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Best Blu-Ray players for someone w/ large collection of non-anamorphic DVDs? (1 Viewer)

MielR

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I just got my first HDTV and it's great, but I've discovered that it (unfortunately) doesn't have a 'zoom' function that doesn't stretch or distort the picture in some way. My DVD player/recorder does not have a zoom function at all.

I have a large collection of non-anamorphic widescreen DVDs (some are transfers of my laserdiscs, some are TCM recordings, and some are commercial discs). I have plans to buy a blu-ray player next year, and I'm wondering which players will allow you to zoom in on a letterboxed DVD so it will fill the screen as much as possible without distorting? I've looked on the websites for a bunch of different manufacturers, and even downloaded some manuals, but it still isn't clear to me which ones have proper zoom functions (though the Sony model I looked at doesn't seem to have one at all).

Thanks in advance.
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Stephen Tu

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What is the brand/model of your TV? I think the Panasonic is probably your best bet.

If still within return period you may want to consider exchanging the TV for something with better zoom modes. It's fairly useful to be able to zoom HD signals as some of these HD channels are upconverting letterboxed SD content, leaving you with a 4-bars all around effect if your TV can't deal with it.
 

MielR

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Panasonic Blu-Ray, you mean? Any particular model?

Returning the TV isn't an option. I'm not as concerned with zooming in on TV content as I am with zooming in on my letterboxed DVDs. I know that there are many DVD players with good zoom-options, but since I'm going to be buying a Blu-Ray player soon anyhow, I'd prefer not to buy another DVD player for the sole purpose of zooming in on non-anamorphic DVDs.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Oppo is coming out with its first Blu-Ray player very soon. It will probably handle your non-anamorphic DVD's better than any current BD player, since it's video processing is based on their top of the line SD-DVD player.

Other than Oppo, I am not aware of any current BD players offering decent zoom modes for SD-DVD. That is why I've kept my Panasonic RP-91 in the rack in our HT.
 

Jerome Grate

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I agree with Scott, not sure if there's many DVD players or BD players that do a good job at zooming non-anamorphic DVDs. I'm not familiar with the Panasonic RP-91 but when I had the Zenith DVB 318 even upscaled and zoomed it was just not so pretty.
 

Stephen Tu

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The Panasonic BD-35/55 have a zoom mode according to the manual. I haven't personally tried them to see how well they work. Any player will have trouble getting great quality out of these DVDs as they have to overcome working with 25% fewer lines of picture data.
 

MielR

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Any input from someone who owns a Panasonic BD35/55 would be much appreciated, then.
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I'm not asking for a miracle- I don't expect letterboxed DVDs to look as good as anamorphic DVDs. However, I was under the impression that if zooming is to be done, you're better off using your DVD player than your TV, as DVD players usually do a better job.

If that is correct, then wouldn't it also be true about Blu-Ray players?
 

Mark-P

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Well, I have a Sony BDP-S350 and it automatically zooms SOME non-anamorphic letterboxed movies. The problem is, the user cannot control the function. Whatever it is in the DVD that flags it to zoom is not something I can control. For those DVDs it chooses not to zoom there is no way for me to force it and even worse, when it does choose to zoom a DVD I can't defeat it. For instance I have a few 1.66:1 letterbox DVDs that it zooms and crops the image to 1.78:1! When it does zoom, the scaling is quite good and the image is comparable to an anamorphically-enhanced DVD. I'm looking for a way to contact Sony about this and suggest they put in a fix in future firmware updates that will make this feature selectable.
 

Stephen Tu

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For the Sony, you can kill the zoom by setting TV type to 4:3 and screen format "fixed aspect ratio". To allow TV to zoom then you may have to use 480i/480p output on HDMI or just use component video.
 

Mark-P

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Yeah I knew that. Only when you select 4X3, you lose the pillarbox bars. Unfortunately my projector only has zero overscan when set to "Real" which means 1:1 pixel mapping, as any scaling done by the projector itself has horrendous overscan. So for me personally, I have to use my OPPO DVD player to play 1.66:1 Letterbox movies that I don't want automatically zoomed by the Sony blu-ray
 

MielR

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Thanks- based on the owner's manuals, I think I've pretty much ruled out the Sony players. The fact that the manuals didn't mention a selectable zoom function was troubling.

It looks like one of the Panasonic models may fit the bill, or perhaps the Oppo. Is it true that the Panasonic will also let you do this thru the HDMI?

The Philips model I looked at also has a zoom function for DVDs, but not the Samsung apparently.
 

Joe Fisher

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MielR--I own the Panasonic BD35 Blu-ray player and have a few answers to your questions.

The option to zoom in a non 16x9 disc does exist. I experimented with it for awhile and found it quite easy to use.

It will zoom all 1.66:1 & 1.85:1 to 1.78:1. Though when I played Judgment at Nuremberg in zoom mode there was some pillarboxing on the sides, but not the usual pillarboxing the comes with a 1.66:1 Anamorphic image. 2.35:1 titles will also have some pillarboxing, but ever so slight.

Also, subtitles will get pushed off the bottom of the screen in some cases.

And yes, you can zoom the image while passing it through the HDMI.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Joe
 

Scott Merryfield

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SD-DVD's can be flagged as 4x3 letterbox when authored. If they are flagged as such, some players -- such as the Panasonic RP-91 480p player, and apparently the Sony BDP-S350 BluRay player -- will automatically zoom the image to remove the pillarboxes.

Unfortunately, studios did not use this flag very often on non-anamorphic widescreen discs, so most are simply flagged as 4x3. I even have one set of discs -- The Chaplin Collection -- which are incorrectly flagged as letterboxed, even though they are in fact 4x3. So, for those, I have to manually set my RP-91 to "shrink" mode, which forces 4x3 pillarboxing.
 

Brian McHale

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I've got a Panasonic BD35 connected via HDMI. When a non-anamorphic disc is flagged correctly, the player automatically zooms in to remove the side bars. On discs flagged as 4:3, the manual zoom can be used to zoom it in. However, you cannot defeat the zoom on a properly flagged disc, which can be a problem if you want to watch subtitles.

Al in all, I'm very happy with how the BD35 handles non-anamorphic DVDs. The only problem with the BD35 is that it can be quite hard to find. However, the BD60 should be out soon, which is the same player with some minor upgrades.
 

Mark Zimmer

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I'll confirm your suspicions about the Sonys; as far as I can tell there's no way to zoom nonanamorphic DVDs on my S550.
 

MielR

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Wow- thanks for the help, everybody!
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I'm definitely leaning towards the Panasonic.
 

Joel Fontenot

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But that would mean that the TV is doing the zooming, and not the player, right? At least that would be the case with player generated subtitles - because I thought that was another reason to have the player do the zooming... to keep any subtitles within the picture area. If the TV does the zooming, then the subtitles get cut off. If the player does the zooming, then the subtitles are kept within the 16x9 frame.
 

Brian McHale

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No, the player is doing the zooming. A guy over at the AVS forum has some contacts within Panasonic that explained the issue. Apparently, if a non-anamorphic disc has subtitles in the letterbox area, it needs to be flagged as 4:3 (which would result in a window-boxed image). If it's flagged as 4:3 letterbox, the player will auto-zoom and the subs will be cut off.

All in all, I think the BD35 (and 55) do a great job with non-anamorphic titles.
 

MielR

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I know that some DVD players will correctly re-position the subtitles when a letterboxed DVD is zoomed- I wonder if there are any blu-ray players that do the same (?)

Oddly enough, my sister's RCA DVD player did a good job of zooming while keeping the subs visible (before the player stopped working, that is). :P
 

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