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Prog Scan Scalers Iscan Vs media PC

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by richard@@, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. richard@@

    richard@@
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    Could someone offer some advice please .. Currently I have a panasonic
    th42pwd4 plasma which has analog only inputs. All sources are currently
    progressively scanned via a TagMclaren DVD32 with PSM192 that feeds the
    component inputs on the screen ( It also has VGA inputs)

    I am considering replacing the DVD32 / PSM & would like some advice on the
    most cost effective & future proof way to maintain or improve on the
    quality that I have enjoyed to date. The sources it would need to deal with
    are Sky digital, DVD player, PS2 & possibly VHS

    The products I have heard good things about are the DVDO ISCAN HD series,
    perhaps partnered with a Denon 3910 or 2910...
    Would an SDI modificiation be of benefit if the ultimate signal path is
    analogue? How does this compare with the other existing ways to connect
    these : dvi or component....

    Interms of connecting to the plasma, which offers the best quality
    component or VGA ?


    An alternative I am thinking of, is a home theatre PC such as a Uvem,
    which also offers prog scan to its own internal sources, as well as a
    variety of external ones..
     
  2. Welwynnick

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    Er - why would you want to change?
     
  3. richard@@

    richard@@
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    It Prog Scans my current analogue video sources very well, but gives no scope for digital video inputs ( I am also considering SDI mods to my Sky Box & possible future DVD).

    Additionally the DVD 32 is great for CD / DVD playback only, but it doesnt touch MP3 / DVD-A/ SaCD & cannot be upgraded for blu-ray etc

    An additional reason for considering a Media Centre PC is that it would also give me greater flexibility with Multi Room & would allow me to replace other equipment such as a CD recorder & Panasonic DMR HS2 HDD/DVD recorder & would give more flexibility than the 80 gb total I currently have in Sky + & DMR HS2.

    I also understand that DVDO who make the IScan used to be Silicon Image who mad3 the chip that the Tag-Mclaren PSM module uses..... So are there improvements there?

    So I guess my question still stands... 2005 : Home theater PC versus more traditional AV.....

    The PC gives me more flexibiliy & future proofing.... but is the quality as good
    pound for pound ?
     
  4. Liam @ Prog AV

    Liam @ Prog AV
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    PC vs Scaler decision is something you will need to think about relevant to your own needs. As you identify - the PC has other advantages over image quality (recording functions, media library, web-access etc) although I would say pound for pound the scaler will give the better image and is more reliable when it comes to such things booting up first time, every time!

    I'm not a big Denon fan to be honest, I get much better results from Arcam or Pioneer players. The Arcam is my preferred for sure, but the Pioneer has all the various formats covered. Both can be SDI modified which is beneficial as each step in the signal chain is lossy, to remove a d-a and a-d step between the scaler and player gives the scaler a far better chance at doing a good job with the picture (the difference is massive, even with analogue output). It also means you don't have HDCP issues to contend with, and by using SDI connections on your processor the DVI/HDMI ones are still left clear for future HD-DVD and Sky HD etc. Unfortunately you can't expect your next player to be upgradeable to Blu-Ray or HD-DVD formats.

    Onto the processor itself, we just about always install Lumagen products. With 2 DVI inputs which are able to process interlaced or progressive, SD or HD material, the connectivity question is already answered. VisionDVI and VisionHDP can have 2 SDI inputs added to cover your Sky and DVD requirements. I'm not sure I would bother modding the Sky box unless you really watch a lot of Sky or the budget can easily afford it (i.e. if Sky SDI mod means sacrifices elsewhere, I would likely assign the budget elsewhere first).

    The best connection to your plasma will then be RGBHV (either by VGA or 5 BNC connections) at exactly the right resolution for your screen (852x480). This means no scaling or deinterlacing is being carried out by the screen, the processor will do it all.
     
  5. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Richard

    ask many people the same question and get many different answers..

    I would disagree with the above..it is a very telling difference in quality, and depending on what your current setup is (ie if you already have a v1 box and are handy at soldering) then it is a very cheap upgrade.Of course if you want an off the shelf SDI Sky box, then it is more expensive, but I *presume* that you watch more more Sky than DVD..if not then I will 'get my coat' :)

    PC versus Video Processor is a complex one..as Liam says, you get more reliability from a single-purpose device, but if you are prepared to treat your PC as a single-purpose device also (locked down, stripped out config purely for media purposes, no surfing/email/web) then it can be very reliabile also... Off the shelf from the specialist builders, then it will be "expensive", as you are paying for the expertise of the retailer to set it up so that it is fully reliable.You can do this yourself of course much, much cheaper, but you have to be prepared / willing and enjoy spending the time fettling. If you do, then you can get very close to high end video processing on a tight budget...
     
  6. Liam @ Prog AV

    Liam @ Prog AV
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    We're going to have to agree to disagree David. Running RGB input on the scaler compared to SDI, only the higher bitrate channels are going to show any amount of significant quality increase. Once both inputs are properley setup to maximise the image quality achievable that is.

    This is why I say "worth it if the budget easily affords it" - at a maximum cost of £500 if it means sacrificing £500 worth of DVD budget (which is at less than £1000 if we're talking 2910/3910) then I would have absolutely no doubt in skipping the SDI mod to the Sky box. I'm sure you would too (unless you are mad). You also have to remember we're talking a 42" plasma not an 8ft CRT image so subtle improvements are going to a be a little tricky to make out...

    Richard - I advise a quick forum search on SDI Sky boxes for real user opinions, most people who have had it done would likely recommend the same as I have. I should know, I installed a bunch of them!!
     
  7. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    richard@@

    I'd suggest you hang on to the TAG player - ditch the PSM192 and run the Interlaced YUV into a decent external Video Processor.

    As a video transport the TAG ticks all the relevant boxes and its YUV output is very good - calibrated and configured correctly its not far from as good as you can get as a transport for DVD.

    For playback of SACD, DVD-A, MP3 I'd add in a Pioneer or similar player that doesn't cost a fortune and again run Interlaced Video into an external Video Processor.

    As the others have said SDI for SKY has plus and minus points - the biggest minus being cost; especially if you plan to be an early adopter of SKY HD.

    Keep in mind your Display is not HDCP compliant so once you start to add in HD signals (with HDCP) your going to have to work out how to 'break' the HDCP encryption - SKY HD will allow you to use YUV for a while but no promises that all content will be available on the YUV output.

    As for which Video Processor then Lumagen, DVDO and Crystalio should all be in the frame - though the Lumagen VisionHDP and NEW DVDO iScanVP30 are looking like the best 'Value for Money' options.

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  8. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    A word about the component output of the DVD32R. It is excellent. At Event1 we played the component output of said device in to a hi end scaler against the SDI output of a relatively expensive Japanese DVD player that was sdi modded. The display was a 9" crt(Barco Cine9). If anyone is going to be able to see a difference it's going to be with one of these.....I gave up doing the demo as hardly anyone could see what the fuss was about. If I paused the disc and showed certain parts you could see extra sharpness. On a 42" plasma I wouldn't be in a hurry to ditch the TAG if you want best iimage quality. if you want to be able to deal with HD and other sources then Joe's idea is probably a good one.

    The analogue outputs of the Sky boxes are variable. The difference of SDI on these things can be quite apparent but you need a larger higher def display imho and you need to be aware that the extra cost can be significant for that last 10-5% of performance.

    Gordon
     
  9. richard@@

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    Hi Gents

    Thanks for the comments. I'll endeavour to respond to the various queries that were raised :

    The main source is the Sky+, which we use as our TV tuner. As a family, we watch DVDs about 2 -3 times a week. I'm definitely interested in maintaining / improving quality here.

    I don't plan on being an early adopter as far as Hi Def is concerned. I can't help but feel that if you can't timeshift or record from it, then it's only likely to be of use in big screen sports pubs, that show the big match live on big screens. Realistically, I can only see myself going down this route once the whole HD-DVD / blu-ray format war comes to some sort of resolution & prices have started to fall....

    I have got to admit I am very tempted by the idea of a Media Centre PC, which would be used purely for AV as against email & the web.

    I have a version 1 Sky + box & am not particularly experienced with a soldering iron. I am not envisaging that this would be an immediate big-bang upgrade : rather any SDI mod to the Sky box would be in the future....
     
  10. Chris5

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    I think an SDI moded sky+ box into a dvdo hd+ is much sharper, clearer, and much less musshy than using RGBs into HD+ (I have one). Having said that, with skyHD only 12 months away, if you ain't rich then the upgrade is debatable. If you have the cash then do it.

    ps I Hope the cheque is in the post Dave :D
     
  11. charker

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    I have a SKY SDI modded box plugged into a HD+ with both SDI and RGB.

    It is swings and roundabouts, the SDI input looks slightly sharper than the RGB which is great when the signal warrants it but given 90% of SKY broadcasts are damned awful the slightly softer RGB picture sometimes looks as good if not better.

    I am looking at the VP30 because it offers a way of scaling SKY-HD analog to native plasma resolution over analog component. It does not allow SKY-HD over DVI to be scaled and output over analog though, because of HDCP.

    Cliff
     
  12. Kenny Glasgow

    Kenny Glasgow
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    Richard@@

    Go with the advice from Joe & Gordon :thumbsup: I have the FLR version of the DVD32 and decided against the PSM and will go down the Lumagen route.

    You'll be pressed to find a better transport than the TAG for audio AND video. If you want SACD, DVD-A and MP3 playback then buy a cheap Pioneer to handle them.
     

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