: Seagate SATAII 500GB (All DVDs/HD-DVDs and BDs are stored on 6TB+ NAS drives)

    Motherboard: Asus A8N32SLI-Deluxe

    Processor: AMD X2 4200+ 939

    Graphics Card: Asus 7900GT

    Memory: Kingston HyperX 2GB (2 x 1GB)

    Power Supply: Seasonic S-12 600W

    BD and DVD Drive: LG H10NB (also tried the Lite-On and works fine)

    HD-DVD Drive: Xbox HD-DVD Drive

    Keyboard/Mouse: Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000

    Remote: Microsoft Standard MCE IR Receiver (I use an RTI T3 and T2C instead of the standard Microsoft remote)

    OS: Microsoft XP MCE 2005

    DVD Software: Theatertek (comes with Nvidia Purevideo decoder as standard and works with the MCE remote out of the box)

    BD and HD-DVD Software: Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 (works with the MCE remote)

    DVD interface: My Movies MCE Add-On

    HD-DVD Interface: My Movies MCE Add-On (still a pre-release)

    Software also neeeded: Slysoft AnyDVD HD

    Silencing Modifications: AcoustiPack Deluxe v2 Acoustic Material Kit, 3 x AcoustiFan DustProof Quiet 80mm Fan, Zalman VF900-CU Quiet Copper VGA Cooler, Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro CPU Cooler.


    The above pc is whisper quiet and the CPU utilization is about 30% when playing HD-DVDs and BDs. I am looking to upgrade to the Nvidia 8800GTX because some people at AVS mentioned that it gives superior picture quality. Also I might be upgrading to a faster processor and stop using hardware acceleration on the graphics card (for HD-DVD and BD) and leave everything to the processor.

    The advantages of using a pc in my opinion are:

    Amazing picture quality

    Silent (compared to Xbox and PS3)

    Software is constantly upgrading so you always get the latest features

    Store (rip) all your DVDs, HD-DVDs and BDs at full quality on hard disks (I use Buffalo Terastations on the network) catalogue them and download movie,actors info, e.t.c and play them at the press of a button

    Remove code regioning in BDs

    Remove HDCP protection

    Decoding of the latest audio: Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+, DTS HD (DTA MA will be available througha software upgrade)


    To play HD-DVD you need the Xbox 360 add on drive. When you connect it to the pc, it will look and install the required drivers by itself through the windows update. For software you need Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra and Slysoft AnyDVD HD. Playback is as good and even better than the Toshiba HD-XE1.

    For audio I am currently using the motherboard's spdif and analogue ouputs. I will be trying M-audio and Auzentech X-Meridian cards soon to see if there are any benefits.

    I will try and post pictures later.


    1)I would reccomend to get at least a 7600 HDCP card and above. What I would really get though is one of the new 8000 series cards since they offer a lot of new things such as better graphics in Vista and also contant development of new drivers. Also some people reported that upgrading from a 7950 to a 8800 in XP they noticed increase in PQ. I think you will alos have to upgrade your CPU to a Dual Core one.

    2) Mymovies is currently being upgraded to handle PowerDVD as well. A pre-release version is already out. PowerDVD works with the MCE remote although you need a mouse to launch it. When mymovies is ready you will not even be needing the mouse (as you can do now with Theatertek and DVDs).
     
  7. cj

    cj
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    Does PowerDVD now play both BD and HD-DVD from the same install? I thought I read somewhere you had to choose one or the other when you installed it.
     
  8. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Yes, the latest one (7.3) with the updates can play both from the same install.
     
  9. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Can someone please explain me how can I post pictures?
     
  10. Ian_S

    Ian_S
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    Version 7.3 and presumably later, allow both from the same install... There's now an official PowerDVD Ultra patch on the Cyberlink site, previously you had to request it from Cyberlink support.

    I am not as enthusiastic about the PQ/AQ of this approach as the OP. I'm finding the sound options limited and also the PQ seems far too prone to posterisation at the moment for my liking.

    You definitely need a dual CPU machine, plenty of RAM and a decent graphics card with at least 256MB of on board RAM. The nVidia driver is a definite work in progress IMO (no video colour control and not very good de-interlacing performance). Video ignores colour profiles for example which is a right pain...

    Sound (under Vista) is an experience in frustration as Vista attempts to mix all sound itself to Dolby Digital... Maybe it's the built in sound driver on my motherboard, ASUS P5W DH Deluxe, but it's not pretty right now.

    The OP is using Windows XP, perhaps that is safer. Vista seems much less sorted IMO.
     
  11. zircon3035

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    I've also been playing back HD-DVD on my PC using the X-Box drive. I built the PC up originally for video editing, so it is quite powerful. If you are interested, the following spec works:

    Dual Intel Xeon dual core-processors 2.8GHz overclocked to 3.0GHz
    Asus NCCH-DL motherboard
    2 GB DDR RAM
    7800GS AGP graphics
    WD 2 x 250GB SATA RAID
    Maxtor 2 x 250GB SATA RAID
    I'm still using the motherboard's on-board sound and there is also a Matrox RT.X100 video edit card installed.
    Can't remember the version of PowerDVD that I'm using but it only allows HD-DVD or BR, not both. I'm at work, so can't check at the mo.
    All running on Win XP SP2.

    I haven't tried any rips or backups, so can't add anything on that...

    HTH,

    Ian
     
  12. charris cy

    charris cy
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    What do you mean limited? The software can decode Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+ and DTS HD. You have to choose 6 channel speaker config. in your motherboard's sound control panel and also the same in Powerdvd Ultra.

    Yes, I agree with this. I have tried to do the same using Vista and there are a lot of driver related problems. I will try again in six months when everything should be sorted out.

    We have compared this on this 3 projectors: A Sony Qualia (1080P), SIM2 Domino D80 (1080P) and a Planar 7060 (720P) all proberly calibrated. We used a Toshiba HD-XE1 and a Panasonic DMP-BD10. The pc PQ was better than both.

    These are Vista problems. We leave all the video calibration to be done on the display which is the place to be done.
     
  13. Ian_S

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    PowerDVD won't let you select the SPDIF output under Vista for some reason. Vista also adds this annoying live mixing so it seems impossible for example to get the actual bitstream out over digital. This means all Fox titles get downmixed to DD instead of core DTS...

    Of course you can use analogue outputs but it's not clear what PowerDVD does on some codecs, on DTS-HD MA the info bar shows the MA variable bit rate but does it really decode MA?? Because under Vista you can't switch between analogue and SPDIF DTS core to compare output, it's impossible to say.
    Well that is definitely positive news. I don't have a 1920 x 1080 display, so it's hard to know where the issues come from!

    EDIT: I wonder if the poorer results are due to the changes in Video under Vista?? Unlike XP, Vista does not seem to support video overlays, so I guess this is part of the reason that the display drivers seem to be slow to catch up. I would be very interested (if you have time) as to whether you feel the Vista quality is as good as you are seeing on XP.
     
  14. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Ian,

    If you can go back to XP you will see the benefits.

    I think Powerdvd does not yet decode DTS-MA. It surely decodes Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+ and DTS HD. I have checked this.

    Are there any DTS-MA dics out? If yes which ones? I can try and see.

    Maybe you can try the new Theatertek (2.5) that supports Vista to see the benefits at least for DVD?
     
  15. Ian_S

    Ian_S
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    Difficult to go back to XP TBH. Certainly from a photography point of view Vista is very nice compared to XP...

    As for MA discs, try most Fox releases. They nearly all have DTS-HD MA tracks. Kingdom of Heaven (which ought to look superb on a 1080p projector) definitely has, and although it's a chick flick, Devil Wears Prada does, and should be a good test as there's a fair bit of music which can make comparisons that bit easier. You should find the Panasonic will still only output DTS core on those discs, PowerDVD?? No definitive answer.

    As for normal DVD's, I prefer to use a Denon 2900... largely because I enjoy DVD-A's and SACD's too, and it's SQ is pretty good.
     
  16. Donnacha

    Donnacha
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    I will definiteky go this route, but have been holding off for now until the prices come down. I use a HTPC for my DVD playback, using TheaterTek, which is great, but I would need to seriously upgrade my PC to handle HD DVDs, so for now £250 I paid for a standalone HD DVD player made more sense rather than £400 PC ugrade, plus £120 for the HD-DVD Drive.

    But once prices for drives drop, then I will definitely upgrade and have it all in one box again!!
     
  17. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Here are the pictures requested:

    [​IMG]
    HTPC (Origen X15v2 case) and XBOX HD-DVD Drive above Denon DVD Player

    [​IMG]
    My Movies Interface for DVDs/HD-DVDs/BDs

    [​IMG]
    PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 Start-up Page

    [​IMG]
    Troy HD-DVD specs

    [​IMG]
    Troy HD-DVD (not dark condition so image does not look good)

    [​IMG]
    Slysoft AnyDVD HD info for King Kong HD-DVD

    [​IMG]
    RTI T3 MCE Control Screen

    [​IMG]
    System With Projector Srceen Up (ALL Other Equipment Hidden In The Furniture)

    [​IMG]
    System With Projector Screen Down

    [​IMG]
    BuffaloTerastaion 1.6TB and Terastation Pro 2TB (where the DVDs, HD-DVDs and BDs are stored)

    [​IMG]
    Another Terastation Pro 2TB and 3 x Linkstation 750GB (where the DVDs, HD-DVDs and BDs are stored)
     
  18. Mr_Sukebe

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    All sounds like a great idea.
    The only issue that springs to mind is that I'm assuming the sound will be limited to DTS at best via SPDIF, meaning that you're not going to get LPCM out to your sound system.

    Roll on a soundcard with HDMI for the audio.
     
  19. charris cy

    charris cy
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    You do not need HDMI for the HD and LPCM formats. The software will decode the formats and will outout LPCM using analog to the amp/processor. The only thing you need is an amp/processor with 5.1/7.1 analog inputs.
     
  20. Mr_Sukebe

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    Whilst I'm sure your video quality is ace, I'd question how good LPCM will sound coming from an integrated audio solution on your motherboard, and outputted via mini-jack sockets to your AV amp.

    Guess it depends on how much importance you put on sound.

    Do keep us posted on how you get on, I'm still very impressed by the overall solution.
     
  21. NoNic2

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    Charris, great great setup. I will also probably go this way with HTPC but near end of this year. In the end it is much cheaper to make one high-end PC for BD/HD-DVD, DVD, CD playback than buying separates.:smashin:
     
  22. Mevlock

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    Very nice setup, I'm building something similar myself. Although on a much smaller budget. Optoma HD70 pj and cheap electric screen and so forth.

    Vista is a non starter for me too. Driver support just isn't there yet.

    The one issue I'm running into is trying to eliminate judder. Unfortunately Powerstrip doesn't support my on-board video so I'm looking to buy maybe an 8600GTS. Which should work well enough although I've heard bad things about tearing with VMR9 when using Nvidia boards.

    Ideally I want to use a combination of Reclock and PowerStrip to automatically switch refresh rates to avoid judder completely. But finding a card that will work perfectly with this combo is proving to be difficult.

    Dvd's do look great although I personally don't use TheaterTek. I use Zoomplayer along with Nvidia's Purevideo mpeg2 decoder (that TT uses). I also throw in some video processing on the image to get it looking as good as possible via an Avisynth script and ffdshow. My frontend is Media Portal (never been keen on Windows Media Center).
     
  23. ash

    ash
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    How much would that PC listed cost? With and without the Blu-ray drive.

    Thanks :)
     
  24. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Mr_Sukebe,

    I put as much importance on sound as I put on Video. I had my reservations about the mini-jack ouputs as well but the sound is excellent. Dolby TrueHD and DD+ from the pc is much better than Dolby Digital from the Denon3910 connected digitally to my Mclaren processor. I will be trying some sound cards to see if their ouputs are of better quality. I also bought some quality 3.5 jack to 2 RCA cables and they probably also help.


    ash,

    I think my case is overkill and is not needed. The front screen is almost useless and I do not use it. Also I need the two DVI-D outputs for the plasma and the projector. I would use an Origen X11 or another Origen case (they have new ones coming out). Please check www.specialtech.co.uk. I also have the Silverstone LC17 and that is an excellent case too.

    My hardware was bought a long time ago so prices have changed a lot. The most expensive pieces are th BD drive and the video card. The CPUs have come down a lot in price. You do not need an expensive motherboard. Also hard disks are quite cheap now. Also get normal memory, not fancy ones (I reccomend 2GBs though).

    What I consider essential for BD/HD-DVD playback are: A new 8000 series Nvidia card or at least 7900 and above, a powerful dual core processor and 2GB of memory. And the drives of course. Also the following software:Slysoft AnyDVD HD and Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 7.3.

    Do a search around. Pc components prices change almost every week.
     
  25. ash

    ash
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    Could you give a ballpark figure please (with and without the BD drive)? I won't be using it for gaming, and only need one DVI out. And don't need the fanciest sound card, as it will need to be down-converted into 1.5mbs DTS (my audio system is not that good, my first one, all in one system LOL)

    Thanks!
     
  26. haybaby212

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    i would take a punt and say you spend at least £1200 on that setup as the case is prob think end of £200 and then £500 for a pc BD drive £130 hd-dvd etc etc. That does not inculed the buffalo stuff as that would be £600-700 on it own.

    You can buy a Blue ray player and an Hd-dvd Drive for around £700.
     
  27. charris cy

    charris cy
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    The case I use is expensive but as I mentioned above it is not needed. Here are estimated figures for a mimimum configuration that Ash asked:

    Case: 70-100

    Hard Disk: 50

    Motherboard: 50

    Processor: 100

    Graphics Card: 100-200

    Memory: 100

    Power Supply: 60

    BD and DVD Drive: 400

    HD-DVD Drive: 120

    Keyboard/Mouse: 10-50

    Remote and Receiver: 30

    OS: 70

    DVD Software: Theatertek $40

    BD and HD-DVD Software: Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 $79.95

    DVD interface: My Movies MCE Add-On Free

    HD-DVD Interface: My Movies MCE Add-On (still a pre-release) Free

    Software also neeeded: Slysoft AnyDVD HD $79.00

    Silencing Modifications: 70

    Please note the above prices are estimations. Please research.

    The Buffalos NAS are only needed if you want to store (rip) your discs.


    Yes of course you can. I have never mentioned that the pc is a cheap solution. It is a high-end one and it only compares to the expensive stand-alone players which still outperforms. The advantages are:

    Picture Quality
    Region Free BD Playback
    One Box solution (No analog 5.1 switcher needed)
    Fully Upgreadable
    Amazing upscaled DVD playback
    Plays All HD-DVDs and BDs no exception
    HD Audio Codecs Decoding (except DTS MA - expected soon)
     
  28. TiVoMad

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    Well I must say I am on the edge of shelling out for an upgrade now ! charris cy, you will not be popular with my wife ! A couple of questions for you :-

    1) I heard that the fan in the XBOX 360 HD drive is rather noisy - do you find it to be a problem ?

    2) Are you using ffdshow for your SD scaling ? If so, I would be interested in comparing settings.

    Kind Regards,
    TiVo.
     
  29. av-phile

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    This is certainly a very attractive way to go high end and playing both formats. I have a few colleagues who have gone the HTPC route for their standard DVDs and are in the process of upgrading precisely for the HD formats. I just have not done similarly though, preferring to have PC and HT separate. But I am opening that option soon. Just a question though, as far as the hardware is concerned can the HTPC play the interactive features on both HD DVD and BD? I understand BD-J is already in a number of BR discs so is the PC hardware able to do picture-in-picture and other In-Movie-Experience for BD? Thanks.
     
  30. MAW

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    I had such a machine demo'd to me last week, connected to a dual display system. The PQ did not blow me away, though it was pretty good. Sond, unfortunately was not explored much, though we has a Lexicon reciever and some vast B&W speakers to play with. Overall, PCs suit forum members pretty well, maybe less so their other halves. They run well for the 1st year or so, but get a bit more fussy after several player upgrades etc. Perfect stability is hard to maintain over long periods, and they do require maintenance. For my £1200, it would be a Tosh E1 and a Panasonic BD10, I've had HTPCs, been there, done that, got the medal, moved on.
     
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