The Gefen HD SDI to DVI scaler

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
The first thing you notice about the Gefen is that the outer packing box is about half as tall as the usual scaler box - Slimline you think.........

Then when you open it you think - WOW - half as wide as well..........

So now you are holding a £700.00 small light box that claims to change HD SDI inputs (2 of them) into DVI output, And as an added bonus there is a scaler as well........

So for £700.00 you know you have bought a budget scaler OR IS IT???, the HD SDI input on a normal scaler has to be how much £? - Tell me when the others catch up and ACTUALLY have a product not just vapourware ;) .

So this was my only real choice, or to be more exact there were a number of similar boxes this just happened to be the one I could get with ease........

Anyway - you get a nice little remote control with it, Battery IS included, which I like, you can use it straight away......BETTER STILL it actually comes with 2 sets of spare as well..........2 customer satisfaction points :D :D

Like a child with any new toy I find the manual and put it in a safe place - the weekly refuse collectors take mine :eek:

And I start to connect the unit up, BNC inputs and BNC pass through good idea.

Unit comes with external power supply, its blue and so is the Mains to IEC lead - funky!

Now plug in mains lead, plug into PSU and go to plug into the Gefen - OH! NO!!!! whats this one of those stupid little 9-12v circular connectors that usually fall out the back of everyunit the minute you move it - CLEVER GEFEN GUYS & GALS, the power connector has a secure screw on version - Another Customer Satisfaction point :D .

I connect my HD SDI modified HD DVD player, Did I mention FIRST ONE in EUROPE :smashin: , to the Gefen and DVI cable out to my Barco CRT Projector (thats a ten year old CRT capable of ABOVE 1080P native resolution :devil: )

Switch it all on and hey presto, press the Gefen "Menu" button and up pops a menu............

Menu is in colour, easy to understand in sections, menu has transparent background, more options for output resolution than I have seen in the past, user friendly.

This is the FIRST version of the firmware - and it works - Another Customer Satisfaction point :D .


Of course, whats the picture like ???

Well im impressed, the day after I got this unit I sold my Crystalio, NOW I should make this clear, this new GEFEN unit suits MY needs perfectly.

Anyone with say Sky SDI and a second SDI modified unit then this is perfect (Sky HD might be on my list next) match with a DVI input projector, Plasma or other display.

I have also used this with my NEC 50" plasma, worked perfect.

The menu gives loads of control the same as you get with all other scalers.........


SO - Picture quality, thats what it is all about right ???


Well thats my cue for "Nick".............its easy for the owner of a new toy to say how great it is and be blinkered by possible flaws that are easy to ignore to save pride getting hurt - SO I will let another very well respected and open minded guy answer the quality question................
 

VirusKiller

Novice Member
I connect my HD SDI modified HD DVD player, Did I mention FIRST ONE in EUROPE :smashin: , to the Gefen and DVI cable out to my Barco CRT Projector (thats a ten year old CRT capable of ABOVE 1080P native resolution :devil: )
Are you trying to make a point? :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Nice review. For £700 it sounds great. However, am I right in thinking that the genlock feature won't do 60i in and 24/48p out? Perfect for PAL though...

Oh, and really nice that "it just works". :thumbsup:
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Firstly, thanks to Andy for the great opportunity - I hadn't seen HD DVD on a CRT before, and I wasn't disappointed. The scalers that we had to compare were:

A. Andy's "old" Crystalio VPS2300 (now sold). (Faroudja DCDi)
B. Andy's new Gefen HD SDI to DVI scaler. (Gennum VXP)
C. My Calibre VantageHD. (Realta HQV)

Source: Toshiba HD-XA1; HD SDI & HDMI outputs
Display: Barco 1209S with Eisman V4 DVI input board

It's rare to get more than one scaler in any one place, so although it wasn't a fair or scientific comparison, it was still very interesting. Fortunately, Andy has "more than one" Tosh HD-XA1, so we set up the HD SDI unit connected permenantly to the Gefen, and another to the Vantage or Crystalio. He also had duplicate copies of several films. This helped swapping around a great deal, which is a great pain with HD DVD players and HDMI connections.

With only 1080i film sources used tonight, the Crystalio was easy to spot, as expected. Although a good picture (until this year, giving the best I had ever seen (DVHS / VPS2300 / 9500LC)) scan lines were more obvious.

The other two were clearly better, and distinguishing between them was much more difficult, and the major differences were initially attributed to small differences in the settings. Only by pressing our noses to the screen and swapping backwards and forwards countless times could we spot any differences. We initially thought the Vantage was slightly sharper, but this was down to edge enhancement. With that down, the Gefen was slightly sharper, but suffered from harsh edge-enhancement unless turned right down. The Vantage was more subtle, and detail enhancement even more so. The Vantage fought back with slightly better noise control in out-of-focus shaddow edges.

Four hours went by very quickly, and if anyone was hoping for any clear conclusions, they didn't leap out. Perhaps we could conclude that the benefits of HD SDI over HDMI are subtle, but equally that the Gefen punches way above it's modest price and size. It's a tiny box with no frills, but really performs against a known quantity. The manual is meagre, but the menus, options and I/O configurations are very impresive indeed. There's a couple of pictures here:

http://www.avforums.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3904332&postcount=5

There is every output format imaginable, with 1080p alone available from the menu in 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94 and 60 Hz, plus custom formats on top of that. I don't see why genlock shouldn't be available with frequency conversion, but maybe Andy could check that out.

I guess the Vantage would perform better with it's HD SDI input board, but I think you'd have to be pretty critical to justify it. I suspect the benefit from SDI comes with DVD players whose outputs are scaled up to high resolution, magnifying any artifacts. There was no scaling here. I suggested that Andy try to play some R1 DVDs through his SDI / HD-XA1 to the gefen, which I guess would be good.

We didn't get to try SD film or video, nor 50 Hz material. All of these may have changed the outcome, but I would have expected all the processors to cope well with these, including the Crystalio. On the way home, it occurred to me that we could have conected the Vantage or the Crystalio to the PJ using RGBHV, which might have been interesting, but we missed the opportunity. Andy took some pictures, and may post a few up in due course.

I had been looking forwards to doing this for some time, and was rewarded with the best video that I've ever seen. Better than all the clips we saw at the recent London Hifi / video show, that had HD everywhere, but not looking so great.

Thanks Andy!

Nick
 

Baggy

Well-known Member
Wow, looks like you guys had quite a time.
I like the graphic menus, it looks very easy to use.
 

VirusKiller

Novice Member
I don't see why genlock shouldn't be available with frequency conversion
The manual states that the genlock frequency has to be the same as the input frequency. I was hoping that it might be wrong!

Thanks for the review Nick.
 

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
Wow, looks like you guys had quite a time.
I like the graphic menus, it looks very easy to use.

Hi Baggy,

(See I found a new room in the forum :D)

I am very impressed with the menu system.

The unit was up and running within minutes of opening the box.

NOW some people who have on screen based menu systems will know all too well that if you pick a resolution/refresh rate that your display does not like - Well you cant see the menu anymore and thats USUALLY difficult to return from.......

So these clever Gefen guys have an "output" button on the remote which just scrolls through all the different outputs.......
Picture back up in about 30 seconds - no fuss, no worry no stress.........:smashin: .

If you have ever had TWO of the same item you will know that remotes control all of them together and side by side testing/use is almost impossible.

Well again the great guys at Gefen have set up a system where you can change the remote channel and have multiple units sitting next to each other (6 or 8 I think).

This unit seems to be more polished than other units released on the market in what I would consider a beta form at best for some of them.

Gefen produce a box of trick for almost every possible use within format changes and input switching.......

They are built for broadcast use or on the road use, and so seem to have excellent build quality, and useful features.

OK - So by now most of you will have guessd that I really really like this unit, does that mean I am biased? I hope not, those that have been here know I have had/tested/used most options available, This is one of the few items that I have been so impressed with. And the best thing is the price !!!

I would still like to borrow a Crystalio II 3800 if anyone can face missing one for a day or two.............

I really would like to test the HD SDI input on it and compare it to the Gefen..............

Anyone ???
 

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
Oh Baggy,

The really great news for 120x series Barco owners is this Gefen unit actually sits inside the case up at the tube end......So one or two SDI cables to the PJ is all that is needed :smashin: .


I would also like to point out for the NON CRT guys that this is for them as well...............

ANY projector with DVI input has a use for this unit.
 

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
In fact both Nick and I are puzzled by the lack of intrest in this Scaler.......

Is it the price? £700.00 too cheap to be any good ? you would be wrong !

Lack of inputs? I could understand that but im sure a large number of CrstalioI & II owners have SDI modified DVD and Sky units - These ALL work with this unit.

Lack of DVI inputs on your displays - I doubt that, even my old PJ has them :D .

Not supported by the "well known" sellers round here.....

WELL THATS YOUR CUE Sellers !!! get the product in and sell it !!!


Lack of HD SDI modification boards - well that I can understand, But they are out there, and working............

Cost of HD SDI HD DVD players - well cant believe that.........
Many people here have shelled out much more........

So why? I would like to hear...............
 

NicolasB

Distinguished Member
In fact both Nick and I are puzzled by the lack of intrest in this Scaler.......
By the time you've added in the cost of doing SDI mods on all of your sources, the total cost equals (or, more likely, exceeds) that of a mainstream scaler with a wider range of inputs.
 

madshi

Active Member
In fact both Nick and I are puzzled by the lack of intrest in this Scaler.......
I think it's very easy to explain: 2 HD-SDI inputs are lovely, but they alone just aren't enough for many people. Here's my situation:

(1) SDI-modded DVD player -> Gefen port 1.
(2) In the future: HD-SDI modded HD-DVD player -> Gefen port 2.
(3) Sat receiver -> doesn't work.
(4) PC -> doesn't work.

So I've 4 devices, but no matter how you look at it, the Gefen box can't handle this. I need a VP with at least 4 inputs. Two (HD-)SDI, two HDMI.

The Gefen box looks great for all people who have only 2 sources which are both (HD-)SDI modded. I'd guess that there are only very few people who have exactly this situation, though. Most people will have a receiver, a DVD player and later a HD-DVD or/and Blu-Ray player. That's 3-4 source devices. Ok, you may replace the DVD player with the HD-DVD player, but actually, SDI folks usually look for the very best and today HD-DVD players are just not good enough (even when SDI modded) to replace the very best SDI modded DVD players.

So what did I do? I just bought a used VP50 for £1100 and a new Key Digital Blaster (1 HD-SDI to DVI converter) for 280 USD. Furthermore I still have a SD-SDI input card for the VP50 lying around. So I have 1 HD-SDI input, 1 SD-SDI input and 3 HDMI inputs now (plus a big number of analog inputs which I probably won't use) for £1250. Sure, it's more expensive than the Gefen box, but not too much more - and it covers all my input needs.
 

Baggy

Well-known Member
It sounds a lovely product and if I only had two sources it'd be the way to go.
Like most here though I have a few more.

I.HD-DVD - HD-SDI mod available
2.SkyHD- Any HD-SDI mod available?
3.963 DVD SDI
4.PC and/or media player

Now I could route these via a combination of HD-SDI/DVI and RGBHV into ports 3 & 5 of my 1209 but find it OK at the moment to send all via my HD-Leeza and it's DVI output into my Port 3 input.

If only it had a couple of HDMI inputs as well as the HD-SDI.
 

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
Well my point would be that people already have SDI modified units, AND to get the best from a scaler would be doing that anyway...........

Lets say £500 per HD SDI mod - just a round figure........

So 2 HD SDI mods and a Gefen £1700.00


Lets say CII and ONE HD SDI mod - I think it only has one HD SDI input - £4500.00 ish (I dont know exact prices)

(EDIT - CORRECTION - CII 3800 has TWO HD SDI inputs) So £5000 ish

I use CII as it is has a HD SDI input built in.


EVEN if you had SD SDI inputs this unit works........


Im gonna have to guess here but people with SDI units will have Sky & DVD players anything else they might have ???

I can see the need to scale VCR, Freeview, Laserdisc,

(D-VHS are they SDI modified ???)

Acording to the CII web site they have reduced the number of SDI inputs from 3 in the VPS2300 to 2 on the 3300 (SD) and 1 on the 3800 (HD) - Does that mean they dont think SDI is the way anymore? I cant really see that as they are building HD SDI modifications (Not sure if they have these yet)

That already means for the SDI user that the Gefen is as capable as the 2300/3300 and more than the 3800 - SDI video only of course

I would love to out a CII 3800 against the Gefen - I really hope the CII is better, all that extra expense cant just be for the input selection.........

(This should be read prior to Baggys coment above..........)
 

madshi

Active Member
Acording to the CII web site they have reduced the number of SDI inputs from 3 in the VPS2300 to 2 on the 3300 (SD) and 1 on the 3800 (HD)
Incorrect. The 3800 has 2 HD-SDI inputs.

I would love to out a CII 3800 against the Gefen - I really hope the CII is better, all that extra expense cant just be for the input selection.........
I guess image quality should be more or less similar. The CII has many many more features, of course. More inputs is just one of the features.
 

Baggy

Well-known Member
Oh, I forgot about D-VHS, mines an older player using component output.
So you can see why I need flexibility on inputs.

CII - one day
 

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
I.HD-DVD - HD-SDI mod available
2.SkyHD- Any HD-SDI mod available?
3.963 DVD SDI
4.PC and/or media player

If only it had a couple of HDMI inputs as well as the HD-SDI.
Of that list is the 963 DVD more use than the HD DVD player? region issues maybe? I now only use the one DVD player

PC I feel should always go direct to a PJ


Gefen really design "small boxes" so they also have this new "Home Cinema Scaler"

http://www.gefen.com/kvm/product.jsp?prod_id=4174

Its ONLY $450.00 takes in 2 x component, 2 x HDMI and scalers it !!!!


This unit allows DVI to HD SDI conversion - Like you say a 2 x HDMI & 2 x HD SDI to DVI would be better (I prefer DVI all the way - those HDMI connectors deserve to be in a skip :eek: )
 

madshi

Active Member
Of that list is the 963 DVD more use than the HD DVD player?
The SDI 963 is very old and still has the best PQ. I doubt a HD player will be able to replace it anytime soon. But I'd love to be wrong.

PC I feel should always go direct to a PJ
Why? Do you think that the PC is as good as your Gefen box in deinterlacing and scaling? I doubt it.
 

Baggy

Well-known Member
Hi Andy,

The 963 is still a good DVD player especially with the SDI mod and yes I use it for multi region playback but not so much nowadays with the advent of HD.
I never got around to putting my DVD's onto a server, so it still has it's uses.

Sorry my bad in including the PC on the list for the Leeza as I don't really use it for playback, more really as a storage medium for use with my media player.

The Leeza works well and at the moment due to my enforced poverty caused by Blair and Brown's education policy (funding daughter at Uni), it'll have to do.

No I think you're little Geffen box is great at what it does and if I was starting out it'd be on my shortlist.
 

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
Hi,

I would like to take these questions a little further if possible......


The SDI 963 is very old and still has the best PQ. I doubt a HD player will be able to replace it anytime soon. But I'd love to be wrong.
Baggy has both so lets see what he thinks. I might even be able to twist his arm and next time he is passing put it side by side with the HD SDI modified player, Both playing SD material - this is one thing Nick and I wanted to do but ran out of time (I have also sold my Lexicon RT10 player)


Why? Do you think that the PC is as good as your Gefen box in deinterlacing and scaling? I doubt it.
That is a little difficult at the mo for me to test, the PC does NOT currently play HD DVD's - But I am working on that.......

So for the PC I will have to stick with SD DVD's - I can say without question that I have NEVER seen a better picture from any scaler than my PC. It was running an Nvidia Quadro FX4000 graphics card - I need to be fair here and tell you that was about £1800.00 new - that graphics card alone...........

PC Vs. Gefen - That I intend to do some time and will report back.

Ok, you may replace the DVD player with the HD-DVD player, but actually, SDI folks usually look for the very best and today HD-DVD players are just not good enough (even when SDI modded) to replace the very best SDI modded DVD players.
I would like to hear more about this...........what do people think is "not good enough" about the HD DVD players Vs high end pick the very best here SDI modified DVD player..........

I though the idea mainly behind SDI modification was to remove most of the video chain enhancements with the player, and so a cheaper player would show the most improvement. Now for a CD or DVD player I still like the use of a "disc edge marking" and "disc antivibration pucks or material" - (Snake oil as some call it! - but dont know it till you tried it.......)

Please note I am curious to know more here, For those that dont know me I would like to think I am open minded, and happy to learn new things.............I am trying to build the UKs best referance video system here.............Thats a big statement I know, Audio a close second................

I dont have an axe to grind, or a product to sell, I also lack the time to complete this project quickly, So any help along the way is very very welcome...............
 

Mad Mr H

Novice Member
I think you're little Geffen box is great at what it does and if I was starting out it'd be on my shortlist.
I think that is the key, currently technology is advancing for HD quicker than ever..........I rememeber buying 200+ VHS tapes then along came DVD, Now HD DVD - I have started a collection again as this time I think its worth it..........

The use of the Gefen will be limited, those with SDI sources will already have a scaler, the way I looked at it I sold my Crystalio for £750.00 and bought the Gefen (I paid (£870, now its 700), I also sold my Lexicon RT10 for £450.00 and bought a HD DVD for £550 - or £1000 for the HD DVI version.

I made the decision to change the kit around.

The real massive advantage is the single (or two) SDI cables direct to the PJ and very short sub 1m DVI cable.

THAT alone saves loads of money in hi end cables.


The sad thing is that for me this system actually does NOT fit in with my final video system at all !!!

The concept of twin PJ projection will not require this kit, BUT I decide to go for it anyway funding it with the sold off kit and as the best stop gap I could get for HD.

It will get passed down to my Palsma system as well.

OH, and I could add another Gefen on top of the plasma and use ONE HD SDI HD DVD player, now thats an excellent idea - the Gefen has a pass through of the signal to feed other units - the second unit could be any HD SDI scaler as well......

SO suddenly the value of the HD Mods gets much better as you go multiroom.

I have a dedicated Cinema room and a living room.
 

madshi

Active Member
So for the PC I will have to stick with SD DVD's - I can say without question that I have NEVER seen a better picture from any scaler than my PC. It was running an Nvidia Quadro FX4000 graphics card - I need to be fair here and tell you that was about £1800.00 new - that graphics card alone...........
I've heard many different views of many different people. Some people swear that HTPC gives the best image. Other ex HTPC people say that going VP improved image quality for them. I think a big question is which settings are used. The PC can do some sharpening which can look good at a quick check. Many older VPs are rather bad at sharpening. But newer VPs have very clever detail enhancement algorithms which should beat PCs. The problem with PC sharpening often is that you get noticable edge enhancement effects (ringing etc). This often doesn't show as much on small screens and is really only noticable (and destracting) on big projection screens. Also some people like sharp and don't care about ringing that much. While others absolutely hate edge enhancement artifacts and much prefer a no-ringing picture, even if it seems to be somewhat less sharp. So it's really hard to find clear answer to "what is best".

I though the idea mainly behind SDI modification was to remove most of the video chain enhancements with the player, and so a cheaper player would show the most improvement.
That's definitely true. Basically when using SDI most DVD players look much more similar than when using any other output. However, there's still one thing which seperates the different DVD players from each other when using SDI: the MPEG2 decoder. There are multiple different decoders on the market, some better some worse. Some have CUE some not. For whatever reason the Philips 963 seems to have one of the best MPEG2 decoders on the market built in. Surprisingly the Denons do not fare really well in this aspect. So when using SDI Denon is not really a good choice. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players are somewhat difficult to judge. Some are using one decoder chip for both HD and SD. Others are using different decoders for HD and SD. E.g. the Panasonic Blu-Ray player seems to use a different decoder for HD and SD. Theoretically a SDI modded HD-DVD player can look every bit as good as the Philips 963. However, in reality the 963 is very old and is still unmatched by any newer DVD player (except the Linn Unidisk). So I have my doubts if the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players will be able to match the 963. The differences may be subtle, but every bit count, doesn't it... :)
 

Baggy

Well-known Member
Baggy has both so lets see what he thinks. I might even be able to twist his arm and next time he is passing put it side by side with the HD SDI modified player, Both playing SD material - this is one thing Nick and I wanted to do but ran out of time (I have also sold my Lexicon RT10 player)
Ouch- Enough of that arm twisting it's hurting too much.I'll bring with me next time.
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
So what did I do? I just bought a used VP50 for £1100 and a new Key Digital Blaster (1 HD-SDI to DVI converter) for 280 USD. Furthermore I still have a SD-SDI input card for the VP50 lying around.
Ahh, it took a few minutes for the significance of that to sink in. Unlike Andy and me, who had two different digital inputs, but associated with two different processors, Madshi, you on the other hand can take both HD SDI and HDMI outputs form the same player and run them through the SAME processor. This will obviously enable you to isolate the differences between the interfaces (and still leave you with enough inputs to meet other source requirements). Well done.

So, spill the beans, then. Did you see any differences between the two connections, and can you describe them? And what is an SDI DVD player like compared with DVD on an HD SDI HD DVD player? (phew!)

Eagerly, Nick

Edit: You jammy bugger - I just noticed you bought the VP50 for 1100 from Alwyn yesterday; I would have had that in a flash. Good catch! I guess you don't know the answer to that question, yet, then.

Edit 2: For the record, I've seen good DVDs on Andy's old FX4000 PC and PJ, and they are simply the best I have seen any SD souce look. Good enough to look good on an 8 foot screen, and to make you question the need for HD (until you see it, of course). Last week I suggested to him that he compare a DVD on his PC to a DVD on his SDI HD DVD - out of curiosity, that's all!
 

madshi

Active Member
Ahh, it took a few minutes for the significance of that to sink in. Unlike Andy and me, who had two different digital inputs, but associated with two different processors, Madshi, you on the other hand can take both HD SDI and HDMI outputs form the same player and run them through the SAME processor. This will obviously enable you to isolate the differences between the interfaces (and still leave you with enough inputs to meet other source requirements). Well done.
Thanks! Yes, I'm happy with my soon-to-be setup. I just hope everything will play out fine.

Edit: You jammy bugger - I just noticed you bought the VP50 for 1100 from Alwyn yesterday; I would have had that in a flash. Good catch! I guess you don't know the answer to that question, yet, then.
Heh, yep, I was quite lucky with Alwyn's VP50. I'm using RSS to stay up to date with new threads on several forums. So I got note about the sale rather quickly.

And yes, I can't report yet on VP50 etc. I also don't have a HD-DVD player *yet*. I'm living a bit in the future with many of my posts...
 

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