Toshiba 3800 - Initial Impressions

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Steve Gingras, Aug 14, 2002.

  1. Steve Gingras

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    Well...I purchased the 3800 to replace my two year old (interlaced) Toshiba 1600 and these are my initial impressions:

    - No picture quality difference at all...at least none that I can detect. Yes, I have a digital TV (Sony widescreen HDTV), I have the player set for progressive, and the TV is sensing the progressive signal. I suppose that I should mention that the 1600 looked fantastic on this TV. I guess that is a strong statement for the Sony's video processing ability...it has 3:2 pulldown and the works. Probably didn't need to go progressive...but I figured what the heck..and besides, I want to play MP3s, which brings me to...

    - MP3 player is a lame. It sounds good, but is very sensitive to the media. Disks that played fine on various computers played on the unit, but with considerable problems (e.g., random distortion and squeals). I did, however, solve the problem by recopying the MP3s to a different disk. The MP3 player also doesn't display ID information and is limited to 8 character filenames. It also does not display folders or allow you to set up playlists. You either play them all in order (8 character alphabetical order) or in random mode. You also cannot pause or fast forward during playback. You can hit stop, but then you must resume at the beginning of the track. The unit also only displays the track number on the unit's display - no track name...not even the 8 character name.

    - Remaining time is no longer available. Toshiba added dozens of bells and whistles to this model beyond what my old 1600 had, but they dropped this very basic feature. I really enjoyed checking to see how much time remained before the end of the DVD. Can't believe others don't find this feature useful as well. Did we really need to lose this feature to have a "virtual screen remote control" and a "screen grab capability" for custom backdrops?

    - Remote is very functional. 4800 features a universal remote, but the 3800s remote is still nice. Oh well, it goes in the bin with all the others anyway since I use a Sony AVS3000 universal. ;-)

    - No discrete power on/off. Can't believe that manufacturers aren't making these features standard for use in macros. No biggie though, since you can fake discrete power keys for most DVD players using the play-stop trick.

    - Very good looking unit. I hate silver components, but I make an exception for this one. It looks very sharp. The 4800 looks cheap in comparison. Yes, very subjective and not very important, but we all know it's a issue.

    Can't say much else. As I said, I have a great TV so the video doesn't seem to be much of an issue. I'm not going to rent Toy Story and look at a menu to convince myself there is or isn't a problem. Guess I'm not a true video geek. :)

    That said, I may take this unit back. I am not at all happy with the MP3 features. I hear great things about the Sony 715p so I'm going to pick one up and check out its video quality. Very interested to know if anyone has played with this unit besides the Chroma Bug Panny guy.

    Cheers,
    Steve
     
  2. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review Steve. I'm considering either the 3800 or 4800 myself.

    I'm also a huge fan of 'time remaining'. What counters do they provide beyond elapsed time? Do they provide 'total time' so that I could at least do the (total time)-(elapsed time)=(remaining time) math in my head?

    Thanks.
     
  3. Steve Gingras

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    Believe it or not...no.
    The unit also only displays time elapsed in the current track. Not even time elapsed on the disk, so you are missing both values that you would need to determine time remaining. Absolutely mind boggling. [​IMG]
    Other rants:
    The 3800 provides an indication of how many angles are present as part of the display text. Unfortunately, it always says "2". You do not realize that there is not a second angle until you try to select the second angle from the menu. Weird. My old 1600 just always displayed "multi-angle not present" on the display text and when you hit the multi-angle button. Now you need to hit this button and then select the second angle from the resultant menu before you realize that the disk does not have additional angles. No clue, if the 3800 works any better with a multi-angle disk since I do not have any.
    Have no fear, the bit rate display is still there. Gosh, that's a useful feature. [​IMG]
    cheers,
    Steve
     
  4. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG]
    That's unbelievable. What could possibly have possessed them to drop such useful (and simple to implement) features on the floor?
    [​IMG] That's me striking this unit from my list of those under consideration.
    Thanks for the heads-up Steve.
     
  5. Steve Gingras

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    Yes...very much agree. I hate to do it, but I am boxing this unit back up and returning it. I am going to try the Sony 715P since it supposedly has pretty decent MP3 capabilities. I have heard mixed reviews about its video though. I guess I'll find out. Of course, the Panasonic RP-62 & 82 are also options, but I really dislike the looks of the 62 :b and the 82 isn't available locally. What units are you considering?

    cheers,
    Steve
     
  6. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    It seems that every time a player floats to the top of my list, there is some flaw that sends it back down the list.
    Denon 3800 / 2800MKII -> Myriad problems + Chroma bug
    Panasonic RP-91 -> Excessive combing, no time remaining feature
    Panasonic RP-82 -> No scaling of 4:3 material on 16:9 display that locks full
    Sony 715P -> Horrible progressive picture quality
    Toshiba 3800/4800 -> No time remaining feature
    The RP-82 is now back at the top of my list, as I can always get around the scaling issue by manipulating the TV's controls... it just would have been nice to have it handled by the player (as the RP-91 can).
    It seems that even at this stage of DVD adoption, you still can't get everything you want in one player. [​IMG]
     
  7. Steve Gingras

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    "Sony 715P -> Horrible progressive picture quality"

    oh nooooooo...have you seen this for yourself Andrew or are you relying on opinions seen elsewhere? If elsewhere, is it a good source? I have seen mixed reviews on this player...anywhere from fantastic to horrible. I suppose that I could just buy it and see for myself, but I'd like to save Best Buy the trouble of processing the return if it is a foregone conclusion.

    Thanks for the help.

    cheers,
    Steve
     
  8. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    I test drove the 715P myself.

    It's probably an overstatement to call it "horrible", but I had such high hopes for the unit that my extreme disappointment has certainly coloured my view.

    The picture quality was inconsistent, showed noticeable flicker in high contrast scenes and the chroma bug in this player is easily the worst I've ever seen.

    I had this puppy boxed up for return less than 6 hours after I unpacked it.

    Your mileage could vary, as video quality is quite subjective (as shown by those that don't notice the chroma bug). The unit does otherwise have a rich feature set and the MP3 player is outstanding.

    Andrew
     
  9. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

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    Andrew,
    After looking over your listing it seems that the only player on your list that doesn't have some sort of picture problem is the 3800/4800. I don't know about you but I would place picture quality over the time elapse feature. For the sake of full disclosure I'm probably going to pick up the 3800 this weekend and take it for a test drive. Reportedly the progressive picture is suppose to be pretty good and I really like the scaling option. I'll be sure to let you know what I find.

    Chris S.
     
  10. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris,
    The RP-82 also has exceptional picture quality.
    I obviously haven't had a chance to test drive the 3800 myself, but all reports are that the picture quality is indeed impressive. The consensus seems to be that it's close to the RP-82, although the 3800 does have a minor case of the chroma bug.
    The choice, for me, comes down to which I want more: scaling (which I can do in the TV anyway) or 'time remaining' (which there is no work around for).
    While I certainly consider it an annoyance that the RP-82 can't do native scaling, it really is an easy call for me. I am so badly addicted to 'time remaining' that I just can't use a machine without one. The main reason I sent back the RP-91 wasn't the frequent combing (which was quite bad at times), but the lack of 'time remaining'.
    I'm actually quite PO'ed that Toshiba removed a feature that was the DEFAULT in their early generation machines. I still have a top-of-the-line second generation Toshiba kickin' around that I purchased in December 1997. It was, and still is, a great player -- and it has 'time remaining'. In fact, the lower-end early generation Toshibas ONLY offered 'time remaining'. You had to spring for the top-of-the-line to get 'elapsed time'.
    We all have our pet functions that we just can't live without. This would appear to be mine. [​IMG]
    Andrew
     
  11. Peter Loan

    Peter Loan Second Unit

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    I'm confused here. What's the big deal about having time remaining? I don't normally stare at my player during movie playback so is there another application of this function that I'm missing?
     
  12. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    Just keep track of how long the movie is and when you started it. I have never used the time remain feature on my sony player and don't feel the need to either. PQ and SQ come first no question!
     
  13. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    Just keep track of how long the movie is and when you started it. I have never used the time remain feature on my sony player and don't feel the need to either. PQ and SQ come first no question!
     
  14. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Steve, buddy, it sounds like you watch a lot of crummy movies. Why else would you need to know how long until they are over?
     
  15. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    Peter,
    It may not be possible to adequately explain the value of 'time remaining'. It's a gut (or possibly anal [​IMG]) thing.
    I just don't feel comfortable not being able to calculate the exact ending time so that I can make plans to do, or watch, something else afterward.
    Additionally, 'chapter time remaining' is very important when watching TV-on-DVD. Many of the series contain some episodes where the opening credits finish out a chapter, while other episodes in the same set embed the credits in the middle of the chapter. In order to determine if one can simply skip the credits, or must fast forward over them, you need to have 'chapter time remaining'.
    Andrew
     
  16. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeff,

    I agree that picture/sound quality must come first, but is it too much to ask for both that and a 'time remaining' function?

    Panasonic can provide both, why can't Toshiba? Especially since they used to do so.

    Andrew
     
  17. Steve Gingras

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    I use it all the time. I guess that I'm surpirsed that I'm one of the few.
    I frequently use this feature (or at least did on my old 1600) when I am watching a movie and it is late and I'm not sure I want to stay awake for the rest. The time remaining helps me decide if I am going to watch the movie to the end or just stop and pick it up the next day. e.g., 10 minutes left and I finish watching...45 minutes and I turn it off and catch the rest later.
    Although admitting this makes me feel old :), I have also been watching movies with friends who come right out and ask how much time is left...for any number of reasons. We might be late for another engagement...they might want to hit the rack too...whatever. I find this the single most useful time feature on a DVD player. In fact, I personally don't care how long I have been watching the current movie or how far into the current track I am. Although I am sure that some people can come up with interesting applications for these numbers, I find them academic and of little value since that time is already expended. I want to know what's left. The 3800 only reports how far into the current track you are...not even how far into the disk you are, which was the original discssion...and frankly, I find that lame...but that's just MHO. Of course you are correct that PQ and SQ are very important, but most of the PQ debates on this board relate to very minor differences that would be lost on the vast majority of viewers. Once again, just MHO.
    cheers,
    Steve
     
  18. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    I guess it's a lifestyle thing. We've only had a DVD player for about a year and so watching a movie is still sort of an event.

    By that I mean, on the way home from work or while we're eating supper one of us will ask "So, are we going to watch a movie tonight?" and if so, we pick one off the shelf and sit down for the duration. It seems just like going to the theater...yeah...it's like a "home" theater.

    That said, I do check the length of the movie before we start. If it's two hours until bed time I won't put on Fellowship of the Ring, or whatever.

    The reason I sometimes like to know how much of the movie has played already (the default display on my Panasonic players) is for those occasions when the movie's a real dog and has gone on too long. When you feel that way and look at the display and see it only started 23 minutes ago, that's when it's time to cut your losses and go read a good book.
     
  19. HankS

    HankS Auditioning

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    Andrew:
     
  20. Andrew D F

    Andrew D F Stunt Coordinator

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    Hank,

    Obviously my plan was to test drive the 3800 as I'm a big fan of Toshiba players from way back, however since I can't live without 'time remaining' it now isn't worth doing so.

    By the way, it should be noted that the 3800 does absolutely have the chroma bug. The Zoran Vaddis V is an excellent MPEG decoder chip, but they admit that they haven't quite licked the chroma bug completely.

    Andrew
     

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