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What is HCPC etc and is a PC better than and DVD player

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Gillmonster, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. Gillmonster

    Gillmonster
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    Im confused!

    Is this putting your HD DVD disc into your PC instead of a DVD player so you can utilise HD ie 720p if your DVD player can only output in PAL.

    If thats correct should I not buy a DVD player as I have a very good laptop with Radeon 9700. Will my laptop also scale up DVD's to 720p from PAL and will it have progressive scan (sorry DVD technology is lost on me)

    I follow most of the discussions on this forum but have been a bit lost on the HTPC HCPC HDMI etc etc fronts!

    Thanks
     
  2. KraGorn

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    Hi :hiya:

    The main thing about an HTPC is that it's set up and configred for high quality video playback, in particular the graphics card is selected for video quality and not necessarily for high-power gaming performance.

    In a nutshell a PC can deinterlace and scale video far better than most DVD players and many external scalers, either NTSC or PAL and to whatever resolution you need (within reason).

    A 9700-equipped PC will produce good results, if it has the horse-power to run FFDSHOW it'll produce great results if youre prepared to put in the effort to configure, tweak and twiddle to get it working well.

    BTW, except for special cases, video output from a PC is always "progressive", ie. not interlaced.


    What is it about HDMI you don't understand? What it is or how it affects an HTPC? :)
     
  3. Gillmonster

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    Thanks that is good to know

    HDMI is a connection is it not. If it is then will my PC be able to connect via DVI/HDMI connection to my PJ and be ok for Sky HD with Copy protection thingy? Gonna get a Sony HS50 btw

    Also is FFDSHOW software?
     
  4. KraGorn

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    HDMI is indeed a connection type, this is a great description of DVI and HDMI and how they relate. As far as PCs are concerned at present there is nothing to provide an HDMI output, but DVI connections should always work into an HDMI device, using a DVI->HDMI cable .. and just to complete the summary HDCP is not applicable on PCs at this time either. :)

    FFDSHOW is indeed software, it's a video post-processor that some DVD players like TheaterTek and ZoomPlayer can pass the decoded video stream coming from the DVD, it is used mainly for its scaling ability and is the main reason why an HTPC will give a better PQ than low/mid range DVD players. It isn't for the fain-hearted but if you're willing to invest the time you'll be rewarded. There's plenty of help around here and elsewhere to get it up and running.
     
  5. PJTX100

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    I wish I hadn't read this thread!
    Popping into Richer for a DVD player was so simple! ;)
    And where I have my PC is much closer than the cable run to my DVD player (15m) so I can't even use that as an excuse.
    Damn...PJ
     
  6. tjobbins

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    Think I saw this posted somewhere else on these forums recently, but just in case you've not seen it:
    http://htpcnews.com/main.php?id=ffdshowdvd_1

    This is a fairly straightforward guide to setting up FFDShow on an HTPC, using Zoom Player or Theatre Tek. It tells you exactly what filters/improvements to use on the picture, with screenshots, so it's pretty simply to get it up and running.

    The 'before' and 'after' shots show some pretty amazing improvements :)
     
  7. KraGorn

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    It was those 'before' and 'after' that persuaded me to spend hours and days learning how to waste time playing with it rather than watching movies. :D
     
  8. DEANO-B

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    HTPC's are the way to go. DVDs look so soft on stand alone DVD players and on HTPC's the flexability of changing the picture is amazing. You have the advantage of HiDef DVDs, PC games, and even browsing the internet if you connect your PC to your PJ. I personally have gone down the VGA cabling route rather the DVI/HDMI as there is no loss of picture down the sides! Anyway something for you to think about.
     
  9. Gillmonster

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    What is the difference between VGA and DVI/HDMI (is it less resolution)?

    and what is picture down the sides (is this over scanning)?

    Anyhow you have convinced me not to buy a DVD player but will need to get a decent sound card for my laptop tho.
     
  10. tjobbins

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    The resolutions available through VGA and HDMI are the same - however VGA is an analogue signal, and HDMI is a digital signal. Therefore in principle HDMI would be a cleaner/higher quality signal from your PC to your PJ - VGA has to go through digital/analogue conversion in your graphics card, then analogue/digital conversion in the projector; HDMI misses out these steps.

    However the HS50 has a major bug/design flaw that means when you input an HDMI signal, part of the picture is cut off. For example - set your Windows resolution to 1280x720 (the HS50's native resolution), and connect it via VGA. You'll see the whole desktop. Do the same via HDMI and you'll only see half of the taskbar.

    Also the HDMI image is re-converted by the projector, meaning it doesn't represent each pixel exactly as the PC outputs. This evidences itself if you show a picture of narrowly spaced black dots on a white background - through the VGA, you'll see every dot; through the HDMI you'll see a haze of grey.

    However I gather that the VGA picture is still superb - even if HDMI were working properly, the difference between VGA and HDMI would be very marginal anyway.

    Re the soundcard - do you have an AV surround sound amplifier? If so, you just need a soundcard with a SPDIF digital output. For a laptop you'll probably want a USB device (there are some on PCMCIA, but they're likely much more expensive). This shouldn't be too expensive. THen you set your DVD software to pass the digital signal on the DVD throgh the SPDIF digital to your amp, which decodes it.

    One final thought - a laptop might not be the best option for a HTPC. They tend to be slower and much less upgradeable than a desktop - for example do you know if you have a fairly decent graphics card? You'll want a fairly recent NVidia or ATI card to be able to support HDTV resolutions. Plus does it have a DVI connector? If not, the whole HDMI thing is academic anyway, you'll have to use VGA :)

    EDIT: Oops, I just re-read your original post; I see you have a Radeon 9700. That'll be fine. However the DVI question still stands :)
     
  11. Warpaint

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    I was under the impression that a non HDCP source (eg computer with DVI) would NOT work with an HDMI display.
    Are there exeptions to this rule or am I wrong?
    I know from experience that it doesn't work the other way round (ie. HDCP source and non HDCP display)
     
  12. inzaman

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    Yep thats what got me into ffdshow, i am very happy with the picture quality now though, so tweaking has stopped i think/hope :D
     
  13. KraGorn

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    AFAIK yes, you are wrong. :)

    The issue is copy protection. As you say from your experience, a protected source won't feed a destination that isn't protected, ie. HDCP (which of course means DVI+HDCP or HDMI which is inherently HDCP) won't send to non-HDCP.

    The HDCP handshaking is initiated by the source, so a non-HDCP source will simply send data to an HDCP-aware destination, which is quite happy to receive data whether or not it's protected.

    I admit that I haven't got an HDMI component acting as a destination, only DVI(HDCP) but AFAIK since HDMI=DVI+HDCP (ignoring technical differences and the absence of audio) the same copy protection mechanism holds true for HDMI.
     
  14. nwgarratt

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    I find this HCPC stuff fascinating. I started with a HCPC years ago before I got a DVD player. Now I am going back again.

    Is there any point in using FFDShow with a AE100 PJ? I already have 1:1 pixel mapping with PowerDVD 6 as the software.
     
  15. Gary Lightfoot

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    I've just noticed that PDVD6 doesn't seem to deinterlace as well as 5 did. For movies I always used 'force weave' for best results, but 6 has some different options, none of which totaly eliminate some stair-stepping effects. Going back to 5 gives better deinterlacing and a smoother less 'video' looking image. Have you got 4 or 5 to compare it with?

    Gary.
     
  16. KraGorn

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    Well clearly scaling isn't really an issue, the graphics card's scaling will be sufficient and down-sizing is generally less prone to artifacting than up-sizing I believe.

    However, one of the filters is 'denoise' which can help with grainy images you get on some DVDs.

    AFAIK though PowerDVD can't use FFDSHOW so you'd need to switch players, ZoomPlayer could use the PDVD codecs so you'd just incur the cost of the Pro version ($20-$30 IIRC).

    On balance I'd say it's probably not going to do much for you, IMHO you'd be better of perhaps changing players first if you want to improve PQ, Cyberlink's decoders IMX are noticeably inferior to TheaterTek, especially when projecting on to larger screens.
     
  17. inzaman

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    Also if you are also using PAL material then i would not use the PDVD codecs with ZoomPlayer and ffdshow but would buy the NVidia codecs as imx the PDVD5 codecs, in particular, made the image very jaggy.

    With Nvidia codecs the image is just so much smoother with no sign of jaggy edges, although it does for some reason use far more of the processor.
     
  18. nwgarratt

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    My projector will not be upgraded for a long time so, I think it is best to stick with what I am using. I tried WinDVD as well and think PowerDVD came out better wiith regards to picture quality.
     
  19. KraGorn

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    I never liked WinDVD, too soft for my tastes, when I had an AE300 I compared PDVD 5 and TheaterTek 1.5 an TT was a lot cleaner, and 2.0 with the nVidia codecs improves it again.
     
  20. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    On my set-up. I found WinDVD to have more image noise, but found PDVD5 to give a detailed but noise free picture. I tried TT 1.5 but found no improvement, though on another system it was marginaly better. PDVD is easier to use for hard drive based files and DVDs, so that's why I use it as my default player.

    nVidea sounds interesting though as more and more people are mentioning it - do you need an nVidia graphics card or does it work with Radeons as well?

    Gary.
     
  21. theritz

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    Gary,

    You should give Powerdvd6 a try - I've found it to be a disstinct improvement and it's ability to play .ts and WMV files is quite handy (and with less processor overhead). It needs Directx9, if you don't already have it installed.


    Seam.
     
  22. KraGorn

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    They work fine on Radeons, the only advantage if you have an nVidea and use hardware mode is that the codecs can make use of some extra features which improve deinterlacing a bit.

    As for PDVD6, this is pretty new and I haven't felt the need to look at it, however I have seen comments in various places which indicate that it is improved over version 5.
     
  23. Gary Lightfoot

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    Hi Sean,

    I did try 6 funnily enough, but I found that the movie deinterlacing had stair-stepping artefacts that were minor, but I couldn't remove them no mater what I tried. In 5, I used 'force weave' and the picture was fine, but the newe deinterlacing options didn't seem to remove the steps. I went back to 5 and the picture is better in that respect.

    I did like the ability to play Hi Def stuff, especialy .ts files which it seemed to do better than the other players I've tried, but RTFM had some odd horizontal lines on his system that looked like dropped lines of resolution.

    I wanted to stick with 6, but due to the deinterlacing issue I had on my system, I've had to go back to 5. One example was in The Empire Strikes Back. As Han is walking to the control center after getting off of his Taun Taun, the floor under one of the X-Wings and the wing laser tip on another (on the l/h side) showed the artefact quite well. Changing to 5 and the image was perfect again.

    I'm dissapointed really, because I thought it was going to be the one single player that allowed me to play all formats, which would be the perfect solution.

    Krag,

    Can I run the nVidia player alongside everything else? I might give it a try. Overall, how do you find the nVidia graphics cards abilities with video compared to Radeons? The Rdeons used to be the card of choice, but I'm wondering if that's changing now?

    Cheers.

    Gary.
     
  24. KraGorn

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    There should be no reason you can't run the nVidia codecs along side PowerDVD, especially AIUI PDVD doesn't actually use the separately installed codec but has them built in .. that's what I read on AVS anyhow.

    What you need to decide is whether you want to buy just the codecs themselves and use Media Player or their own DVD player or whether you want to get TheaterTek which comes with the decoders.

    As for the Radeon vs. nVidia debate, it's not a night-and-day difference, and in fact the on-board hardware assist doesn't come into it when using FFDSHOW. The difference is made by the fact that nVidia handle VMR9 rendering far better than ATI, whose forte is Overlay.

    Using VMR you can apply features such as AA and AF to improve the picture.

    That being said, I switched from a 9600 non-Pro to a 6800 and the improvement in PQ was incremental, the biggest improvement were the nVidia decoders over the Sonics which TT 1.5 used.

    Be aware though that licensing rules mean there are no trial versions of TT. You need to buy on a 7-day refund basis, not ideal but that's forced by nVidia .. not sure what applies to the decoders purchased directly from nVidia.
     
  25. Gary Lightfoot

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    Great info Kragorn, thanks.

    I was recently reading a thread over on avs regarding RGB video levels 16 to 234 and 0 to 255, and I think they were saying that VMR implements the sRGB standard of video correctly so that you get the correct range and tha's better for picture quality at each end of the scale as you don't expand the range and get banding etc.

    I've not got a good understanding of that side of things, but Chris Wiggles has recently produced an FAQ covering stuff like that, so that could be worth a read when it's put onto the public side of the forum. It's currently in the post testing forum.

    i'm currently running a 9600 non pro, so might consider the upgrade you mention in the near future. The 6800s are a tad expensive right now, so I'll wait until the price comes down. :)

    What's AA and AF by the way?

    I did try TT 1.5, but got a refund as I didn't see any improvemnet on my system, and it was quite clunky with anything other than DVDs, that's why I satyed with PDVD. I occasionaly use Zoomplayer which is hugely flexible and easier for me to use then TT.

    I'll look into the nVidia decoders to see what options there are.
     
  26. cliocarl

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    I tried zoomplayer today, messed around with it for a bit and I didnt like it. It made hooge booders around the picture through the projector!

    I then tried winDVD 6 platinum which I now like, is this the same as powerDVD though.

    I found it to be quite an improvement over MSI DVD which is what came with my drive, that software was basic and pants!

    As for trying theaterTek I am hesitant in buying and trying seems a bit of hassle.

    I am thinking of buying a new cable too, it was £9 from OcUK and is 5m long, I might try one of the Lindy ones which are about £30 see if this also makes a difference.
     
  27. Gary Lightfoot

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    Zoomplayer is infinitely flexible, and it looks like you had the wrong resolution or aspect ratio selected. You can make it use the video and audio decoders of any other player, so right now you could make it use the WinDVD decoders. The picture will look the same, but you'll have far more control. For instance, if you're in 1:1 pixel mapping, and a DVD you are watching has small unused black borders at the sides, rather than use the projector to zoom into the image and use it's comparatively poor scaler, you can use ZP to zoom for you in small increments so that the PC is doing the scaling instead.

    WinDVD and PowerDVD are different programs, and I personaly prefer PowerDVD - version 5 seems the best so far (on my system).

    Gary.
     
  28. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    I have been a fan of PowerDVD and decided to give WinDVD 6 a try. I think it is better than PowerDVD 5. However, I then tried PowerDVD 6 and thought it was better than WinDVD.

    I noticed that the VGA output from my PC was noticeably better than my DVD player almost straight away. It is more convinent for me to a player though as it requires cables across the floor when using the PC.

    I have a Nvidia GForce 4 MX440 graphics card. If I enable hardware acceleration in PowerDVD does that mean it is using NVidia codecs rather than it's own one?
     
  29. KraGorn

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    Gary:

    AA = Anti-Aliasing, AF = Anisotropic Filtering.

    Usually more associated with 3D gaming they are applied by the graphics card processor and since the VMR renderer uses the same parts of the GPU these effect can be applied to video.

    Your comments about WinDVD vs. PowerDVD, and my thoughts on TheaterTek and others merely go to show that it's so much a personal taste, some produce softer images, some sharper but in turn suffer from noisier source material. :)


    nwgarratt:

    The hardware acceleration of MPEG decoding is only one function the decoders perform, the rest of the decoder logic is still in the decoders themselves. Things like de-interlacing for example are partly hardware, more so software.

    The reason for the better PQ in hardware mode with the 6xxx series cards is that they have more intelligent deinterlacing in the hardware support than earlier cards. More recent nVidia graphics drivers also enable some other hardware video processing that so far hasn't been used for use by the DVD decoders.
     
  30. mikeaitch

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    I've just decided to upgrade my PC as I was running a seriously old rig.

    Processor will be an AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Winchester 90nm 939
    1gb Geil dual mem,
    Abit AV8 939 mobo, Coolermaster Hyper48 cooler
    MaxtorDiamondMax PLus 10 200GB
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    Radeon 9800 Pro xt graphics card
    Windows XP

    Peviously was 750 MHz AMD :blush:

    Should I hijack it to run my Projector- I want HDTV and DVD as well as sky

    Or buy a Lumagen or similar?

    Thinking of using TheaterTek, maybe a Sweetspot SDI for my other sources

    Is the Radeon the best card still?

    Oh, and HS20 will soon be the HS50 or Optoma H77...
     

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