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Panasonic PT-AE100 and HTPC

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Hoglet, Feb 4, 2002.

  1. Hoglet

    Hoglet
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    There is an interesting thread developing on AVS concerning the PT-AE100:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=114257

    One comment worried me:

    Now, reading further it appears that Li On has not yet tried 848x480, but this got me thinking.

    How does the Panasonic differentiate between 640x480 and 848x480 signals, since both will have very similar video timings?

    One possibility is that this can be manually configured (ie with a horizontal size parameter)? Another possibility is that it assumes a 480p signal is 848 pixels wide. The third possibility (the worst) is that it assumes a 480p signal is 640 pixels wide.

    It is this final possibility that worries me. This would be like the situation with Sony's VW10HT, which will not support being driven at the native panel resolution from the VGA port.

    Has anyone tried 848x480 from a HTPC yet?

    Could someone with a manual have a look and see what resolutions and frame rates are supported natively?

    --- Dave
     
  2. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    How else can the pj interpret progressive DVDs, except as 640x480, then internally scale it to the full panel width? Isn't that the resolution of DVDs?

    The extra resolution from anamorphic DVDs is still represented within a 640x480 4:3 screen, just expanded horizontally on the display device, be it a direct view TV or projector.

    I don't have the manual anymore, so I can't help with timings, but the projector can definitely be driven at 848x480 (wSVGA)

    This should give you all the resolution you need if thats the way you want to go.
     
  3. Hoglet

    Hoglet
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    Richard,

    (Assuming the DVD is Anamorphic 16:9)

    If the DVD is NTSC format, then each frame will have a resolution of 720x480. If it is PAL format then each frame will have a resolution of 720x576.

    In both cases, having the PC scale the image down to 640x480 and then having the projector rescale it back up to 852x480 is definitely sub-optimal.

    If the projector will accept a 852(ish)x480 resolution signal from the PC then the scaling can happen once, in the PC, which is (arguably) the best place for it.

    The important thing here is that the projector can be persuaded to sample each horizontal line in 852 different places, and to map these samples directly to the display pixels.

    As an aside, the way the Sony VW11HT chooses between a 1024x768 signal and a 1366x768 signal is based on the frame rate. If the frame rate is 56Hz, then 1366x768 is assumed which fills thge whole panel. Otherwise, 1024x768 is assumes and you get a pillarboxed 4:3 image in the middle of the panel. This is driving people mad, because 56Hz is far from ideal, and introduces additional judder on pans.

    --- Dave
     
  4. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    But surely if the DVD player is outputting 720x480p, then the pj is doing the scaling, once, to 848 wide?

    Anyway, it can be driven directly at its native res, and Li on (very critical) seems to like it being driven well in RGB. I'm looking forward to his tests with an HTPC, and I hope he tests with interlaced S-Video too (my initial feed)
     
  5. Hoglet

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    The plot thickens....

    According to Li On:

    However he can't get the PJ to recognise this as anything other than standard VGA 640x480.

    It is possible to work out the number of horizontal lines and the width of each line in pixels by some division (assuming timings above are correct).

    The required number of horizontal lines is (30057/60.114) = 500.

    The requires number of pixels in each horizontal line is (31500/30.057) = 1048.

    So, you could try the following PowerStrip settings:

    856x480=856,56,64,72,480,2,6,12,31499,2054

    This breaks down to:

    Pixel Clock 31.499 MHz

    Horizontal:
    Scan rate 30.056KHz
    Active 856
    Front porch 56 pixels
    Sync width 64 pixels
    Back porch 72 pixels
    Total 1048 pixels

    Vertical
    Scan rate 60.112 Hz
    Active 480 lines
    Front porch 2 lines
    Sync width 6 lines
    Back porch 12 lines
    Total 500 lines

    Horizontal synch -
    Vertical synch -

    Note, I have only tested this on a monitor, so YMMV.

    ---Dave
     
  6. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    hopefully Li On will have got these numbers for powerstrip too and will test them tonight. Have you posted them in AVS forum for him?
     
  7. Hoglet

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    Yes, I posted a link back to this thread. He's got them and will be trying them in a few hours.

    ---Dave
     
  8. Stewart C

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    Make sure someone posts his results here because I think this would benefit alot of people on this forum too.

    Regards
     
  9. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    No luck with the timings for wSVGA. He's doing another test tonight.

    Seems to favour VGA inputs with a Hoya FLD filter.

    I personally think the downscaling is a red herring and its just the VGA input thats the killer - with more control over the colours (independent setting of R/G/B).

    I'll try and get clarification from Li On, as long as he doesn't bite my head off :)
     
  10. calibos

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    Which he did :D :mad: :D
     
  11. Hoglet

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    It's ironic (given Li On's attitude to newbies) that a newbie on AVS (Terence L) seems to be the first to get the AE100 to engage it's WIDE480 mode from the VGA input.

    He seems to have discovered a setting associated with the PC input of the projector called "priority" which he set to "wide".

    Can someone with a PJ or manual check if this setting is mentioned?

    [ or maybe I am just reading too much into his post ]

    --- Dave
     
  12. Li On

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    Hi richard,

    Sorry for sounding rude! Testing projector is bad for health! Sleeping at 3am and wake up at 7 for a week seems to add some attitude on me!

    Sorry again. It was not me. It was me with a projector! :)

    regards,

    Li On
     
  13. Hoglet

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    Here's some more information from Terence on AVS:
    My original question when starting this thread was to understand how the projector differentiates between the 640x480 and 856x480 mode. Looks like the answer is you tell it manually, by setting the PC PRIORITY or either NORMAL or WIDE. This is excellent.

    But lets wait and see what Li On has to say when he tries this tonight.

    ALso, thanks to Terence for the following scan of the manual page describing the signal modes the AE100 will accept.

    --- Dave
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Kramer

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    We have a new member on the forum!!!!!!!

    Welcome Li On.

    We had all better be careful what we say:D

    Good to know he's interested in what's said here, & I for one appreciate his comments/opinions?advice.:D :D :D
     
  15. Timh

    Timh
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    Iv'e just finished playing with my pc and Projector.
    I was running my Creative labs dxr3 dvd decoder card into the PJ.
    I tried it a couple of days ago but it looked crap! but I didn't know what I was doing.
    I have compared it to my dvd player via s-video.
    Chapter 3 on Jurassic park, the scene with the fat guy at the outdoor bar, in s-video people in the backgroung have pixelated faces, quite blury, there is also a wine couloured glass on the table, this had a ring around the edge.
    I then changed to the creative dxr3 on my pc, I had it set on Wide720 mode 1280 x 720 thats a class A in the handbook, AA being the best.
    The same chapter looked a lot cleaner, peoples faces were much sharper, no pixelation, the goblet also lost the ring around it.
    On the negative side, I could see vertical lines to the image, this is something which is probably down to the dxr3 card, I believe software players are much better.
    I will try Windvd at the weekend, but I am not expecting much, as I only have a AMD k6 333 proccessor :(
     
  16. Hoglet

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    Well, I now own a PT AE100 :D

    I went to the Shop@Panasonic in Gloucester this morning with my HTPC and demo'd for about two hours. The room was not completely dark, and we were projecting onto a white wall, but the picture looked very good. Less screen door than other SVGA projectors I have seen (Mitsubishi SL1U, Hitachi CP-S225). Got it for a great price and no dead pixels.

    Anyway, I can confirm that the PowerStrip settings I posted above work, as long as you have gone into the OPTIONS menu and set PRIORITY to WIDE. I'll post my final settings for WIDE480 and WIDE720 tomorrow.

    It's also worth adjusting the CLK PHASE setting on the projector - if this is slighly out you will get increased video noise. This setting is only applicable to the PC input.

    I also plan to experiment with the 1920x1080i 50Hz mode. This will possibly result in smoother pans for PAL discs, depending on whether or not the actual panel LCD refresh is fixed (at 60Hz) or variable (uncommon). I'll try to post some results soon.

    Bottom line, I'm very pleased with the picture, more detailed review later.

    --- Dave
     
  17. Timh

    Timh
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    Hoglet

    I have downloaded powerstrip, but it doesn't work, my monitor goes blue with lines down the side.
    I do have the latest drivers for my creative gforce mx200 32mb card.
    Any idea's?
     
  18. Hoglet

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    Hi Timh,

    Can you give a bit more information please:

    What OS?

    What video driver version?

    At what point did PowerStrip actually screw up your display? Was this when you were trying add a custom resolution, straight away after install etc.

    Did the monitor loose sync, or did the colours just get screwed up?

    I've used PowerStrip sucessfully on Radeons and on a Creative GeForce 2 GTS. Never had a problem.

    You might also want to check the PowerStrip forums to see if anyone else is having similar problems:

    http://pub28.ezboard.com/fentechfrm1

    --- Dave
     
  19. calibos

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    I downloaded powerstrip last night and was able to create custom resolution according to Li On's instructions. The only thing was that one or two of the settings were slightly different eg .37.078 instead of 37.08. I wonder if this will make a difference? Anyway I have a Geforce3 Ti200 with the latest Detonator 23.11 drivers which accepted the custom resolution. On my monitor it looked like a slightly rectangular version of 640x480. Maybe it didn't look 16:9 because the I have the Horiz and Vert stretch set differently on my monitor. Cant say how this looks on the panny cause I wont get mine for another 3 days, 5 hours, 23 minutes & 15secs:D :D
     
  20. Anim

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    Hoglet, please post that detailed review :)

    As a noob in the PJ world I would like to know how much a difference using a HTPC is compared to using s-Video or compared to composite. If the picture is twice as clear and feels more 3D then I will invest the time setting something up.

    Thanks
    Anim
     
  21. Timh

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    Hi Hoglet

    When launching powerstrip it goes straight to a blue screen, and lock's up.
    I am using MS win98 second addition.
    I am using the latest creative drivers, but I just thought about nvidia drivers, I am in the middle of downloading them, hopefully this may work.
    I wonder if my creative dxr3 dvd playback card is screwing it up :confused:
    I have tried wide720 1280 x 720 into the PJ the image quality was a huge jump with the dxr3, but I had faint vertical lines which I put down to the dxr3 card, I will try software playback eventually, I believe it is far superior to the dxr3.
    I now want to try wide480 856 x 480 the PJ's panel resolution.

    Thank's for any help :)
     
  22. Hoglet

    Hoglet
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    Here are my final WIDE480 and WIDE720 PowerStrip settings.

    PowerStrip timing parameters:
    856x480=856,40,72,80,480,4,5,11,31500,342

    PowerStrip timing parameters:
    1280x720=1280,56,120,240,720,4,6,20,76500,342

    You should just be able to cut and paste these in.

    I failed with the HDTV50 (1920x1080i 50Hz) settings. I hit the dredded radeon virtual desktop problem. I'll read up on this on AVS and try again.

    Tim, I think you are heading in the right direction by trying the NVidia drivers and pulling out the DXR3 card. I can't think of anything else to suggest.

    Anim, I haven't had time to even try the S-VHS input. I should get a chance to play some more tomorrow evening.

    --- Dave
     
  23. Anim

    Anim
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    Ok, thanks for keeping us updated.

    Anim
     
  24. Hoglet

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    I've had the AE100 for about a day now, and my initial impressions are still pretty positive. I'll post this review in two parts. The first part will cover details of the setup. The second part will cover my subjective comments on the picture quality.

    The room we're using is about 18 feet by 20 feet into a bay, with lightish walls and a beige carpet and curtains. The screen is sited in the bay and is a 6 foot wide portable Draper Diplomat (tripod mounted). This has a matte white surface.

    The projector is sat on a low coffee table, about 9 feet from the lens to the screen. We were watching from a sofa about 14 feet from the screen. The screen was placed so no keystone correction was needed.

    The only source we've tried so far is the HTPC. This is a dedicated machine, based on a TUSL2-C motherboard, a 900 MHz Celeron, a Radeon 7200 video card, and a SB Live Value sound card. It's running Win98 SE, Powerstrip, Girder, DVD Region Killer and TheaterTek (TT) 1.1 (build 65). TT is running in hardware mode, with the de-interlace set to weave. We have been running almost entirely in the WIDE480 (856x480 60Hz) mode.

    The video controls on both the projector and TT were left at their default values. I checked the calibration using the THX Opimizer on The Phantom Menace, and the defalt brightness and contrast seemed OK. I'd like to get hold of the AVIA disc in the future.

    I use a test bitmap, created by Mark Rehjon, as my windows background. It was designed to help you synchronize the projector and PC pixel clocks to get perfect pixel mapping. If the pixel clock setting in Powerstrip is incorrect, you see really bad banding (caused by aliasing) in the part of the image that is made up of alternating black and white vertical lines.

    See this thread on AVS for more details:
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=90884

    Initially some video noise was present on the checker board part of the pattern. Adjusting the CLK PHASE setting on the projector helped eliminate this. I had to re-adjust a couple of times over the course of the day, so I guess there must be some slight clock drift going on.

    Finally, as most of my DVDs are PAL with 2.35:1 aspect ratio (AR), I set up a custom aspect ratio in TT which blew up the image to 1024x576 of which only the middle 856x480 is visible. I did this for two reasons: (1) to loose most of the letterboxing of 2.35:1 material, and (2) so that no vertical scaling was required for PAL material. The downside is you loose the left and right extremes of the image.

    ... to be continued
     
  25. Timh

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    Hoglet

    Intersting read, you mention banding, I got this with my dxr3 in wide720 mode, it looked great apart from the banding, I didn't know about adjusting the pc pixel clock's, I will have to give it a go.

    Still no joy with powerstrip :( I have done all the above.
     
  26. Hoglet

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    Now for some subjective performance comments. Please bear in mind that I am not a projector expert.

    [ The other projectors I've seen recently were:
    - Sony VPL-VW11HT
    - Toshiba MT3
    - Sim2 HT200DM
    - Davies (forget which model)
    - Mitsubishi SL1U
    - Hitachi CP-S225W ]

    I've watched bits of the following DVDs over the last day:

    - The Phantom Menace
    - Tomb Raider
    - The Mummy (actually watched all of this one)
    - The Mummy Returns
    - A Bugs Life
    - Star Trek Insurrection
    - Final Fantasy (NTSC)
    - Rush Hour
    - Mission Impossible II

    So finally, some performance comments.

    Screen door - at about 2.5 screen widths the pixels are just visible if the focus is spot on. Defocussing slightly helps, but leaves the image slightly soft looking. I guess the visible pixel structure creates an illusion of detail where actually there isn't any. Bits of sky seem to be the worst. I noticed this a couple of times during the desert scenes in The Mummy. But, given the projector panels are only slightly wider than SVGA, I was pretty impressed. Definitely better than the Hitachi CPS-225W and the Mitsubishi SL1U.

    Panel uniformity - some people on AVS have reported that grey images don't look uniformly grey across the panel. I tried setting the projector to display grey when there was no signal. I looked hard and the grey seemed very consistent, right out to the corners.

    Fan noise - probably the quietest projector I have heard. The fan was only noticable during very quiet bits, and then only if you really listened for it.

    Brightness - I've been running on low lamp mode (which is quieter) and the brightness is fine, as long as the room is blacked out. During the day, even with the curtains shut, the room is quite light and the image looks washed out. Going to high lamp mode didn't help. I'll be investing in black out blinds!

    Contrast - not great. The contrast on the Sony VPL-VW11HT and the Mitsubishi SL1U were better. I am actually a little disappointed with the contrast. Blacks are definitely dark grey, not black. A good example was Laura shorts at the start of Tomb Raider.

    Colours - I though the colours were excellent. A Bugs Life was very vibrant. Generally, skin tones seem very realistic. The red motorbike in Mission Impossible II was definitely red, not orange. The start of Final Fantasy was amazing.

    Noise, Artifacts, Judder etc - the image is very clean looking, with very little video noise. I tried a couple scenes that seem to be good for exposing de-interlacing artifacts: these are at the start of The Mummy and at the start of Star Trek Insurrection. These looked very good indeed, but remember the HTPC is doing the de-interlacing, not the projector. I'll try a comparision tomorrow using my DVD player and S-VHS. These scenes also contain long slow pans, which were surprisingly smooth considering the refresh rate is 60Hz.

    The only film I've watched all the way through so far was The Mummy. Apart from very occasional screen door, I really enjoyed the experience. There were even periods where I stopped looking for image problems and just watched the film. Inspite of the contrast not being great, there was plently of detail in the shadows. But that's my subjective comment, not having watched the film before, and not having ever viewed a well setup CRT.

    Bottom line - I'll be keeping the projector for the time being. Projector technology is moving so fast at the moment that I could not justify spending £4,000-£5,000 just to see it obsoleted within 18 months. I wanted to spend as little as possible, get an OK image, low fan noise and short throw. For the money (£1,425), the AE100 is amazing. Will it beat a £4,000 Sony or Toshiba? In my view definitely not, but who cares?

    I also really liked the Mitsubishi SL1U, which I think had better contrast but worse screen door than the AE100. The killer was the long throw, which just did not work me. If I put it in front of me, the image was too small. Behind me and it was way too big. If I had tried to mount it on the ceiling the other half would have lynched me :eek:.

    I hope this has been useful.

    --- Dave
     
  27. Moto

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    Dave thanks for taking the time to give us your comments

    How would you say it compared to the Toshiba MT3?

    Have you seen the Infocus LP-350 as i have seen this available for £1797 + VAT (Refurbed)

    Unlike yourself i will have to keep the projector for a number of years 4-5+ so wouldn't mind spending a little extra for the XGA.

    Any thoughts?

    thnx

    Andy
     
  28. Hoglet

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    Moto,

    I preferred the AE100 to the Toshiba MT3 I saw, which had lots of noise in the form of vertical lines (not screen door). However, the MT3 was the first projector I saw (about 4 months ago) and I now believe it was not well setup. In particular, given its position relative to the screen it must have had tons of digital keystone correction turned on. I think this was probably the source of the
    vertical interference patterns, because I saw something similar with the Mitsubish SL1U. Since then I have always checked for keystone. I believe the MT3 has been replaced by the MT4 (also SVGA) which is shorter throw and cheaper.

    I have briefly seen the Infocus LP-350 - if you're sensitive to rainbows then you'll hate it. Don't buy a DLP without checking first!

    If you want to spend a bit more, check out the Panasonic PT-L702E. This is generating alot of interest on AVS - in the US it's called the PT-L701XU. Several UK AV distributors seem to be suggesting it. It's XGA, 500:1 contrast, ultra quiet and short throw. I believe Joe Fernand (a forum member) and owner of The Media Factory in Edinburgh recommends these. Maybe he can comment. Best price I've seen is Joe (£2,092 + VAT). It's about to be discontinued by Panasonic, so there may be some good deals. Unfortunately, I could not find anyone able to do a demo one until the end of Feb.

    --- Dave
     
  29. Moto

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    Thanks once again dave for your input

    I'll be having a look at the AE-100 tomorrow hopefully, i think i'll be hanging back from buying immediately, because i want to make sure i don't waste money on something that as you say may be obsolete within a year or 2. Although saying that the AE-100 is only £1400 and for that price who could complain. (it's cheaper than some of the normal tv's (CRT))

    Ah decisions decisions there's just too many projectors available and of different sorts. Makes it very hard to decide.

    If there was just 1 place that had all the various projectors available to demo which didn't put a massive overhead on them it would make it far easier to decide.

    Thnx

    Andy
     
  30. Jones_Rush

    Jones_Rush
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    Hoglet, thanks for the informative review!.
    It's interesting you found the contrast to be lacking. Maybe it was also the fault of your screen, or maybe something else ?, when Li On did an A/B comparison between the AE100 and LT150 (which has better contrast than the 11HT), he found the black levels and shadow detail to be too close to tell which is better. I'll have to ask him to comment about it.
    I wonder how much help a Stewart Firehawk (or other gray screen) and color filter will do to the contrast...
     

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