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Question for you experts

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by HSC, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. HSC

    HSC
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    Hi
    I originally posted the below question on the official Microsoft forums hoping to get an experts opinion - no responses materialised...:-(
    Should have better luck here.


    Since going to a home cinema show - it was very evident that the best DVD picture quality output to large screen projection systems was due to feed from inexpensive HTPCs (for my eyes even beating £2k+ standalone DVD players)

    From what I can understand this is due to the HTPC scaling (or de-interlacing...?) the DVD image to the native resolution of the projector (e.g. 1280x720 resolution resulting in DVD upscaled from 480i/576i to 720p). From searching the forums I hear this is called 1:1 pixel mapping and is acheived by using special software like TheaterTek DVD player and FFDShow...?

    I have also seen standalone DVD players that can upscale DVD to 720p (Denon & Pioneer) but I like the idea of an all in one DVD Server & media center (MCE looks fantastic) as I love my DVD, digital photo and music collection.

    A few questions for you experts please:
    1./ Can MCE deliver this kind of DVD quality (1:1) as I heard it was limited to 480p (NTSC, I am not sure if that applies to PAL 576..?). Please note that for DVD at least I am not too concerned about playing it via the MCE interface, but it would be more convenient. Perhaps running an MCE competitor along side it for DVD's.

    2./ I understand that TheaterTek is not on the MCE approved list..? Anybody using it anyway..? (again not necessariy within the MCE interface as I have a license for WinDVD6). Any issues with playing DVDs ripped to the hard drive. Im planning on installing at least 4x400Gb drives)

    3./ Is anyone using the Sweetspot RGB capture card on an MCE machine to upscale Sky via descaler..? (Sky's s-video output can then be used for the MCE interface via WinTV or something....) - in a two capture card configuration.

    Trying to achieve the best of both worlds between a HTPC and MCE....
    Is MCE best for me or should I dual boot with vanilla XP-Pro..?
    please advise

    thanks in advance
     
  2. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Hi :hiya:

    Can't say anything about MCE as I don't use it, but some general points may help and clarify the options:

    1) to be pedantic, normally the PC scales the resolution of a video stream (when played in full-screen mode, as is usually the case) to that of the desktop which is the resolution the display sees. When that is the same as the resolution of the display (projector/plasmas/whatever) you get 1:1 mapping. Such scaling will normally be carried out by the video card drivers if the video stream it's rendering isn't already pre-scaled.

    FFDSHOW is such a pre-scaler when used by a DVD player that knows how to use it, TheaterTek and ZoomPlayer are a couple that do, PowerDVD doesn't, I wouldn't know about WinDVD.

    The point here is that you will always get 1:1 mapping so long as you can configure your video card to the same resolution of the display, you don't need any special DVD player software .. the choice of player only comes in if you're wanting to use some sort of software scaler like FFDSHOW or DScaler.

    2) TT plays ripped DVDs is a couple of ways, either referencing the .IFO if you've ripped to a full tree, or by mounting and using a .ISO if that's how you store your ripped DVDs.

    Whether you use a friendly front-end like MCE or not is a matter of taste, convenience, technical ability of all those using it etc. I personally only ever play DVDs, so no PVR/TV/etc functionality is needed, I am thus happy to boot to the desktop and insert a DVD (or mount a ripped .ISO using Alcohol) and let auto-play do it's job. :)

    HTH.
     
  3. HSC

    HSC
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    Thanks for the reply - some more useful information
    anyone out there using MCE2005 that can share some insight...?
     
  4. stuartmc

    stuartmc
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    Few points that might help.

    1) MCE uses its own Player and won't use TT or ZP.

    2) MCE can't use Sweetspot as no MCE drivers exist.

    3) MCE as standard can only play ISOs or Ripped DVDs from disk. You need a small freeware add-in "My Movies" to do this.

    If you are using microsoft.public.windows.mediacenter I'm surprised you didn't get an answer as they are normally pretty responsive.
     
  5. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    I'd consider staying with XP pro adn using a third party front end like the excellent Xlobby...... This opens up a nice world of pick which bits you like to use for best effect rather than the great God Microsoft......
    Once you have caught this bug there is no going back..... Have a word with Phil Hale at UVEM, most demo's you see at shows use his kit especially SIM2......
     
  6. stuthemong

    stuthemong
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    a quick word about upscaling.

    you DVD will upscale a 420p signal (or whatever it is that it get) to fill its native resolution, and give 1:1 pixel mapping interntally. The thing is that FFDShow can use some far better image processing algorithms than a simple bilinear/bicubic upscale. This is where the quality improvement comes from, better upscaling, not some magic upscaling that didnt occur before.

    A lot of guys over on avsforums seem to use MCE. I have no experience of it (never even seen it working). I saw Xlobby working @ cedia, and it looked pretty cool - lovely interface.

    good luck!

    (and graham is right, it was the SIm stand i saw xlobby at :))
     
  7. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Just to clarify :) ...

    From what I've read on AVS, MCE is simply a sexier Media Player running under XP Pro. As such, as gigtek says, it has its' own built-in DVD player. However, you can exit that front-end and use any normal XP software, such as TheaterTek .. of course, it means you have to drive it 'by hand' as it were, the MCE GUI won't.
     

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