HDMI Dvd Players?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Ryan Abbath, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. Ryan Abbath

    Ryan Abbath Auditioning

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    I just got an HDTV and my dvd player is pretty outdated, and I was thinking about purchasing an HDMI output dvd player. My price range is going to be about $150 - $250 max. I was looking into the Toshiba SD-5980 but I've heard so many negative reviews about those Toshiba SD players. The Panasonic DVD-s77s looked like a nice player and so does the new Samsung HD-950. But I really can't find any comparisons or good reliable reviews. If anyone could help me out and point me in the right direction with these players I would appreciate it. I want the best picture quality for the best price.
     
  2. KeithMoechnig

    KeithMoechnig Stunt Coordinator

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    There's a new DVD player from oppo digital for 200 bucks that I've heard is really good, especially for the price.
    Unforunately, it doesn't have HDMI, but you can get a cable with 1 HDMI and 1 DVI connector.
     
  3. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Look into this further, and particularly the synergy between your monitor and whatever DVD player you get. All the Faroudja based HDMI players have a problem with enhancing the macroblock defect on certain discs. A properly calibrated monitor/player will limit this problem to the primary offenders (you know "Attack of the Clones", etc.), but some monitor/player combos enhance it further. Plasmas, generally, and Panny plasmas in particular seem to suffer from this.

    I've got a Panny S77, and upscaled to 1080i via HDMI looks fabulous on my HD CRT-RPTV. I've seen macroblocking only once ("Blue Velvet" - the red walls of Dorothy Valens apt when Frank makes his first visit). For about $200, it's tough to beat.

    The Oppo that Keith mentions has some issues of its own, many recently corrected in a firmware fix (particularly, a shimmering defect), and also suffers from the same Faroudja based "macroblock enhance" problem. Some of the non-m/b issues remain, the worst of which being lip-sync problems. But the Oppo has one huge advantage over the Panny: it will play all-region discs, PAL or NTSC, and convert PAL>NTSC. It only has a DVI output, but you can specify whether they send a DVD->DVI or DVI->HDMI cable with your purchase. I don't know if this affects quality in anyway, but I do know that DVI can only pass 8-bits whereas HDMI can pass 10 (the Panny and I believe the Oppo are both 10-bit players). Whether this has any effect on the picture quality is unknown to me.

    The Toshibas are consistently rated lower than either the Panny or Oppo. You have a few other choices in this price bracket (Samsung?), but I'm not familiar with the other players.
     
  4. Ryan Abbath

    Ryan Abbath Auditioning

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    Yeah I was looking at the Samsung HD-950 also, but I heard that player has really bad macroblocking. My three picks are between the SD-5980, the Panny s77s and the Samsung HD-950. My television is the Toshiba 30HF85 widescree HDTV. It's a tough choice. I hear so many mixed reviews about all of them.
     
  5. NeilK

    NeilK Stunt Coordinator

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    I purchased the Toshiba HDMI player last December and had countless problems with it. Brand new DVDs wouldnt load or would crash at the layer change and/or menu loop. Very annoying for a DVD reviewer.

    I finally got so fed up that I called Toshiba and let em have it. They agreed to ship me another unit for mine in just several days. They did, and now it works just fine. Perhaps the first few were lemons.

    The remote sucks though, everything has a delayed reaction.
     
  6. Ryan Abbath

    Ryan Abbath Auditioning

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    Is that the 5970 or the 5980 that you have? I hear they fixed almost everything for the 5980.
     
  7. NeilK

    NeilK Stunt Coordinator

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    It's the 5970. That explains it.
     
  8. Ryan Abbath

    Ryan Abbath Auditioning

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    Well I've boiled it down between the Samsung HD941 and the Toshiba 5980...all I really care about is the best picture quality. I've heard good and bad things about both.
     
  9. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Without knowing your other equipment, Ryan, it's nearly impossible to make a recommendation. There is no one player that is "the best" for everyone. Unfortunately, the question of whether upscaling via HDMI/DVI will benefit you, generally, and whether this player or that one is better for your setup, is a very difficult one.

    Generally speaking, I believe the Samsung is more highly regarded than the Tosh, but the Panny S77/S97 and Oppo "something" (the only unit they offer) are generally considered to be better players than either of those. I'd recommend that you check out the AVSFORUM, where you'll find extensive threads on these models. Also, the Secrets of Home Theater site has benchmark reviews on most if not all of these players.

    Again, I stress very strongly that it's not just the player, but the interaction between the player and your monitor. On many monitors, the reports are that component is still better than HDMI. This may be due to the "macroblock enhance" defect in the Faroudja chip that's decidedly worse on many plasmas. And depending on what your monitor is maximized for (720p, 1080i, or some other scaling), the direct digital 1080i/720p signal may be no improvement at all over the 480 component output as that signal may well be rescaled by the monitor.

    For many folks, an HDMI upscaling player will represent a minor, though welcome improvement in picture quality. Unfortunately, for many others, it will show no improvement or a degradation of quality compared to component. This is hardly a simple question, which is why there is no one player that can be proclaimed "the best" for all systems. However, the following thread can bring you up to speed on many of the issues surrounding upscaling/digital connections so at least you'll know what questions you need to ask: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=477740

    I wish it were simpler, but HDMI upscaling is only now edging beyond first generation players. Welcome to the uncertainties of the early adopter!
     
  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    the oppo scored quite well in the secrets shootout test. i would definitely put it high on the list. it's on my short list.

    i had the lg for a while and liked it, but i never really sat down and critically examined the picture, nor did i do any testing.

    i also had the sony 775 (?) for about two days. the pic was nice, but again, i didn't have it long enough to really put it through it's paces. i liked it because it synched up with my sony 60" lcd via hdmi and provided automatic resolution output (no monitor rescaling that rich mentions above).

    i owned the 1st gen samsung (841?) for quite a while and enjoyed that one quite a bit. i noticed a slight improvement in pic quality, particularly less jaggies and a slightly brighter pic. but i had no mechanical problems to speak of ... something that apparantly a lot of other users did.

    -----

    all that being said, i really agree with rich's assessments. there's really no magic bullet here. in some cases, the picture quality is so close to component that, unless you really look for it, you're not likely to notice a difference. i say the digital outputs are for people who are simply trying to get "as much as they can" out of their gear.
     
  11. Ryan Abbath

    Ryan Abbath Auditioning

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    Cool, thanks for all the help guys. I'll probably go with the Samsung for the SACD and DVD-audio playback. Plus I hear the picture is excellent and I can get it cheaper than the Toshiba.
     

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