Standalone DVD vs. HTPC - From the Standalone side

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by AdrianC, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. AdrianC

    AdrianC Auditioning

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    I had been seriously searching for a DVD player to get, and was waffling somewhat as to whether to get a 910, 1600, 963, etc. However, as my wife's PC needs a serious overhaul, I'd started to wonder if my proposed PVR box could standin for a standalone DVD player. I read some Secrets review of software DVD players, and Secrets' HTPC building guide from '02, and it seems the conclusion I was being led to was that as long as the DVD was encoded right, the PQ from an HTPC with the right software was equivalent to the PQ of a top rated standalone dvd player. Does anyone here have any personal experiences? Can an HTPC really keep up with a Denon 1600? How prevalent are flag and other problems on DVDs? I generally have fairly recent film based DVDs (Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Fifth Element, some Disney ones from the wife, some Pixar, Shrek) with the exception of Alias and Stargate SG-1 seasons on DVD. Are any of these type known to have a lot of problems? Thank you for you help. Also, I really wanted to hear the opinions of those with a lot of experience with mid-high end standalone players, which is why I posted here, vice the HTPC forum.
     
  2. AdrianC

    AdrianC Auditioning

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    Anyone?
     
  3. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    If you want easy operation, setup, and quick turn on go for a standalone. Chances are if HTPC isn't your first choice it's not for you. [​IMG]
     
  4. AdrianC

    AdrianC Auditioning

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    That's good to know, but I only asked about picture quality. I'm going to be spending quite a bit on PC parts to rebuild my wife's PC, so the additional cost of using it as a DVD player is negligible. My only concern is picture quality. If I can't get top picture quality out of the PC, I won't waste my time. If I can, I will.
     
  5. Jack Shappa

    Jack Shappa Second Unit

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    With a decent HTPC you can get PQ that is going to surpass any DVD standalone unit made. You have ultimate control of picture processing, your choice of constantly updated codecs, etc. So if you're worried that PQ on the HTPC will suffer, the exact opposite is true.

    An HTPC will require significantly more work on your end to get it setup properly, from passing the picture to your projector, to tweaking software etc. You need to enjoy that sort of thing.

    The ultimate slam-dunk for me (besides PQ) in choosing an HTPC was I have control over how the media is presented. I can set-up pre-movie trivia, previews, and go straight into the film (no DVD menus etc), and have it all automated like a real movie theatre.

    - Jack
     
  6. Jim Robbins

    Jim Robbins Stunt Coordinator

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    I have tried my PC connected via DVI to my Sharp DLP and didn't see any advantage over my Sony progressive DVD. However I am rebuilding my PC after seeing how good Microsoft's WMV-HD looks. For that reason alone, I am willing to spend the money on hardware. You must have a minimun of a 2.5Gz, 512MB and a very fast 128DDR video card to play at 1280X720.
    I would still use the Sony for standard DVD's however.
     
  7. Jack Shappa

    Jack Shappa Second Unit

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    Jim, how big is your screen and what software were you running?

    - Jack
     
  8. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    you don't need a fast vid card to play 720p. Runs super smooth on my p2.4 with 64mb GF4. 1080p is a different story. [​IMG]

    If you're display is a CRT TV you may have better results with a good Denon or Krell. Their chipsets were built from the ground up to display mpeg-2 video the best way they know how. Being able to tweak your HTPC video in ffdshow is a flexible feature, but I'm sure the video engineers at Faraoudja, Krell, Theta, Meridian, etc.. provide the best money can buy if you can afford it.
     
  9. Paul_Ptaaty

    Paul_Ptaaty Stunt Coordinator

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    Amen Scott...

    Especially on something like the newer Hitachi CRT RPTVs, I have a 51SWX20B and the internal scaler is very good, so I do not get any of the benefit of the upscaling of the HTPC or something like a Bravo D1. On good well encoded properly flagged DVDs, the HTPC (DVI) was about equal to my Denon 2900, on poor material, and film with noise the Denon shined, cleaning up the image while losing no detail.

    YMMV, this is one of those issues that will differ very much from one display to another. However, I would put the Denon 5900 or other high end DVI player above any HTPC that isn't playing WM9 regardless of display. straight 480p will depend on the display, some with good scalers (Hitachi) a high end stand alone will look better, others with not such great scalors (Toshiba) will get a bigger boost from using an external scalor from an HTPC or scaling DVD DVI player.
     
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I think we need a shootout. I emailed HTHF. [​IMG]
     
  11. Jim Robbins

    Jim Robbins Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry I'm late with a reply. Jack, I am using a 104" diag 16:9 screen and I was using PowerDVD as the player and a ATI video card. The projector is a Sharp PG-M20x 1024X720 but only using the 16:9 portion. HD looks great even though it's down converted to match the projector. A friend brought over a 1280X720 Studio Experience LCD and there was little difference in resolution between the projectors.
     

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