Philips DVD737 black level and DAC

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Zacabeb, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    Hi everybody!

    Now I have finally gotten a standalone DVD player, after having used a Hollywood Plus card, a PlayStation2 and an Xbox for playing DVD's and gotten tired of each for obvious reasons.

    So I bought a standalone DVD player, one that I can afford at this time. Namely a Philips DVD737.

    The only thing so far that puzzles me is the black level. Assuming that everything else I connect through RGB (PlayStation2, Xbox, Dreamcast, DTV receiver) has a black level of 0V (50Hz output), the DVD737 has a black level above normal. Black is dark gray. And the question I have is if it is normal for a Philips DVD player, because I have a theory and I think I've heard about this stuff before.

    My theory is that since PAL does not have any black pedestal, blacker-than-black is illegal by the standard. Yet, the DVD737 passes PLUGE. And added together, I think the black level is set above normal to allow passing PLUGE without going below 0V. How useful is it not to be able pass PLUGE, so that one can very precisely compensate for the error in black level caused by the ability to pass PLUGE? Genius.

    There is no menu option to change this though, because the menu is stupified. Philips believe that makes it easier to manage for people in general, yet they don't hesitate to call the Dolby Surround downmix option Lt/Rt. I know exactly what that means, but most people wouldn't, and so I think it's lame of Philips not to dare add a black level adjustment.

    I might be wrong, but what would I not give to have absolute control of my player. Aside from money that I don't have, I mean.

    I have another question too. Philips say they use a '4x Upsampling Filter'. Is that their way of saying they're using a 54MHz video encoder? I would be surprised if they did in a player this cheap, but maybe I'm still living in 1999. :p
     
  2. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    Never mind, I'm probably going to return this player.

    I tried playing some audio CD's and put in Moby's self-titled debut album. The DVD737 couldn't recognize it, which is pretty *any swearword of choice* weird, but what infuriates me is that it wouldn't let me eject the disc or even power off, and it just kept running for about a minute until it reset and tried all over again, but still could not eject the disc or be turned off. I had to pull the plug, put it back in, power the machine on and fast as *any other suitable cussing* eject the disc. I can't accept that, and my experience with Philips is that they do not fix problems. Ever.

    I can't sleep tonight.

    Let me list my Philips experience:

    ~1989: 15" TV set bought. €200
    Front panel buttons get stuck when swapping channels.

    ~1991: Midi stereo system bought. €500
    EQ unit smells funny. I open it and find that it's a mess, with poor quality components, dried out cabling and stray strands of wire sticking out of the connecting block between the power cord and transformer block, close to the metal bottom of the casing. I cut the hazardous strands but decide no to use the EQ ever again.

    I open the 3-way speakers because they too sound weird and find they do not have any real crossover filter.

    ~1992: 41" RPTV bought. €1500.
    Maintenance cost over 10 years (including coolant replacement every 9 months): €800

    ~1992: High-end MatchLine VHS VCR bought. €800
    Lousy picture quality, and I'm the last one to admit it until I'm laughed at by others for spending that much money on such a poor VCR.

    ~1993: After the VCR's front panel detaches and falls off, I face four months of having the VCR waiting in a Philips certified service center for a friggin plastic hinge to arrive. I force the shop to replace the VCR with a more expensive Hitachi, paying the additional cost myself €300

    ~1997: I replace the Hitachi with a Philips VR969. €900
    It does not record and play back S-VHS properly, it's extremely noisy, even on broadcast grade Maxell tape, and this is a brand new, supposedly clean VCR. I get the store to replace it. Same problem. I send it in for repair. It only gets worse.

    ~2001: The RPTV dies after 10 years of use (and constant repair). I buy a 32PW8707 set. It has severe geometry errors. Philips customer service don't give a damn. I get the set upgraded at my own expense to a 32PW9616, spending three months on investigating its performance and construction.

    The set delivered contains different components than Philips claim, including a Panasonic Quintrix F tube that's damaged. Philips don't give a damn. €2100

    ~2002: I buy a Philishave Sensotec for €150. No problems yet, whatsoever. :confused:

    ~2003: I decide to go for a standalone DVD player and choose the Philips DVD737. Rest of story listed above. £200

    So I've spent €8050 on Philips products in the last decade, but taking inflation into account, even more than that. I don't know why I'm so damn followed by misfortune when buying stuff, but I do know why I did not desert Philips years ago: because I'm a total idiot.
     
  3. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    And so today, the player goes back to the store. I tried again to put this CD in and again, the DVD737 froze. To hell with Philips.
     
  4. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    I got the player swapped, but this new one is not region free even though I paid extra for it. I'm going to return it after christmas, and then I'm going to burn all my electronic stuff and become a hippie instead.

    I discovered even more problems with the DVD737. The picture is shifted out of position vertically... but it's hard to judge by the THX optimizer patterns.

    The wiseguys at THX don't know their stuff, which is proven by the fact that the circles in their Optimizer test patterns have an incorrect aspect ratio (they apparently don't know that PAL has an active area of 702 pixels as not 711 as in NTSC, but they probably don't know that either).

    I've got to get my homemade test patterns burned onto a DVD by someone so I can test things out for real, and get a real calibration DVD's for testing stuff. The PAL version of the THX optimizer is incorrect and therefore useless.

    Edit: I found that it's not the DVD737's fault at all that the picture is shifted. It's the entire picture area in 'Attack of the Clones' that is not centered but offset by at least 8 pixels, pretty much like the THX optimizer. I guess it's just part of the 'flexibility' of THX Digital Mastering, or they are trying to create a whole new TV standard for us. :rolleyes:
     
  5. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    I take it that the lack of contribution to this thread by others is either because it's christmas, or because it's laughable I bought a Philips DVD player to begin with, and noone wants to say anything out of fear they won't be able to keep their faces straight for long.

    But I have something important to add: The Philips DVD737 is faulty by design. I found out now what is causing everything; the erroneous black level, the banding; the whole lot. And it doesn't look like it's something Philips would fix.

    Philips have added their Smart Picture feature to this DVD player. Like in their TV sets, it means messing around with contrast and brightness to make it look k3wL to the regular bunch of idiots that do supermarket A/V shopping. This is indeed a supermarket player.

    So, in this player, black is never at 0V, and white is probably never at 0.7V either. It's always at arbitrary levels chosen by Philips. And that's not all. This messing about with the video levels is not done by the built-in 12-bit DAC of the Vibratto-S chip they're using. It's done by the core, in 8-bit resolution.

    So no matter how you fiddle with the settings, black and white will always be wrong, and there will always be banding caused by rounding errors. That is, unless you find one of the 'magic' settings of brightness and contrast where the entire picture is decreased perfectly in depth to 7 bits. Then of course the picture will be poor anyway, and you'll have to compensate for the washed out look with the controls on your display.

    Stay away from the Philips DVD737!
     
  6. Bigby

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    Hi Zacabeb

    I have the 737 - seems to be rather rare - and am pleased with it so far.

    The dvd quality is certainly better than my old player, and the divx/xvid compatability is better than the Kiss player I have tried before.

    Can you describe how to easily spot the black level (and other) errors you mention?

    Regards,

    Soren - Denmark
     
  7. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    Well, that was some time ago and since then, Philips released a firmware upgrade that fixed those problems. The picture does not appear to be shifted anymore either, but I'm not entirely sure of that.

    The firmware in my player is now version 4.1.35, and Philips have a version 4.1.36 for download.

    To check the firmware version, you enter the setup menu, then press STOP, |<<, >>| in sequence. The firmware version then appears at the bottom of the menu. If you bought the player later than I did, you probably got a more recent firmware than was in my player and never had to suffer those problems. It seems that the firmware used in the batch of players I got mine from was broken.

    The black level problems were quite obvious, black was dark gray and white was light gray, making the picture look very washed out. There was also obvious "patching" between colors, easily visible in backgrounds on animated films. Those problems were most definitely fixed in later firmware.

    I'm quite content with the player nowadays, although I'm planning to upgrade to get DVD-Audio and SACD. Even then, I will probably keep this player. :)
     

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