HD cable boxes: Scientific Atlantic 3100 vs. Pioneer 3500?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by ScottWR, Oct 19, 2003.

  1. ScottWR

    ScottWR Auditioning

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    I currently have the Scientific Atlantic 3100 HD cable box, and it has an inherent design flaw: it only outputs 1080i via component video out, even for non-1080i material. This causes formating issues with my Hitachi SWX51 RPTV since the TV only treats 1080i signals as 16:9 or 16:9 zoom. Thus, non-16:9 material only displays in its native 4:3 or I have to zoom to fit the screen and cut off too much)

    Time Warner cable in San Diego doesn't carry the new Scientific Atlantic 3250 box that has fixed this problem, but they do carry a Pioneer 3500. It sounds like it might be a better box than the SA 3100.

    Does anyone have experience with the Pioneer 3500 HD cable box?
     
  2. Jim Rakowiecki

    Jim Rakowiecki Stunt Coordinator

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    As a matter of fact I have used both. I am currently using the Pioneer box but started with the SA.
    I don't know that one is inherently better than the other in terms of video output or video quality but I can tell you what I have found otherwise.
    The Pioneer box has aspect ratio control in it's software package which may help in your situation the SA 3100 did not when I was using it. However I do know that TW here in Milwaukee uses the Pioneer software on both SA and Pioneer boxes to maintain a continuity for users. I don't know the aspect control is a function of hardware or software but it is something I have some to apreciate.
    The other major difference I have see in the two boxes is in audio outputs. The Pioneer box has two sets of audio outs while the SA has only one. This may seem trivial but if your hooking up directly to a TV it can be bothersome because you do need two outs if you want to use an s-video cable for the normal side of the TV. Unfortunately I did not get the Pioneer box until I had already spent $125.00 on a distribution amp.
    Other than that they both were pretty much the same as far as I can tell but I never really had a chance to do a side by side comparrison between them.
     
  3. ScottWR

    ScottWR Auditioning

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    Thanks, Jim. Does the Pioneer have component video out and digital audio coaxial out? If so, it sounds like what I'm looking for with its aspect ratio control.
     
  4. Don_Berg

    Don_Berg Supporting Actor

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    The Pioneer model is 10x better than the SA3100HD. It has component video out and digital coax audio. Very high quality upconversion of SD material and you can select a variety of output options. You can let it pass thru SD analog channels as 480i and output HD channels either all as 1080i or at the native rate if your TV can handle 720p too.
     
  5. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    I have a Pioneer brochure that I picked up at CES in January. The Pioneer's features as basically the same as the Scientific Atlanta 3250HD.
     
  6. Jim Rakowiecki

    Jim Rakowiecki Stunt Coordinator

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    Yep, the Pioneer has component, composite, S-video and coax out as well as digital coax and the above mentioned two stereo outs.
     
  7. Rick_Brown

    Rick_Brown Second Unit

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    So, I can just buy the Pioneer and substitute it for my Atlanta and it will work for sure? My cable company won't care?
     
  8. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    No, unfortunatley it's not the simple Rick. At least not yet. If you talked to enough people, you might get a Pioneer authorised on Rogers' system, but I'm sure they'd deny you any sort of support on it. It might work...it might not. Apparently they are citing software problems as the reason they haven't rolled out the 3250HD yet.
     
  9. ScottWR

    ScottWR Auditioning

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    What would do a better job with the 480i-to-1080i upconversion: The Pioneer 3500 cable box or my Hitachi 51SWX20B RPTV? My guess is on the Hitachi, but Ron_Berg said the Pioneer also had very high upconversion quality. Thanks!
     

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