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Home made Media Centre, Graphics card & Pioneer Plasma questions

Peterchance

Standard Member
I am building a media centre using an Asus N4L-VM DH motherboard, Core 2 Duo T7200 Mobile processor and Gigabyte GeForece 7300GT graphics board. This is to work with my Pioneer PDP 427DX Plasma screen.

My hope is to view HD output either from PC files or from one of the new HD DVD drives when the price is sensible.

It's now more or less up and running but I have some questions about the best way to connect up the graphics card. The card has DVI, S-Video and VGA (Plus component I think). The plasma has 2 by HDMI and just about everything else except DVI.

I have had the screen running in S-Video, VGA, VGA from DVI via adapter and HDMI from DVI via adapter. The only clean display in PC mode is VGA, either direct or from DVI with adapter.

I was not surprised that S-Video wasn't so good, but expected a lot more from the HDMI connection. I found that the HDMI was overscanning and I was losing the top and bottom of the picture. In addition the PC desktop text was broken up.

Questions are:

1) Is the overscanning caused by the fact that the HDMI was derived from a DVI with an adpater?

2) Was it the overscanning that was causing the breakup of the text?

3) Would it be better if I had a graphics card with a real HDMI output?

4) Should I be using two outputs, i.e. VGA for the PC desktop and say HDMI/DVI for video? (The graphics card can output two signals simultaneously)

5) And finally, a silly question. If VGA is the best output why bother with a graphics card at all?

Peter
 

Peterchance

Standard Member
I apologise for replying to my own post, but I seem to have most of the problems sorted by using the overscan compensation feature in the nVidia software.

One issue, however, remains, and that is what is the difference between DVi and HDMI output?

With the DVi converted to HDMI using an adapter I need to reduce the resolution from 1280 x 720 down to about 1200 x 680 to get the whole desktop on the screen. As I said this was done using the nVidia overscan compensation routine. Would a graphics card with an HDMI output instead of the DVi output overcome this issue?

Peter
 

poggs

Established Member
I apologise for replying to my own post, but I seem to have most of the problems sorted by using the overscan compensation feature in the nVidia software.

One issue, however, remains, and that is what is the difference between DVi and HDMI output?

With the DVi converted to HDMI using an adapter I need to reduce the resolution from 1280 x 720 down to about 1200 x 680 to get the whole desktop on the screen. As I said this was done using the nVidia overscan compensation routine. Would a graphics card with an HDMI output instead of the DVi output overcome this issue?

Peter

All your problems are caused by the scaling in the plasma. There is nothing you can buy that will give you what you want. Almost all "television" plasmas suffer from this problem with media centre pcs. All you can you is adjust the setting in the drivers as you are doing until you get a setting you like the look of. For future info you need a plasma monitor like the Pioneer MXE series or the panasonic phd models for perfect display. In saying that, you can still get excellent pictures from the media centre pc's with a bit of tweaking. The latest opinions are that component is the best way to connect a media centre pc to the pioneer tellys like you have. So if you want to try that, then make sure you get a component capable card. ATI cards are component if you buy an adapter. Dont think nvidia's are though, but I cant be certain.
 

peskywinnets

Established Member
Interesting....isn't VGA the way to go or are you saying that the PC still scales *even* if you set the video card's output to the native resolution of the Plasma?

Re component being the best...this seems a little whacky (though I'm not disbelieving you), as the signal is being D/A'ed (by the HTPC) the A/D'ed again (by the Plasma)...I'd have thought that would have resulted in degradation?
 

poggs

Established Member
Interesting....isn't VGA the way to go or are you saying that the PC still scales *even* if you set the video card's output to the native resolution of the Plasma?

Re component being the best...this seems a little whacky (though I'm not disbelieving you), as the signal is being D/A'ed (by the HTPC) the A/D'ed again (by the Plasma)...I'd have thought that would have resulted in degradation?

The VGA is limited to 60hz or higher at non standard resolutions (VGA, XGA, SVGA SXGA - all of which are 4.3). Thus stutter/stutter/stutter with wide screen PAL material.

There is no second deinterlacing as the pc output a progressive signal to a progressive only panel. Set the HTPC res at the panels native res and the telly scaler is bypassed. However, on the HDMI input, you cant get native. Only 720p/1080i which will then be scaled by the panel to its native res. The panel will accept native over its VGA at 60hz and at 48hz+ over component.

These telly plasmas just dont suit UK based media centre pc properly. Stick to monitor panelslike the pioneer mxe models or the latest panny PHD sets.
 

Oldalez

Standard Member
I've recently built myself a new PC that includes card with HD output (ATI 1950XT) - it was the HIS model and came bundled with a component adapter cable

Connecting to a Pio 507XD using component I was able to set the card to output to the TVs native res and was very pleased with the resulting image

H264 clips look amazing and a media centre pc build is likely now that I've seen the results
 

Peterchance

Standard Member
Thanks for the input. I will give component a go just to see if I can see any difference.

If I use component will it allow me to use the native resolution of the screen as with VGA, or will I still get scaling problems as with DVI/HDMI?
 

Jules Tohpipi

Prominent Member
Hi,

I'd be interested to hear your results, if you can spare the time to post.

I'm on a similar journey to yourself i.e building a Media Centre PC and also have a Pioneer plasma (an older 434 with a single HDMI in).

So, I was wondering if the component works out best for you ? I'll be playing a lot of 50Hz and 60Hz hi-def material (downloads), and have been disappointed with the results going DVI to HDMI. But my card won't do component, so will be pleased to learn if you can go native via component !

Thanks in advance.
 

Oldalez

Standard Member
Thanks for the input. I will give component a go just to see if I can see any difference.

If I use component will it allow me to use the native resolution of the screen as with VGA, or will I still get scaling problems as with DVI/HDMI?

I can't comment with any authority on how successful you might be, but if you haven't a dedicated component output I suspect your success will be limited

What I can say is that the 1950XT has a number of Catalyst options for configuring the component output and all manner of resolutions are supported all the way up to 1080 - I'm running mine at 1360x768. I presume that this is comon to all HD capable cards

One oddity though is that the PC desktop and all media played does not occupy the full screen - there is a border around it and as yet I've been unable to resize it (approx 1cm top and bottom and slightly more at the sides)
 

Peterchance

Standard Member
My GeForece 7300GT graphics board came with an add on lead that gave me component output so I gave it a go. Couldn't immediately get an acceptable display so quickly gave up on the grounds that this system will eventually have either a Blue Ray or HD DVD drive so I wanted the best way forward which must be HDMI.

I now have a Denon AVR-3806 which switches HDMI so I connected my graphics card to it using a DVI to HDMI converter. I needed to use the 7300GT graphics card overscan routines to sort out the screen resolution but now have a great display for viewing movies etc., etc. This switches between my PC and Sky HD without problem.

Note that when booting the PC I must have the amp switched to PC because the graphics card sees it and sets up the screen accordingly. If the amp is not switched to PC then the graphics card sets up in another resolution that is confusing. There may be a way around this but there are other things to do first.

The only downside is that the desktop text is not perfect (although very usable) and I had to use custom fonts to get them large enough to read at my viewing distance. As I intend to use the media centre functions of Vista when it comes out I am not too concerned about this at the moment.

I understand that to run a Blue Ray or HD DVD drive correctly I may need a better graphics card such as the Geforce 7600GT which has HDMI out with HDCP. See http://www.nzone.com/object/nzone_pvhd_build.html. This may also give me a 'proper' HDMI out that may help, but time will tell. If anybody has experience of the Geforce 7600GT and plasma screen please let me know.

Changing the subject, have any of you come across the Gyration Mouse? See http://www.gyration.com/en-US/Products.html. This is like a zapper with a trigger that lets you sit in your armchair, click the trigger and move the cursor around the screen by moving your wrist. It has normal mouse buttons and a wheel in addition to other programmable keys. It is wireless with a 9 metre range. Also available is a compact (or full size if you prefer) wireless keyboard that goes with it. Whole package including mouse, keyboard and wireless USB dongle is £92 from DABS. Bloody marvellous piece of kit and perfect for the media PC!! Oh, and it also works like a standard mouse if you put it on a desk.

Have a good New Year

Peter
 

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