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Zinwell scaler anyone?

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by nak, Apr 3, 2005.

  1. nak

    nak
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    Does anyone own a ZINWELL BLS 3000 scaler?

    It's just that I like the look of it, and I wondered does it do what it says on the tin? Or is it all sales bumf?

    I figured I cannot use the built in tuner because it is NTSC. Is there another downfall to this device?

    A DVDO scaler or equivalent price one would be foolish as the native resolution of the panel is only 480p.

    I just wanted freeview, and gaming consoles to be smoother and easy on the eye.

    Any thoughts would be most helpful. :rolleyes:
     
  2. Welwynnick

    Welwynnick
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    I read a Zinwell review in a very authoritative source. I don't have a copy or a link at home, but I recall it had much of the functionality and performance of the big boys, with just one chink in the armour. It had excessive chroma - luma delay, so poor colour registration (snooker balls etc). Otherwise a brilliant buy.
     
  3. nak

    nak
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    Thanks welwynnick,

    Is that across all outputs or just VGA, can you recall?
     
  4. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Nak

    Your PWD Display tends to look at its best if you over sample everything to 720P and then let the on-board processing in the Display down scale 720P to 480P; strange but True.

    Best regards

    Joe

    PS And if possibly Ditch the TU-600B Tuner - its poor!
     
  5. nak

    nak
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    Don't worry Joe,

    I will be ditching the 'media' box, as soon as my other component board arrives. :smashin:

    and Thanks for the info.
     
  6. Welwynnick

    Welwynnick
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    Nak,
    you might pleased to see this extract of a DVD benchmark review from Home Theatre and High Fidelity. The review was of a Zinwell-Brite BLS 3000, but it appears that the AVTool 3700/3800 ImageMAX scaler is much the same thing. The review is the most comprehensive I have seen. Unsurprisingly these days, the iScan HD came top.


    "This is a scaler/deinterlacer which is essentially similar to the AVToolbox AVT-3700 (also covered in this shootout), though with a black case rather than silver. Zinwell designed both units, and says they are slightly different, though we did not see any differences in our testing.

    We knew nothing about this unit before it was sent to us to evaluate. Given its very low price point, we had very low expectations. Those expectations were largely shattered.

    Deinterlacing

    This box uses the Trident DPTV chip for video decoding, deinterlacing, scaling, and reencoding. Essentially, it's a box wrapped around a single chip, with a bit of extra analog circuitry and power supply. The deinterlacing on this box is superb. It's the first shipping deinterlacing chip we've seen that challenges the supremacy of the Silicon Image and Genesis/Faroudja chips. Take a look at the test results - it passed everything. We tried a few torture tests that we don't normally run on deinterlacers because we suspect they aren't fair. It passed those as well. Judged purely on deinterlacing performance, this is an amazing value. It doesn't have any kind of diagonal processing like Faroudja's DCDi, and it doesn't have a chroma filter to help with the CUE and ICP, but that's perhaps picking nits.

    The Basics

    We weren't able to get this device on the scope, as we evaluated it late in the shootout process. Most of the core functionality was excellent, with a few exceptions we'll cover in a moment. The A/D conversion was very good, in fact better than most analog scalers we've looked at (though the iScan Ultra comes very close). We could not see any resolution loss at all on the Avia resolution wedge, and the 6.75 MHz pattern was clean. The scaling was similarly clean, and better than the Focus Enhancements CS-1, and even better than any HTPC we've looked at. In both cases we should note that the improvements are relatively subtle. It's not that the quality "blows away" the competition, it's just very surprising to see this level of quality in such an inexpensive product.

    The first negative issue that stands out is that the 480p output has completely incorrect voltages. Both whites and blacks were crushed. They are so wrong that we were unable to correct them with the settings on the box, or the controls on the display. We think that perhaps the box is incorrectly using the RGBHV voltages for 480p output, even though it was set for YPbPr at the time. This is just a guess. 720p, 1080i, and all the computer resolutions all had at least nominally correct voltages. Given that this is a deinterlacer/scaler, not many customers will be buying it to use the 480p output, but it's still disappointing.

    The second issue, and most problematic, is that the box introduces a large and visible chroma delay, and the delay is different for each channel, in some cases in opposite directions. This is very disappointing, as it's a very visible flaw and one that could be eliminated with careful engineering. The delay is different at 1080i than it is on 720p, so it's on the output stage and not the input. The fact that it changes at different output resolutions tends to suggest that it's an internal flaw in the chip, but we don't know that for sure.

    From a usability standpoint, the box is functional, but doesn't have as many inputs or bells and whistles as more expensive scalers. It has only a three inputs, one each of composite, s-video, and component, so most people would not be able to use it as a core switcher. The interface is all on screen, and controlled by a perfectly functional remote. It has brightness, contrast, color, and hue controls, and an aspect ratio control that can do a 16x9 shrink for playing anamorphic DVDs on a 4x3 display device. There is no control for zooming letterbox movies on a 16x9 display, or windowboxing 4x3 movies on a 16x9 display. When the device is in YPbPr mode, the aspect ratio control is disabled, and only the 480p, 720p, and 1080i resolutions are available. If the output is changed to RGBHV, then only "computer" resolutions (640x480, 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024) are available, and the aspect ratio control allows one to change between "normal" and "16x9 shrink" modes.

    Build quality is perfectly adequate. It didn't seem flimsy, but clearly you don't get massive power supplies and mahogany panels for this price.

    In the final analysis, this is an impressive item for the price, marred by some disappointing flaws. If the chroma delay and incorrect voltages were fixed, it would be an astounding value. We are looking forward to seeing other products that make use of this chipset, as they've come out of the gate strong."
     
  7. nak

    nak
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    Thank you very much welwynnick,

    Very comprehensive. At £325, it still sounds like a bargain.
     
  8. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Nak

    Am I missing something - you want to spend £325 to 'Break' your system; seems mad to me :)

    I'd avoid the Zinwell and ditch your TU-600 tuner and simply connect your sources directly to the Display.

    If you want to add an external processor then plan now and start saving towards a Lumagen or DVDO - the lower cost boxes from Zinwell are simply moving your problems around.

    Best regards

    Joe

    PS Keep in mind the 'lower cost' Zinwell doesn't have RGB inputs - if you have any RGB SCART equipped sources you'll need to add an RGB2YUV converter to the budget!
     
  9. nak

    nak
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    Understood Joe,

    Thanks.

    I will save up for Iscan, and in meantime use a good component switchbox as all my devices are component.
     
  10. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    You could also use a SCART to S-Video cable and use the S-Video input. Interlaced RGB, Component and S-Video are quite similar in PQ. It's only when you start adding Prog Scan and anti-aliasing that makes Component signals better.

    Richie.
     
  11. Welwynnick

    Welwynnick
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    The Zinwell has RGB on the 15-pin D-sub input connector. That's only a cable away, not a convertor. £1000 scalers are better, but most people have to think about value. I'd be happy to defer to an experienced HT'er who had used one, but HT&HF reckoned it mingled with the big boys.
     
  12. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Hello all

    welwynnick:

    I doubt very much these units take RGB+Composite sync on that HD15 Input.

    My reading of the article is that this is basically a flawed design - its pretty good for the money but why would you want to introduce a huge Chroma delay problem to your system.

    Also the review wont have tried a PAL source!!!

    richjthorpe:

    A SCART to S-Video cable is only any good if your SCART socket can output S-Video; which the majority of UK Freeview and the like boxes don't.

    Its RGB or Composite - so either send Composite to the Zinwell or spend more money to convert RGB to S-Video (£75.00 + cables) or RGB to YUV (£145.00 + cables).

    A Lumagen VisionDVI has an SRP of £815.00 and a DVDO iScanHD is £805.00.

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  13. Mike Khain

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    Hello,

    We have tested Zinwell’s with Pal signal and Zinwell BLS-3000 had shown some good results; however not on all the models and not with all the dvd players.

    By the way the test which is shown above is for Zinwell BLS-2000, not BLS-3000, test was done about 1.5 year ago and is outdated, since there was some new adjustments been done with a chip to comply with new display and dvd models. This same model with a fine-tuned chip will be available in a few weeks.


    I would suggest a good component video switcher, like Audio Authority or Shinybow (230Mhz). Or yes, DVDO iScan HD would be a even better way to go; however there is only 2 component video inputs.

    Thank you

    Best regards,
    Mike
     
  14. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    nak - decent YUV switchers don't come cheap either!!!

    As Mike says most Video Processors only have 2 x YUV Inputs so having a decent quality external switcher downstream of the video processor is not uncommon; or use a suitable AV Receiver to pre switch multiple YUV sources.

    Audio Authority switchers are not CE approved so not 'legally' available in the UK - though you can 'self import'; we prefer the Zektor switchers which are CE approved.

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  15. Vince M

    Vince M
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    Nak,
    In my view its a complete nonsense to wait for an HD+ if your budget doesnt stretch to that now and you need a scaler..cut your cloth accordingly,dont wait for something better if you dont want to!

    Using this ideology-why not wait longer for a Crystalio..or wait for 10 years until you can afford a Terranex :)

    There will always be something better round the corner-there is never a good time to buy but there is a right time for the individual-that right time is normally based on budget and necessity.
    As Mike mentioned,the Zinwell BLS-3000 punches above its weight and the chroma problem related to the 2000 mainly.

    What does bug me is this "big brother " mentality and scaremongering to stop people buying products that are not C.E. approved..
    Having been heavily involved in CE approvals for a number of products at a major company a few years ago I can tell you its just another "control" to minimise global commerce.

    I have been using products for years that are not CE approved-as have many of us...heck anyone with a D-Theatre player doesnt have CE..

    In my view-with the internet and the ability to buy from anywhere in the world the outdated distributor/dealer cr*p in the u.k. is doomed to extinction..customers dont want to pay an increased premium at every step of the game-and who can blame them?

    If u.k. sellers-and I include myself-are not competative to win the sale-thats our fault for being too damn greedy.

    Thats why all these surreptitious references to CE and legal..whats legal?
    Legal and right dont necessarily go hand in hand-Is it legal to have to pay VAT on a s/hand item imported from the u.s.-an item that was sold with state tax included-paid for by money that was already taxed.
    VAT was meant to be a luxury tax on NEW items not essential..how the heck it has evolved into being tagged onto everything-god only knows.
    Plus you have to pay import duty-another tax..

    The idea being of course to prevent the consumer being able to gain a price advantage by direct importing.If we are stopped from buying outside of our allowed area-i.e. it is made NOT cost effective..then the prices within our area will gradually push up..

    Is it right that some 10 year old kid works for tuppence a day for 12 hours in a Taiwan sweatshop so some manufaturer then distributor..then dealer in Lardy Da Hi fi can all rake in a comparitively huge premium?

    No its not right but its legal.
    The upshot to the end user is that they wind up paying 1k for a 400 quid product..thats cost 100 quid to make.

    So defining the true worth of a product is very difficult-especially when some are more expensive than they deserve to be and others are a fair price.

    Getting back to the Zinwell-is it a cheap product..or a cheap price?

    Is the Crystalio magnificent in keeping with its cost-or massively overpriced?
    Looking again at the HD+ -just won the group test in HCC-a quality piece of kit..very..very close to the big boys-and half the cost..

    So on a qualitative basis,the Zinwell COULD be excused for being £500,THE HD+-£775-£800-and the Crystalio £950?

    These prices would I feel be more indicative of the quality differences.

    But I think that DVDO has got the value about right-so the plain answer is-if you can afford one now BUY IT-if you cant get the Zinwell-which is a little bargain-and looks a nice piece of kit as well.
     
  16. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    projectiondream

    How is pointing out that its 'ILLEGAL' in the UK for a Retailer to supply non CE goods (no matter if you, me or anyone else feels its a nonsense) scaremongering?

    If your happy to take a chance and supply illegal goods fire on - I hope you have a good team of solicitors and a big bank account should you ever have a problem.

    As I pointed out customers can make a choice and self import - though why support a product that doesn't see our country as a viable market and chooses not to have kit tested to comply with our local regulations; I doubt the guys in the US would Retail UK manufactured kit that's not marked/tested as appropriate for supply in the US.

    First time I've heard that VAT and Import duty were created to stop folk importing YUV switchers :)

    So the £500.00 Zinwell BLS-3000 should be bought straight away rather than wait for extra funds for a DVDO iScanHD - I still ask 'Where do I plug my two SCART RGB sources into the Zinwell'.

    I've yet to see anything below the cost of the DVDO and Lumagen products that would truly tempt me to not go direct to a PWD or PHD Display and use the video processing within the display.

    And I'm not alone - see http://archive.avsforum.com/avs-vb/history/topic/403795-1.html

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  17. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Couple of things to add....

    CE: Vince is correct that the absence of CE approval doesn't mean a product is bad or dangerous. However CE mark and testing IS there for a purpose and it's to make things safer and less dangerous to use. Submitting products for testing and approval is expensive. I've no doubt that some devices would pass but there are undoubtedly some that would not and the manufacturer's may be unwilling to do an expensive redesign in order to fullfil the criteria for sale in what may be a very small market. Like Joe says it doesn't change the fact that as a retailer in UK it's illegal to resell prodcuts that haven't passed certification.

    Manufacturer>distributor>reseller> I agree that a better loop is manufacturer>reseller. Of course when the manufacturer is small and cannot have service, training and marketing in individual countries that's where the distributor comes in. Without the work of Henry there wouldn't be any Crystalio over here....without me there wouldn't be any Lumagen...sure you could buy them direct but would you get the same level of back up and support? Would you be able to go have a demo? Or even get a demo in your own home?...no..

    It's all complicated stuff. Got to agree about why should we pay VAT on s/h goods. I guess if we didn't our government would raise tax on something else....say, air?hahahahaha

    This is all going a little off topic now so I think it's time I left this thread...cheerio
     
  18. Vince M

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    How on earth did we cope before they started putting those little CE stickers on things? :)

    We must agree to differ as to the real reason for CE marking-I have my view -you have yours.

    But what I can tell you is that in most cases bar the psus the 110 and 220v products are essentially the same-a transformer cures this..a CE approved one of course! :)
    Im also not defending or attacking the need/use for distributors/dealers etc..I am making a critique that the customer winds up paying more for these links in the chain which encourages them to seek a better deal.
    I dont blame them for this-we have all at some time done it-and why shouldnt we-I restate IF the price is not attractive to the consumer he will go-in a lot of instances to where it is-It should be our job to take away this need by being in the same ballpark.
    Few consumers will baulk at paying a small premium for support /backup etc..
    Im thinking of the big picture here,there is much talk of a global market -but how can that be the case when it is made not cost effective because of duties and taxes to buy elsewhere?
    When bureocracy adds more weight to prevent us..Its ILLEGAL some cry..
    Is taxation legal? No its not it derived from the granary tax..which evolved from people threatening to burn down your village if you didnt pay protection money.
    Its extortion-but until the revolution :) we are stuck with it!!

    Im thinking here of the ethics behind it,nevertheless there are millions of people buying "illegal " products because some of the the guys selling the legal way are stitching them up.

    Now we can argue the toss about legal & illegal-but thats not going to stop people seeking the best deal.
    Im not advocating people pursue "illegal" actions..christ whatever next..they will be importing Region 1 dvd`s..taping off the t.v...downloading dvd`s-all sorts..

    What they are? blood criminals all!! :nono:
     
  19. NicolasB

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    We just got electrocuted a little more often.

    Most of those things are actually perfectly legal, though. You are legally allowed to make recordings off the TV and watch them at a convenient time. It is also fully legal to import R1 DVDs, it's just not legal for a shop in this country to sell them.

    You're trying to couch this as a moral argument rather than a legal one, which, to my mind, is unfortunate. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the law there can be significant ill effects produced by violating it. You might, for example, go to prison. People need to know what those potential ill-effects are if they are to make an informed decision.
     
  20. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    projectiondream

    Its not Illegal to 'Personal Import' non CE approved goods - what's Illegal is for a Retailer/Distributor/Installer in the UK to Sell/Supply non CE Approved goods.

    This is from the DTI's guidelines - 'It is the responsibility of the importer/person placing the product on the market to ensure that the product is correctly CE-marked'.

    If as you say its a simple undertaking then I have to ask why are the products previously mentioned not CE Approved - maybe its more work/cost than the simple PSU change you suggest!

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  21. Welwynnick

    Welwynnick
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    I think this is going off the thread somewhat. Cheap products don't have to be illegal, nor do they have to be as good as expensive ones. They just have to be cheap. One of the striking thinks about this forum to a relative newcomer (apart from the panny/pio bias) is the tunnel visioned attitude to scalers. There are lots of alternatives to DVDO, Lumagen and Crystalio, and just because they are not as good doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy them.

    Like many people on this forum, I am totally convinced by the benefit from these products. But the fact remains it can be difficult to justify going to the Rolls Royce of the market to the many people who would only think of spending that much money on the display itself. Is a £1k plasma plus a £1k scaler better than a £1k plasma plus a £300 scaler? Probably just about, but it's not £700 better, so the cheap scaler would justify it's inclusion in a system at that price point.

    The real question should be: is a £1300 plasma better than a £1k plasma plus a £300 scaler?
     
  22. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Nick,

    I've supplied dvdo, vigatec, taw, lumagen, Focus Enhancements and KeyDigital scalers....I've a Zinwell in the loft as well....you're right there are lots of options...some cheap some expensive. I disagree wth you as to what is value for money and here's why.

    I would never assume to tell a customer what is value for money and whether productx is worth y pounds more than product z....that is purely an individuals decision. Everyone has a minimum standard once you've achieved that level it's usually harder for folk to justify spending more money. However we all have different minimum standards. There is no value at all in a £3500 scaler and plasma system if you wouldn't want to watch it.......regardless of whether we all say it looks great to us.

    Just my thoughts of course.

    Gordon
     
  23. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    welwynnick

    The answer is that a PWD7 is not best served by a low cost Video Processor - the Video Processor that's built into the Display is more than a match for the majority of the entry level processor's on the market.

    The majority of the low cost units have there roots in the 'TV on your PC' market - not the 'Optimise your Home Theatre' market.

    If you go back twelve months or so when DVDO had the iScanUltra Deinterlacer as their 'Flagship' product a lot of folk tried that unit with the then PWD5 and MXE Display's and the majority of folk found that the Display was more than adequate on its own; the same holds true now.

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  24. JeffLaws1

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    I think your all barking up the wrong tree, why do most people consider buying say a scaler, JS Converter or any other aditional piece of kit?

    My view is, normaly, to try a different type of conection, look at scart, before scart what did most peopel have? RF. yep just runa coax from the arial to the video to the tv and you got a picture. simple and we were all happy with it. then along comes sattelite and look its got a new widget thingy called scart, so we use that, and look at the wonderful picture it gives us.

    I know I left out composite svid and commponent all came along as a better than RF connection. my point is simple, everyone goes on and on about DVI, HDMI but very little kit on the market has it, so people look for stuff that does, most scalers have one or the other. In our quest for a better picture we all want to try the new stuff. It doesn't matter which piece of kit is better than the other it just has to have the bit. manufacturers know this and exploit it, they deliberatly only include such items as and when they feel they can market them for the biggest bucks.

    Prime example, why does the current range of sky boxes only have scart and maybe svid. answer, so people like you lot jabber on about DVI HDMI and the likes, all you do is wet our appetites, pushing us to seek the elusive delights of DVi HDMI and while we do that the producers sit back and rake in the money.

    </Rant>
     
  25. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    Hello JeffLaws1

    I'm pretty sure my SKY+ Digibox doesn't have an HDMI output because when the Digibox was designed by Pace three years ago HDMI didn't exist as a Video Interconnect standard.

    The Video Processors being discussed all have Analogue and or Digital video outputs so are not exclusive to HDMI or DVI equipped Display devices.

    HDMI will soon enough replace every other video interconnect if your buying from corporate Japan/USA; the countries that simply ignore standards and licensing fees will continue to give you every connection available but you will find more and more kit becoming HDMI only.

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  26. Welwynnick

    Welwynnick
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    Hello Jeff,
    This is a forum for benevolent AV enthusiasts. I'm sure you're not in the wrong place: I was especially looking forward to hearing something constructive from you in the near future. Have you ever seen what a scaler can do for your picture; it's difficult to go backwards after that. With regard to HDMI, like it or lump it, it will be the new SCART. So best not buy any expensive new kit without it (or HDCP). Most on the forum don't follow fads for the sake of it like slaves - many go home to a projector or plasma with a good old stone-age VGA connection.
    Best regards,
    Nick
     
  27. JeffLaws1

    JeffLaws1
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    Don't get me wrong guys I am not having a go at anyone, I just get fedup with all the bashing that goes on around here. I don't see how anyone can give an "Informed" opinion on any of this stuff yet. Bash Alis panels for not doing progressive scan, excuse me but I thought all broadcast tv was interlaced anyway at the moment. Bash non Alis panels cos you have to spend xyz£ to get a decent picture out of it.

    Its all just guess work until someone produces something that we can all actually see for ourselves in a progressive digital format thats not gona cost us a fortune.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how can anyone but me say if a scaler will give me a better picture.
     
  28. JeffLaws1

    JeffLaws1
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    P.S if you are refering to my imminent test of a "crap" Zinwell 2000 into my "Crap" Alis panel, you'll have to wait a while longer, bloody wife made me watch the Alamo on sky last night so no play time
     
  29. Vince M

    Vince M
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    Funny how things can get twisted around here :)

    Yes its "illegal" to sell non CE approved products in shops..but I wasnt talking about that-I was talking about people that may choose to import to gain a cost advantage to fit their budget-I was then told that these products are not CE approved(I KNOW!!)-the vibe coming from this -is that its tenous for a consumer to source a NON CE approved product-like its dangerous or something-this is frankly twaddle-and does have a feel of scaremongering.

    Its NOT illegal for a private consumer to import a NON CE appoved product for his own use.

    We got electrocuted more before CE approved products? any examples? because I dont recall this.

    Its very simple-and I reitterate,if the consumer cant afford u.k. prices he will go elsewhere-many do..the situation that "creates" in the most part -u.k. prices-the process is flawed & can create a product overly expensive BECAUSE of all the links in the chain.
    Hence the huge growth of people buying off the net.
    Im sure NONE of the retailers want to while away hours on a demo of a product -just for that customer to go and buy from the net for 300 quid cheaper.
    The answer is a better process so that the final price to the customer is in the same ballpark-this aided by the service-would stop the customer from buying from japan direct for example.

    But im going off course here-the bottom line is Buy the best scaler you can afford and get the best price you can find + the best support.

    But also dont assume that ONLY high street shops can give that support or excellent customer service-this depends on the person NOT the vehicle of sale.;
     
  30. Vince M

    Vince M
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    The answer is that a PWD7 is not best served by a low cost Video Processor - the Video Processor that's built into the Display is more than a match for the majority of the entry level processor's on the market.

    I probably agree=-though I feel you should clarify more here,what shootouts do you refer to -or is this just your personal opinion?

    Remember with Zinwell-they cut their teeth on building HDTV receivers for the U.S. market-Dont assume because they are inexpensive they are not good enough. :smashin:
    Or is it because you dont sell `em? :rolleyes:
     

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