Need suggestion for valid PAL to NTSC player

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Giancarlo, Dec 5, 2001.

  1. Giancarlo

    Giancarlo Auditioning

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    Hi everybody. I'm new here and this is my first message, so please forgive me if I'm asking something obvious but after reading lots of messages all over the web and in this forum, I still am not 100% sure about what I'm doing, so I'd like some friendly advice. [​IMG]
    I recently moved from Europe to the US and brought my DVD R2 collection with me. So I got myself a region free player (a modified GE model which I believe to be manifactured by Shinco).
    Back in Europe I had an Apex player, which worked nicely and did an adequate (if unspectacular) job of letting me watch NTSC R1 discs on my PAL TV. So when I saw the GE/Shinco and, from the menus, saw that it seemed to have the same firmware as my old Apex (same 'loophole' menu too) I thought I was ok.
    Unfortunately I soon discovered I was wrong: the player does its job on non-anamorphic discs but if I try to watch an anamorphic disc on my 4:3 TV (a JVC 32D502), the picture is displayed in 'squeezed' format, filling the whole screen, instead of the proper aspect ratio. I tried setting the player in all modes (4:3 P&S, 4:3 Letterbox and 16x9 Anamorphic) but I get the same exact result.
    My TV doesn't have an anamorphic mode feature, so currently the only workaround I found is to access the TV service mode and manually change the V Size setting to squeeze the picture vertically everytime I want to watch a R2 anamorphic disc. This is quite annoying, obviously. So I'm looking for a solution that does not involve getting a new TV.
    Someone told me that I configure the player to output a PAL signal (instead of having it perform the conversion= and use an external PAL to NTSC converter, this would fix the problem, but I'm not sure this is true (and besides, I haven't found a PAL to NTSC converter that costs less than $150/200 yet).
    I'm thinking about biting the bullet and get a new Region free player. Can anyone recommend a player that does not suffer from the above problem? I seem to understand that the Malata players are immune from this, but before I buy another one I'd be very happy if someone could confirm this to me. Also, I've read about Malata players suffering from glitches/problems, so I don't want to exchange a problem player for another flawed one.
    Thanks for any help/suggestions.
    Giancarlo
     
  2. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    Well, the Malata apparently nearly was the cure-all for fellow NTSC-only users to be able to see everything else, but you heard correctly, the Malata has its share of little bugs and problems. Read more about it here:
    http://www.avdeals.com/damnmalatas.htm
    I understand that there are supposed to be other players available shortly (?) that use the same chipset as the Malata, but so far I haven't heard anything about that.
    After some saving, I personally got myself a European TV, capable of handling both PAL and NTSC, driven by my European modified Sony DVD player, but this will be beyond your budget, I guess...
    Hope this helped anyway.
    -Christian
     
  3. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    For the record, I'm still very happy with the Malata N996. There are a handful of discs that give it fits (Phantom Menace and Stargate SG-1 come to mind), but I just don't bother using them in it. The list is a heck of a lot shorter than the discs that won't play properly in 1st gen Toshibas. The ability to finetune the zoom and adjust x-y is worth its weight in gold, as far as I'm concerned, and it has worked just great for me. I think that avdeals' frustrations with Malata China have rubbed off on users and given this player a worse rep than it really deserves.
     
  4. Giancarlo

    Giancarlo Auditioning

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    Thanks for the replies. I cannot afford an European multistandard TV so I guess I'll have to get a Malata after all. If the glitches are limited to incompatibilities with a few titles, I can live with that (I have a second NTSC R1-only player as a backup): I was more worried about it being unable to handle properly some features across all titles (such as the early Apex players and their troubles with lip synch and seamless branching).
    Does the XY fine tuning feature mean that I still have to tweak the vertical size of the picture on a title by title basis or does the Malata perform a good anamorphic PAL to NTSC conversion by itself?
    Also, does the Malata DVD 900-R offer the same feature? Most ads simply say that it performs PAL to NTSC but don't say if it has the anamorphic squeeze problem. The only other difference I could see is that the 996 has a built-in DTS/AC3 decoder, while the 900-R does not.
    Considering that I don't need the DTS/AC3 stuff, I'm wondering which one is best. [​IMG]
    Thanks again for the help.
     
  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Are most of the Malata's glitches on R1 titles? I have a Panny RP91 that I watch all R1 titles on and am looking for a cheap PAL/NTSC capable multiregion DVD player.
     
  6. Scott Barnhart

    Scott Barnhart Stunt Coordinator

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    The N996 doesn't seem to have any "across-all-titles" glitches like the Apex does, just some problems with some titles. I also have an R1-only player I use for known problem titles like "Phantom Menace".

    Although you *can* adjust the X or Y axis separately, you don't need to - the N996 is spot on for anamorphic PAL discs right out of the box, both when playing back to a 4x3 TV or a 16x9 TV.

    The 900 doesn't use the Mediamatics chipset, so it suffers the same problems with anamorphic PAL playback as do the Apexes, Shincos, Sampos, etc. Get the N996, there is NO substitute!

    Also, the N996 is a progressive DVD player, and can output both NTSC and PAL progressive, either via RGB or component output.

    Although it can be a little bit quirky to setup, this player has so many features that other players don't, that it is worth its weight in gold - at least to me.
     
  7. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    Now I'm really curious... the Malata N996 can output RGB? Through what kind of connector? Scart? And where can you still get one for a good price? AVDeal's price was pretty damn good, I have to say...

    -Christian
     
  8. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    The Malata can indeed output RGB (at least, that's one of the output choices on the menu). As far as the connectors, I plead innocence of firsthand information. However, the following comes from a series of posts at AVS Forums (sorry, while I was gleaning Malata info, I didn't keep names):
    ===
    If the Malata doesn't have a VGA-out, then what do I need to get to convert the component-out from the player to the VGA in on the projector (Infocus LP-425z)? Do I need to get a component-VGA breakout cable (expensive!) or can I get a VGA-BNC cable and then get the BNC-RCA adapters for the RGB cables?
    A friend who's interested in the same subject mailed Tomi Engdahl, the author of the VGA-workstation monitor FAQ , and received a very informative answer (the FAQ is good reading too).
    I'm paraphrasing what was explained to me, so it may not be absolutely correct. From what I understand, it may be possible to directly hook the Malata to the projector using a 5-BNC-to-VGA cable and BNC-RCA adapters; it ultimately depends on the modes supported by the projector.
    If the projector supports sync on green then you can connect the RGB leads to the Malata, leaving the other two free. Set the Malata to the SYNC G+SYNC B R.
    If the projector supports composite sync and the Malata outputs a strong enough signal, connect the RGB leads to the Malata and the HSYNC or VSYNC lead (both may have to be tried) to the yellow composite output of the Malata. Set the Malata to SYNC G B R.
    If this doesn't work, an additional circuit may be needed to extract HSYNC and VSYNC from the composite sync. This is apparently explained in the FAQ linked above.
    So, if I read your post right, if it does accept a sync on green sigal, all I need to purchase is a VGA to 5 BNC adapter and 3 BNC to RCA adapters. Otherwise, it might be better to buy a transcoder for $120 (even though the Malata will send a progressive signal via S-Video.
    From what I was told (and I haven't tried this), it looks like a VGA-5-BNC cable + RCA adapters will be fine if the projector supports either sync on green or composite sync. Otherwise you'd need additional circuitry. I looked at the specs for your projector and didn't see anything listed; you might try contacting technical support.
    According to the chart, the 425z has separate Hsync and Vsync, Digital Composite Sync, and Composite Sync On Green for all interlaced and non interlaced sources via the VGA. Also, it says specifically states that the input connection via VGA is RGBHV.
    So, what do I need now? Will a simple VGA to 5-BNC cable work, using just the RGB outs on the DVD player with RCA to BNC adapters and setting the Malata to the correct mode? Or am I still going to need a transcoder?
    If the VGA-BNC adapter will work, what progressive mode do I need to use for Sync on Green? The Malata has the following settings:
     NONE Y Pb Pr
     Y G B R
     Y Y Pb Pr
     SYNC G B R
     Y G+SYNC B R
     SYNC G+SYNC B R
    http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum10/HTML/006683.html
    Greg:
    All (And I mean it!!)the information you need to either make or buy a breakout cable is in the above thread (Projector's forum).
    The Malata does NOT have the 15-pin VGA connector on the back like the CineUltra does, however, using a breakout cable and the Expert Menu, you can configure the 3 RCA connectors usually used for YCbCr to output RGB or RGB w/ Sync-on-green. I don't know if that is equivalent to VGA, but I think it is.
    ======
    This is all gibberish to me, but perhaps those with projectors will know what's being talked about.
    The anamorphic PAL picture is displayed flawlessly on the Malata N996; I use the zoom function all the time to eliminate overscan, which greatly increases my enjoyment of movies, and the panning function to get black-bar subtitles up onto the screen. The x-y comes in handy when material is improperly encoded, which is rare, but when it happens I'm very glad to have it. I think one of the documentaries on the Witchfinder General disc had this problem. The difference in picture between this and my old multiregion, the legendary Apex 600A, is night and day. My La Reine Margot R2 disc looked washed out and awful on the Apex, and now it's gorgeous.
    I got mine at http://www.220-electronics.com/ and they shipped it double-boxed. I don't know what their customer service is like since I haven't had any problems, but they shipped it out the day after I ordered, so they're quick.
     
  9. Scott Barnhart

    Scott Barnhart Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark is correct. You use the component hookups. On the Malata, they are labeled "Y" "Pb" and "Pr", and they are colored Red, Green and Blue. So if you are in RGB mode, then for RGB (no sync) you just hook up the the 3 component outputs using a VGA-5BNC cable (with BNC-RCA adaptors), leaving the other 2 dangling.

    If you are in RGB (sync-on-green), you do the same.

    If you are in RGB (composite sync), you hook the 4th cable to the Malata's composite connector.

    Because there are not enough RCA jacks on the Malata, it doesn't support RGB-HV (separate horizontal and vertical sync).

    I have tested all of these types of connections to a NEC LT150 front projector, using both PAL and NTSC discs in progressive mode, and it works fine.
     
  10. Tony Aguila

    Tony Aguila Stunt Coordinator

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    Carlo, the Malata N996 will complement your RP91 very well. I don't know if it has problems with non-region one titles, since I don't have that many, and most of the ones I have are region 2 (PAL). The major problem with the Malata is playing CDs, but if you have the RP91 then it's irrelevant. It does automatic scaling, just like the Panny, except that when it senses a progressive 4:3 signal, it forces it to zoom in, filling the screen horizontally, and therefore cropping the top and bottom.
    My receiver has only two component outs and I now have three DVD players. Fortunately my projector also has BNC inputs, so I just got a BNC/RCA component cable, problem solved.
    I use the Malata solely for playing non-region one DVDs. I noticed that the pan and scaling change between PAL and NTSC discs, so for normal use, I just have it set for PAL and my projector is PAL compatible so I don't even need the PAL-NTSC conversion in the Malata. And as long as you don't unplug it or press the power button on the player (i.e., use the remote power switch), it will retain your pan and scaling settings.
    It's not as nice as the RP91, but now I can watch The Color Trilogy, Bound (anamorphic), Stargate (DTS), The Last Seduction... and so on... [​IMG]
     
  11. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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  12. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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  13. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    Hi Ted,
    Thanks for the information. I am more interested in this player for other people than for me. I don't have to many non-anamorphic titles where the zoom of the TV is a problem, and the RBG anamorphic video via Scart is still good enough for me [​IMG].
    In fact, I'll probably get a new player in Europe when I go back to Germany over the holidays. It will be another Sony player, because I don't want to do without the removed user prohibitions, so I can skip/ff any trailers, switch any audio on the fly, and remove forced subtitles. Sony is apparently the only brand where they can do this...
    But I am glad you can enjoy you PAL set fully with the Malata. [​IMG]
    -Christian
     
  14. Gareth Flynn

    Gareth Flynn Stunt Coordinator

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  15. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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    Count me as interested as well, because I do have "mandatory" subtitle stuff that I'd like to watch without subs and I won't turn my nose up at an SCART RGB connection either. I would keep the Malata, but replace my R1 Toshiba 3109.

    Christian, why do you feel the need to replace your old Sony?

    BTW, from what I have heard the original Apex players would also override the "forbiden" functions, but we don't want a CRAPex, obviously. That being the case, one would think they could mod other players besides the Sony in that way...

    Ted
     
  16. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    Ted, Gareth,
    Basically all (European) Sony players can be modified like this, check out the players available here:
    http://www.techtronics.com/uk/shop/5...d-players.html
    and more info about region changes is also available here:
    http://www.dvdupgrades.info
    (These guys actually work together, as far as I understand.)
    I will be replacing my current Sony because it has some problems (hanging) on discs that work fine on other players. Looks like the drive/error correction isn't the best.
    _When_ it plays something, it does it well, but it seems to be a little bit picky about what discs it plays without problems.
    I will order from a German guy, just so I don't need an adaptor for the UK three-pin plugs. Also, Techtronics doesn't have the 900 in stock, so there you go [​IMG].
    If you have more questions, let me know.
    Cheers,
    -Christian
     
  17. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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    Hi Christian,

    Can we order from your German guy too, or does one have to be in Germany to do it?

    Why did you choose the Sony 900 in particular over their other models -- forgive but my knowledge of Sony DVD players is non-existent.

    Cheers,

    Ted
     
  18. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    Hi Ted,
    The guy is Karsten Becker, but his site is German only, and you cannot pay with credit card, only in advance or via COD (I'll do the latter via my parents). That makes shipping abroad pretty much impossible (he is doing this on his own, but collaborates with Fredric Steinfels from DVD Upgrades as well).
    Why the 900? Well, it's the same price range as my 725 from two (three?) generations before, and it had a pretty decent review on the German Area DVD site. And I hope those drive/error correction difficulties my current player shows are non-existent.
    That's pretty much the only reason, otherwise the 400 or 700 would suit me fine specs-wise. The 900 is actually also an SACD player, but that doesn't play into my decision here at all. Actually, the 900 is also available in the States (without SCART of course), offering progressive outputs.
    And it's not exactly cheap, I noticed. I'll pay about $300 less for the European model than the US one. Let's hope I can get it through Customs without a problem [​IMG].
    Let me know if I can provide any more info [​IMG].
    -Christian
     
  19. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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