Upconverting DVD players...More than just smoke and mirrors?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Clinton McClure, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

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    What's the gimmick? A friend at work wants to get an upconverting DVD player to go with his new Samsung DLP set since the Best Buy salesman told him "It converts standard DVD to near-HD quality".

    He asked me how near HD and I drew a blank since I don't own an upconverting player. So the question is: How do you get a near-HD picture from a not-so-near-HD source? Is it nothing more than a digital parlor trick like adding EE to create false information to try and trick the eye?
     
  2. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    You can be assured that upconverting is more than a parlor trick. Those who own home theater PCs were aware of the benefits of upconversion - or scaling - before it was incorporated into standalone players. Initially there were only a handful of players to do it - from companies average consumers had never heard of like V Inc. and Momitsu - but as HD displays have entered more of the consumer consciousness major manufacturers have joined in. That said, not all upconverting players are created equally, just as not all progressive output is done well or properly. HOW it gets done technically I can't explain (I'm sure there is someone here who can), but there's no fooling the eyes and most will see an improvement. If you or your friend decide to go for it, one of the best ones to get is the Oppo 971. For me the difference has always been the most apparent in text - edges are better defined, crisper - and that better definition carries over to the rest of the picture. It doesn't match full bandwidth HD, but it's a step up from standard definition.
     
  3. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I don't know about a "parlor trick".... In order for DVD to be presented on a TV set that is not native 480i, it must be converted to the TV's native resolution in order to be displayed.

    On an HDTV this means "upconverting" to whatever HDTV standard the particular display shows. The quality of this conversion is a very important piece in the overall picture quality puzzle. No competently designed HDTV has low quality conversion.

    All else being equal, there is a theoretical technical advantage to doing the conversion all digital without converting to an analog video signal along the way. This meant that early "upconverting" DVD players which sent out an analog HDTV signal had a technical advantage (how practical this was in real percieved picture quality is debatable). Now that DVD players can send a digital signal to an HDTV this particular advantage is not meaningful.

    I personally have absolutely no complaints about the picture I get on DVD from my old interlaced player and Infocus X1 and have absolutely zero practical reason to ever buy a new DVD player or projector for that matter, but I'm not as anal-retentive about A/V as I used to be (and many are). I just enjoy the programming and don't sweat the details any more.
     
  4. Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Screenwriter

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    Upconverting DVD players do provide a subtle improvement in my opinion. Near HD quality is of course not a meaningful description so the Best Buy sales personnel can make that claim without being incorrect. I can say Roseanne Barr is nearly as beautiful as Halle Berry and nobody could ever prove I was wrong.

    Chris
     
  5. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    Very well said Chris......... I'm using a Zenith 318 with the firmware upgrade that clones the LG model to enable upconverting through component since my Toshiba 55" HDTV is a pre-DVI/HDMI model..... while the improvement may be subtle, nevertheless it is there. I have noted that it is related to the dvd being used; some show more improvement than others. It was an inexpensive upgrade to achieve the right to argue the point!!!!
    I do like getting into the details of various things concerning home theater, but I much more involve myself in the entertainment value of what is there.
    In other words, don't sweat the small stuff when it comes time to eat popcorn..........
     
  6. Alan M

    Alan M Second Unit

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    "I'm using a Zenith 318 with the firmware upgrade that clones the LG model to enable upconverting through component since my Toshiba 55" HDTV is a pre-DVI/HDMI model..... while the improvement may be subtle, nevertheless it is there."

    I use the LG upconverting DVD player with the hacks to up convert over component to my tosh 65".
    As DonnyD has said,On some dvd's its a small improvement.On others its a major improvement.
    Is it HD quality? Nope ,it sure isnt.Is it worth the small cost of the player? you betcha [​IMG]
     
  7. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Wouldn't a TV that has 1080 lines HAVE to upscale any incoming signal (containing less than 1080 lines) anyway so you wouldn't see the missing horizontal lines?

    On a 60" Sony SXRD, we watched Attack Of The Clones via a Sony HTiB (component connection) that didn't have upscaling ability - the picture was perfectly smooth with no lines whatsover, even from just five feet away. We could tell it wasn't HD but that was a relative thing because the image was still stunning.
     
  8. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    Don't know Lance, but I would think that all newer tvs would be backward compatible or no one would buy'em, since not all signals are going to be 1080i.
     
  9. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    Whether audio or video, the quality can't be any better than the original recording. With audio, you can remove tape hiss and static pops and cracks and turntable rumble from vinly LP's. If done properly, it can make the audio more enjoyable. If there was distortion or lack of high or low frequencies in the original recording, however, that can't be fixed.

    With video recordings, including dvd's, you can edge enhance, line double, remove video noise, and change color and contrast levels. This often makes the image more pleasant to view which some describe as HD-like. Details that are lacking in the original video, however, cannot be magically added to the picture.
     
  10. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Is there an echo in here? I think that's what I wrote.... [​IMG]
     
  11. Brian_cyberbri

    Brian_cyberbri Stunt Coordinator

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    Basically, if you have an HDTV and a DVD player, either the TV or the DVD player has to do the conversion (assuming it's not a RP-CRT that can display both 480p/1080i natively). So it's a matter of which does a better job of doing that conversion.

    I use an HTPC over DVI, and the difference between that, and my cheap Panasonic 480p over component is noticeable. But I wil be getting a refurb Denon 2910 next week that I will use for my main DVD player (now I can listen to SACDs and DVD-As as well), using DVI and moving my HTPC to VGA. Even moving to VGA, I could tell there was a drop in PQ compared to DVI on text on the screen, etc. (after I re-calibrated the service menu for the VGA input). It may not be as noticeable with movies, but there is a difference in image clarity between DVI and VGA - even on a 43" screen from nearly 9 feet away.
     
  12. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    I got this upconverting Pioneer DVD player. (I love Pioneer!)

    http://www.pioneer.eu/eur/product_de...onomy_id=42-84

    My Hitachi display has a native resolution of 1024 x 1024. Anyway I don't know how good that player is at upconverting and if it represents the general but in the end I'm not happy with the upconversion result. The picture looks too soft. I much prefer to watch in 480p. In that mode the picture looks much sharper than say 1080i.

    Anyway although that I don't use the upconversion function, I'm not unhappy with the player. The main advantage for me is using the HDMI output which gives much better color results for my TV.
     
  13. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    As Philip Hamm pointed out above, the DVD player performs the scaling/upconversion entirely in the digital domain. If you pass a 480i or 480p component video signal to a TV or projector, it must either upconvert the signal in the analog domain, or do an a/d-upconvert-d/a conversion pass on the signal. Theoretically the upscaling DVD-player has a big advantage and should achieve better results unless the algorithm is really poorly implemented. I have a cheap upconverting Samsung DVD player feeding a 720p native resolution Panasonic LCD projector, and it achieves noticeably better results than any component 480i or 480p signal I have ever fed it.

    I was pretty impressed at how a cheap DVD player could give results comparable to, and in many ways better than, expensive line doublers from just a few years ago. It gives you the boost you are familiar with from 480p outputs plus a little something extra, too. Of course, if you have a 1080p TV, it will still be doing the line-doubling to create a progressive signal from the upscaled 1080i signal.

    Regards,
     
  14. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Then, it's strange. My upconverted 1080i image (Upconverted by DVD player) looks softer than the 480p image.
     
  15. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    OK! This is my kind of thread. LOL
    I just bought a 1080P 42" monitor that has all the inputs one could ever want except coax(no tuner). Will have that fixed shortly with my liteon 5005. What I need to know is there a good inexpensive DVD player that upconverts to all the outputs(DVI, Component, HDMI)? HD and Blue ray are too much IMHO at this time and will live with my HD Dish net and standard DVDs for awhile until the prices come down.

    1. Should I just get an el-cheapo that does the trick or
    2. Shell out some extra bucks for a high end DVD player

    Please let me know of any deals out there that I need to be looking at like today//LOL
     
  16. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Well, as I mentioned, I get pretty good image results with a Samsung upconverting unit (DVD-HD860) that can be had for less than $90 if you shop around. The drawback is that it is really bare bones feature wise (it won't even display "time remaining"), and the menus are a little wonky (I had trouble getting it to consistently output 720p through the HDMI - Setting the HDMI output to "Manual" and "720p", every time I turned it off and back on, it reverted to 480p. I finally set it to "Manual 720p". Then set it to "Auto", and now it outputs 720p every time. If I set it to "Manual 1080i" and then set it to "Auto", it outputs 1080i every time.).

    Regards,
     
  17. Hank

    Hank Guest

    My Toshiba HD-A1 set to 1080i going into my Sony KDF-50E2000 720p LCD RPTV is great!
     
  18. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Oh, that's not because it is bare bone, it's because it's Samsung. I had 2 Samsung players before but I have promised I will never buy a Samsung player again. It seems they don't implement the "time remaining" in any of their players.

    I asked about this in the blu-ray forum about their blu-ray player but have not seen a response yet. (if their new player has "time remaining")

    I recommend Pioneer!
     
  19. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Get either the cheapo (
     
  20. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    The Samsung DVD-R120 DVD Recorder (not an HDMI output player) does display time remaing when playing discs, but it is rounded to the nearest minute.

    Regards,
     

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