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Media Centre PCs and Plasma

tMark20002

Standard Member
It was difficult deciding where to post this as it could be in a few places.

I have settled on a Pioneer 50" plasma. My intention is to use a Windows Media Centre PC as part of the installation and connecting it to the PC input on the plasma. Are there any downsides to driving a plasma this way?
 

MAW

Banned
There are some major downsides to driving a 507 this way. The VGA port is inteded for the occasional connection of your laptop, not a media PC. Stuttering due to frame rate conversion is the 1st thing you see on video, followed by tearing. Mnay people use a dual display card with the screen owing to the fact that HDMI, whilst smooth with PAL video, and obviously no tearing, is not very sharp, as you can't send native res via HDMI, only video resolutions. Also, the built in and non adjustable overscan leaves the taskbar off the bottom of the screen, so MCE front end is really needed all the time. Using VGA for normal windows stuff, and swapping to HDMI for games and video display is the way to go.
Some other plasmas have none of these drawbacks, like the PHD panasonics, or MXE Pioneers. In fact the MXE pio is probably the best HCPC display out there. The more commercially engineered panels are clearly intended for use with a PC, and it shows. In spite of that Mr Gates' frequent and eloquent tirades on the subject of PCs in the home, the plasma TV makers have not quite caught on. Fujitsus, or the Pioneer 5000EX are the only 'home styled' plasmas that work well with PCs. And they are display only models, no TV tuner.
 

DanX

Standard Member
>MAW

Unfortunatly I noticed the stuttering and tearing that you also mentioned :(
Are this issues nonexisting on the comercial models and/or the PHD MXE models ?
If so how is that accomplished?

Since VGA input accepts several refresh rates but actually only works with 60Hz internally on the plasma sets I've seen. ( It's easy to tell, because all other rates cause v-sync issues ).

This was a bummer since I planned on using my set for watching films and series via my HTPC.
 

tMark20002

Standard Member
There are some major downsides to driving a 507 this way. The VGA port is inteded for the occasional connection of your laptop, not a media PC. Stuttering due to frame rate conversion is the 1st thing you see on video, followed by tearing. Mnay people use a dual display card with the screen owing to the fact that HDMI, whilst smooth with PAL video, and obviously no tearing, is not very sharp, as you can't send native res via HDMI, only video resolutions. Also, the built in and non adjustable overscan leaves the taskbar off the bottom of the screen, so MCE front end is really needed all the time. Using VGA for normal windows stuff, and swapping to HDMI for games and video display is the way to go.
Some other plasmas have none of these drawbacks, like the PHD panasonics, or MXE Pioneers. In fact the MXE pio is probably the best HCPC display out there. The more commercially engineered panels are clearly intended for use with a PC, and it shows. In spite of that Mr Gates' frequent and eloquent tirades on the subject of PCs in the home, the plasma TV makers have not quite caught on. Fujitsus, or the Pioneer 5000EX are the only 'home styled' plasmas that work well with PCs. And they are display only models, no TV tuner.

Thanks MAW i suspect you just saved me a lot of money
 

MAW

Banned
Danx, it's a non issue on the commercials, PH pannys and MXEs are super compatible, loads of refresh rates available, no internal FRC with the right model. My pref is still the PH.
 

MAW

Banned
That will accept native res at 50, 60, 72 and 100Hz on VGA, can be pixel mapped, may well need service menu adjustment to do this, the picture is often shifted beyond the user menu adjustment, but believe me it can be done, I have done it many times. I have a PH series myself, as do probably most pro installers, that or Fujitsu. Ever wondered why? You'll find out if you get one.
 

DanX

Standard Member
Thanks MAV for the info !

But for me as a consumer its hard to impossible to find out for example which model does or doesn't have FRC :(

These numbers / info is almost newer listed on the manufacturers site.
And these models are rarely found in consumer stores if at all.

But you sure got me interested!
Although the Pioneer model thmark linked to doesn't seem to support 1366x768 resolutions via VGA?
At least not according to the info on that page.
 

MAW

Banned
That'll be the prime reason for buying from a knowlegable specialist, not taking a punt on it on the net, then. That link goes to the Panasonic, when I click it btw.
 
N

nukebox

Guest
Sort of wish I came across this thread earlier. But I've bought a 507XD now and am loving it. However, I'd like to connect it up to a Mac Mini to use as a media centre. I'll only be using it to play movies (SD and possibly HD) and view photographs.

Could you advice me on the best way to connect it up?

If I connect it up via DVI->VGA and set the resolution to 1280x720p:

  • viewing movies seems find - thought I haven't properly tested it
  • the top of the menu bar is cut off
Could I use something like DisplayConfigX to set the resolution better or will the 507XD just not work?

Excuse me if I sound a bit lost - all this is a bit new to me. :rolleyes:
 

MAW

Banned
That's not what you need. You can go DVI-HDMI to the plasma at 1280/720 50 or 60Hz, the overscan is the problem, and lack of sharpness for text. The VGA port might not accept that res, never tried, as it accepts native res anyway. It's possible to use a lower res into HDMI, something in the region of 1180/686 I seem to remember being tried, which gives you an idea about how much overscan there is. This will not help the PQ though, God alone knows what the screen has to do to the signal, it is after all optimised for 720p.
 
N

nukebox

Guest
That's not what you need. You can go DVI-HDMI to the plasma at 1280/720 50 or 60Hz, the overscan is the problem, and lack of sharpness for text. The VGA port might not accept that res, never tried, as it accepts native res anyway. It's possible to use a lower res into HDMI, something in the region of 1180/686 I seem to remember being tried, which gives you an idea about how much overscan there is. This will not help the PQ though, God alone knows what the screen has to do to the signal, it is after all optimised for 720p.

Thanks.

Okay, so I got DVI->HDMI and use [email protected]/60. The "only" problem I have here, for watching movies is the overscan. Sharpness for text is not so much of an issue for movies. Also, I'll suffer overscan when viewing photos. Is that correct?

If I go for the VGA option, then I can get around the overscan problem, but will suffer jerky PQ?

Seriously considering sending this back and getting a 50MXE20. It's going to be hard justifying the extra £500 or so though.:thumbsdow
 

MAW

Banned
Correct, Nukebox. Now you may see why the commercial is more expensive. Surprisingly, plasmas whic are usually professionally installed, like MXE range, are more prone to criticism of stuff like jerky picture, where most 'ordinary consumers' don't bother to complain. They get used for so many different applications that flexibility has to be built into them. It has lots of features you will never use, as well as the key ones you will.
 
N

nukebox

Guest
Out of curiousity - do you know how much the overscan is? What % of the picture am I missing due to the overscan?
 

MAW

Banned
5-7% is 'missing' so to speak, all round. For video this is a non-issue, you never notice, or, rather, it's the same as your CRT was. For those of us with adjustable overscan, it's a deal breaker there too. I'm used to having just a couple of percent overscan now, and none at all with a PC. They set them that way cos lots of stations transmit a load of junk aroud the picture edges, and this puts it firmly off screen. Unfortunately, it's excessive.
 
N

nukebox

Guest
5-7% is 'missing' so to speak, all round. For video this is a non-issue, you never notice, or, rather, it's the same as your CRT was. For those of us with adjustable overscan, it's a deal breaker there too. I'm used to having just a couple of percent overscan now, and none at all with a PC. They set them that way cos lots of stations transmit a load of junk aroud the picture edges, and this puts it firmly off screen. Unfortunately, it's excessive.

Okay, that's not a total killer. Most likely, I'll get a decent DVI splitter and plug my Mac Mini into both HDMI and VGA inputs. Then I'll switch between the two depending on what I'm doing.

  • HDMI - for movie playback
  • VGA - for viewing photos, games, etc.

I downloaded Batman Begins HD Quicktime clip last night and played it via [email protected] and it looked amazing! It could be that I'm not that picky, but the sharpness seemed pretty good to me. ;)

MAW, thanks a bunch. :clap:
 

MAW

Banned
You seem to have firmly grasped the principles, mate. That's how you do it to get the best of all worlds. Bit more hassle, bit more cost, but it works quite well. For me, nothing can beat the sharpness of a pixel mapped media PC on a plasma, but it's pretty acceptable on HDMI, certainly for video.
 

tMark20002

Standard Member
MAW - I wish you worked in edinburgh mate. My final question on this subject is how do you rate the Panasonic TH 50PH9BK as a display for MCE?
 

MAW

Banned
That Panasoic BTW will be the dogs dangly bits. True widescreen res, pixel mappable with care via DVI and VGA, and HDCP on the DVI port in case of future need (HD-DVD and Blu ray may need it even from a PC) I have the 42 version at home, there are also loads of bits available for them. All you'll need is the DVI card, and a cable for component vid via VGA I should think.
 

chaparral

Well-known Member
Why is it that about 90% of LCD TV's has no problem with being able to do 1:1 pixel mapping at 50hz...
But just about every single plasma TV out there falls flat on it face trying to do this...



This has got to be one area where plasma makers are losing sales big time to LCD TV's...

How hard can it be to put a setting in the tv menu for = overscan on/off
 

Andy.T

Active Member
MAW - Reading your comments in this other thread and then here I just wanted to confirm my understanding...

You've said that Panny's look a little dull via VGA, if my only use of Media Centre was going to be via the 360 (as an extender) i.e. not directly from the Media Centre PC, then I'd be better off using Component rather than VGA?

This being the case, presumably some of the reasons for going the panel route (native res support at 50Hz etc.) go away?

I'd been considering the Pioneer 507 (and it's right at the top of my budget) but have been fretting that I need to extend my budget a bit for the Panny 50" panel?

I know the Panny panel is probably "better" but I'm thinking perhaps it's not quite so pressing if I am not going to be using VGA?

Any thoughts?
 

DanX

Standard Member
>MAW

You seem to really know your Plasmas!

Maybe you know why there still is blurring on plasmas when panning or scrolling in games (and movies but that is almost not noticeable) ?

These panels technically shoudn't have any blurring/ghosting as LCD's do.
Still you can easily see that the image gets blurred (no ghosting though) when for example "turning" left or right in games like Quake, Call of Duty, medal of honor, scrolling the map in Warcraft3 etc etc.

I don't see this on my old CRT monitor ( nor on my old Sony CRT TV ).
It's not a "big" deal but it made me curiuos ;)
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
I found this thread really interesting as I recently bought a Fuji 58 series from Joe but they didn't install as I had to build a custom wall mount for my wobbly old brick wall after it arrived (piccies).

I am feeling rather relieved about my purchase the more I read, things like the adjustable overscan isn't something i would have considered before buying ,but I still need some help with HTPC setup.

I opted for DVI->HDMI as I thought this would be the best quality connection? The run is 12m so I don't really want another cable unless it is going to be a lot better...?

At the moment I use powerstrip and run a slightly distorted desktop at 1024 x 768 just so the text is a little more readable and have tweaked the underscan in this case so the image fills the screen.

For playing movies I use Media Player Classic and 1360 x 768 (via a powerstrip profile) so it only scales horizontally. It really becomes hard to read text if I leave it at this res all the time.

Movies look fine but for PC work I have to get quite close to read the text. Am I missing something or is this to be expected?

Many thanks,

Adam
 

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