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Saw a Rock.....

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, Aug 3, 2001.

  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    ust a short note about my viewing of the Rock. Some of you may be aware I was down in London on Sunday/Monday/Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday were business. The Tuesday being the launch of Christie Digital's (Electrohome) partnership with Marata Vision for Home Theater projection. I'll post about that in a seperate thread.

    On Sunday though I popped in to see Neil Jenkins and have a look at a Rock. First off let me say that Neil is a TOP host. I was knackered, sweating and disheveled after a 5 hr drive and his first words were "Can I get you a cold beer?" Excellent..........

    We had a couple of other things to chat through and it was late by the time we managed to get round to looking at the Rock. As I'd never seen an HTPC working Neil knocked one of those together out of some bits so I could get an idea of how it compared. Once again it should be noted this is not exhaustive just some initial impressions.

    It's a bigger box than I was expecting. Then again it's based on PC architecture so you'd expect it to come in a PC size case I suppose, and it does. It has some great great features. Chroma delay is very useful for a start. It's aspect ratio control is good but the ace in the hole are the multitude of output resolutions and scan rates. We compared 72Hz refresh to normal 60Hz with NTSC material to see if it really does reduce judder. It does, although stangely it doesn't elminate it. In sections of a film where previously it was obvious and annoying it now becomes less obvious but still there in parts. This is something I'd like to investigate I suspect it's because it shouldn't be 72 Hz but some strange figure of 71.xxxxxxxHz. Neil played a piece from Toy Story 2 for this dem, that showed it up well. The Star Trek Insurrection scene did too.

    I'm pretty sure we only watched NTSC film based material so de-interlacing is based on that. The two torture tests we used were Gladiator,"battle of carthage" and the aforementioned Star Trek. Gladiator fared very very well. Only falling down at two sections. They are further in to the scene than I usually go though so I need to check on other units how this compares.

    Star Trek however didn't do as well as we had hoped. I was actually surprised and somewhat disappointed by this. Again I need to go away and re-check with my reference but I felt that even the Skyworth pulled the de-interlacing of that scene off better, as did the Vigatec VC1280. The smooth panning of the camera was much improved though due to the 72Hz refresh. We tried this scene on the HTPC. I found my perception of the level of detail in the image on thes two scenes was higher on the HTPC. They both performed identically on de-interlacing though.

    The only other weird thing that came up is that the Rock doen't auto detect the incoming video standard. So if you've been watching a region 1 DVD and you switch to a region 2 one or to normal TV then you need to go and tell it to expect a PAL signal. If you have a learning remote with macro facilities I believe you could have NTSC and PAL buttons but the fact you have to do it means it's not seamless in operation as every other scaler or de-interlacer I've used is.

    The Rock intruiged me. For those wanting close to HTPC performance without the hassle then it could be a go-er. From an installer's point of view the inability to auto detect PAL and NTSC is a big problem for me......perhaps they'll fix it in the Rock +.

    Gordon

    <br />May I point out that in my day job I work for a company that sells the "competition" to the Rock. IE The VigatecVC1280. <br />My own consultancy Convergent-AV supplies Quadscan's (the device that caused TAW to develop the Rock, I believe)<br />If you are considering a hi-end scaler then you should seek one out and dem it for yourself...along with some of the competition.
     
  2. Rob

    Rob
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    Interesting,

    Looking forward to seeing one of these, after all the hype. Not long now though...

    Regards Rob.
     
  3. Boris Blank

    Boris Blank
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    The Rock's biggest advantage over an HTPC is that it can take sources other than DVD and produce a very good picture plus its less hassle to use. Other than that an HTPC is a pretty much its equal.

    The biggest problem the Rock has is its price - its simply not worth $5000. For a tenth of that (ok, say £500 which is a little bit more!) you can have a dedicated HTPC. Once you get to grips with YXY etc its a doddle to use. The picture I conjured up from my HTPC was breathtaking - non-anamorphic discs which I could barely even watch on my telly were simply gorgeous on my 9ft screen!

    Now I admit to being a "the less boxes the better" type of person so I've now given up on HTPC (for now anyway) and although I've been lately tempted by the Rock, your comments make me fully realise why I eventually decided against it - its performance doesn't in any way justify the premium price, its an HTPC in wolfs clothing, pure and simple.

    Its disappointing that this "for the masses" product has now almost tripled in price from its original quoted price when it was initially being hyped - sorry marketed. Touting it as being cheaper than the competition is scant excuse for hiking the price every other week when PC part prices are falling like rocks (no pun intended)! The sad thing is, if they kept the price down to begin with it would have sold by the lorry load!

    I'm off, I'm beginning to sound like an Ellie fanatic! Parting words - I love the idea of the Rock but hate the fact that its been portrayed as the holy grail at a reasonable price, its neither.<br />Regards,<br /> Paul
     
  4. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Do we know which de-interlacing algorithm the rock was running?

    I take it Neils is virtually un changed from when he has bought it, is this a correct assumption or has the upgrade bug bitten?
     
  5. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright
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    Having seen both I have to say that I prefer a PC. The picture is just a little better. Not much in it, though.<br />For someone like me who uses DVD only (so the other inputs advantage of the Rock are not an issue) and doesn't have a family wanting to use it aswell, a HCPC is preferable and as been said, a lot cheaper.<br />Maybe he lowering proces of PC hardware will bring the price of the Rock down?
     
  6. Jenz

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    Actually theres a couple of points here.

    Whilst we did switch on the Key Digital Algorithm I cannot use it because I need to run Chroma Delay. You need to purchase a Rock+ upgrade to allow Chroma Delay and Key Digital to work together.

    The Rock that Spectre saw did not feature the firmware improvements that Gordon did which is now a step up again from what Spectre saw.

    Now the fundamental problem with the Rock is the inability to autodetect PAL/NTSC. An utterly infuriating issue that really gets on my nerves.

    I have recently (Friday) had my Barco 808s professionally calibrated and I shall be having the colour ISF calibrated <img src="wink.gif" border="0"> shortly.

    I have been running new A/B comparisons with my HTPC (which I have since reinstalled since G's visit) and have it plugged into the HDTV passthru connector on the Rock. In this way I can do A/B switching for test discs.

    Clearly an optimised HTPC with WinDVD 3.0 is sharper and more detailed, handles panning and deinterlacing superbly. It is however s**t at Anime <img src="frown.gif" border="0">

    Until Jeff found the Falcon card it was also s**t at Video Inputs from Sky, PS2, VHS, Dreamcast and S-Video compared to the Rock.

    I'm now tightening down and obtimising my HTPC to take a final look at which one to use. The prospect of a further $1500 Rock upgrade to Rock+ and the fact that I HAVE to send it back to the USA is now a very negative factor.

    Of course (and this is a major, major point) the Rock is extremely Wife/Kids friendly, which is a major consideration.

    and finally, NO Pal/NTSC autodetect is not fixed in Rock+...

    Watch this space.

    Neil.

    [ 04-08-2001: Message edited by: Jenz ]</p>
     
  7. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    He was using the Key Digital algorithm. It's the latest ROCK software not ROCK+.

    The problem of not having chroma delay when using this algorithm was very obvious on the Arcam DVD player screensaver. I was more interested in the de-interlacing though.

    The fact we were using the all singing and dancing new software was what made it all the more disappointing to me. However I now think that the low resolution we were running at may have made twitter and jaggies more obvious. I'm used to seeing things at 720P/768P or 960P but Neil was using a Barco708 at the time set at 600P I think. This is something I'll investigate further when I've got some time and a couple of different projectors in my living room.....

    I'll be going to see Neil again when his 808's back on the ceiling. This should be more representative I think.

    Gordon
     
  8. Boris Blank

    Boris Blank
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    The quest for the perfect scaler/de-interlacer at a reasonable price goes on! Its a shame we can't get one box that does it all and does it all well! Surely its not that difficult, all the pieces required are in circulation, we just need 'em all in one box?!

    My remaining hope, at least for this year, is the Cinematrix Cinescaler or even the Key Digital Leeza but I'll not get too excited until we actually see one in the flesh.<br />Paul

    [ 05-08-2001: Message edited by: PaulB ]</p>
     
  9. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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  10. Boris Blank

    Boris Blank
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    Hi Nic,<br />Well, I just deleted a long rambling rant about cost, quality, actual needs v's perceived need etc., mostly rubbish and it got too much so I'll summarise it as best I can.

    After having built and used an HTPC, I can't in anyway justify spending more than say £1000 on any scaler/de-interlacer no matter how good it is. Have a go at HTPC (forget that it is a bit of a hassle to operate, just look at the display!). Now, if you can produce a high quality display like that for no more than £500 or thereabouts, why are we being asked to pay £'000's for a product whose display is at best equal to that? It doesn't cost that much to integrate other inputs for other sources so why the high price?

    People will get a surprise when they see HTPC at Gordon's Event, I guarantee that you'll consider yourself well and truely ripped off (no, too strong), you'll question why on earth stand-alone scalers/de-interlacers cost so much! Give it a year and we'll see Vigatec (or other brand name) quality boxes for well less than say two grand, maybe half that if we are lucky!

    For now, if you have the dosh then go for it (the Vigatec), I've not seen or read much about it but from what I have read its very good and will do the job nicely! BUT, if you intend going to the Event I'd wait and see a demo of some of the other current options and I bet, like me, that you'll no longer be prepared to cough up good cash for something you can literally do yourself for a lot less!

    I don't want to knock Vigatec, the Rock etc, they are all very, very good, its just that someone is making a an unjustifiably good living out of these at our expense and so many people fail to pick up on this! Think UK a few years back when car prices were high, how many people bought imported cars at a lower cost? - very few because it looked a lot of hassle and people were scared it would all go wrong! Then the mainstream press cottoned on to what a rip-off the UK car market was and how easy it was to actually import a car, end result cheaper cars! The same thing applies to scalers/de-interlacers, people have just cottoned on to that fact that a PC can do the job better than most other products on the market - result, prices for scaler/de-interlacers are falling very quickly indeed (the Quadscan Elite is half what its predecessor cost a year ago). Prices will fall further very, very quickly with an increase in quality rather than a decrease! In a year or so the mythical cheap quality scaler that we all want WILL be with us. The speed these things are coming to the market and the increased quality and value of each is astonishing given a year ago we only had 3 or 4 very expensive options.

    Hmmm, some summary! I'm just tee'd off at the whole scaler/deinterlacer situation!!

    I'm off for a cold compress and a lie down!<br />Regards,<br /> Paul
     
  11. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Jenz: I'm getting excited at the prospect of seeing the HTPC and Rock working together with the 808.

    Paul: You're right...it can't be that hard can it. I have at home this weekend a Runco ViViX 11 processor. Typically I also have a a visitor staying with us so it's going to be hard to have a real go at it to check what's good anD bad. I will say this though. So far at the shop we have been stunned by the colour reproduction from it. The de-interlacing seems pretty good too and we haven't noticed any audio sync issues either.....

    Hopefully this evening I'll see some normal TV through it as well as a film.

    Anyway all these things will become clear at the Event I think.

    Gordon
     

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