Scaler Showdown

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Kenny Glasgow, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. Kenny Glasgow

    Kenny Glasgow
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    This month's HCC has Cinemateq, Crystalio, IScan and Lumagen on test
     
  2. lscolman

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    Hi Kenny,

    Is it in the shops now?

    Cheers, Lee
     
  3. Kenny Glasgow

    Kenny Glasgow
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    Lee

    Don't know as I get my copies thru' the post
     
  4. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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  5. malcky

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    anyone tested any of these scales, i have the chance of buying the iscan hd+ for 520.00 and would like opinions. thanks
     
  6. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Malcky: there has been much discussion on these devices in the forum. A search on the requisite names should throw up any answers you are after

    Gordon
     
  7. Likvid

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    $520?

     
  8. MarkE19

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    Nope! Just been in WHS at Waterloo and they have the April edition on the shelves but no review of scalers in the index. According to Gordon it should be on the shelves this coming Thursday then, but perhaps I should ignore it - just in case!

    Mark.
     
  9. KraGorn

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    Having just bought an HDP and had Gordon calibrate it I'm definitely not going to be reading it. :D
     
  10. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Don't even go there. I'm trying hard to save up for a visit from Gordon but a new bathroom is getting in the way at the moment :rolleyes:

    Mark.
     
  11. Jasonjo

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    Nice to see a high street magazine promoting the benefits of a scaler - the blurb around the reviews is also a great read for those new to scalers/deinterlacing/scaling.

    I also think the conclusion reached by the review seems pretty fair as well...given the money the Lumagen would probs be the likely choice for most...if you only have a grand, the HD+ is a pretty good bargain IMHO. Then again, I am biased :D

    JJ
     
  12. 4bettermovies

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    Please note, that the HCC reviewed as a matter of fact only the "small" picture optimizer (our entry solution) instead of the "big" picture optimizer plus II, appointed in the headline and shown on the pictures. What a mistake.
    :suicide:
     
  13. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    boo hooo....how come other folk have seen the review and I haven't and I'm one of the bloody distributors.....

    Gordon
     
  14. Chris5

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    Never mind Gordon,

    To take your mind off it I'll ask you how your conversation with Stuart went? :devil:
     
  15. Jasonjo

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    Get a subscription! ;) :D
     
  16. NonPayingMember

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    Yeah they broke the SDI unit they were given and all that was available at the time was a baby Optimizer. An absolute shame as I would've like to see a no holds barred Cinemateq V iScan review. Mind you, they only had a pre-release HD+ because the final revision wasn't yet available when they started the review. Thinking about it the Lumagen would've been on older (almost BETA) firmware too, and really old if the reviewer hadn't been updating regularly. And presumably the Crystalio would've been a pre-HDCP unit as well. So it's almost a battle of the BETAs :devil:
     
  17. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    The HDP Pro they had for review was an early sample and was returned with 2 month old firmware in it. (they had it for a while.....).

    I've just read the review and I'm somewhat surprised at the star rating based on the actual reviews....they don't seem to tally....Well done DVDo for the best buy.

    I think it's about time I sent them DVI for review....

    Gordon
     
  18. KraGorn

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    Which means it's pretty useless as an aid to potential purchasers and provides deniability to all manufacturers concerned if theirs isn't shown in a good light.

    I'm glad I dont subscribe to a magazine which publishes such worthless reviews. :thumbsdow
     
  19. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I think to be fair to Martin Pipe its a complex subject and he managed a pretty good stab at getting the main points across in a limited amount of space...its a 10 page feature. Really could have done with being a 30 page feature but that's never going to happen....

    Gordon
     
  20. NonPayingMember

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    It's usually pretty obvious what is a bug and what won't be in final release when it comes to comparing them so I wouldn't say the review has no merits (having not read it I don't know how detailed the review goes). Either way I would still treat it with a pinch of salt, especially where points have had to be compressed to fit a subject people write books about into a single magazine review!
     
  21. NonPayingMember

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    Have read the review now, doesn't really spend much time discussing the picture quality differences between them, and specifically what is better where, so wouldn't bother worrying about the units not being up to full steam!! Also doesn't spend much time comparing the different units memory abilities and use with multiple displays (PJ and plasma). The annoying thing is it also doesn't make clear that the Lumagen ProHDP and Crystalio are competing with each other only, and that the iScan is half the price and really competes with the Cinemateq *PlusII* and Luma *HDP* instead (both not reviewed).

    However it's a great intro to video processing for noobs who are at the "Do I need a scaler" stage, more than the "which is best for me stage" (which is highly individual, relies on what the rest of the kit is and would require a whole issue to cover and explain all the differences in detail!). Information paragraphs explain things like deinterlacing, digital connections (although basic on SDI merits), pull-down etc. Some discussion on HDTV shows where these boxes are useful for passing through HDCP but rescaling or converting refresh rate. All good stuff and worth a read if your getting nothing but confused surfing this forum!!!

    However, I got to the final page (summary) where it all goes wrong:

    - iScan better connectivity over Crystalio and Lumagen - come on, use your eyes man! Two massive banks of DVIs, SDIs and BNCs versus 4/6 inputs and a DVI socket that won't do interlace.
    - iScan better performance than Lumagen, and both better performers than Crystalio - er he did actually look at and setup the scalers didn't he? iScan is great, and half the price, but it ain't no Lumagen or Crystalio. Please don't tell me the results are tainted with the old "price factor" excuse, the worst thing you can do to a review like this.
    - the Lumagen requires pro-setup, but the others don't? - by the looks of it he needed pro setup on the lot!

    Seriously though, good read but no replacement for individual, professional advice which is more important with video scaling than pretty much every other part of the system!
     
  22. KraGorn

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    Not wishing to re-hash old arguments but it was a comment just like that back in Decemeber IIRC that initally put me off the Lumagen and leaning towards the iScan .. since I bought one and had Gordon set it up clearly I'm now a believer. :D

    It was only after getting "professional advice" that I changed my mind, but you can hardly argue that statement isn't correct. From everything I've read the iScan is deployable 'out of the box', not too sure about the Crystalio but its' manual was a lot more approachable than the Luma's.
     
  23. NonPayingMember

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    Yeah I see what you mean if the Lumagen hadn't got any preinstalled timings, but it does. You only gotta press the right key combination on the Lumagen to get a picture up in exactly the same way the iScan, Cinemateq and Crystalio do. Could pick up a default Luma right now, hit the right combo (e.g. MENU 0 2 5 720p or 0 2 4 XGA - might be other way round) and get a picture in seconds flat - without having to navigate any menus too. Calibrate the DVD input briefly, then copy settings to all other inputs (others don't do this) and you've got an iScan beating picture in about 5 minutes.
     
  24. KraGorn

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    You just made my point for me. :) How does a n00b discover those magic incantations?
     
  25. NonPayingMember

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    The manual...
     
  26. KraGorn

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    And very easy it is to read too .. I read it three times and utterly failed to comprehened the memroy system and how you used it. If you say those MENU commands are in there I believe you, it doesn't mean their descriptions are understandable to someone trying to set the thing up from scratch.

    I'll say no more, either I'm very stupid or the manual is obtuse.
     
  27. NonPayingMember

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    The princible of the memory system definitely takes getting used to, but once it clicks you're away. It's a case of x output memories (usually 4) setup for 50 and 60hz for each display, 4 input memories per input (50 and 60hz, PJ and plasma if required) which are basically copied and pasted four times, then allocate input to output. As an installer it's definitely the easiest to use, but yeah it took me AGES to get my head round it.

    Anyway, as for MENU commands. Page 8 of the manual (working from my old Vision DVI book) is the "Basic Setup - Step By Step" page. The one and only page you need to get a picture:

    Step 1 - connect cables (duh!)
    Step 2 - Set output type (if using DVI no need, if using VGA this is default anyway so still no need)
    Step 3 - set output resolution. Here is lists all 10 presets as MENU 0 2 x, or MENU 0 3 [resolution] where you enter your own vertical resolution

    And that's it!!

    [Continue down the page and you get more tweaks etc (refresh rate, output pedestal, input adjustment, test pats) which at first glance make it look a very complicated process. But actually sitting down and following the page is not too complicated]

    Problem is everything looks simple in hindsight, so I am trying to remember when I first had to use the various processors. My first Lumagen go I tried (and failed) to do it without the book, got the grumps, shouted a lot, had a cigarette, had another, then flicked through the manual. Found the basic setup page and followed it, had a picture before I even knew what I had done! iScan I had a picture without the manual and probably quicker too, but adjusting it afterward to fit exactly, and to calibrate was a nightmare. For one thing the early revisions had no fade on the menu bar whatsoever so you couldn't see half the image you were adjusting!!! Cinemateq was the quickest to setup and use by far, but still needed you to have the manual to hand to look up shortcuts etc.
     
  28. Vince M

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    I think -as with most kit in the AV world-that the most expensive is touted as the best-now whether or not thats true or that the profit margins are more attractive-who knows..a bit of both I would guess.

    But as with all kit in this lark,one gets into the law of diminishing returns,Invariably you will find that a 2k scaler is NOT twice as good as a 1k scaler.

    The HD+ and the Cinemateq plus 2 are easy to use,give a great picture out of the box-and are sensible money-which in my view is how it should be.

    The Crystalio and Lumagen are more complex..more things to tweak-and for newbies-more things to fudge up.

    Can you get a better pic from the Crystalio-yes..could the average joe manage to elicit that extra performance that is hidden in parameters to justify the price hike?
    Probably not..
    If money is no object and you can afford a great scaler with a pro setup-get the Crystalio..If you cant but want 98% of the performance-get the HD+ OR The Cinemateq.

    Horses for courses.

    But IF we talk value for money into the equation-Then the HD+ is a hands down winner.
    I also think -in this day and age of quarterly obsolesence,that it doesnt pay to spend too much on ANY kit else you risk taking a bigger hit down the road.
     
  29. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Vince: If scaler "x" doesn't offer high enough picture performance for someone to enjoy watching an image and scaler "y" does but is twice the price then is it of better value for money?

    You can't quantify value for money as it is different to different folk.


    Incidentally:
    "The HD+ and the Cinemateq plus 2 are easy to use,give a great picture out of the box-and are sensible money-which in my view is how it should be."

    The Lumagen HDP and DVI fit this criteria as well.
     
  30. NonPayingMember

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    With money in the equation the HD+ is beaten by the Lumagen VisionDVI IMO. Almost £200 cheaper for a start!

    An average Joe may not be able to get the optimum from a top video scaler, but that doesn't mean give up and run with an inferior picture (i.e. choosing iScan because it appears simple to setup). That's absolute madness!!! It means pay for someone to come in and set the thing up properley if you can't do it yourself! An average Joe couldn't get the optimum from an iScan or Cinemateq just as much as they couldn't from a Crystalio or Lumagen. Nor does an average Joe actually know what optimum picture quality looks like and hence if they have it or now. A lot more likely Mr Average Joe is oblivious to his iScan not running at optimum at all, so doesn't see there being an issue at all.

    Ignoring whether one is actually easier to setup than another, I still don't see how this is that much of a factor. Once it's setup it's setup, whatever it takes to do so. It's the picture quality that's important here not the one day job of making the thing work. If the PQ is better what does it matter that it took longer to setup (if it did).

    If you're considering £2k for a scaler then an extra few hundred quid to install isn't gonna hurt, and many scaler suppliers will help with the worst of it anyway. If you buy with the screen then certainly the likes of me and Joe would have them pixel matched in the office before they are even dispatched so you have nothing to worry about. If you opt for an ISF calibration (which if you are considering high end scaling you really should be) then the calibrator will ensure the scaler is setup properley so again, nothing to worry about.

    Even if you are trying to do this yourself, and you are not going to have a proper calibration either, there is still plenty of support so long as you have the technical knowhow/confidence to get involved. If you don't have the knowhow why exactly are you trying to do this on your own - it's not a consumer item nor has it ever pretended to be, it takes professional setup no matter how easy the front end looks to navigate.

    If you buy into Crystalio you get Henry @ CRT on the end of a phone 6 days a week to help with any setup woes (and the man will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you). If you buy into a Lumagen you have exclusive access to a support forum where settings and tweaks are regularly shared by users, including pixel match settings etc. Cinemateq and iScan give very good backup from California and Germany respectively, but it is more down to what you can pick up on this forum, and what support you get from your dealer (so beware going to the lowest priced source)

    Regarding technology being out of date, it's actually quite the inverse. It's not a case of buy the cheaper because you lose out less when you are forced to sell as technology moves on. By paying for the higher end product you would hope to not be forced into selling on. With the Crystalio you get free, regular updates, should there be an incompatiblity the PMS guys usually have a fix in your inbox that very day, and regarding dated technology when the HDCP upgrade came along all you pay for was the shipping to be up to current spec. Lumagen has the same amount of support, and bags of dormant processing banks for future deinterlacing technology to be implemented into the current product as and when new methods for improving pictuer quality are discovered. Hopefully keeping the one Lumagen product in your kit rack for many years to come. iScan owners had to pay $400-$750 to upgrade to HDCP compliancy, and the Cinemateq doesn't even have a DVI input!!!!

    Bit of a rant there, sorry.
     

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