My search ends....LONG!

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, Dec 11, 2001.

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  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    As regulars on the forum will know I’ve sort of now got a permanent installation in my home with a Sony 1270 crt. This unit really requires a video processor of some kind in order to give its best. So, just like most of you, I have been investigating which unit will meet my needs.

    My requirement was for superb de-interlacing, judder free if possible, good colour accuracy, fault free operation preferably by Pronto IR, aspect ratio control and variable output rates in case I change projection device. DVD replay would have to sound good to. Oh….and I don’t want to spend much more than £2000…I get some things at trade but video processors are not high margin products….and I’m Scottish!.

    I am lucky in that I get to see quite a lot of these things and in most cases I get to play with them for extended periods. My shortlist was down to an Arcam DV88 and Quadscan Elite or something else….

    When the Rock came out early in the year I went down to visit Neil Jenkins to have a look at one. During that visit he showed me a HTPC for the first time. Well, when I say showed what I mean is he pulled a pile of bits together, got it running and plugged it in. At that time there were issues with it but the potential seemed to be there. The Rock was pretty good too but still wasn’t what I was after.

    The event brought me in to contact with Jeff and Kryton. We were so busy though that all I really saw of it was the desktop……no films….or video through the capture card. The desktop looked groovy and I wondered whether dvd could look that sharp.

    A few months later and I was down in Milton Keynes area ISF-ing some devices so I popped back in to see Rock Plus at Neils. The + was more like what I was expecting. With auto PAL/NTSC recognition this is something I’d be happy with myself, if it wasn’t that I can’t afford one….

    Other units I considered were the Runco PFP, amazing de-interlacing on NTSC with incredibly accurate colour decoder but too expensive for me and not so hot at pal film based stuff or video. Vigatec with great de-interlacing all round be it video, film based Pal or Ntsc, multiple video inputs meaning no switching through amp but with lip sync induced problems that my home cinema amp can’t deal with.

    I’d used a Quadscan at home before and know it’s limitations. Not as good de-interlacing as others or video decoder accuracy but it does all work from IR and has aspect ratio control and I could afford it.

    Having seen all these and more I was still interested in looking at HTPC’s. As it transpired I was contacted by a chap near me to ISF his CRT projector. He was using a PC for dvd replay and a capture card and de-interlacer for video based stuff from Sky and Video. My first trip to see him was curtailed as we discovered some problems with his pc set up. Not being a computer tech I couldn’t resolve them. By my second visit my client had resolved most of the issues himself with some tips from MrD of this forum. By the time I was finished we had a pretty great picture from his DVD drive and even Sky was very watchable through dscaler. There were some minor issues but I’m sure these could be solved, mainly to do with video noise and gamma adjustment. It was still a PC though and I couldn’t imagine Melanie wanting one of these things in our living room, or having to use an ir keyboard to make things work.

    So when I saw a post from Neil (Jenz) saying he was working on a device based on PC architecture that would do everything I wanted, but which wasn’t going to be like a PC, my interest was sparked.

    So last weekend I drove the 350miles South to see how he was getting along as Christmas is coming and I need something soon…

    When I arrived the family had all been having a Sunday watching DVD’s and the projector was warmed up and ready for action. It’s a Barco808 in case you don’t know. We had on hand Neil’s Rock Plus fed by FMJ27 for comparisons to the PC based device he has been designing.

    I had been warned that the interface between the user and the machine wasn’t finished but everything else was virtually done. Neil immediately started it up and seemed to only be using a Pronto to control it….he did have to use the keyboard briefly for one or two things but the functionality seemed VERY close to being complete.

    Picture quality was my fundamental reason for visiting though so we needed to play a few things. Put on AVIA to check levels etc. After minor tweaking I was happy and we stuck on a few discs. Of course, Star Trek Insurrection had to go on…passed with flying colours. Judder was gone, detail in spokes of wheels of cart, canoes solid, no jaggies on roofs or bridges.

    Moulin Rouge, fantastic colours, great sound I had to really restrain myself from just watching the whole movie. Melanie and I have promised each other we’ll keep this film as our Xmas treat to watch on our new system.

    Tried some PAL stuff with MI2. Again very watchable and didn’t see anything to alarm me. Then we put on LEXX season 1.1 DVD. This has lots of CGI effects including a piece where a planet is revolving and there’s a city on its surface which looks sort of like a hi-tec conservatory. Lots of straight lines and solid surfaces. It’s a nightmare for de-interlacing. I’ve never seen anything play it without artefacts and this was no exception. Space ships flying around looked good though, just this one nasty bit…..

    It was becoming apparent to me that the picture quality was as good as anything I’d seen and that, in fact, detail was greater with this than with anything I had spent time with.

    Neil suggested sticking on my favourite “battle of carthage” from Gladiatior. This is where it all changed for me. I was staggered. It was astounding. From the walk up the dark to the arena and on to the pans around the crowds…amazing. The detail on tunics, faces, chainmail….I was hooked. Also no de-interlacing problems that usually crop up on this piece.

    We watched a bit of Starship Troopers and it was fantastic too. I really stopped looking for problems with DVD it was so good. We did a comparison of Desperado superbit with normal….BIG difference on this system. Superbit was MUCH, MUCH better. After watching the superbit disc the normal version looked so crappy.

    Next we put some video and TV through the composite feed to Dscaler. There was noise as before at the other chaps house but it was only particularly noticeable at times and even then it may be because of how quiet the background is on DVD. I’m confident this can be resolved. Neil’s TV feed to his VCR isn’t really the best as the room is for playing DVD’s so we couldn’t make too much of my time with these sources. I was very happy at the de-interlacing performance from Dscaler though.

    So I think I’ve made up my mind. DVD performance is startling from a picture quality point of view, better than any PC I’ve seen so far and all (bar the Interpolator) DVD/Scaler combo’s. I think it’s going to look great both aesthetically and in its performance. It’s functionality does everything I personally require and I think it’s going to be easy enough for Melanie to use once I’ve re-configured my Pronto. I’m going to get one of these things when it’s finished, which will hopefully be soon then I can find out about its audio performance!

    Really need to spend some time getting the 1270 ready in preparation.

    Hope some find this interesting.

    Gordon
     
  2. tryingtimes

    tryingtimes
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    This is also in Video Projectors
    Perhaps we should keep replies to one place (we all seem to own projectors so it may as well go on there!)
     
  3. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright
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    Yeah please refer to the duplicate post.
     
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