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Going HD/Blu-ray, would like some advise


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#1 of 6 BigKid13

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Posted May 09 2008 - 02:17 AM

Greetings,
I'm new at this so please bear with me. I have had a very satifying HT for a little over two years consisting of a Panasonic PT-AE900U projector (720p capable), Denon AVR-1907 (no HDMI but DTS capable) and an LG upconvert DVD player. I want to upgrade the DVD player to HD and I have a bunch of questions that are beyond the local sales folks so I thought I'd bring them here. I was thinking about purchasing a Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player (they are super cheap, even new, on e-bay and Blockbuster.com carries the movies, and they down-convert to DTS) but was wondering:
1. Most importantly - Will I notice the difference between an upconverted DVD (to 720p) and an HD DVD? I can't get a decent (read simple) expanation on why it would be better. It's still going to be 720p, no more lines or pixles, so why will it be better?
2. What's the deal with this film ware thing? Do I need to do any upgrades to an HD-A2 to get it to run an HD-DVD?
3. Am I wasting my money as sooner or later (perhaps someone out here knows when) all the HD-DVDs will be available on Blu-ray. (gotta have Serenity you know)
4. If Blu-ray, which manufacturer would you suggest?
5. And here's the big one money wise (and I'm afraid I already know the answer to this one) Should I keep what I have, save my money and get a 1080p projector or if I do this will I need a new receiver and wind up upgrading myself into the poor house?
Thank you in advance for any help/insight you folks provide me with on this situation.
Best wishes,
David

#2 of 6 Matt Hough

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Posted May 09 2008 - 03:08 AM

Big,

When I first got into Blu-ray, I had only a 720p 52" TV. I set my player to 1080i and let the TV do the scaling. I can tell you you will see an immediate difference between sDVD and HD discs (either HD or BD). sDVDs have only so much detail possible in their encoding, so it doesn't matter if your player upscales it to 720p, the original information is not and will never be as detailed as a true high definition disc.

I came to HD DVD very late in the game with an A2, and it has played every HD disc (and I have discs from the first launch all the way to the most recent releases) I've put in it without any firmware upgrades. (The upgrades are available on-line and are easily accomplished if you do stumble on a disc that won't play.) It also upconverts sDVDs wonderfully.

I can't tell you what to do about upgrading your other equipment. I have gone on to a 1080p TV and a receiver with HDMI, and I am thrilled with every HD and BD I put in my players. But you will be able to tell instantly the upgrade in picture quality even with the equipment you now have (that is provided you get an HD or BD with a solid transfer. Not all of them have been stellar. Check the reviews on this site and others before you buy).

#3 of 6 Robert A

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Posted May 09 2008 - 06:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigKid13
1. Most importantly - Will I notice the difference between an upconverted DVD (to 720p) and an HD DVD? I can't get a decent (read simple) expanation on why it would be better. It's still going to be 720p, no more lines or pixles, so why will it be better?
I have the same projector and an HD-A2. I was using an OPPO upscaling dvd player and the difference is very noticeable. I project about a 110" image and the improvement in image quality is readily apparent, not only image resolution but also color depth. When you upconvert a dvd the player has to spread out the pixels and fill in the holes with a "best guess" at what information is supposed to be there. With HD content, there is no guess work. The information is all there for a 720 or 1080 image.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigKid13
3. Am I wasting my money as sooner or later (perhaps someone out here knows when) all the HD-DVDs will be available on Blu-ray. (gotta have Serenity you know)

As with all consumer electronics you are probably wasting your money (since there will always be something better just on the horizon). It is a very subjective question. Sad as it makes me, HD-DVD is dead. I'm sure that they will eventually release all of the films on Blu-Ray that were previously available on HD-DVD. It's just a matter of time. But, if you gotta have Serenity HD now, there are killer deals available on HD-DVD hardware. For me, I'm enjoying my A2 and waiting until I can get a profile 2.0 blu-ray player for $199 or less to start enjoying blu-ray.

#4 of 6 Stephen Tu

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Posted May 09 2008 - 06:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigKid13
1. Most importantly - Will I notice the difference between an upconverted DVD (to 720p) and an HD DVD? I can't get a decent (read simple) expanation on why it would be better. It's still going to be 720p, no more lines or pixles, so why will it be better?

Absolutely it will be better, it starts with more pixels. Say you have a scene with fine detail that's resolvable at 720 but not at 480. On regular DVD those details are going to basically be smeared together into a blob. Think say a patch of fine alternating black & white vertical lines one pixel apart. If reduced to half resolution you just get gray. Now, when you start with the gray, upconversion has no way to unsmear that detail; it can't know that that patch was a result of trying to represent a patch of alternating black/white lines, so after you upconvert back to the higher resolution you still have a solid patch of gray. *Upconversion does not add or recover detail*. It is simply a method to get enough pixels to fill the screen of a fixed pixel set when starting with fewer pixels, and your TV will do it if your player itself does not.

Quote:
2. What's the deal with this film ware thing? Do I need to do any upgrades to an HD-A2 to get it to run an HD-DVD?

"firmware". You might need to upgrade (either by network or downloading an image to CD-R), to play certain discs that exposed bugs in earlier firmware versions.

Quote:
3. Am I wasting my money as sooner or later (perhaps someone out here knows when) all the HD-DVDs will be available on Blu-ray. (gotta have Serenity you know)
Depends on you. Are you going to collect a lot of HD-DVD titles from firesales, keep the player & discs for a reasonably long time, and watch them regularly? I decided that I wasn't going to collect as much on HDM as I did on DVD (I mostly rent, rarely have time to watch the DVDs I own), and didn't want to keep two players in my system when I'd use one of them only some tiny percentage of the time, so I returned mine to Wal-mart. Based on my viewing habits it doesn't make sense to own a lot of movies, since I prefer to mostly rent new ones, so keeping the HD-DVD didn't make sense. YMMV.

Quote:
4. If Blu-ray, which manufacturer would you suggest?
PS3 if now. Or wait for Sony 550/Panasonic BD50, profile 2.0 players with full audio capabilities.

#5 of 6 Dave Moritz

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Posted May 10 2008 - 09:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigKid13
Most importantly - Will I notice the difference between an upconverted DVD (to 720p) and an HD DVD? I can't get a decent (read simple) expanation on why it would be better. It's still going to be 720p, no more lines or pixles, so why will it be better?

I currently own a 50" 720p native HDTV that accepts 1080i and I notice a difference as well on upconverted SD-DVD's. While it is not a true HD picture the DVD is being scaled up to create the illussion of more resolution. Personally I find the upconverted image to be soft and still laking but it does look better.

Quote:
Am I wasting my money as sooner or later (perhaps someone out here knows when) all the HD-DVDs will be available on Blu-ray. (gotta have Serenity you know)

At this stage in the game if you are not going to buy a good number of titles I would say do not buy a HD-DVD player. For example there is a large number of Paramount titles that are coming back out on Blu-ray May 20th. At the end of this month most retailers will most likely take the HD-DVD's off there shelves. So if you where to build an HD-DVD collection you would have to go online to get them. Again if you are looking at buying a large number of titles from a firesale it might be worth it but if not I would pass. For myself if I had not gotten into it over a 1 1/2 ago and if I knew that Dolby Digital Plus was going to be the audio format most widely used on HD-DVD titles. I would have most likely stayed away from HD-DVD, but they look great and sound great when lossless is used.

Quote:
If Blu-ray, which manufacturer would you suggest?

I currently own a Sony BDP-S300 that looks very good and sounds great as well. But will be most likely upgrading it to a Panasonic BD30K after I upgrade my receiver. It depends on your budget and if you are going to want to decode audio formats like Dolby True HD and DTS-HD MA in your player or receiver?

Sony BDP-S300 MSRP$399 (Does not internaly decode DTS-HD MA and does only bitstreams lossy DTS and Dolby Digital as well as PCM)

Sony BDP-S500 MSRP$599 (Decodes and bitstreams both lossy and lossless DTS and Dolby formats). This player to my knowledge is basically a repacaged Panasonic.

Panasonic BD30 MSRP$499 (Bitstreams PCM, Dolby True HD and DTS-HD MA. But does not internally decode them.)

Panasonic BD50 MSRP$? (Decodes and bitstreams both lossy and lossless DTS and Dolby formats).

Or you can jump up to a Denon DVD-2500ci for $999 and it only bitstreams lossy and lossless. You have to get the 3800ci from Denon if you want both bitstream and interal decoding but that will also set you back $1999 but it does have the Realta HQV scaler. Posted Image

Personally I would stay away from Samsung and LG especially. I like Samsung's HDTV's but IMHO there other products are lacking. If you are not going to use the web capability then I would say a profile 1.1 player will be just fine. But if you will be interested in web features then you might want to hold off for a profile 2.0 player, depends on your goals.
1080p High Definition - Supporter of Lossless Audio - Supporter of 4K -  Current Library: 221 DVD's / 74 HD-DVD's / 219 Blu-ray's (293 HD Titles, 4K movies 0)

 


#6 of 6 thrca

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Posted May 23 2008 - 03:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigKid13
3. Am I wasting my money as sooner or later (perhaps someone out here knows when) all the HD-DVDs will be available on Blu-ray. (gotta have Serenity you know)
4. If Blu-ray, which manufacturer would you suggest?
5. And here's the big one money wise (and I'm afraid I already know the answer to this one) Should I keep what I have, save my money and get a 1080p projector or if I do this will I need a new receiver and wind up upgrading myself into the poor house?
David


My $.02 (the ones i didnt quote I havent any input on)
3. Personally, Unless you are not patient enough to wait for the BD versions of these titles, I think that doing this would be an enormous waste of money. You wouldnt even get the benefit of a free $100 gift card from Best Buy. Posted Image Of course, if you MUST have the HD titles and cannot wait, go for it, but based on #5, it sounds like you don't have a wad of cash burning its way out of your pocket. (and if you do, I will happily find some stuff you dont need to sell to you)

4. Granted, you may be looking for a dedicated BD player so it matches the cosmetics of your system, but right now the PS3 is THE BEST value per doller for BD, and on top of that, it plays games, is BD2 upgradable, and can have Ubuntu installed so you can use it as a computer. Can't get much better than that for 400 bucks.

5. I would save for the receiver first, then the projector. The BD content will look great on your existing setup, but will be like running a vette in 3rd gear all the time. You really wouldnt be able to take full advantage of the BD unless you upgrade the display I wouldnt think, but if you are running it through the receiver for upscaling, upgrading the display wont help until the receiver is upgraded. Overall, I would just go with the PS3, then upgrade the reciever when money permits, then the projector. Or... The PS3, then the projector+hdmi switch, receiver.


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