Which Sky HD box to go with Crystalio II

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Hi all
Haven't been on this forum for a while. The new £49+Quidco offer has started me looking into SKY HD again even though I vowed to leave murdoch behind!

Anyway I currently have a SDI-modified SKY+ v1 pace box and wondered which new box would help me preserve SD quality as much as possible.

Crystalio II doesn't have PReP or a programmable HDMI EDID.
For the moment I will be using Component from the SKY box as my CRT projector is not HDCP compliant yet (this may change if it's a problem, or the projector might get swapped).
I don't mind having 2 connections if it helps (Scart+Component for example).

Does it matter whether I get Samsung/Pace or Thomson?

Cheers
tt
 

Avi

Distinguished Member
Hi all
Haven't been on this forum for a while. The new £49+Quidco offer has started me looking into SKY HD again even though I vowed to leave murdoch behind!

Anyway I currently have a SDI-modified SKY+ v1 pace box and wondered which new box would help me preserve SD quality as much as possible.

Crystalio II doesn't have PReP or a programmable HDMI EDID.
For the moment I will be using Component from the SKY box as my CRT projector is not HDCP compliant yet (this may change if it's a problem, or the projector might get swapped).
I don't mind having 2 connections if it helps (Scart+Component for example).

Does it matter whether I get Samsung/Pace or Thomson?

Cheers
tt
Do you require component output from the SkyHD box ? If so I believe some of the recent boxes don't have them.

AFAIK the Thomson box is the only unit that can be forced to output 576i over HDMI. However, it's of little value because it appears the interlaced output is by way of reinterlacing an already deinterlaced signal that causes issues with the fields. It also appears to affect the component output. Apart from increased noise and a softer image the S-Video, SCART-RGB doesn't appear to suffer from this problem.

AVI
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Do you require component output from the SkyHD box ? If so I believe some of the recent boxes don't have them.

AFAIK the Thomson box is the only unit that can be forced to output 576i over HDMI. However, it's of little value because it appears the interlaced output is by way of reinterlacing an already deinterlaced signal that causes issues with the fields. It also appears to affect the component output. Apart from increased noise and a softer image the S-Video, SCART-RGB doesn't appear to suffer from this problem.

AVI
Ah - yes that might be an issue - Component is needed to avoid HDCP.
I'll have to find some images of the rear panels. I don't really want to invest in an HDCP stripper as a new projector is around the corner.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Hmm - looks like neither the Pace or Samsung boxes have Component.
So it's Thomson or back to freesat or jump earlier than I thought on a projector.
 

NicolasB

Distinguished Member
If you need component output then you have no chance but to get a Thomson box.

The best quality you'll get from Sky for SD material is your existing SDI-modded V1 box. The Pace and Samsung HD boxes cannot output 576i via HDMI. The Thomson can, but only by hacking the EDID, and even then the actual signal it produces is corrupted.

So your best option would probably be to keep using your existing box for SD material, and use a Thomson box's component output for HD. If it turns out you don't need component output after all, then go for a Pace or Samsung. Pace is probably better constructed.
 

-Hitman-

Well-known Member
FWIW, i upgraded from a Thomson to a Samsung HD box and even though the Samsung won't do 576i it does have better PQ than the Thomson.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Right - so long term, the samsung would be a better bet. Maybe I'll hang fire until I change the projector then.
So in terms of SD performance, do they all show it progressively over HDMI?
and do they all use the incorrectly reinterlaced image over scart?
 

-Hitman-

Well-known Member
Right - so long term, the samsung would be a better bet. Maybe I'll hang fire until I change the projector then.
So in terms of SD performance, do they all show it progressively over HDMI?
and do they all use the incorrectly reinterlaced image over scart?
Only the Thomson is presumed to re-interlace when outputting 576i over HDMI/Scart, whatever is happening the video is badly processed!

The Samsung and Pace are fixed to 576P via HDMI, i did try 576i from Scart on the Samsung (RGBsCV output) and found that HDMI (576P) produced the best image quality.

HTH.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Thanks Hitman. And the 576i Scart was into your Radiance? and the HDMI progressive still looked better? Useful info - thanks!
 

NicolasB

Distinguished Member
-Hitman- said:
Only the Thomson is presumed to re-interlace when outputting 576i over HDMI/Scart, whatever is happening the video is badly processed!
All Sky HD boxes, even the Thomson, produce correct 576i output via RGB SCART. The corruption problem applies only to the Thomson box producing 576i via HDMI (with EDID hacking) or 576i via component. (But no other box will produce 576i via HDMI at all, and no other box has component output).

Whether you're better off with 576i via SCART or 576p via HDMI is hard to say: it depends whether superior external deinterlacing overcomes the inherent softening and analogue noise that you get with SCART output. The SD deinterlacing in Pace and Samsung boxes is actually quite good - a lot better than the Thomson.

tryingtimes said:
Right - so long term, the samsung would be a better bet.
As far as I am aware there's no reason to prefer the Samsung to the Pace. The Pace has generally better build quality and the Samsung is much twitchier about upgraded hard drives than the Pace. There have been more reports of lip-synch problems with Pace than with Samsung, but not recently; and I think there are more Pace boxes out there, so inevitably there will be a larger absolute number of problems, even if the problematic percentage is no greater.
 

-Hitman-

Well-known Member
All Sky HD boxes, even the Thomson, produce correct 576i output via RGB SCART. The corruption problem applies only to the Thomson box producing 576i via HDMI (with EDID hacking) or 576i via component. (But no other box will produce 576i via HDMI at all, and no other box has component output).
Ahh yes it's the component output that suffers like the HDMI output on the Thomson not Scart.


tryingtimes said:
Thanks Hitman. And the 576i Scart was into your Radiance? and the HDMI progressive still looked better? Useful info - thanks!
Correct, 576i scart out into the Radiance, the picture was very soft and required a lot of tweaking to the colour to get it reasonable looking.

576P via HDMI produces a much cleaner, sharper picture, far superior to scart IMO.
 

eiren

Distinguished Member
I get a great picture from the Samsung HD box. Even if you plug it directly into the display, and forgo PReP, it's very good.
 

TheDoctor

Novice Member
Hi all
Haven't been on this forum for a while. The new £49+Quidco offer has started me looking into SKY HD again even though I vowed to leave murdoch behind!

Anyway I currently have a SDI-modified SKY+ v1 pace box and wondered which new box would help me preserve SD quality as much as possible.

Crystalio II doesn't have PReP or a programmable HDMI EDID.
For the moment I will be using Component from the SKY box as my CRT projector is not HDCP compliant yet (this may change if it's a problem, or the projector might get swapped).
I don't mind having 2 connections if it helps (Scart+Component for example).

Does it matter whether I get Samsung/Pace or Thomson?

Cheers
tt
Hi tt

I have a Thompson SkyHD box connected to my CII via HDMI and RGBs (also have component connected directly to the plasma bypassing the CII). I also have a SDI-modified Sky+ box. Here are my findings with the SkyHD set-up:

The best SD picture is from RGBs but HDMI (outputting 1080i) runs it very close. You would need to sit about a meter from the screen to notice the difference. The CII does a great job with 1080i output from the SkyHD box, even for SD broadcasts. The picture quality of RGBs is on par with an SDI signal. The major flaw with RGBs from these boxes is that you get a lot of film/video fluctuation for some content. Watching the same content via HDMI results in a more stable and correct film or video lock on the CII.

With the CII, 576p via HDMI results in poorer quality for SD material and 576i via component is corrupt and I wouldn't trust it.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Thanks Doc
Still can't decide on what to do (skyHD or FreeSat), but thank you for your advice. I may just hold out until I get a new projector. As a family we probably only watch 4 hours TV a week. But my wallet is twitchy :)
Cheers
tt
 

StooMonster

Well-known Member
The best SD picture is from RGBs but HDMI (outputting 1080i) runs it very close. You would need to sit about a meter from the screen to notice the difference. The CII does a great job with 1080i output from the SkyHD box, even for SD broadcasts.
So why would you want an expensive CII scaler if you are going to have the Sky HD upscale to 1080i?

Sky HD does the 576i YPbPr 4:2:2 to 576p RGB 4:4:4 to 1080i RGB 4:4:4 and then your CII deinterlaces to 1080p, so any problems with crappy SD deinterlacing get passed along the chain. e.g. on Thomson boxes it's the terrible combing, whereas on the other boxes it's the everything is video lock.

The picture quality of RGBs is on par with an SDI signal. The major flaw with RGBs from these boxes is that you get a lot of film/video fluctuation for some content. Watching the same content via HDMI results in a more stable and correct film or video lock on the CII.
I disagree; SDI output is pin sharp 576i YPbPr 4:2:2 whereas the RGBcvS output is 576i RGB 4:4:4 and is soft and blurry (at least with the Thomson box).

Some of the FreeSat boxes can output 576i over HDMI, that's the best bet -- although you're limited to BBC HD and ITV HD of course!

StooMonster
 

eiren

Distinguished Member
whereas on the other boxes it's the everything is video lock.
I'm not sure that is the case, as it's been shown that the boxes can handle mixed mode media previously. If it was locked into video mode, you'd be seeing the side effects of that and you'd also be seeing a problem with film credits.

This can also be proven by altering the deinterlace mode on EDGE when those boxes are connected. Stick an SD film on going direct to the display, then plug it into EDGE and force Video mode. There's a vast difference in what you see, and that indicates that the HD box is in film mode for films.
 

TheDoctor

Novice Member
So why would you want an expensive CII scaler if you are going to have the Sky HD upscale to 1080i?

Sky HD does the 576i YPbPr 4:2:2 to 576p RGB 4:4:4 to 1080i RGB 4:4:4 and then your CII deinterlaces to 1080p, so any problems with crappy SD deinterlacing get passed along the chain. e.g. on Thomson boxes it's the terrible combing, whereas on the other boxes it's the everything is video lock.


I disagree; SDI output is pin sharp 576i YPbPr 4:2:2 whereas the RGBcvS output is 576i RGB 4:4:4 and is soft and blurry (at least with the Thomson box).

Some of the FreeSat boxes can output 576i over HDMI, that's the best bet -- although you're limited to BBC HD and ITV HD of course!

StooMonster
Hi Stoo

Sadly, the SkyHD box doesn't seem to follow the conventional rules, so it's a case of trying different combinations and seeing what produces the best picture.

RGBs from my Thompson into my CII is definitely not soft and blurry. I had both SDI and RGBs connected at the same time (Sky+ and SkyHD) and flicking between the two on the same channel, it was very difficult to notice any difference. Whereas, the inferior 576p from the Thompson box was definitely noticeable compared to SDI or RGBs.
 

Tarbat

Well-known Member
Is there a definitive answer on what deinterlacing the Samsung and Pace Sky+HD boxes do? I've seen conflicting posts, but I've now been able to view a Samsung box for a couple of hours viewing Sky News.

When viewing Sky News on a Samsung, the news-ticker never combs. Even when the airline advert comes on before the weather, it never combs. That suggests to me that it's permanently locked in video mode, since I'd expect any consumer-level STB, even with an excellent deinterlacer chip, to get confused occasionally by mixed film/video content.

So, is there an easy test to verify if a Samsung box is doing film-mode deinterlacing on an SD movie?
 

eiren

Distinguished Member
Is there a definitive answer on what deinterlacing the Samsung and Pace Sky+HD boxes do? I've seen conflicting posts, but I've now been able to view a Samsung box for a couple of hours viewing Sky News.

When viewing Sky News on a Samsung, the news-ticker never combs. Even when the airline advert comes on before the weather, it never combs. That suggests to me that it's permanently locked in video mode, since I'd expect any consumer-level STB, even with an excellent deinterlacer chip, to get confused occasionally by mixed film/video content.

So, is there an easy test to verify if a Samsung box is doing film-mode deinterlacing on an SD movie?
Yes there is, three posts up.

This can also be proven by altering the deinterlace mode on EDGE when those boxes are connected. Stick an SD film on going direct to the display, then plug it into EDGE and force Video mode. There's a vast difference in what you see, and that indicates that the HD box is in film mode for films.
The Samsung box is in film mode for films. I think people are making assumptions that Samsung dumbed down the processing, and that doesn't appear to be the case.

I think for mixed mode it switches to video though. It's not doing anything flash there. Hence what you're seeing with weather etc. It plays safe when there's mixed content.
 

Pezza

Active Member
RGBs from my Thompson into my CII is definitely not soft and blurry. I had both SDI and RGBs connected at the same time (Sky+ and SkyHD) and flicking between the two on the same channel, it was very difficult to notice any difference. Whereas, the inferior 576p from the Thompson box was definitely noticeable compared to SDI or RGBs.
I'll second this, 576p via HDMI is noticeably poorer quality compared to 576i via SCART (which actually looks rather good) on my Thomson SkyHD box going into my CII.

On my "watch Sky" activity on my Harmony I have two of the LCD buttons set up to enable me to quickly switch between HDMI and Scart, depending on what channel I'm watching.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
I'll second this, 576p via HDMI is noticeably poorer quality compared to 576i via SCART (which actually looks rather good) on my Thomson SkyHD box going into my CII.

On my "watch Sky" activity on my Harmony I have two of the LCD buttons set up to enable me to quickly switch between HDMI and Scart, depending on what channel I'm watching.
Hi Pezza. Thanks for this.
So you simultaneously connect RGBS Scart and HDMI and the only thing you have to do is swap the CII from one to the other depending on HD vs SD?
The SKY box settings can be left the same all the time?

Have you ever tried SDI SD to compare?
 

Pezza

Active Member
That's exactly what I do. I leave my HDMI out set to 1080i and then just switch inputs with a simple button press.

Have never seen SDI-SD quality, but watching high-production-quality broadcasts I'm not convinced it could be much better than what I'm seeing now.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
That's exactly what I do. I leave my HDMI out set to 1080i and then just switch inputs with a simple button press.

Have never seen SDI-SD quality, but watching high-production-quality broadcasts I'm not convinced it could be much better than what I'm seeing now.
It's better - cleaner edges and sharper fine detail, but Crystalio has very good analogue circuits so I wouldn't worry about it. There was talk of an HD-SDI mod for the Thomson box, but I haven't heard much about it recently.
 

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