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Just seen the new Optoma H78

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Gary Lightfoot, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I was fortunate enough to be invited by Stuart Acey of Optoma to go along to Jeff Paynters place (RTFM from this forum) and view the new H78, so I could see the improvements the upgrade has over the H77.

    I took along a USB2 mobile hard drive with some torture scenes on it (not literaly) so that I could plug it into Jeffs UVEM HTPC and see if the improvements were visible. After fireing it all up and setting the white and black levels correctly (PowerDVD 6), we were up and running. The first test was the posterisation scene from U571, and that passed with flying colours - the recent H77 firmware had fixed this but we wanted to make sure it was still fine. The next test was a sequence from LOTR which had sometimes produced the 'clay face' artefact as the group walked passed the camera. This was still a minor failing with the H77 but now the H78 rendered it with no problems.

    The next two tests were for the panning artefact which the H77 still suffers from in varying degrees, and last week I'd tried a computer generated movie sequence which a guy had sent to me from the US (it was so bad he wanted to know if it was visible on H77s over here). It rendered quite badly on my H77 with very obvious banding being apparent, so this was to be a real test for the H78 (I personaly hadn't noticed the artefact elsewhere on other movies though others had, but this scene was particularly bad). Instead the motion was smooth with the artefact being barley perceptible, in fact I wasn't sure I was seeing things but no-body else new what they should be looking for, I think they thought I was making it up. :)

    Another scene which had been mentioned was the scene from Spider-Man 2 where Peter Parker drags his broken motorcycle along a wall of Mary Jane posters - the poster images were said to break up quite badly, but with the H78 there was absolutely nothing out of place at all. Very smooth in fact.

    It seems Optoma have become aware of the issues some had mentioned with the H77 and made a point of fixing them - good product support IMHO. The question is, is it just firmware? I was told by their Product Manager Justin
    that part of the upgrade is firmware (Version 17), but they've also improved the sequence codes in the DMD controller (from TI themselves apparently), along with some improvements to the lamp modulation control - and this is where the extra brightness comes from. The later needed a modified board IIRC, so some components are new. I can't remember if the TI mods were chip upgrades or not, but it allows for faster switching of the mirrors.

    We watched som Hi Def material from Jeffs UVEM as well as various DVDs to see how the image looked, and everything looked very good. Now that I think back - I didn't notice any noise in the image. With my H77 some image noise not unlike film grain was visible at various times, but this had gone with the addition of a lens filter and as the lamp had aged. Whether the noise was there and I didn't see it on the H78, or the modifications had fixed it (I have seen similar noise on other HD2+ DLPs), but with a new lamp projecting an image approx 7.5ft wide I didn't notice it.

    We didn't have time for me to measure the lumens from the H78, or check the contrast ratio, but with the improvements seen elsewhere, I'm looking forward to getting my H78 back so I can see if the numbers I'd measured last night have increased.

    Gary.
     
  2. foghorn

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    Gary good news indeed, so you can now stop saving for the 3 chippers then. :)

    Apart from sorting out the obvious problems were you struck by an overall improvement in picture quality?

    Also can't help thinking that H77 owners in US will be a pleased for PAL owners but a little envious.

    Foghorn
     
  3. venezolano

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    Excelent news Gary. With that kind of support, Optoma will gain many points.

    Now many HC2000 users will ask if there will be avaliable the same aupgrade for their projectors too (I guess).

    Cheers

    Juan
     
  4. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Fog,

    I can't say I saw anything else outstanding, other than the improvements I'd already mentioned, but I wonder if the PAL optomisations were for the European HD sources we should be getting from SKY? The picture looked good straight out of the box, but I didn't check the greyscale for any obvious changes in the colour temp settings in the menu. Nearly all the viewing was done via HTPC with some quick PAL and NTSC viewing via component, but not enough for an evaluation.

    I think the US H77 owners should get this upgrade too, as some of them are still suffering from panning issues, so currently this is one time where we get something they aren't, though they do have the more expensive H79 and we don't.

    Juan,

    If the Mitsubishi owners still seeing having panning issues, then they should press Mits for a fix - if Optoma can do it this cheaply then surely they can too.

    If anyone was on the fence with the H77, the H78 should push them off of it. :)

    RTFM does a great demo if anybody is wondering. :D

    Gary.
     
  5. robfitzp

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    Good to hear this is a worthwhile upgrade......pity I have just bought some speakers or this would have pushed me off the fence. Never mind, I'll keep an eye on the classifieds next year!!

    Cheers
    Rob
     
  6. KraGorn

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    I'm keeping my 77, having paid to have it calibrated I don't feel these improvements are worth paying again.
     
  7. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I see your point - it's quite possible that putting the RGBs back to where they were when you had it calibrated may not result in the same greyscale tracking with the new modifications.

    Did you get any contrast ratio numbers from your calibration results?

    Gary.
     
  8. KraGorn

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    'Fraid not. I was going to ask Gordon for some info but things took a bit longer than he expected so I didn't feel like pestering him. I sent him a PM when the H78 announcement came out and his advice was not to got for it as it would invalidate much of what he'd done, since he did have to do a bit of work balancing red IIRC.

    Maybe some time down the road I'll re-consider, assuming Themescene's upgrade offer isn't time-limited, when I change lamps could be a good time, assuming RGB balance isn't affected by the inital drop in lamp output one sees with new lamps .. is that the case I wonder?
     
  9. chicco

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    hi all
    I have an H78 since nearly 3 weeks and i havent seen any raynbow effects or any noise on hd material.
    chicco
     
  10. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I think there is some colour change from the lamp over time, but I wouldn't like to say by how much and how much it drifts away from D65.

    Did you notice the difference in colour balance after the calibration? Do you have any info of the calibration to hand - such as final gamma curve and value as well as the greyscale tracking graph? Just being nosey really - I'm going to be recalibrating mine when I eventualy get it back, so it would be interesting to see how my results compare to Gordons. :)

    I found that there was a slight 'hump' in the gamma at around 80ire, and this seems the same for the H79. It can be fixed by using gamma table 4 from the service menu apparently, so I wonder if Gordon tried that or not.

    I remember a calibrator over on the US forum saying he'd earn his money for the H77 as it was quite involved, so I'm not surprised Gordon took longer. It doesn't help much that the menu comes up slap bang in the middle of the picture either.

    Gary.
     
  11. KraGorn

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    I have no numbers at all I'm afraid Gary, Gordon spent most of the time hunched over his laptop and for the colour balancing used a digital camera about a foot from the screen. He shoed me the colour temp. curve and how far off the factory settings were, IIRC the major problem was too much red. He tried compensating by increasing B and G but eventually maxed one of them so had to drop R, so reducing lumen output by a bit but I've no idea by how much.

    In the final result I could definitely see the effect of reducing the red, the proverbial 'skin tones' of course tended to be the more obvious. Of course, without having had the calibration done I'd not have said the colours were wrong. :)

    You're right about the menu position, it seemed a lot of time was wasted discarding photo samples taken when the menu was in the way.
     
  12. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Sounds like Gordon earned his money too. :)

    I think sometimes it's not always that obvious that the colours are out until you see them as they should be seen.

    Gary.
     
  13. KraGorn

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    One thing you mentioned which I didn't comment on, AFAIK Gordon didn't go into the service menu on the H77.

    I'm now wondering whether to go for the upgrade after all, your mention of less noise interests me, is it really something you noticed without prompting?
     
  14. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Krag,

    Well, I only 'noticed' it in retrospect, and it wasn't something that someone else had mentioned, just my own recollection. I generally see this image noise in all the HD2 DLPs (DC2, DC3 etc) to some degree or another, so it seems to be part of their make-up, but with an image that is at cinema levels of brightness (around 12ft lamberts), it's not noticable to me. I think it's enhanced with newer pjs due to the lamp being at it's maximum brightness. An older lamp may make it less noticable.

    Like I say though, I'm not sure it was an H78 improvement or just that these particular scenes didn't show it, so really I'd have to suggest you find a dvd which has noticable bright area image noise and try to get a demo of an H78 to compare. Either that or wait until I get my upgraded unit back in a few weeks (dealer units are being done first), and I can let you know then. I'll then have more time to spend looking for it now that it's something I'm aware of - I'll do it before I add the lens filter etc. There are a couple of scenes in a movie in particular that I noticed it, so can check it pretty quickly.

    What size is your screen (width) BTW?

    Gary.
     
  15. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Jeff (RTFM) has an H78 on demo now, so if anyone wants to see the H78 in action, give him a call and arrange a viewing. :)

    Gary.
     
  16. KraGorn

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    Thanks Gary, I'm in no hurry to do this, I'll be interested in hearng you results.

    I have a 92" 1.2 gain Onyx fixed-frame screen.
     
  17. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I'll let you know then..

    Your screen is a bit large than mine, so will have a slightly dimmer image. On low lamp mode you're getting around 14ft lamberts reflected light or less (depending on the lamps hours) so are in the middle of the recomended range for cinema brightness, but that's where I like my image brightness to be (or lower - I'm at around 12). Do you notice a lot of image noise? I can't say that I see any right now with the filter, so you might see less as the lamp dims further. An ND 0.1 filter would dim the image enough to reduce image noise, and you can remove the filter later when the image dims too much due to the lamp, and gain some brightness back.

    ND 0.1 filters are only available as gels, but they can be taped across the front of the pj quite easily. That's how I tested various filters with mine.

    Gary.
     
  18. christoph

    christoph
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    hello gary

    did you also check if the picture is judderfree, when fed 720p@50hz via dvi from the htpc? with which refresh rate did you watch ntsc material? 48hz or 60hz?


    thanks in advance for your answers
    christoph
     
  19. KraGorn

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    Gary: Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into the filter you mention.

    Can you perhaps give me an example of what 'noise' means to you? After doing a bit more reading I'm now not at all sure what I'm referring to is not simply a result of a dodgy transfer.
     
  20. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Christoph,

    I've only ever fed it 180 x 720 @60hz, even for PAL stuff, and I can't say that I've noticed judder that you normaly associate with incorrect frequency, such as stuttering pans. Maybe that's something I don't notice, but it would be pretty bad on my old Davis DLS8 if I ran it at the incorrect frequency, so I think the H77 (and my old NEC HT1000) cope with it very well one way or another. We didn't try Powerstrip for 50hz PAL stuff so I can't comment on that, sorry.

    Kragorn,

    I guess 'swarming dots' in bright areas of colour or whites is what I mean by image noise, not the normal mpg artefacts you might see in dark areas. One spot that was very noticable was a scene from Man on Fire (Denzel Washington). Around chapter 5 when he was lying on his red sofa - the sofa was 'alive' with mosquito noise. I'll try to find the exact time on the dvd so you can try the scene for yourself if you have it.

    Gary.
     
  21. KraGorn

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    Gotcha, not quite the same thing I was addressing, I now think it's probably just 'grain'.

    I can borrow that DVD from a friend, that'd be helpful. :)
     
  22. christoph

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    hi gary

    does this mean that you did feed the h78 with 60hz even for pal?

    to feed your 720p projector with 60hz means that you have microstutter ALL THE TIME because of the resampling the 25 pictures per second to 60 pictures per second. not a chance that this results in smooth pans...

    when feeding your nec ht1000 with 1280x720p you don't get judder or microstutter as long as you feed 50hz for pal, BUT you don't get a perfectly sharp picture because you don't use the native panel resolution. the picture will be downscaled to 1024x768. unfortunately the nec ht1000 is NOT able to show 1024x768@50hz without massiv judder an tearing from a htpc :thumbsdow whereas the following model ht1100 can do this :smashin:

    unfortunately i don't know about the ht77/78...
     
  23. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Christoph,

    Yes that's correct - I feed the H77 with 1280 x 720 @60hz for both PAL and NTSC and if the stutter is there I don't notice it as both seem as smooth as each other to me - believe me when I say that I know what stuter looks like as I used to see the difference with the DLS8 if I forgot to change refresh rates (especialy on panning shots) so something different is happening here as like you say, the 25fps has to be made to fit into 60hz somehow, but the stutter I used to see on the DLS8 does not exist on the H77 (or HT1000). I used to feed the DLS8 with 72hz for NTSC and 75hz for PAL as it seemed to remove the 3:2 pull-down stutter from NTSC, and 75hz seemed to make PAL smoother.

    I feed the HT1000 with 1024 x 768 @60hz for everything as well, and that seems pretty smooth to me also. I've been using htpc for a few years now and have never felt the need to use Powerstrip for anything, so it's never been installed on any of them. Maybe if I get bothered by any stutter in the future I may look into a remedy, but currently I'm quite happy.

    I did wonder if the HT1000 and H77 were detecting the 25fps and converting to 60hz by using a 3:2 pull-down of some sort like NTSC does, but I think this is unlikely as DVI should by-pass any projector processing.

    Gary.
     
  24. KraGorn

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    Why is that Gary? Even though you say you don't see any judder, what's the reason for not using the theoretically better refresh rate?
     
  25. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    It was only after realising I was playing a PAL DVD at 60hz )on my HT1000) and couldn't see anything really obviously wrong with the image that I stopped bothering to try using 75hz for PAL DVDs. I then tried the same thing on the H77 when I got and had the same results. I don't change it as I don't see any improvement, plus most of my DVDs and Hi Def is NTSC anyway. I might try 75hz or Powerstrip at 50hz one day out of curiosity, but now that I think about it, I think RTFM runs his Uvem HTPC at 1280 x 720 @60hz as well. He'll have to confirm that for me of course but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.

    I forgot to mention earlier something about the Man on Fire 'film grain' - I played the same scene on my HT1000 and the noise wasn't there (I did that after my first demo of the H77 to compare), which leads me to think that the higher res DLPs are either able to extract more detail and hence more noise/grain from a DVD, or they tend to be a little noisy in nature anyway (with DVDs only being 576 or 480 there's nothing extra to extract though). Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing that scene on my H78 when it comes back just to see how it renders.

    Gary.
     
  26. Paul D

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    Gary may have a point about 60hz v 50hz.

    Running 50hz material at 60hz will involve frame rate conversion, but depending how well it is done, it can be acceptable.

    Not a lot of people seem to mind the NTSC "film" judder on slow pans when running at 60hz etc. This has been converted from 48 frames to 60 via 3.2 pull-up etc.
    It is only when you see the same footage at 48hz, you realise how smooth at can be.

    Looking for judder is also part of the problem!
    We become so tuned in to seeing it, that even if we do get smooth playback we are not sure!

    A case in point is "dodgy dvds, come CDRs".
    My mate couldn't understand why i won't touch them with a barge pole.
    Most have horrendous judder/stutters. (never mind other problems)
    When i pointed the juddering/stutters out, he couldn't see them! :suicide:
    However, a few weeks later i got a call calling me a :oops: .
    Turns out, that he started to look for the juddering and can now spot it at 30 paces!

    I run PAL material at 50hz, and it is a smooth as silk. Running at 60hz still looks ok until a slow pan comes up. But even then, it just looks like NTSC film judder.


    WMV-HD material has been a different kettle of fish though!

    I have tried everything to get 48hz to playback smoothly since updating my HTPC. Just when i think i have cracked it, i notice a small skip or jump!

    Out of frustration, i decided to just leave it set to 60hz. I was shocked to see how smooth it looked. Not perfect on slow pans etc, but the rest of the time i couldn't notice any judders/skips or jumps.

    I'm running MCE2005 via a nVidia 6600GT with pure video drivers. I have "smooth video" checked in the MCEs performance settings, so don't know if that's what's helping.

    My projector can lock into 48hz/50hz/60hz without internally converting to the panels native refresh rate.
    I do wonder if most peoples problems with 50hz v 60hz, are down to the way the display handles the refresh rates. (Rather than the refresh rate itself etc)


    Ps
    I do plan on having another bash at 48hz (for NTSC stock) in future, as PAL locked at 50hz does show the way!
     
  27. KraGorn

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    I found judder on my HTPC so annoying I abandoned it and went with a scaler. No matter how much tweaking I did, fine-tuning of refresh rates etc. I couldn't totally eliminate it and even though it was probably quite mild and many people wouldn't really notice it I found it totally distracting .. I wasn't watching Peter Jackson's massive panoramic sweeps, I was looking for the one or two stutters every time.
     
  28. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Paul,

    I wonder if it's the software player doing the 3:2 pulldown to PAL? Will the player be aware of the refresh rate the graphics card is using and compensate accordingly?

    I'm wondering if I should bother with trying 48 and 50hz - if see the stutter with 60hz after that I might be constantly changing refresh rates in the future!

    Gary.
     
  29. Paul D

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    Gary,

    PAL material (50hz native) is easy with nVidia's new drivers as they provide a 1280x720p @ 50hz setting.(custom setting menu)
    They also provide 1280x720p @ 59.94 for NTSC, but(as i will try :rolleyes: explain) this isn't as smooth, down to the way "film" is converted to NTSC anyway.(which you will already know! :) )
    But for the sake of anybody who doesn't...

    "Film" is 24 Frames Per Second(FPS) or 24hz, each frame is shown twice at the theatre to avoid flicker. (it is then 48hz etc)
    Video footage is shot at 50hz or 60hz depending on the country.


    Here in PAL land (50hz) (Region 2 dvds etc):-

    Since all they do with 24fps(48hz) "film" is speed it up to 50hz, means pans are locked to the films rate. Ironically, even cheapo DVD players can playback PAL converted film stock smoothly.
    PAL video is 50hz anyway, so no problems again.

    Run this "PAL" stock at 60hz though, and extra frames need to be added. (10 every second etc)
    How well this is done can make the difference.
    Done well, and you end up with smooth video with only slow pans revealing the conversion.
    All software players convert to what ever windows is set too, or can alter windows to preset refresh rates.
    You have been happy, so no obvious problems with your setup!

    HTPC have so many variables, that a lot of judder seen probably has nothing to do with refresh rate.(as your setup proves)

    NTSC material brings it's own problems!(and where my brian starts to ache, as i haven't figured it out at all!)

    My take on it as follows (and please note may well be total b*ll*cks :D )

    NTSC land (60hz) (Region 1 dvds etc):-

    24fps(48hz) film stock converted to 60hz(3.2 pull-up?), and Video filmed at 60hz.
    So Video(NTSC 60hz) will look great at 60hz but juddery at 50hz!
    48hz film stock will have juddery pans (to some degree) at 60hz and 50hz!
    So running at 48hz(or multiples of 24hz) is the only way to get true smooth playback from NTSC (but not PAL converted!) "film" stock.

    WMV HD as far as i can tell seems to have a mixture of 48hz and 60hz! :eek:
    Maybe that's why 60hz seems stable...?
    Where does that leave us in PAL(50hz) land? :rolleyes:

    So smooth ('ish, except for slow pans etc) playback is possible at 60hz, depending on material and how well the FRC is done.
    But the only route to totally smooth pans is to match the original frame rate.(or use multiples etc)

    NTSC(48hz) sourced film best at 24hz(SF) or 48hz(48hz to avoid flicker etc)
    PAL(48hz) sourced film (with 4% speed up to 50hz) runs best at 50hz
    NTSC sourced Video best at 60hz
    PAL sourced Video best at 50hz

    After all this your display may still cock it all up by converting the frame rate anyway.

    I decided to stick with 50hz, and haven't bought any NTSC (Region 1)dvds for years. :smashin:
    (Ok that's a lie, i did by Shrek2 R1 because i couldn't wait :oops: )
     
  30. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Paul,

    Two things I wasn't sure about, you cleared up for me:

    So it would seem that it's likely that PAL is being convertwed to 60hz by the player doing it's own version of 3:2 pull up. :)

    I wonder if 72hz for NTSC would help with teh 48hz issue? That should allow 3:3 conversion of either if the player is able to do it.

    Do you know how WinDVD 6 and PowerDVD 6 use their overlay with respect to video levels and PC levels? I've a feeling that WDVD might use VMR9 as you have to have DX9 installed or you can't install the player. PDVD 6 will install without it. I ask because I've found that I can get a better (measurable ) contrast ratio from PDVD than WDVD, and I'm not sure if it's because of video levels or because of how WDVDs brightness and contrast adjustments interact.

    Cheers.

    Gary.
     

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