Living with a Loewe Xelos SL 32 HD/DR+

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs Forum' started by ianh64, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. ianh64

    ianh64
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    Just under two weeks from ordering, my Loewe Xelos SL 32 HD/DR+ has unexpectidly arrived. Initially I was quoted 2-3 weeks delivery, but a progress check with Linn (UK distributers of Loewe) on Friday left me somewhat disheartened being told that they were out of stock and didn't know when to expect further stock. When further pushed, I was told that a further 2-3 weeks timescale was not unreasonable. It wasn't all good news though, the 'free' Centros DVD recorder is out of stock so the installer came with only the screen and media box.

    Initially ordered as a Loewe Xelos SL 32 HD/DR+, after further thought I added the D-TV/D-SAT option. The DR+ model comes with an integrated hard disc recorder. The vanilla machine, without the harddisc is simply designated Loewe Xelos SL 32 HD. Don't let the HD in the name confuse you, the DR+ is the harddisc version.

    :lease: Before I get too far into this, a blatent request for anyone to PM me with details on how to access the engineering menu. I spotted it somewhere on my travels with a warning for use by authorised people only, but I have since failed to find it. So if your a Loewe engineer, please give me a tip!

    The set is to be paired with a Pace Twin Freeview recorder and a HDMI equipped Meridian G98 DVD player/deinterlacer/scaler. For day to day use, the Xelos speakers will be utilised, but for more serious viewing an external surround sound processor and speakers are to be used. I thus will not dwell on sound quality other than to say that it appears more than adequate and also offers 2xCoax digital input and stereo, panaroma and dolby virtual, plus a host of DSP modes such as pop, speech etc.

    Whilst a number of screens were shortlisted, only the Sharp 32GD1E and Loewe Xelos and Spheros sets made the final 3. The Philips 9986 lost out due to no documented native input support or seperate DVI and component inputs. In the end, the styling differed from the original pre launch photo's and IMO, further let down by its build quality. Out of the final three, I would have been happy with either of the Loewe boxes or the Sharp. However, if I had purchased the Sharp, then immediately seen either of the Loewe's, I probably have suffered buyers regret. Lack of native resolution input at 50Hz prevented me from buying the Sharp and a week or so later, I demo's the Loewe Xelos. By that time, circumstances had changed and I really could not justify the extra cost of the Spheros. Since at the technical level the Spheros and Xelos are identically spec'ed (the manual for the Xelos also covers the Spheros model), to avoid further delimma and timing be right for purchase, I didn't even demo the Spheros. Only the thought of a glass screen to guard against wandering little fingers and projectiles makes me think that the extra cost of the spheros could be justified. I'll stick with insurance for the time being.

    The installer connected everything up and tuned it all in. The analogue and D-TV channels were tuned in and stored sequentially in channel order. This will require a re-sort having been use to the channel numbering on the Pace Twin. If I had a satellite dish too (The D-SAT functionality is not $ky compatible), these would also have formed part of the main channel list. Audio channels are conveniently stored for access under the radio button. When in radio mode, the screen turns off. Whilst the D-TV/D-SAT option has input for aerial and dish, there is only 1 tuner, so only one or the other can be viewed. Having the luxuary of the Pace twin, its going to take a while to get use to the ease of use that twin tuners allows. But we still have the Pace for that. In addition, the D-TV does not support digital text or other forms of interaction, but it does have a multi day EPG which is more flexible than the Pace allowing filtering by channel or topic, but its ordering will take some getting use to.

    Once the installer had left, it was time to explore...

    Initially connecting to the DVD player was problematical, with no signal being present on the DVI input and a DVI error being reported on the source. So I moved onto other things. PQ from the DVD via a cheap backup S-video -> SCART lead was pretty poor. So was both analogue and D-TV. My heart began to sink.

    Having an 8 month old is a good distraction and when I finally did get some serious time to play, no specific tinkering got the display acceptable then can't fault it. I will get my DVE out soon and have a attempt at calibration.

    Strangely the DVD player via HDMI->DVI also started to work. Unfortunately the EDID on the Loewe only reports 1024x768. The scaler on my DVD player allows deinterlace (720x576p), 720p (1280x720p) and 1080i (1920x1080i) plus Auto mode to allow it to output as reported in the EDID. Unlike my test with the Sharp, the Xelos supported all without a hitch. Scaling options on the Xelos are 16:9, 4:3, Original (ie native), Panarama, Cinema and zoom. Switching to Original and manually selecting 1280x720p on the DVD player allowed dot-for-dot input. Unfortunately, until a software upgrade for my DVD player to allow 1366x768 (native resolution of the Xelos), I will not get full screen in this mode. But the other modes can get full screen or full width letterbox albeit with double scaling. However, there is a mode for user definition of the input resolution. Unforunately setting this to 1366x768 (a tedious task at one pixel/line at a time) does not change the resolution in the EDID.

    Unfortunately things started to go arong again. I have lost the ability to input via DVI - the screen intermittently blanks every few seconds or so. I really cannot think what I can have changed.

    I also tried VGA mode. Its documented both in the manual and sales brochure, but I saw one retailer offering it as an optional extra. But with my portable I have had no luck. Its probably a setting on the portable, or the old VGA lead that I found, or Im just doing something wrong.

    If VGA mode does work, this stands this model out from the current crowd, offering simultaneous connections to all physical inputs, SCART (various formats), progressive component, DVI-I and VGA plus 2xcoax digital audio in, 1xout, and various analogue audio connectors. However, VGA also appears to be supported via the DVI-I connector and the VGA input may be reserved for the Loewe Online option, in which case, the same limitation as the Sharp would exist in that you cannot simultaneously connect DVI-D and VGA, unless such a things as a DVI-D/HDMI + VGA -> DVI-I cable/converter existed.

    Plus further options makes this a very flexible piece of kit, not withstanding the option of integrated harddisc 20 to 90 hours of recording from a variety of sources. On the topic of the harddisc, the media box is taller with this option and gets very hot to touch - fried egg sandwiches anyone?

    Im going to have a further play, and will get back with further findings when I start using it seriously and have used a decent SCART lead to my Pace. In the mean time, out of the box, PQ may not be the best, it was far too bright, but with even simple fiddling, PQ can be adjusted to be excellent with little or no pixellation, no motion blur and good contrast. Turning sharpness down to 1 removed most digital noise/compression artifcacts with little noticible effect on PQ. If demo-ing, sharpness and brigtness would appear to be a good first stop to improve PQ and appears to be connection specific - certainly picture settings for DVI were not affected and vice-versa.

    Whilst it was not cheap, I am more than happy with my purchase and feel that for me, I made the right choice at the right time :beer:

    Loewe are at www.loewe.de Xelos listed under TV, Spheros under Systems.

    -Ian
     
  2. ianh64

    ianh64
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    Discovered why the DVI input was intermittent. It seems to be disc dependant. LOTR works but gives the intermittent blanking of screen every few seconds, sometimes. Finding Nemo and Star Wars does not work and my DVD player/scaler returns an HDMI error (which I will find out what it means tomorrow) but DVE works flawlessly. Maybe an HDCP issue since DVE is not CP. Screen is HDCP compliant and I have seen it working flawlessly with a Linn DVI equipped DVD player.

    One final note, on the 720x576 calibration screen of PAL version of DVE, the one indicating the safe areas, I cannot get the bottom 5% to be visible. I have tried shifting the display at the source end, but it makes no difference. Maybe this is something for the engineers menu that I still have not rediscovered?

    -Ian
     
  3. ianh64

    ianh64
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    Having contacted Meridian, the manufacturer of my DVD player, it appears that the Xelos is returning a mismatched HDCP encryption key. This is preventing any CP (Macrovision) discs from being displayed on the Xelos.

    I then approached Linn (the UK distributer) and finally convincing them that I wanted to speak to someone technical rather than just my retailer. Linn reiterated that the Xelos is HDCP compliant. I am awaiting a call back from Linn and hopefully also from Meridian, manufacturers of my DVD player with an update on the situation. Meridian have experienced similar problems with some projectors and this has been resolved by the projector manufacturer issuing a firmware update to resolve the incorrect HDCP key. Hopefully Loewe can do the same.

    Unfortunately I am now in a position of potential incompatibility between my DVD player and the Xelos. Until this is resolved I cannot recommend the Xelos to anyone who is going to to use it in conjunction with an HDMI or DVI equipped DVD player supporting HDCP. LOTR works fine, but most other stuff won't. I demo'd the Sharp LC-32GD1E with my physical player viewing LOTR and it too worked fine, but the Sharp also worked with an R1 version of Star Trek TWOK which the Xelos will not display. But then the Sharp would not display 1080i which the Xelos can.

    Unfortunately, inputting a 720p (1280x720p) signal via DVI produces a fantastic display on this box. It is a shame that it can not produce it with all my discs :mad:

    I guess the motto is, try your DVD player with the screen rather than a similarly equipped player (in my case a Linn connected via DVI) and make sure you use a CP disc and not LOTR to test with.

    -Ian
     
  4. masher

    masher
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    Hi Ian

    to access the service menu, you should highlite the servive menu with the menu button on the screen, then hit the menu button on the remote. This has worked for all the Loewe TV's I have owned.

    Have you tried prog scan for the pic, is this OK?

    Cheers Mash.
     
  5. ianh64

    ianh64
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    Mash

    Thanks, but it didn't work. Thanks for the tip though, I found the service menu on a button on the media box, but pressing several combination of keys, including just the menu button, I failed to get me into the service menu itself.

    [EDIT]You didn't say I had to press service then menu on the remote very quickly! Im in. Not much of interest to me as I don't want to fiddle with settings that I do not understand. Thanks for your help[/edit]

    I will be trying to get progressive over component to work over the next day or so. I have an old component RcA->RCA cable that I used for MC digital audio, but I think that I will obtain some BNC/Phono connectors to connect the cable to my DVD player. Hopefully that should work without too much picture degregadation.

    Will post the results when I have something to post.

    -Ian
     
  6. ianh64

    ianh64
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    Got my DVI problem sorted :thumbsup: I think it was probably a loose connector as it resolved itself when I pulled everything out of the cupboard to connect up a component lead.

    As for progressive component. Unfortunately I cannot say what resolution I was pumping out at. Via HDMI/DVI I use 1280x720p and I have my component outputs set to use the inbuilt scaler so in theory it should be same resolution as digital. But im sure that I read that the component outputs from my DVD player could only do SD. On the screen, you can view the input resolution in the DVI connector, but not the component one.

    Anyhow, not having had much exposure to component and reusing a relatively 'cheap' Ixos 3m component lead with phono to BNC converters at the DVD end, all I can say is how much better the digital connection is. Im not saying the progressive component is bad, its just when you see DVI digital in 'dot for dot' mode at 1280x720, the component was noticably inferior.

    Maybe when I get around to calibrating the inputs with DVE, confirm the output resolution and get a decent short BNC/phono terminated component cable, I will beable to get a better judge of the quality. I'll try and get some pictures for others to judge for themselves.

    -Ian
     
  7. Horrabin

    Horrabin
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    Any news on the component connection and the performance yet, Ian? Any pictures for us to compare with? I'm getting closer and closer to buying this but there are still some issues I'm wondering about.

    Do you know if the display can recieve [email protected] and [email protected] (and possibly even [email protected]/[email protected])? In the German manual you sent (thank's a lot BTW :thumbsup: ) I can only see that the component input can take 525i/p, 625i/p and HDTV resolutions, but it doesn't say anything more specific about the HDTV res. Do you have any info on this?
     
  8. ianh64

    ianh64
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    I've been away but as for the component input, there are 4 modes: Auto, SD, HD and Prog. Via component, my DVD player/scaler is unable to supply anything other than SD interlaced or progressive.

    In auto mode, the screen pretty much takes care of everything. You can't specify input resolutions, it just works itsself out for itself.

    In the HD and progressive modes, you have greater control over the picture geometry. Adjustments are: Picture width, horiz and vertical shift, phase position, input pixels and input lines. There is a also a greater chance of getting things wrong.

    For some reason, in progressive mode, progressive component input from my DVD player/scaler is being detected as [email protected] (sometimes 576p). This is obviously incorrect, but the picture looks fine. Slight jitter can be dialed out by adjusting the phase. However, attempting to change the input pixels from 1440 to 720 results in the picture being cropped. Im not sure of the problem, but it looks fine in auto/SD mode and since I use DVI-D in at 720p, im not too fussed. I have yet to find a way of storing this setting, hence I rely on the auto mode.

    However, I am 90% sure that 720p and 1080i are supported, along with any other odd mode. The Xelos has a feature called DDC (DIsplay Data Channel) that automatically detects the input resolution. If it is a standard PC resolution, you can automatically get it to detect. 720p and 1080i are all within the bounds of the functionality of the input pixels and input lines adjustment. I have a limited subset of these available on my DVI input and I can run 720p and 1080i with no issues. In HD and progressive mode, you also have the zoom functions 16:9; 4:3; Original (dot for dot) and Zoom. SD and Auto mode give a different set, which omit Original but gi Cineam and Panarama. I tend to either use 16:9 or original.

    When I get some time, I will write up a mini review.

    -Ian
     
  9. Maximus5

    Maximus5
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    Have you maybe seen the 37" model? Do you think the PQ is in the same level as 32"?

    Would you buy again a Loewe LCD, knowing what you know now or woud you have other ideas.
     
  10. ianh64

    ianh64
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    I did see the 32" and 37" side by side and I did not see any difference in quality between the two. But the 37" would have been too big hence the 32".

    There are one or two quirkes with this set, but I do not question my choice of a Loewe LCD. What I do question is, should I have gone for the Spheros (the LCD panel looks to be a big target for little minds and fingers whilst the Spheros has a glass covered panel) and whether I should have gone for the DR+ (HDD version) and D-TV options. I already have a Pace twin Freeview recorder, but the lack of twin digital tuner on the Loewe make more of a difference than I expected. It would have been nice to phase out the Twin for main stream use, but some of the quirks makes recording scheduled programmes on the DR+ a bit of a pain. But it is nice to have the occasional option to record a second Freeview channel, but could have been done cheaper elsewhere. However I wanted an integrated solution and would not have bothered with this facility otherwise.

    -Ian
     
  11. Maximus5

    Maximus5
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    Well, since I'll use the "external" DVD recorder (Panasonic 95H) and DBV-S receiver I don't have a problem with options. I do expect that these things will change faster than LCD so I guess I'll change them too eventually.

    I’m still deciding between Sharp 32-37AG1 and Loewe. I know Sharp doesn’t support 60 Hz but do I really need this so badly. The panels I think are the same.
     
  12. ianh64

    ianh64
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    No, the Sharp ONLY supports native at 60Hz. So you can't watch PAL material native dot for dot on the Sharp without transcoding 50Hz->60Hz. Also, whilst the physical LCD panel may be the same, the electronics that drive them are very different.

    -Ian
     
  13. gilesm

    gilesm
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    Ian

    I'm looking t a Spheros at the moment, I note in your first post that you connected it up to DVD via SCART. At the moment I've got a DV89 that only chucks out SCART, not DVI or HDMI. Was the PQ really that bad, you say you did some tweaking was that with SCART or DVI/HDMI. I will eventually replace the DV89 but not for the time being, so if I can't use SCART then its a none starter.

    Cheers
     

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