Cheap Progressive review-DD6040, SD3900, S25

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by JohnSterling, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. JohnSterling

    JohnSterling Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been using a Toshiba SD-4800 now for about 9-10 months with my 3 1/2 year old Mitz 55" HDTV. Overall, I've really enjoyed the player except for the Chroma bug that it shows. The bug finally got enough on my nerves that I figured it was time for something new.

    I ran off to Best Buy and bought 3 of the cheap Progressive scan players. Mitz DD-6040, Toshiba SD-3900 and Panasonic S35.

    My test DVD's were Moulin Rouge (Chroma Bug), Toy Story (Chroma Bug), Star Wars E1 (3:2 pull down), Janet Jackson Hawiian concert video (30FPS-Video format) and Saving Private Ryan (DTS Sound).

    All the players were hooked up directly to the HDTV set via the component cables.

    The 6040 was first. Overall, showed a good picture. As good as my old 4800, and without the Chroma bug. However, the 'zoom' feature (which I personally use a lot to minimize the top and bottom black borders on some movies) was BAD. No..it was VERY BAD. Extreme blurryness...even on the first level of zoom. Scratch one player.

    Second was the 3900. Great picture. Only the slightest visible Chroma bug. GREAT GREAT zoom. GREAT sound. However, no matter what movie I used, the picture was very 'dark'. Like the black was set up to high or something. I messed around as much as I could with the TV and the player...but I could never really get around this VERY DARK PICTURE. If anyone know of a hack or something...I'd be very interested to hear about it. TTT DVD was unwatchable with this player. I was litterally squinting at the screen during the majority of the movie.

    Last was the Panasonic S35. Just SLIGHTLY better picture than the 3900.(I noticed some details in Toy Story that I hadn't with either the 3900 or the DD6040)..but it has an adjustable black level, so that really made a huge difference. That could have also explained the 'detail' difference. No visible chroma bug. Sound is good...but not as good as the 3900. The S35 only has an optical digital sound output...no coax, which is another bummer for me. Low point on this player is it's 'user friendlyness'. Can't really explain...but the Toshiba is just very easy to use when compared to the Panasonic. Maybe it's because I've been using a Toshiba...dunno.

    The last straw for the 3900 was I could not get it to play the Janet Jackson DVD (Video, 4:3) correctly. No matter what I fiddled with, it wanted stretch the image across the 16:9 screen. I flipped through the manual several times...but couldn't sort it out.

    I only play movies with my DVD players...so I have no idea how the other formats (DVD RAM, JPG, MP3, etc...) perform.

    Winners:
    Picture: S35
    Sound: 3900 (but the S35 was very close)
    Features: S35
    Ease of Use: 3900
    Apparant Build Quality: S35
    All the remotes completely sucked...so tie for last.

    Both the S35 and 3900 cost about $75-$77.
    The DD6040 cost $95.

    I'll be returning the 3900 and DD6040.

    Hope this is helpfull.
     
  2. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    Nice "Review" John [​IMG]
     
  3. Jay Blair

    Jay Blair Second Unit

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    The Toshiba outputs 0 IRE instead of the more typical 7.5 in the U.S. and the player itself has no way to adjust it that I know of. But once your display device (or in my case an Iscan Ultra) is adjusted to compensate, the Toshiba puts out a very nice picture. I nearly returned my Toshiba until I figured out what was going on. I also have a JVC player that does the same thing, but the JVC has a way to adjust the IRE level inside the player.

    What makes the Toshiba shine above most other low end players is its ability to play discs from every region and to do proper conversion of PAL discs to NTSC right out of the box (with a simple hack using the remote).
     
  4. JohnSterling

    JohnSterling Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the info, Jay. At least I know I'm not completely out in left field. I did try to get my set to compensate for the black levels...but I never could get it just "right".

    Now that I've had a few days with the Panasonic, I'm growing more and more impressed with it's built in feature set. It's to bad Toshiba hadn't thought to include all the groovy gadgets the Panny has in it.
     
  5. JohnSterling

    JohnSterling Stunt Coordinator

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    Jay,

    Because of your comments, I thought I would hook the 3900 back up last night and run it through the full VE setup. (Video...not audio).

    LONG story short...I was unable to correct for the black level...no matter what combination of settings I tried. I spent a full hour and a half adjusting for the 3900. (I sent you an email reguarding this).

    So...this either re-inforces your comments, or, maybe I have a defective unit?????

    Assuming you're correct, it amazes me that Toshiba would release a unit like this. I would consider this a 'consumer' grade DVD player...where the average buyer of the product isn't going to be a super-duper high-fi geek who's in the know about these types of issues. If this were 'feature' in a $1000 player aimed specifically at the Hi-Fi crowd, I guess I wouldn't be so surprised.

    I wonder how many folks out there are squinting at their TV while using this player?
     
  6. Jay Blair

    Jay Blair Second Unit

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    John, you have two e-mails from me.

    I'm not sure the problem lies with Toshiba. There seems to be some disagreement as to how component output should be set up in DVD players, whether it should be set to 0 IRE or 7.5 IRE. Many players have adjustments in the player to allow for either. Toshiba with the 3900 decided to save a penny or two and not give you the ability to adjust the black level. It is the major weakness of this player, though for me a very minor flaw.

    I don't have any answers, I've just learned to set up my system to go with either black level and still get a great picture. I do know that of the 4 players in my system, two were set up to output 0 IRE from the factory and two set to 7.5 IRE, though only the Toshiba forces you to use 0 IRE in order to set blacks to blacker than black; the other 3 players, including one Panasonic model (an HS2 DVD recorder) have settings to adjust the black level in the players themselves.

    If the TV or projector someone is using has two inputs that allow black levels to be set independently for each input, this shouldn't be a problem; but if someone's system only has one input, then of course not being able to adjust the Toshiba black level in the Toshiba itself could be a hassle.

    John, having said all that, it could be that your Toshiba is defective, though I doubt it. I'd just go with the Panasonic and return the Toshiba, unless you need the ability to play discs from other regions, then the Toshiba is the only choice between the two and I'd try another unit just to make sure you didn't get a defective player the first time.

    Also note that the Toshiba is in general, considering its low price, getting rave reviews both in print and on the internet.
     
  7. JohnSterling

    JohnSterling Stunt Coordinator

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    Jay...email going back your way.

    I think I'll swap for a different 3900 and give it another go. I'll let you know how things turn out.

    Many thanks for your input.
     
  8. Don_Berg

    Don_Berg Supporting Actor

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    You should try the JVC model at Best Buy too, I compared it with the Panasonic S35 and the JVC was superior with more features. The S35 has a problem with window-boxing 4:3 video for a 16:9 display, menus (which use subtitles for the selection items) are screwed up - it appearently scales the background but not the selections/subtitles! Also some text on menus flickers on the Panasonic S35 and I can see why on an AVIA DVD resolution test pattern - lots of flickering areas with certain patterns! The JVC doesn't have those problems and has more complete custom gamma,brightness,contrast,color,tint,sharpness setting too. The JVC also loads way faster for all types of discs (DVD-ROM,DVD+-R,+=RW,CDR/RW) like 5sec vs 30-60sec on other models.
     
  9. AnthonyB

    AnthonyB Auditioning

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    Another annoying thing about the SD3900 is that the black level on the component output was different depending on if progressive mode was enabled or disabled. I like to disable progressive for some material, but as others have noted, you have no control over the player's black level, which stinks.

    Also, is there anyway to disable onscreen displays on the SD3900? I was watching a couple disks with multiple camera angles, and it was getting incredibly annoying to see the camera icon popup constantly. Most players let you disable onscreen displays, or just the multi-angle indicator.

    I watch lots of 4:3 material on my Sony HiScan 4:3 set. The Toshiba is the only player that I've tested that does not output the 4:3/16:9 flag (not sure what the proper term for this is) with the video signal, so my set does not automatically squeeze 16:9 sources when set to interlaced mode (which I like to use sometimes because the sets pulldown detection is oftentimes better than cheaper DVD players).

    Finally, is there anyway to resume play on a disc from where you left off after turning power off? Many players will now memorize your spot on the last 5 or so (JVC remembers 30 I believe) DVDs that you played.

    The SD3900 had a very nice picture, but really lacked in what I consider to be some very basic but necessary features. It's too bad because I thought that the progressive picture output on the Toshiba was better than the S35, JVC 50BK, and Sony 525.
     
  10. JohnSterling

    JohnSterling Stunt Coordinator

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    So...went to exchange the 3900 today...and, guess what. They were out. Crap-o-la.

    But...having read Don's post from earlier...I thought I'd give the JVC 50BK a shot. Now going into this, I've owned 2 JVC players. One of which is still in use in the bedroom on a 27" TV. They have been good players, but nothing special, and, if anything, overly cumbersome to work with. (AKA-Not user friendly IMHO).

    So, I was a bit negatively biased as I opened up the box. I will say that, if you simply want to impress you friends with how an (inexpensive) DVD player **LOOKS**...the JVC is the easy winner between the 4 players I've tested this past week. Slim. Black. (Black is nice...silver is still wierd to me). Good buttons. Cool blue-glowing thing on the front. Really a slick, expensive looking player.

    Anyway...the main beef I had with the Panny 35 was it's vibrating text and it's tendency to create shimmering edges on high-contrast and non-moving scenes. (ie-Monsters Inc.) Other than those two 'slightly' annoying issues...I've been really happy with the Panny the last few days.

    So I start up the JVC with Monsters Inc right off the bat...and *woof*...rock solid imaging. Nothing glittering...dancing...flashing...shimmering...not hing. What's the words??? "Film Like".

    So...go through the Video Essentials setup...then back to movies.....

    Already long story short...the JVC has BLOWN ME AWAY. Really nice tweakability. AMAZING color depth. (I've never known that Moulin Rouge has so many SHADES of red....) Just an absolutely gorgeous picture on everything I threw at it....

    ***AS LONG AS YOU'RE RUNNING PROGRESSIVE****

    I tried a few "films" and "videos" with interlaced...and they looked seriously like crap. I would NOT buy this player if you're going to run just interlaced.

    The JVC is a bit more to manage. I spent quite a bit of time in the menus changing settings after swapping DVD's...but in the end..it was well worth it.

    One note: If anyone has the FULL SPEC on what JVC refers to as "Wide Range" audio...I'm really interested. This setting caused my 2 Shiva based subs to bottom out during the opening scenes of Star Wars E2...which has NEVER happened under normal listening conditions since I built them. The 'Normal' setting sounded just that...like my system 'normally' sounds with other DVD players.

    The Catch:
    As I said...I use the "zoom" a lot. The JVC's zoom is hardly better than the Mitsubishi's. It's basically worthless for me. This is a serious drawback...but I have to say that the picture is so stunning, that I'll be returning the Panasonic and keeping the JVC.

    Surprise, surprise. Thanks Don.
     

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