I've just taken my first step into a much larger world...

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Dale MA, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. Dale MA

    Dale MA Screenwriter

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    Yep, I've gone HD!

    I have bought a Toshiba HD-EP35, an Onkyo TX-SR605 (my first seperate reciever) and some very nice speakers - I'm all set for my first HD experience! [​IMG] Hopefully my Toshy will be delivered this week.

    Does anyone have any advice on setting-up? I think I will update the firmware before I play anything on it.

    I've got the following HD-DVDs on order [I'll wrap spoiler tags around them so as not to swallow up my post:


    Blade Runner - Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition [HD-DVD]
    2001 - A Space Odyssey [HD-DVD]
    300 [HD-DVD]
    Caddyshack [HD-DVD]
    Black Rain - Special Collector's Edition [HD-DVD]
    The Bourne Identity [HD-DVD]
    The Bourne Supremacy [HD-DVD]
    Bourne Ultimatum [HD-DVD]
    A Christmas Story [HD-DVD]
    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation [HD-DVD]
    Corpse Bride [HD-DVD]
    Digital Video Essentials - HD Basics [HD-DVD]
    Face/Off - Special Collector's Edition [HD-DVD]
    Forbidden Planet [HD-DVD]
    Full Metal Jacket - Deluxe Edition [HD-DVD]
    Hulk [HD-DVD]
    Midnight Run [HD-DVD]
    The Searchers [HD-DVD]
    Serenity [HD-DVD]
    Sneakers [HD-DVD]
    Superman - The Movie [HD-DVD]
    Swordfish [HD-DVD]
    Transformers [HD-DVD]
    Under Siege [HD-DVD]
    World Trade Center - Two-Disc Commemorative Edition [HD-DVD]


    Which title would be the best one to "wow" my fiancee with? Also what reference titles would you recommend?


    Mods: If a master thread exists feel free to merge mine with that one, I couldn't locate anything with a search though. [​IMG]
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Wow, Dale, you spent a nice hunk of change between a
    receiver, speakers and a HD-DVD player. But you know
    what? The moment you sit down and start watching your
    first HD presentation (hopefully in 1080p) you will quickly
    realize that the money was not wasted.

    I have no advice for you as far as setting up. It's pretty
    intuitive -- especially given the fact that you have an HDMI
    capable receiver so you'll only be dealing with a few possible
    inputs and one output.

    I'm not up on all the new Toshiba models, so I am hoping
    yours is capable of 1080p. If it is, be sure to go into SETUP
    and enable 1080p output. On my Toshiba AX2 it was not the
    default setting.

    As far as what title will pack the most punch? I think
    animation is always your best bet, so for that I recommend
    The Corpse Bride. Transformers has also been
    rated very high as far as transfer quality.

    All we ask is that you keep us up-to-date on your HD experience
    because there are many people here still sitting on the fence
    that we need to push off.
     
  3. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    My first (and only HD DVD) purchase so far has been Serenity. Still, I have 5 discs coming from my HD player purchase, and another 10 coming from my BluRay purchase. I imagine that will all change as we get closer to Christmas. I do have a list of discs to "upgrade" --- but I have about 1,000 SDs.
     
  4. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Just joined the fun myself--dipped a toe in the water with an HD A2 (not 1080p, but neither is my front projector). I hope it lives up to my expectations. Looking forward to the player's arrival tomorrow (my wife picked it up Stateside on a business trip).
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Paul,

    I think you will be amazed by the improvement your A2
    brings to your display. Please give us a full report once you
    have the opportunity to watch your first title. Congrats!
     
  6. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Dale,
    Of the titles listed, Transformers, Hulk and 2001 are spectactular. 300 will likely be your audio showcase. I actually preferred the mix over Transformers's mix. It's also lossless.
     
  7. Bill Crosthwait

    Bill Crosthwait Second Unit

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    Well I did it!!! I just jumped into the world of HD. I just ordered the HD-A35 along with Transformers, 300 and Batman Begins. I can't wait till Friday to set it up!
     
  8. Dale MA

    Dale MA Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the replys everyone, I've jotted down the best titles to wow my fiancee with!

    It's great to see some others taking the leap too.

    Anyway, down to the nitty gritty, I got my HD-EP35 yesterday afternoon.

    [​IMG]

    It came with two HD-DVDs - 300 and Bourne Supremacy. It took me a couple of hours to set it up via my new amp - it was very simple to get it all connected, it also came with a HDMI cable in the box but I'm not using that one instead I'm using my favourite brand of HDMI cable.

    Unfortunately the speakers I'm after are on back order - so I'm stuck with my Panasonics TV speakers for a while so I cannot yet comment on the sound quality of HD-DVD.

    Once everything was ready I opted to check out my first ever HD-DVD (within my own house), I selected 300. The Warner Brothers logo appeared - wow, I haven't seen it look THAT good before, very shiny, the golds and blues just pop from the screen, very nice.

    Next the film began to play, no menus, just straight into the feature, a capability that I had read HD-DVDs contained, when I had first heard of this I had thought "what's the point?" but there's something quite nice about just being able to stick the disc in, press close and sit down without having to navigate through tons of menus.

    The film itself looked incredible, this is EXACTLY how it looked at cinemas, in fact scratch that... this looks better than it did at the cinema! Amazing. Breathtaking. Vivid. Some of the words that spring to mind.

    Next-up... a bit of Bourne. Luckily, I hadn't yet given away my standard def copy so I was able to do some comparisons between the two - it was night and day, the HD-DVD looked excellent, again a perfect replication of what was at cinemas.

    Then it was time for the ultimate test... the parent test. I got my Mum & Dad to come and check out the latest and greatest in home cinema, my Mum used to work developing photographs, so she has a great eye for imagery - in her own words she said that image was
    incredibly sharp and focused and the colour is perfectly replicated from the original source material.

    I've also tried upconverting a SD-DVD, I went for a new title, the unrated cut of Die Hard 4.0 (or Live Free or Die Hard for those of you in America) - upconverted to 1080p on my 50" Panny plasma it looked FANTASTIC, almost HD but not quite... however certainly good enough for my large DVD collection!

    The Toshiba HD-EP35 (and I suppose all other Toshiba HD-DVD players) did a much better job at upconverting than my multi-regional Pioneer (which I've been very happy with), the Toshiba HD-DVD players are worth the price alone just for the upconversion!

    I'll post some more of my thoughts and feelings when some of my other HD-DVD orders arrive and when I have a bit more of a play around with my EP35.

    To steal Roger Eberts catchphrase, HD-DVD gets two thumbs up from me so far. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    My initial A2 impressions

    Got to play around with my new A2 for a little while last night. My wife wants me to unwrap it as a Xmas present so it goes back in the box today (I only took it out to make sure it was working properly).

    It is a March 2007 build, and it comes with firmware 1.3 (latest is 2.7). I did not update the firmware so I don't know if that will have an impact on PQ.

    The included HDMI cable is not long enough for me to use it as my projector is well beyond its 6' length away from where I could set up the player, so I used component cables. I used the optical audio connection with my receiver and it did not have trouble with the 1.5mbps audio bitstream in DTS--at least with the disc I rented to test the player.

    I did not calibrate the player in any way. The only adjustments I made were to set the optical output to bitstream, the video output to 1080i (I also tried 720--more on that later) and, to see if it made a difference, the "picture mode" (I believe that's what it is called) to "auto" and then later to "film". I did not run my copy of DVE (I think I will wait until I get the HD copy and calibrate the HDMI input--each input keeps its own settings if I read my pj manual correctly).

    I rented Serenity as I already have the SD DVD and I wanted to compare the two. I sync'd their playback (SD DVD on my Cambridge 540D set to 480i via component and HD DVD at 1080i via component to my receiver--the receiver acted as the switchbox) and switched several times back and forth. This allowed me to compare the PQ and the SQ, not blindly, of course, but with less than a second delay.

    PQ--SD vs HD

    Now Serenity may not be the best example of either SD or HD DVD, but from the many reviews I consulted, the general consensus seems to be that each transfer is of high quality in each format. Moreover, it is a film I've watched many times, so I am familiar with it.

    The difference was not "night and day" (despite some reviews that suggest otherwise). It was noticeable and the HD picture is better. However, it was not as drastic an improvement as HD cable is over SD cable in my set up. I understand there are numerous factors at play (not the least of which is that I did not calibrate for the HD DVD player) but I do not want my statement to be taken as disappointment. In the first place, I have a 720p projector, and while I'm very happy with it, I'm also aware that a 1080p projector (with all the other capabilities of mine intact) would make the difference greater. Also, it is a 64 inch diagonal 16:9 screen, not the more typical 80-100 inch screens that front projector owners appear to have, so the differences may be subdued by that factor.

    Overall, I found the HD presentation cleaner, with better skin tones, better colour and contrast, deeper blacks and sharper (but not artificially so). But the difference in quality was more subtle than I expected. I chalk that up to a few factors (some noted above), including the quality of my pj processing of the SD signal.

    As for sound, this is a subjective impression as I was concentrating more on the PQ, but the DD+ converted to DTS 1.5mbps seemed to offer more articulation of individual sounds but it did not provide as immersive a feeling that the DD track of the SD audio. The DD+ did have more dynamic range. An improvement, but a tiny one overall. If the only difference in presentation was the sonic one, I would not consider the upgrade worth making based on this sample. I would need more examples.

    I also tried the output at 720p (so the pj did none of the work except display the signal "as is"). In theory, this should have made it better (matched the resolution of my display) than 1080i, but it did not. The 720p output was indistinguishable from the SD DVD presentation. In fact, as I switched back and forth, I got confused and when I wanted to stop the HD disc (to try a different setting in the player) I pressed "stop" and the movie kept playing. That's when I realized the SD image was on display. I would not have made that error with the 1080i output as the PQ, though not drastically better, was improved enough to not be confused with SD. I concluded that my pj's video processing is better than the player's processing and so I will let it do all the work from now on.

    I did not test SD DVD via the A2 via component (I'm very happy with the 540D for that at the moment). I will try it with HDMI--both at 480i (it is able to do that--not many players can, I gather) and at the other resolutions to see if the "upconversion" of the player is better than the pj--though I doubt it, if the 720p/1080i comparison from the player is a sign of the player's overall processing quality.

    Summary: Without calibrating the pj with the HD DVD player's signal, via component out to a 720p 3LCD projector, using one disc as a sample, my initial impression is that it is an improvement, but not a dramatic one. However, I acknowledge that with other discs, some tweaking and a firmware upgrade, there is potential for a more dramatic improvement. For the price, the improvement, modest though it appears initially, is worth it. But if I'd paid the original price for this machine (700$CDN) I would not be prepared to make that same statement at the moment.

    When I "unwrap" it and get it fully set up (in a month--[​IMG] ), I will run it through its paces again and that will be a fairer judgement.
     
  10. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Unfortunately only Warner uses that feature.
     
  11. Dale MA

    Dale MA Screenwriter

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    That's a shame.

    I love the interactivity of these new discs also, it's great being able to pull-up the menu whilst the movie is playing - it doesn't sound like much but it's something that has be experienced to be enjoyed.

    Also, the picture in picture function is fantastic! Especially on 300, the ability to watch the blue screen version whilst the movie plays in the background is really neat.
     
  12. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Every disc has that. The play movie without menu is a warner thing only.
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Dale,

    I knew you would be impressed!

    Paul,

    Your initial impressions match that of mine. I wasn't overly
    impressed at first, but within a few weeks after experimenting
    with different titles, I saw a much more dramatic difference
    over sDVD. I think you will too.
     
  14. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    I think, from what I've read, that when I pop in Shrek the Third (I haven't seen it yet, though, with a six year old, I am more than familiar with the other two), even if it was not that well reviewed as a movie, I will be properly impressed. I also hope that Unforgiven has a good transfer as it has great cinematography and, despite being one of my favourite westerns, I only have the VHS copy (I'm notorious for not wanting to double dip, so few of my VHS collection have been replaced by DVD--and most of those that have been were either presents or very recent when the DVD price became really low (some Trek films, for example, have recently gone for 7$ new locally) in some cases and since I added a pj in August for others. Apart from that, I was watching on a regular TV and the urge to upgrade wasn't that great--VHS, while not great, was not unwatchable on a 32 inch CRT--on a 64 inch screen with a projector, it looks a lot worse). But I won't hesitate to double dip from VHS to HD DVD/Blu-Ray (when I add the latter) since A) I have no excuse (not that I've had much of one until now for SD DVD) and B) VCRs are disappearing.
     
  15. Jeff Savage

    Jeff Savage Second Unit

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    Congratulations on entering the world of HD DVD! I give demos all the time with my system to people interested in HD DVD or HD programming. The one consistent oddity that I have found is that when you first display the HD picture people may not be that impressed. However I let the HD material run for 30 minutes or more so that the brain is used to seeing all the detail and clarity THEN I switch back to the same material in SD. Everyone always says "Ahhh now I get it" The point is that for some reason the difference HD makes seems more noticeable after watching HD for a bit and then switching back to SD. You may want to try that method.

    Laters,
    Jeff
     
  16. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    I will try that when it comes time to make a demo. Thanks for the tip.
     
  17. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Quick update (it's late--I'll have a more detailed comment after a few more HD DVDs)

    Hooked up via HDMI. Copied my settings from component to HDMI (essentially, a "quickie" tweaking). No audio sync problems with digital optical audio/HDMI video.

    Tried March of the Penguins (HD DVD) for a little bit. Stopped when I noticed A) it was not a showcase video title (understandable considering the conditions of the filming) and B) because my daughter will like it a lot so I wanted to wait to have her around.

    Then tried Space Cowboys (HD DVD). Played the whole film. No problems of any kind. Of my small (12 disc) collection, it is the highest rated for video at DVD Talk (and I find them reasonably trustworthy). Did not have the SD DVD version on hand for comparison but it was clearly an improvement. Detail was much better than SD DVD as I remember it (I could read the lettering on the coffee mugs when the "geezers" are on Leno--could not do that in SD DVD). It looked good.

    Tried a rental SD DVD (Rome S1, disc 2). Tried with the player upconverting to 1080i and then with 480i over HDMI. Preferred the latter (my PJ has very good processing). Looked very good, but the disc would not play through the whole episode (kept freezing up at 32 or so minutes of the fourth episode in the series, second on the disc of three). Cleaned the disc twice (it was not in bad shape). No luck. Finished on my SD DVD player (no problems whatsoever). And the SD DVD player (with 480i output via component) looked indistinguishable to the 480i via HDMI. So my PJ does good work with each type of signal.

    So far, it would appear that HD looks fantastic (when done reasonably well) but that the error correction capability on SD is not very good. I will try a few more SD discs but today's experience does not argue for a "one player" solution.

    I did not yet update the firmware (I'm at a very early 1.3, so I will get around to it, though I'm curious to see if any of my 12 discs will trigger a problem beforehand--I have Lethal Weapon, Superman II (Donner cut), Elizabeth, Space Cowboys, March of the Penguins, Full Metal Jacket (the fall 2007 release), 12 Monkeys, Deliverance, Bullitt, Shrek the Third, The Dirty Dozen and The Fountain. None are combo discs.
     

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