1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hitachi 42PD5xxx, DVI and Mac mini experience

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by lintonmac, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. lintonmac

    lintonmac
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi all,

    I wanted to document my observations after messing around with my Mac mini and my Hitachi for the last few weeks. Generally I am really really pleased with the results I'm getting. But I suspect there's more I could do, and there's also stuff I still don't get. I have posted it here as I decided this was a little bit off-topic from THE Hitachi thread and that this is now 45 pages long!

    1. I have connected using DVI with a 5' cable of ok quality (from CableUniverse). I am using a piece of software on the mac called DisplayconfigX (a sort of Switchres) to control various settings. With DVI, my options are considerably less than with VGA - the Hitachi and mac must negotiate in some way what's available. For instance, I cannot override the aspect ratio with DVI, but I can with VGA.

    2. I have run at both 1024 x 768 and now in 720p mode. With 1024 x 768 the picture is stretched (a 4:3 picture on a 16:9 screen), so my photos are a bit weird. Watching DVD's is ok by the use of the Hitachi zoom features to get the right aspect ratio. However, I suspect I am using the Hitachi to scale up the picture.

    3. It took me a while to get 720p mode going because of overscan (missing screen). I have now adjusted the resolution and am set at 1232 x 690. I could probably do a bit more messing around on this to get the exact right setting, but all menus etc fit in the screen with this setting, so I'm only out by a few pixels at worst. This setting works better for DVD's as I'm getting the correct aspect ratio straight away. Note, however that in DVI-STB mode, the zoom features are disabled. I found a strange situation whereby a music video with some mixed 4:3 and 16:9 footage resulted in all 16:9 footage reduced in size - so lots of black borders all round. I have however now found that I can use the mac mini's zoom features to overcome this and the results look fine (better scaling in the Mac anyway?).

    4. Apart from DVD's (more later) the screen is very readable in 720p mode. Perhaps characters aren't as crisp as they would be at 1024 x 768 (but then there's more info), but still I can read web pages fine - even at small font sizes. Display of my photos looks superb both in slideshow mode and as a screensaver. Use of a "Ken Burns" effect by Apple means these fill the screen but in the right aspect ratio.

    5. DVD's. I am very confused about this. All my DVD's are region 2 as I rent them from the internet. I have seen some wonderful DVD's - incredible detail, colour etc and no obvious problems in panning and contrast etc. Then I will come across some that have problems - some sort of "tearing" effect of , say, a vertical pillar in panning. Sometimes, dark scenes are not brilliant. Yet, I watched a good DVD called Hellboy which was almost all dark, and it was very clear at all times. I am suspecting that all DVD's are not created equal. But what surprises me is that it is not always the well-known ones that are best (eg LOTR is not perfect by any means). I had initially thought that the 720p/60Hz setting would be the cause of some of these problems. But given that some DVD's seem flawless, I'm not sure this is the case. Note, that the problems are not severe and the experience is still massively improved over composite.

    One of the things I love about the mac mini connected the way it is, is that I can easily switch from watching the film to searching IMDB (internet movie database) for info about the film - very cool when trying to settle an argument about which other films that particular actor was in. Or I can check the TV listings about 10 times faster than the TV guide on my Freeview box! And of course, there is no need for teletext when the whole of the web is there.

    As for problems, I do see a few odd things. For instance, if I open up a blank web page - or any larger expanse of white space, the Hitachi seems to grey things a lot more (so my menu bar goes greyer). You can hear a slight change in the buzz which can be heard when no sound is on. So, it clearly does something when the amount of white is increased. It does mean that viewing web pages or documents etc is not quite as clear as it should be. As soon as the document is closed the higher quality white returns!

    Another problem is when I was looking at one photo without zooming. About every 5 seconds, the picture would again go "greyer" or lose some quality, before improving again. I had thought this might be things like Dynamic contrast etc. but all these settings were turned off. I also found this happened on DVI-PC and DVI-STB. I don't know whether this is some defense against screen burn etc. but it is annoying. Again, buzzing changed when this happened. This might be linked to the grey/white issue I mentioned above.

    I still get some disappointing contrast effects on SOME DVD's. I have described this elsewhere as likening to when you turn your computer from the "millions of colours" option to, say "256 colours". I'm not saying there are just 256 colours - photos for instance are very vibrant, and many DVD's do not seem to have suffered from this. But, when I tested some of these DVD's on a Projector, I did NOT see these same effects (also using a Mac, via DVI). Edit:(However, I do also get tearing effects with this sometimes so maybe that's not Hitachi related) So, I don't think it's just about source material and compression etc. As I see this effect even more with Freeview and from standard DVD player with composite, I know it's not an artifact from the computer.

    So, overall I'm very happy. For an outlay of £339 (plus keyboard/mouse) you can have a decent DVI based DVD player which can also give you internet access on your TV, show your photos, movies etc (I've also downloaded one of my music DVD's to the hard disk so a DVD library is also possible if you get an external disk). The computer is near silent. I have also had it streaming music to one hi-fi in another room (using a wireless stream), AND playing a DVD into the main room, without any drops or losses. Admittedly, I did pay more than £339 - electing for larger hard drive, more RAM (512MB is probably the real minimum for lots of apps running), a DVD burner, and bluetooth and 802.11g. I also bought a USB-optical sound out for Dolby 5.1 output (£35). Nevertheless it is a very capable box that also looks incredibly cute and at home near a TV, and is quiet (except perhaps when writing a DVD). With a further outlay of about £200, I could have a Freeview recording box into the Mac mini, which would also give me the benefit of DVI output from TV recordings (and the ability to set recordings up remotely). That will probably be my next step, though I'd like to see it all work a bit more (and resolve the annoying niggles) before I do that.

    Hope some of you find this useful. Any pointers to fixing the problems would be gratefully received.

    Ian
     
  2. Sulis

    Sulis
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Messages:
    574
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Bath
    Ratings:
    +1
    Thanks for such a comprehensive 'review'. As someone else who has sold his soul to Steve Jobs, it's hugely encouraging to know what's possible.

    I wonder what the implications of using, say, a Panny 7-series as opposed to the Hitachi are. Also, I don't suppose there's much way of getting SKY+ recordings onto the Mac without losing quality (and being stuffed by Macrovision)...

    Let us know how you get on, anyway.
     
  3. cwick

    cwick
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,207
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Reading
    Ratings:
    +95
    Are you using DVDPlayer or VLC ? Sounds like you're hitting (known) problems with the deinterlacing in DVDPlayer - it's not that hot (should get better in Tiger).

    Sulis - the Mac mini should be fine with a PWD7. I'm using one on a PWD6 with great results.

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  4. Sulis

    Sulis
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Messages:
    574
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Bath
    Ratings:
    +1
    Let's hope Tiger brings a better DVD Player - this IS the Year of HD, remember...!
     
  5. lintonmac

    lintonmac
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    You could of course try the Elgato EyeTV solution for DVB-S broadcasts. I know this is another piece of kit, but I have heard good reviews about the EyeTV boxes and software (though not so good for EyeHome). I don't know a lot about Sky prices etc, but is Sky+ subscription anyway? But then, I don't know how you go about getting a separate card for the EyeTV box.

    I'm using DVDPlayer. I've tried VLC but I get errors with the application when I change settings, and when I did do a comparison, I found the picture in VLC slightly grainier if anything, and definitely not better. I've also not found how to use VLC to step through motion slowly or to change chapter! I'd RTFM if I could find it!

    To be honest, I think DVDPlayer is a little unfairly maligned. The output I get is I think stunning via DVI for most things. I watched Spiderman2 last night, and could see no obvious problems with the exception that in the initial titles some of the white diagnoal webs drawn on a black background would be slightly jagged, and perhaps a bit flickery. But the film itself seemed superb to my untrained eye.

    But, I too hope we will see improvements in Tiger for video processing as a whole. I'm just not sure my Hitachi is fully up to all the things we might get.

    Ian
     

Share This Page

Loading...