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Iscan ultra - anyone got one yet

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by NeilMcRae, Dec 24, 2002.

  1. NeilMcRae

    NeilMcRae
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    Anyone got one of these yet? I have some questions:

    1: If I pump a progressive scan picture into the box will it just ignore it and pass it straight through to the output?

    2: Does it auto-switch between sources?

    3: Does it auto aspect change?

    4: How much? :)

    Cheers,
    Neil.
     
  2. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Ken at IVOJO phoned me yesterday (23 Dec 02) to say he has them in stock at £708+VAT (£831.90).

    http://www.ivojo.com/access.htm

    I am seriously considering swapping the Tuner card and Receiver in my Panasonic TH-50PHW5B for the RCA card and iScan Ultra.

    StooMonster
     
  3. NeilMcRae

    NeilMcRae
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    Stoo, I'm going to do it. I've had the RCA card and used various methods to hook up:

    1 RGB+S
    2: JS Boxes
    3: VGA

    THey are all better than the quality from the tuner. The tuner is complete pants in my view and not worth the money. I just want those questions asked before I go blowing more money :) If the JS box could handle composite video that would do me but it can't and I need to be able to play VCRs.


    Regards,
    Neil.
     
  4. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Neil

    iScan Ultra URL

    iScan Ultra manual

    In answer to your questions, from reading the manual:

    1. No, only the VGA pass-through connector can accept a progressive signal (or a computer); the regular component connectors can not, interlaced only.

    I understand that some people are actually okay with this as the iScan Ultra has chroma bug fix so if you pass your DVD player through (uninterlaced) it fixes it. Downside is there is an additional D-A and A-D step in the process.

    2. All the feedback I've heard, and the manual, says that it does; an you can set priority of devices.

    3. It supports lots of aspect ratios, but I can't find any documentation that says it will do it automatically. However, you can set certain inputs to always be at specific ratios.

    4. Lots of people on this board are being quoted £1000+ and no delivery date, but my previous link show Ivojo are doing them for £830 and have them in stock today.

    StooMonster
     
  5. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    StooMonster and Neil

    Strange that the official UK importer for Silicon Image products (Owl Video) dont have any in stock as yet! They expect the first stock to arrive on or around 06.01.03.

    Also has anyone actually tested the iScan Ultra with a 5 Series Panasonic display - the iScan Pro is incompatible with the 5 Series 42" PW displays so I'd want to test this combination before supplying anyone with the new Ultra model.

    The SRP on the iScan Ultra is £999.00 and I'm guessing most reseller's will offer a small discount!

    Merry Christmas

    Joe
     
  6. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Ivojo initially told me they were getting them in on 6 January, but phoned to say the stock had arrived early on 23 December. Go figure. 6 Jan is first day back to work for me, perhaps same is true of Owl Video ;) Their price is £832, as per their website.

    Also interesting about 42" Panny series 5, I tested iScan Pro on my 50" Panny series 5 and it works a treat. Saying that I did only test component in, will check VGA too. Although I have heard of other strange differences between the 42" and 50" Panny displays.

    StooMonster
     
  7. Rob100

    Rob100
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    StooMonster,

    I read in another thread that you had borrowed and iScan Ultra from IVOJO. Where are they based as it doesn't say on their site as far as I can see?

    I'd love to see one working before considering a purchase. Does sound impressive though....

    Rob.
     
  8. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Rob100

    They are based in Haverfordwest, Wales; and are a mail order only company (hence low prices).

    They kindly lent me (via post) an iScan Pro, that they have for customer testing. Probably because recenlty I ordered two 50" Panny plasmas from them (one for me, and one for my friend) and may well buy a couple of iScan Ultras from them too.

    The iScan Pro was impressive with rubbish old composite, and I am waiting for an RGB scart to Component converter (iScan Pro and Ultra only accept componsite, s-video and component; not RGB) to test the highest quality RGB output from Sky and my games console.

    My DVD player, Arcam FMJ DV27, and my brother-in-law's CenterStage scaler both use the Silicon Image SiI504 chipset and both produce extremely impressive results.

    I also need to test iScan Pro on VGA in on my 50" Panny series 5 because of Joe Fernand's post above.

    I have to say, Ivojo have been excellent at all levels (good prices, great customer service, knowledgeable, honest about delivery times, next day delivery, friendly and helpful, etc.) and I would recommend them to anyone without hesitation.

    StooMonster
     
  9. symanski

    symanski
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    The reason that we don't handle composite is that you've already got the circuitry inside your screen (or you do if you have the terminal board). I do get some people asking if I can convert composite to RGB because RGB is better, but this is folly as you can't improve from composite video as you've lost the quality.

    It's all about keeping the quality of the video signal and using the most appropriate means to keep that quality. A composite signal can't really be brought up to S-Video or higher, and it's fine for VCRs.

    Sky, FreeView and digital cable are all able to output RGB. If you can use RGB, then do so. Conversion to component is not going to detract from the RGB quality, so there isn't such a big concern to convert. Conversion to S-Video is equally valid but is down the quality chain, however, it is still far superior to composite.

    If you do opt for a video scaller, you'll have to consider converting the RGB from Sky, FreeView, and digital cable if you wish to keep the best video quality from these sources. Even if you have a DVD player which has RGB only, you'll really want to convert to component.

    Remember - the video output depends on how good the video input is!

    All the best,

    Dr John Sim.
     
  10. NeilMcRae

    NeilMcRae
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    John,
    I understand and accept the points. Its actually more of an issue with my display that your boxes. I didn't really study input options as well as I studied image quality when selecting the Panny 5. Had I done that I might not be having so many connection issues now :)

    I'll probably be ordering a component convertor from you now if the Iscan box does what I need :)

    Neil.
     
  11. NeilMcRae

    NeilMcRae
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    Joe - thanks for that, I assumed that it would work with my Panny 5 42 inch. Have you any more details on this?!

    Regards,
    Neil
     
  12. Rob100

    Rob100
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    StooMonster,

    Oh yes my mistake confusing the Pro / Ultra :blush:

    Looking at the manual for the iScan Ultra, PAL is output at 31.25khz and NTSC at 31.5khz. The 42PW5 manual says it can accept a PAL signal 31.25khz and NTSC at 31.468khz - however it wont accept the NTSC (480p) signal though the VGA (PC) input only the component inputs which is a terrible shame...

    If you get a mo, can you please test using the VGA input??

    So for PAL signals in theory the iScan ultra will work fine into the 42PW5's VGA input which would be fine with me as I have a DV88+ conected to the component inputs for PAL/NTSC DVD's.

    However the thought of "having" to buy 2 RGB-Component boxes for Sky/Freeview makes me wonder where the expense will all end :confused:

    Rob.
     
  13. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    If you transcode the YPrPb progressive output to RGsB or RGBHV then you can use the VGA socket.

    Gordon
     
  14. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Actually I was talking about using the 2 x RGB-Component boxes as the best way to feed Sky/Freeview input to the iScan Ultra by using the component (by which I presume they mean YPrPb) inputs??
     
  15. Member 14847

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    Just thought I'd better stick my oar in regarding the availability of the Ultra.

    I contacted Owl regarding a CS-2 order on the 23rd or 24th and was told that the Ultra's had come in but to late to ship to dealers before Christmas. This means we "may" get it on Monday but it's entirely possible we won't recieve it until the new year. We were informed by Owl when we placed our origional order that the shipment would be in well before Christmas so we would therefore have stock before Christmas. Unfortunately this did not happen.

    I thought I'd better clear this up in case people were thinking we buy from unauthorised sources. Everything we sell is official UK stock from properly authorised UK distributors and manufacturers.
     
  16. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Testing iScan Pro on 50" Panny series 5 (50PW5) via VGA

    As I don't have RGB scart to component converter yet, my tests were limited but successful.
    Game console composite PAL
    Game console composite PAL60
    Sky Digital composite PAL
    DVD component PAL

    All worked fine.

    DVD component PAL via iScan Pro did not look anywhere near as good as the Arcam DV27 player's own progressive out into the tuner/receiver's component in. I guess this is because of the additional D-A then A-D steps in the process.

    Only just read your post in detail after packing iScan away. Tomorrow I will test DVD component NTSC through iScan to VGA in on the plasma.

    Although this would not affect me in my plans, as DVD would go into RCA Card's component in rather than through iScan Ultra; all my other sources are PAL.

    Going to order the RGB scart to component convertor tomorrow, so should have it on Tuesday. I will post the results.

    StooMonster
     
  17. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Exactly the same thoughts here. As long as it would do all PAL sources into the VGA input then that would be fine with me also.

    I'm just looking at ways of improving PQ of Sky (what a joke!), Freeview, VHS video (yak!), camcorder etc, etc. I really bought the plasma due to my love of DVD's and these look lovely (although a little grainier than I had hoped), but it's all the other sources that could do with improvement.

    Thanks for trying these things.

    Rob.
     
  18. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    I can now test iScan Pro with Sky Digital via RGB rather than rubbish old composite. May also be able to borrow a CenterStage scaler to test too.

    Will post results later.

    StooMonster
     
  19. Rob100

    Rob100
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    I e-mailed Owl Video yesterday and they tell me that the Ultra is now available and in stock...

    I really would want a home trial on one of these b4 purchasing. They told me I could buy through Sevenoaks or Ivojo. I tried my local Sevenoaks and they were hopeless - special order only.

    Looks fwd to hearing your results.

    Rob.
     
  20. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Test One

    Sony Sky Digital digibox RGB
    tech+link SCART to SCART cable
    JS Tech RGB Scart to Component converter
    tech+link Component Video cable
    Silicon Image iScan Pro (set to RGBHV output)
    generic VGA to VGA cable
    Panasonic TH-50PHW5B plamsa

    Good Things
    Picture is much better than Sky Digital RGB scart into Tuner, similar to the difference between a interlaced DVD versus a progressive one (quelle suprise). Cleaner picture, with less artifacting; even on channels that are normally very poor. Text and graphics in interactive services and channel selection are clear and defined. Even the BBCi service's video window, the quarter screen one in the top right, looks like real video and loses the twitter. My daughter watches "Story Makers" on CBeebies, and ordinarily the hair on the puppets looks twittery and undefined; with this set up, each hair is clear and visible. Some of the music channels are usually horrible, but now look more than fine. Another example are news channels, these are the most challenging as their source material can be video or film or low grade video from NTSC or PAL or anything, but looked very good. Channels that are normally good, now look fabulous.

    Bad Things
    Chroma bug lives! Particulary on kids channels with lots of bright primary colours; even the Nick Jnr logo is chroma bugged to hell, but Blue's Clues everything one screen has it! I've read of this beast, but my Arcam DV27 doesn't really suffer from it (I've only seen one mild instance), and now know what people mean. However, the iScan Ultra has a chroma bug fixer, which is essential. Chroma bug is not limited to DVDs, but any MPEG2 source. Chroma Bud description .

    At default settings the picture is flatter, however, easy fixed by adjusting the knobs on the front and adding some contrast.


    Test Two

    Nintendo GameCube RGB
    Nintendo SCART cable
    JS Tech RGB Scart to Component converter
    tech+link Component Video cable
    Silicon Image iScan Pro (set to RGBHV output)
    generic VGA to VGA cable
    Panasonic TH-50PHW5B plamsa

    Good Things
    Picture is a bit like running PC games with ant-aliasing turned on. Graphics look smoother, but not quite as sharply defined; however, you can turn up the sharpness on the iScan Pro and it looks better. I am hoping that the iScan Ultra allows you to change picture settings per input, which would be very nice indeed. Anyway, Mario and Star Wars and Super Monkey Ball all look higher resolution rather before; especially curves.

    Bad Things
    PAL60 makes top third of the screen flicker. Don't know if this is the iScan or the Component convertor, but in white/bright screens it's horrible. Regular PAL this does not happen.


    Summary

    Overall improvement of Sky Digital picture is fabulous, even on poor quality channels; and anything involving text looks great. Video games look higher resolution. But definately need the Ultra not the Pro model, as chroma bug and lack of inputs and no remote rule it out.

    If I had a choice with new plasma, I would buy iScan Ultra rather than Tuner box. Spending a £1000 or so (inc cables) after the fact will take some consideration.

    If I decide to purchase an iScan Ultra, I will also get a Nintendo Component cable (<£20, cheaper than converter box) and some extremely high quality VGA cable.

    Thanks again to IVOJO for lending me an iScan Pro to test, and enable me to post results here.

    StooMonster

    PS: Now off to ask my brother-in-law if I can borrow his CenterStage scaler.
     
  21. BigH

    BigH
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    Hi StooMonster,

    I've following this thread for some time with great interest, having taken delivery of the Panasonic TH-50PHW5 (with the RCA board not Tuner!) yesterday (from Ivojo) I am interested in your efforts for better quality video. Any plans to test with the ISCAN Ultra? I have already invested in the JS RGB Component box in preparation!!

    Even with this relatively basic setup the images are superb!!

    Regards,
     
  22. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    I thought the picture on my Panasonic TH-50PHW5 was good with my old DVD player and Sky Digital until I auditioned some progressive scan DVD players; finally settling on an Arcam DV27, that produces a stunning picture on the plasma. The picture difference between interlaced and progressive is pronounced.

    After getting the DV27, Sky Digital looked rough to me so my quest to improve the picture began; to be fair it already looked okay, but I knew it could look even better.

    It appears from my experience, that although the scaler in the plasma is good, the deinterlacer/progressive scan is just okay.

    I doubt that I will be able to borrow an iScan Ultra, but the Pro is a pretty similar spec (minus the chroma-bug fix, loads of inputs, and remote control) and produces the same kind of picture improvement on Sky Digital as progressive scan does to DVD.

    If I decide to buy an iScan Ultra, my plan is to replace tuner board with RCA one, hook prog-scan DVD to component in on RCA board, and iScan Ultra to VGA with all other sources going through this (VCR, games console, etc.).

    If you don't have a progressive scan DVD player, then the Ultra could be a very good solution as you could prog-scan both the DVD player and Sky Digital (and any other sources). But if you are just looking to make Sky Digital better, this solution evidentally does so but is not cheap.

    I am also interested in iScan Ultra because of it's PC VGA "pass through"; PC set to 1366x768 resolution gives the best picture of all on this display (once you've "snapped in" the image that is) and I don't wish to unplug anything to use PC. I have a plan to upgrade my desktop PC soon, and will put all my current components in an HTPC case and hook it up to the plasma.

    StooMonster
     
  23. symanski

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    No! Get an XBox!!! And James Bond Nightfire!

    (slightly biased - It's such a good games machine and excellent game....)

    Seriously, if you can get a component lead for the Game Cube, then it's the best option. Use the component converter for digital TV etc.

    All the best,

    John.
     
  24. KBDVD

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    Hi StooMonster,

    I hope you don't mind me jumping in on the thread here and grabing your attention for a moment. I see you have the same screen as mine and have made observations about it's scaling / scanning abilities in this thread, as such I would really value your input on the following:

    I'm feeding my panel an interlaced DVD signal via the Component route, from my Sony DVP-CX860 Multichanger and have noticed that when expanding a Region 1, NTSC, 2.35:1 aspect ratio DVD image to fill the panel, (ie, changing from "16:9" to "Zoom") it's neccessary to switch off the 3:2 pulldown function in the Set Up "Signal" menu in order to avoid some fairly ugly break up of moving parts of the screen into clearly visable line structure.

    I believe that I'm witnessing "Combing" which is probably due to errors in the panels attempts to construct a Progressive image from an interlaced scource and which is made visible by the selection of the "Zoom" aspect ratio due to its inherent magnification of the image.

    It's not really a major problem as switching off the 3:2 Pulldown completely resolves the issue. This would however seem to indicate to me that a possible weakness exists within the 3:2 pulldown detection logic of the panel's Progressive conversion process.

    I must stress that it is not visible at all when using the 16:9 (ie, normal / unmagnified) aspect ratio but this may simply be because the artifact is not being magnified. I'd like to know if you've seen this on your TH-50PHW5B unit, in order to find out if it's common to all panels of this model or unique to my set? :(

    I've witnessed this effect on both "Film" (Superbit: Fifth Element) and "Animation" (Atlantis: The Lost Empire) titles. Oh, and were not talking "subtle" here! This is a major artifact and clearly visible.

    Can you duplicate this?

    Your comments would be very gratefully received.

    Best Regards,
    KBDVD.

    ps: Apologee's to all other readers! I would have sent PM but the 1,000 character limit would have been a problem for such a verbose individual as I. :blush:
     
  25. Rob100

    Rob100
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    On my 42" with the DV88+ the difference is noticable, but not exactly mind blowing.

    "snapped in" - please explain what you mean.

    I have just ordered a nice ali Lian-Li case, black Pionner DVD-ROM, sliver/black wireless M$ keyboard and optical mouse, etc, etc so I can "use up" an older (PIII 850) system I have. I think I'll be using my Radeon 8500 graphics card as I can't get some of my other cards/drivers to accept custom resolutions (852x480 in my case). This machine will also have a WinTV card and it will be interesting to compare the de-interlacing abailities of dScaler (using s-video feed) compared to RGB (VGA) straight into the display.

    Rob.
     
  26. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    KBDVD

    Auto switching to wrong aspect

    My friend who has the same screen (50" Panny5) and player (Arcam DV27) as me, has the same problem with Region 2 "Judge Dredd" DVD. Upon playing the 2.35:1 aspect ratio DVD the screen switches to zoom mode and distorts the picture, this is even with 3:2 pulldown turned off. His solution is to manually switch the aspect ratio to 16:9.

    Interestingly he has Region 1 "Superbit: Fifth Element" and doesn't get this behaviour on that disc.

    He only turns on 3:2 pull down when viewing NTSC material, I have it on all the time and haven't seen this problem. However, he has his plasma set to "Panasonic Auto" and I have mine permanently set to 16:9.

    So, to answer your question: it's not limited to Region 1 discs, it happens with Region 2 ones too. It appears to be on a disc-by-disc basis.

    Oops, actually read your post more closely...

    Why would you want to zoom a 2.35:1 ratio picture to 16:9 format to fill the screen, and therefore hugely distort the picture?

    I'll give it a go later and post my results, but would never ordinarily run this way.

    StooMonster
     
  27. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Thought about Xbox, but only two titles I want to play (and not currently available on PC): Halo, Dead or Alive. GameCube give me something different to my PC gaming experience, it's very Japanese, and loads of really playable titles.

    I already know where to order the official CG component lead, I currently use GC RGB lead; all I need to do is decide whether to buy the iScan Ultra.

    BTW, very impressed with the JS Tech RGB scart to component converter. Great bit of kit.

    StooMonster
     
  28. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Could be a resolution issue: my 50" has 768 rows and your 42" has 480 rows of pixels. Although NTSC material is 480 lines, PAL has 576 lines; if you play PAL material it will always be scalled down by the screen (thereby losing 20% of vertical resolution), no matter if it's interlaced or progressive.

    Difference on my screen is extremely noticeable even when using interlaced versus progressive from the same player; progressive is like a higher resolution format (particularly with PAL progressive).

    Perhaps if the difference between interlaced vs progressive isn't as pronounced on your screen, then the iScan option may not do much to improve the Sky Digital picture for you.

    "snapped in" means removing any scaling by the screen, i.e. getting a one-for-one pixel match from PC to plasma. It's not as straight forward as just plugging your PC in!

    Check out this for info
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=196192

    StooMonster
     
  29. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Oooh that snapping in process seems most interesting. When I have previously used the Radeon on the 42PW5 I was dissapointed how blury text was. I previosuly set the res to 852x480 and reset all scaling/positioning adjustments on the plasma thinking that that was that - looks like it's a little more involved. I'll have to wait until later to try this, but will do and will report back.

    Rob.
     
  30. KBDVD

    KBDVD
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    Hi StooMonster,

    Your right, it's not an auto switching problem.

    Incidently, wouldn't your friends problem with this simply be down to the fact that Judge Dredd is not an Anamorphic disc?

    I'll really appreciate your trying this for me!

    I don't usually use the Zoom setting either, I'm just a bit wary of watching too much 2.35:1 aspect ratio material on my panel during it's current early "running in" phase. As a result I have been Zooming up some of my daughter's animation titles and this was when I spotted this!

    You know what it's like when you think you've found something wrong with your gear, It's made me concerned as to the general health of my panel!

    The break up of the moving elements of the picture into horizontal lines when used with an INTERLACED DVD source, in the ZOOM aspect ratio, with 3:2 pulldown ON is very pronounced!

    May I ask if you could please try switching between 3:2 pulldown being "ON" and "OFF" whilst watching in the ZOOM ratio to see if any discernable differences become apparent? The reason I ask this is that I would have maybe expected to possibly witness this artifact with 3:2 pulldown "OFF" but not "ON." I'm just wondering if my panels switching could have been made in reverse on it's circuit board? ....... I'm clutching at straws here!

    Best Regards,
    KBDVD.
     

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