Mass DVD player vs. highly customized PC - which one is better for video quality?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Javier_Huerta, Mar 11, 2002.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    I'm deciding which source will get the nod as my primary source for entertainment in my HT.

    I own an Infocus 340, which has digital, computer, S-Video, and composite inputs. I'm trying to decide whether to use my Pioneer DV-414 or my PC as my DVD source.

    I'd connect the Pioneer using the S-Video cable. I don't know what kind of hardware to use on the PC, but I guess I'd get something like a Radeon and connect it to the projector using the computer interface.

    My questions are - what would I need to buy to my computer in order to get the best picture possible? A Radeon, an SB with digital output, or is there some other thing? And, would it look better than the Pioneer? I know sometimes simplicity is the best answer, and I wouldn't want to spend lots of money upgrading my computer for nothing.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Sihan Goi

    Sihan Goi Second Unit

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    If you have a projector capable of progressive scan via component or RGB input, a HTPC would be the obvious choice over a non-progressive DVD player for image quality, especially when you're using S-Video for the DVD player. The difference will most probably be astounding even to an untrained eye. However, the HTPC would cost more, and while its much more flexible and configurable, its also harder to setup and get right for the novice. Whether the improvement is worth the trouble is up to you. If you're comfortable with computers, then a HTPC is the way to go. If not, you might wanna settle for a good progressive scan capable DVD player and use the component output instead.
     
  3. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for your answer!

    My DVD player is not progressive-scan, and my projector doesn't have "conventional" HDTV inputs, so my next best bet is an HTPC.

    I can buy one from my uncle (a Celeron 300 with 256 MB RAM), load it with a Radeon card and DVD plus a digital SB, and use it to store MP3s, too. I don't have an HTPC with me right now, so I don't know whether the difference is that great. I tried my projector with my laptop, but sadly it has a Luxsonor decoder, which has the worst video quality I've ever seen from DVD.

    I think I'll go the HTPC route. Thanks!
     
  4. Sihan Goi

    Sihan Goi Second Unit

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    Well, does your projector even support progressive scan in any input? I remember that quite a few Infocus projectors don't. I'm not sure about the 340. If it does, you should notice quite a big difference.

    However, a 300MHz Celeron processor probably isn't gonna cut it, unless you plan to overclock it to 450MHz or more. Then there's the problem of stability, but Celeron 300A's are known to clock to 450MHz pretty reliably. If you're worried, get at least a 500MHz P2/P3.

    Also, an SB Live! might not be such a good idea. There have been problems with its digital output. You might want to look into other alternatives.
     
  5. Dzung Pham

    Dzung Pham Second Unit

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    The Infocus projectors are known for having pretty good scaling of interlaced sources so plugging your dvd player directly into the projector should give you fine results. An HTPC will give the best picture for film-based dvds but it won't be as user friendly. Sihan is right, you will likely need a faster processor. The more recent Live Value II cards should be fine for digital output but there are cheaper cards out there will work as well.
    You may want to post in the Computers and HTPC Area and you will likely get more responses. Avsforum.com also has a very good HTPC forum.
     
  6. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    We've used Hollywood plus decoder cards (
     
  7. Sihan Goi

    Sihan Goi Second Unit

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    OK...I wasn't aware that you had a separate hardware decoder card. However, from what I've read, a general purpose video card doing software decoding might perform even better than a hardware decoder...
     
  8. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Exactly. I own a decoder card, but that's on my laptop. And it has the worst video quality I've ever seen. So bad, in fact, that I prefer to use SoftDVD Max working with my ATI Rage LT (included on my laptop) when watching movies.

    OTOH, I could always buy my sister's computer, a 450 MHz PII. It already has an ATI card, although it's just the 128 Fury. I might want to upgrade to the Radeon.

    As for sound cards, any advise on which one to get? I didn't know SBs had any issues.
     
  9. Sihan Goi

    Sihan Goi Second Unit

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    SB Live!'s have some issues with incorrect S/PDIF voltages which might fry your receiver. Since I don't own one, I don't know if this is indeed the case, or are there other problems. From reviews, it has some problems with its frequency response as well though.

    A decent card to get would be the M-Audio Audiophile 2496, but you'd lose any gaming support. You'd be able to play games on stereo, but not on any game 3D/surround formats(EAX, A3D, Sensurround, etc)
     
  10. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    Using a PC for your DVD's, you will have to do some video customizing for the best picture quality. Straight 480p (regular VGA) scales the DVD's 720 pixels horizontally to be 640. And for an SVGA 800 x 600 4:3 projector, custom scaling is needed to put the video on the inner 480 scan lines for a widescreen picture without scaling artifacts or 450 scan lines for an absolutely correct 16:9 aspect ratio.
    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     

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