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Needed - crash course in connecting PC's to PAL TV's

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by MikeTV, Feb 1, 2003.

  1. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    Hi! I am familar with HTPC situation as it applies in the United States. However, I have recently moved to the UK, and I am very interested in the situation here. I need a crash course in how everyone is connecting their "HCPC's" to their PAL TV's. It's all so very different!

    In the US, I used the RGBHV output from the video card to connect directly to an NTSC RPTV (ie. using the PC as a progressive, scaled source). But what are people doing here? Can you do anything equivalent? I understand the differences between PAL and NTSC (sort of - I love digital PAL TV signals!). But I am confused as to whether you can send a progressive PAL signal to modern PAL TV's from a PC. Do you use component inputs, scart RGBS? Are convertors involved? Can you send a 100hz signal to a 100Hz TV? What resolutions do people use, and what are the results?

    To give you some background, I am currently displaying PAL digital cable signals on my NTSC HDTV (shipped from the US), using Dscaler, Powerstrip and multi-region DVD playback. The results are impressive, although obviously a limiting factor is the vertical resolution of the TV of 540p. Horizontal resolution is 1920, although I plan to experiment with 768 (or 1536), for sharpness with PAL sources.

    So, I'd be very interested to hear about your experiences in PAL land, and just to get idea of what people are up to.

    Cheers,

    Mike.
     
  2. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Mike: Most folk, if not all, using HTPC in UK will be sending interlaced PAL to it through composite or s-video output. Those using progressive output from video board will be using Plasma or projection devices. UK Direct view TV's do not have capability to show incoming progressive signal (well there are a couple of exceptions but they are rare). Your best solution is the one you are currently employing of using your HDTV set from US as a monitor.

    Gordon
     
  3. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    Thanks Gordon. That's interesting. I guess the latest high-end TV's (plasmas, lcd's) do/will natively support VGA sources anyway, and so perhaps there isn't the same need over here.

    I guess the impetus in the US arises from the availability of big screen HDTV's, but the lack of HDTV sources, and the "nastiness" of composite/interlaced DVD/video NTSC playback on these big screens. That's certainly the reason I started using a PC as a scaler.

    But with decent PAL sources, and especially digital, and scart RGB connections, I guess there isn't the same "night and day" difference, between interlaced versus progressive.

    For video capture, I am using composite (over s-video, as it happens), simply because that's what my cable box seems to output via scart - why is that!? Would there be much gain in converting the RGB output to Y/C s-video, using a convertor box? Or will it be marginal, since the soucre is good anyway?

    Thanks.
     
  4. bommaren

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    If you have S-video from your cable box, Then RGB to S-video Converter
    won't give you any improvement.
    I do not believe there are many capture cards that can accept RGB.

    Is it not Y/C via SCART? At least that is what I would expect it to be if
    the word S-video is mentioned!

    I believe that I have equipment that is
    near to the top end for quality of connectivity.

    I have a Panasonic 32PS20 which accepts progressive PAL via component connections.

    I can see a quality difference between my 2 DVD players,
    1 a Pioneer 340 with S-video via scart
    and a HCPC HTPC with Xcard and progressive PAL
    via component connections.

    There is a difference but you really have too look for it.

    In casual viewing you don't really see it. I mean if somebody comes to me and
    see my TV they don't go WOW I have never seen such a good picture.

    --B
     
  5. mephistopheles

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    Which cable/ which box?

    Normally, as I understand it, a cable company digital cable box outputs either composite or RGB via SCART, which is user selectable through the cable OSD 'TV Settings'. I believe some Sky satellite TV boxes (Sky+, I think) do output S-Video, however. No doubt someone will correct me if I got that wrong!

    You can convert an RGB signal to S-Video for HTPC capture (RGB HTPC capture is expensive by a huge margin), since composite is usually pretty lousy, but as bommaren said, if you already have S-Video out of your cable box somehow (or do you mean you have a composite signal through an S-Video connection?), there's no point; it's already done. Whatever you do with the signal after capture it is always going to be an S-Video source, though, and it is an inferior standard to RGB.

    If anyone knows how to capture RGB without shelling out for a Holo3D card, BTW, please let me know.

    You could always consider something like an iScan for de-interlacing/scaling and bypass the HTPC, or even one of the John Sim RGB -> component interfaces designed to connect to plasmas, if you don't mind interlaced fields (plasmas have progressive circuitry). You'd probably get better TV PQ on your HDTV that way, but no HTPC fun! You could still use your HTPC for DVD output and if you slipped in an Xcard (there's one for sale on the forum now) you could get progressive scan at HDTV standard via its component outs. I have one and recommend it on W98.

    Personally, I think it's a waste to buy a TV in the UK if you have cable or satellite, since you will only use it as a video monitor anyway and it is severely restricted as such. I use a 37" CRT monitor, which will accept 15KHz domestic RGB signals as well as HTPC VGA progressive scan up to 1280x1024. Most UK TV broadcasts are, I believe still 4:3 and so it's brilliant.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  6. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    Thanks for the helpful information.

    In my case, it's not Y/C over Scart, it is composite over s-video, for some reason. I was surprised by this too, because I had never heard of that. But the "DScaler" software supports it as a format, and so I guess it's not that uncommon. Maybe there is something in the s-video standard that allows composite over s-video, instead of y/c, for backward compatibility with older devices.

    Also, it could also be just a problem with my SCART breakout device. Because the cable box is scart, and the TV card needs s-video, I am using a "breakout" box which has composite and s-video outputs. But the s-video output is really a composite signal, not a Y/C signal.

    I have looked into component (RGB) capture myself, and came to the same conclusions - it's too expensive, for me.

    It sounds like the RGB convertor might improve picture quality a bit, but I'll know for sure if I try.

    It's interesting to learn that people are using monitors as TV's. I am surprised that the gains using progressive sources vs. interlaced are not more dramatic (they were obvious in the states). Worth remembering when I next go a/v shopping here.

    Thanks,

    Mike.
     

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