opinions on Silicon Images iScanPro/Plusv2

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Marklund, May 16, 2002.

  1. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Came across this product surfing the web. Best as I can tell it deinterlaces everything one sends to it (cable,vhs,non progressive scan dvd,etc..)Is that really what this does? Seems it may be an alternative to a HDTV satellite system as it would deinterlace all cable channels. Would that give me 480p for all channels? I realize 480p is not quite 1080i, but there's only a handful of programs in 1080i. And improving the image on all tv shows would be cool.

    If anybody has one of these or has knowledge, your help would be greatly appreciated. If this thing does what I think it does, I'm getting one ASAP!

    Thanks,

    MM
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Michael,

    I don't own one, but I have seen good results with one. The Silicon Images folks are well respected.
     
  3. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    The iScan products do an excellent job of making 480p out of any regular NTSC interlaced source except broadcasts with lots of snow or videotapes with lots of video noise. The Pro version also takes PAL input in which case the output is 576p.
    They can also be used as "NTSC to VGA" converters giving an extremely sharp TV picture on a PC monitor, excellent for dorm room or other limited space.
    They all do 3-2 pulldown optimizing of film source video including from VHS tape, and they do better non-film de-interlacing than many digital-ready TV sets and some progressive DVD players, and they don't need manual de-interlacing mode selection.
    Still you should wait until you find fault with the TV or DVD player de-interlacing before buying the iScan. A few TV sets and DVD players use iScan innards (Silicon Image chipsets) for their de-interlacing and if that is the case, buying an iScan of course won't improve anything.
    I have an older version (version 1) and am very pleased with it.
    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/viddoubl.htm
     
  4. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Allan,

    Thanks for replying. I was really hoping to find someone with one of these. Shankar (sp?), I know is another who has one. Anyways, Help me. If I understand this right, the SI unit will deinterlace everything sent to it (aka my digital cable box signal) and effectively double my resolution. Hopefully reducing terrible jaggies that are driving me nuts. While this is not HDTV,480p is better than 480i and it does significantly improve my picture.

    You expressed concern over my tv being able to handle the SI's input or more correctly, whether my tv has a deinterlacer built in that would preclude the SI making improvements. If I am correct, my tv does not have a deinterlacer ( last year's Mitsu 65" Diamond, hdtv ready). Second, my dvd player is not a progressive scan. In my upgrade process, I am waiting for a dvd player that runs either the Faroudja or Silicon Image 504 chip with No Chroma Bug. The new Denon's were my first choice but...

    So, assuming my tv will deal with the signal from the iScan, and until I get a prog scan dvd; the iScan may/will make a huge difference in picture quality for me.
     
  5. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    Clarifications:

    It is hard to say which jaggies will be reduced. Some jaggies were captured that way when the program was televised where the only way to eliminate them is to blend scan lines together, called vertical filtering, the result is an overall softer picture with less resolution.

    Folks have had mixed results with cable and also satellite TV because cable companies on average compress the video on both digital and analog channels. On analog channels more color smearing can be introduced. If the video has snow (video noise) or lots of pixellation or graininess (due to too much digital compression), the iScan and also most other good doublers will not select their best mode for de-interlacing and may produce a not so good picture. For non-film source, good doublers work with several modes and change modes hundreds of times per video frame.

    The de-interlacer already in the TV will not forbid you from attaching an iScan. However the de-interlacer in the TV may be so good that the iScan has nothing more to offer. Almost all TV sets that accept the iScan at all (480p input) also have a built ini de-interlacer of some sort.

    If you can audition an iScan with your equipment that would be the best thing to do.
     
  6. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Allan,

    Thanks again. I think I'm getting it now. My intent is to get a good progressive scan dvd once there's one out that has what I want and no chroma bug. That unit will not get run through the iScan. What I am after is an improvement in my cable tv signal for daily tv viewing. I reread my manual on the Mitsu. I do not see mention of an internal deinterlacer. The set is hdtv "ready" but no internal decoder. Does that mean I do not have an internal deinterlacer? Or can one have a hdtv ready set and still have a deinterlacer inside? If there is one already in there, the iScan may not be for me. However, if there isn't one, the iScan is my next purchase.

    Since getting my big screen, I have been thrilled with the picture, but am being driven crazy by the jaggies. The bigger screen simply shows more faults with broadcast signals. Can't imagine what the faults would look like on a 8' front projection screen. Am hoping the iScan would help. I understand also about what happens with how signals are set by the cable company compressing things.

    Sorry to keep picking your brain so much, just trying to see if this unit is for me. And test driving one is not possible. Checked SI's website and there are no dealers in my state. I would have to mail order it.

    Thanks,

    MM
     
  7. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    In order to use S-video or composite video in, or to use a built in analog tuner, "digital" TV sets either have a de-interlacer or multi speed scanning. Because it is easier to reduce problems with convergence and geometry and overscan with just one speed scanning, most "digital" TV sets have de-interlacer inside and then the TV only has to do 1080i, or in some cases 480p (sometimes drawn on the screen as 960i but using the same 480p input) and 1080i which are nearly the same compared with 480i vs. 480p which are quite different speeds.

    If you wear reasonably strong eyeglasses, seeing whether the TV gears down to 480i thus needing no de-interlacer is easy, wiggle your glasses up and down. Big gaps between scan lines will all of a sudden appear. Practice in a TV store examining some regular non-HDTV sets.

    I don't know how to prove in advance whether the iScan will eliminate the jaggies you are seeing. It is true that on a large screen, the imperfections with NTSC will be physically bigger.

    "Digital", why in quotation marks? -- Except for the de-interlacer and in some cases the comb filter and PIP, the typical "digital" TV has nothing digital inside it. The 1080i digital broadcast program tuned in by the set top box decoder is converted to analog to become the component video output to the TV.
     
  8. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Allan,

    Sounds like all "hdtv ready" tv's have an internal deinterlacer, just no decoder/tuner for hdtv broadcast. That's were a hd STB comes in w/ satellite. Assuming my tv has an interlacer, the SI unit may not help much.

    Question: the OSD on the Mitsu shows s-video,STB,480i on the screen when I turn it on. It never shows 480p. Do I need to set something on the tv to get it to 480p and use the deinterlacer, or is this already done automatically and am I actually getting 480p? Note: STB connected to tv w/ s-video, dvd connected to tv w/ component video cables. Picture on non-digital channels (#'s under 100) are much poorer quality than digital ones (#'s over 100). Would the iScan help or not enough info to be able to answer. Perhaps, I could order one if it has a 30day trial and ship it back if no improvement. Would contacting SI yield any more definitive answers?

    Thanks for helping with some rather newbie questions.

    MM
     
  9. Alan Wild

    Alan Wild Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I can contribute to this discusion. I have a Mitsubishi 46807. All Mits sets have a deinterlacer and recent models will do 3:2 pulldown.
    However, Mits. is generally considered to have one of the worst deinterlacers on the market. Also my set is known to have a chroma delay issue when used in "squeeze" mode. For an example of this chroma bug check out these (admittedly blurry shots). Notice how the red "bleeds" over onto the right edge of the border.
    With the Iscan Pro I upconvert all of my 480i sources to 480P and I use the squeeze mode in the Iscan rather than my TV set. For me this has made a noticable improvement in picture quality. I would think with a larger model Mits the improvement would only be more dramatic.
    However, that's not to say that you would feel the improvement is worth it.
    Might I recommend browsing through the message board over at http://www.hometheaterspot.com They have quite a repository of knowledge about Mits. sets and if you search you will find reviews of the Iscan Pro when used with a Mits TV.
    BTW, if you are curious as to how I have everything hooked up. I actually have a diagram online:
    http://www.madllama.net:81/~arwild01...8x14latest.png
    -Alan
     
  10. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Alan,
    Thanks to you to. That you saw a noticeable improvement in picture quality with your Mitsu is encouraging. I took a quick peak over at HT Spot. Read one thread talking about 480i/480p and settings on my set. I may not have my set adjusted/switched to 480p. (if there is such a setting in the menu.) There was talk about it in that thread. And since my tv OSD always shows 480i/s-video/STB when turned on, I may not have the interlacer on. Damn, I feel like a moron because I'm such a newbie at some of this stuff. Tonight I will go through all the menus on the Mitsu and see if there is something for 480i/480p. Even if I have this wrong and switch it, given your advice, I may get the iScan. I use my system almost 95%+ for HT and want every ounce of picture quality my budget will allow. (any other suggestions along that idea would be welcome too.)
    Thanks, and what's with the Allan/Alan thing. Last time I was in a thread everybody had the initials MM. Must be a full moon.[​IMG]
    MM
     
  11. Alan Wild

    Alan Wild Stunt Coordinator

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    The TV will always display the text "480i" if you are using a composite/F/S-video connector because that's what the input signal is. However, the line doubler is still converting the image to 480p before displaying.
    Actually, if you look in the menus there is a setting in the set to tell the line doubler to produce either 480p or 960i. There is a lso a "film" setting (if I remember correctly). These are the controls for the line doubler.
    As long as you are feeding the set a 480i image the line doubler is enabled. Only when you feed it a 480P or 1080i signal will you bypass the line doubler.
    I won't lie, the improvements on the whole were subtle and I paid $700 for that improvement. However that chroma bug I was eperiencing was driving me up a wall (it was particuliar bad for animation which I watch a lot of). So by fixing that bug I was throughly pleased with my purchase.
    -Alan
     
  12. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    The cloud in my brain is clearing.

    Got it: the conversion to 480p is automatic (since the incoming signal is s-video. That clears that up and leaves only the question as to which deinterlacer is better-internal or iScan.

    Next: 480p or 960i-same thing or is one more preferrable?

    Next: I usually leave the tv on "film"-enabling the 3:2 pulldown. Should I or not?

    Getting rid of a chroma problem would be justification for me to get the iScan. $500-700 for an improvement in picture is worth it. (probably $500 for the iScanPlus-the Pro only adds PAL and component video connections.I can live with out that for broadcast tv.)

    It now sounds like the iScan will deliver some improvement, but not huge improvement. Best thing is probably for me to buy one ( as long as it's returnable) and judge for myself. Given potential shake-ups/changes/mergers,etc in hdtv satellite companies and carriers, I am holding off on hdtv satellite system. From what I have heard, there may be major changes later this year.?? If so, I'll wait for the fallout. In the mean time, I'm really after the best picture I can get.

    Again, thanks!!

    MM
     
  13. Alan Wild

    Alan Wild Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally would still go with a "Pro" over the Plus. Some of the posts I've read at "The Spot" indicate that their is (albiet minor) performance improvements in the Pro over the Plus.

    Besides, you might find yourself one day with a Playstation 2, DSS box, or some other kind of set-top box that will output a component video signal but doesn't generate a progressive image. With the Iscan Pro that's a non-issue.

    Originally, I didn't use the component input either, but sure enough I ended up using it. In fact if you look at my wiring diagram you'll notice that I never feed a 480i signal to my set. All 480i sources are wired throught the Iscan on one input. The progressive DVDs go through the second, and the HD decoder uses the last input.

    I notice that onecall.com is currently advertising the "Pro" for $799. Frequently if you call them on the telephone and ask if there is a lower price they can quote you one. I bought mine from them at $700 so I know they have been able to offer a lower price in the past. (However, that has been almost a year ago).

    BTW, another advantage of using an Iscan Pro. You can purchase a red push attenuator that can be applied to the "Pr" wire in component signal that will reduce the amount of excessive red the set generates. There is more info on this over at "The Spot". However, in the last year there are now other ways to correct this particuliar problem without an attenuator, but the attenuator is still the quickest and easiest way to do it.

    -Alan
     
  14. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Alan,

    I think with your advice, I'll do the pro. Do you know if onecall has a 30day return policy (or something similar?)

    Any other tips on a better picture in addition to iScan??

    Thanks,

    MM
     
  15. Alan Wild

    Alan Wild Stunt Coordinator

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    1. Get a copy of Avia to callibrate your brightness/contrast/color etc.
    2. Follow some of the tips at the spot for doing a manual focus, electrostatic focus, adjusting overscan, etc.[/list=1]



      The second one technically will void your warranty and some of the tweaks can be a bit intimidating. If you aren't willing to attempt it your self I would look for someone reputable to do an ISF Callibration. Besides a callibrator has equipment to adjust some things that you simply can't. In fact, some of the guys at the spot can do the callibration and have built tools to go into the TV's firmware to fix Red Push without the use of an attenuator.



      I've never forked over the dough to bring someone in. I just use the attenuators and did several of the tweaks myself.



      Once callibrated (and using an external line-doubler) the mits can generate as good or better picture than any other RPTV on the market including the Pioneer Elites, IMHO. However, out-of-the-box, they need some work.



      -Alan
     
  16. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Alan,

    Funny you should mention that. I was on isf's website this AM looking for local calibrators. Looked as Spot's Mitsu amd tweaks threads. Didn't even have a clue there's that much to do to oen of these things. Hell, I don't even know what red push is. Anyways, I know cars inside and out, but not tv's. I'll leave it to the pros from Dover to calibrate my set. I think between that and the iScanPro, I'll be in good shape. Sidebar question: if I do have isf work their magic, would I be better off to have all my cables replaced and a new dvd player before calibration? I was already planning on getting away from the Monster cables I have and going to something like Kimber Heros/Video cables. Definately will get a new dvd once one comes out that I like around $1k.

    Cheers,

    MM
     
  17. Alan Wild

    Alan Wild Stunt Coordinator

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    Really we are getting offtopic for "Audio/Video sources" if we continue to talk about TVs.
    I don't want to start a cables debate. I personally do feel that cables matter so I would say get the cables first. However, the amount of difference a cable can make is on the whole small so it doesn't really matter that much.
    However, the DVD player matters quite a bit. DVD players do differ in performance and the ISF would callibrate around that. (Ie if your player produces an image that is two dark the display would be slightly brighter to compensate). If you swap players then bets are off.
    Never mind things like overscan.
    If you want to know more about things like red push keep reading at "The Spot". I just did a search in the Mitsubishi "Tweaks" forum and ran accross this explanation.
    -Alan
     
  18. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Alan,

    I agree, we are getting off topic for this category.Bummer, b/c your advice and links are both helpful and very enlightening for a newbie. Hmph, they're also somewhat depressing. I really thought I bought a decent tv, and now feel like it has these things that need to be fixed. This hobby/obsession never ends, does it?

    I will look into the isf callibration more. Somehow, I have no doubt I will do it in the near future. But, by your post, I need to get my new dvd player first. Now I'm seriuosly stuck. I cannot (will not) get a dvd player until one is out that does what I want. I do not care at all about dvd-a. All I want is the absolutely best picture possible. The Denon 3800 was my panacea, but alas, the chroma bug came into play. Perhaps soon, a very capable dvd player will come to market that I can purchase. Then I will go through an isf calibration.

    I thank you for your help immensely(sp?). You have been a great source for enlightenment. Somehow I think the iScan will definately help me, I just can't help wonder what else I need to do.

    Cheers,

    MM
     
  19. Sankar

    Sankar Second Unit

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    I had the iScan Plus doubler for some time with my Toshiba TW65H80 (HDTV ready, 1999 model with progressive scan inputs) for some time. Sometime back (less than 2 years ago) I updated to the iScan Pro (this had the component inputs unlike the earlier version).
    I use the iScan for all inputs to my RPTV (except the 1080i of course!) including DVD, VCR and DirectV. The difference between the TVs built in doubler and the two iScans were quite significant in my case. My TV cannot do 3:2 pulldown and the quality of the built in doubler is not that great. As a result, the iScans made a huge difference which were very clearly visible with moving credits at the end of the movies -- the TV's built in doubler would cause a fair amount of bleeding, whereas the iScan caused no visible bleeding. I understand that the recent crop of TVs have much better doublers, so I cannot comment on these.
    The differences between the older iScan Plus (not even V2, the one before that) and the iScan Pro (V3) were less significant using the s-video inputs on both. In some fast moving scenes, the newer version did cause less artifacts ... but you had to be looking for them (+ you don't notice these as much on fast moving scenes where your attention is drawn to other things!). Using the component input vs the s-video (on the iScan Pro) did make a visible improvement, but again nothing to really die for IMO. The differences were about what you'd expect from component to s-video.
    IMO, if you only use component input on your dvd, and have a progressive scan dvd player (which will probably be no worse than the iScan), you could very well just get the Plus version (can be had on ebay for under $400) and use that for all your other sources. I also saw a used DVDI iScan Plus (just like my original one) for $200here At these prices these are both no-brainers (the units are themselves built very well and are likely to last a long time) -- unless your TV has a great doubler built in.
    Hope this helps!
    Sankar
     
  20. Michael Marklund

    Michael Marklund Stunt Coordinator

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    Sankar,

    Thanks for responding. Between your post and the one's from Alan/Allan, this will be my next purchase. One last question though. In looking at the specs on SI's website, the iScanPro has component in/out. My dvd runs straight to the tv via component already. I am after the iScan for my digital cable signal (could care less about the vcr's signal.) Here's the catch: my Denon 3802 will not send the OSD info to my tv along component video cables. It will only work using s-video. That means that the tv must have at least one s-video cable as an input from the Denon. Right now that's my s-video DBS out from the Denon. I'm thinking that if I wire the dvd and iScan using component video for both, then I'll lose my OSD from the Denon. Not to mention that the digital cable box only has s-video out. Would using an s-video to component cable (if such a thing exists) be worth it? Would I be better off just getting an iScanPlus instead of the Pro since (I think) I have to use the s-video connection for the tv? Or am I being a moron b/c there's a way to hook this up using component video and I just don't realize it?

    Thanks,

    MM
     

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