what's the point of DVD upconversion?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by trey-m, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. trey-m

    trey-m Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't really understand why DVD upconversion is necessary: Why would a $200 DVD player be better at upconverting than a $3000 TV? Wouldn't it make more sense for the TV to do the upconversion?!
     
  2. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    The best way I can answer that is it all depends on how well the deinterlacing is done. If your t.v. does an excellent job at deinterlacing the video signal to allow the upconversion then you are correct, there is no reason to purchase a player. However the only thing that might be an issue here is the connection. You can do 480P, 720p and 1080i via HDMI and depending on your t.v. fixed pixel like LCD, LCOS or DLP can give you a better picture to deinterlace and upconvert. I'm no expert but I think there will be add ons to my comments hope it helps even a little.
     
  3. trey-m

    trey-m Stunt Coordinator

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    I would think that deinterlacing is an entirely separate issue from upconversion. For example, if you send a 480p signal to an HDTV, it will still upconvert it to 720p or 1080i (but deinterlacing is already done). However, you bring up a parallel question- why should I use my $100 DVD player's deinterlacer as opposed to my $1000 projector's deinterlacer? Perhaps the answer is because the deinterlacer might benefit from having direct access to the digital signal?
     
  4. trey-m

    trey-m Stunt Coordinator

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    Trey's at it again- babbling to whoever's willing to listen...and referring to myself in the third person.

    Here's a stab in the dark to answer my own question. I think in an ideal world, we would never use the progressive scan or upconversion features on our DVD player, and we would all have an outboard box that takes in a 480i signal from the DVD player (with a digital connection), does the interlacing and upconversion and sends the correct signal to our display device (also a digital connection). In fact the Focus CS-2 outboard box does exactly that and I'm guessing is probably much better than the deinterlacers or upconverters we will find in our DVD players or our TV/projectors. However, few of us are willing to drop $2500 on one of those units, so we let our display device do the deinterlacing and upconversion instead. Now some DVD players can do it too, so we let them try it and we just pick and choose which one looks best. I bet this will vary greatly between models.

    Moral: don't spend the extra money on a DVD player with upconversion (specifically for that reason) unless you've confirmed that its built-in upconverter is better than the one in your display device.
    Right?
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Correct, more or less. It's kind of like the old days with comb filters and LD players. You bought a high end LD player like a CLD-99 to get really fantastic Y/C separation that worked better than the Y/C in most TVs, even really good ones.

    These days upconversion seems all the rage, with the right kind of outputs on all the DVD hardware. Some people think that upconversion in the DVD player automatically means a better picture. Much like LD player manufacturers 15 years ago put S-Video outputs on their players, because the public was convinced that S-Video was a better more high fidelity connection than composite video. Well it is, but if the Y/C is utter shit (like my CLD-M401) the S-Video gives you a worse picture than the composite.

    Of course that's all old school and none of that applies here..... or does it? To some of us old timers it looks like more of the same technical mumbo-jumbo all over again. (gotta love the Yogi-ism)

    Look, the bottom line is that no projector can handle a 480i anamorphic signal any more. The projectors are generally 480p, 720p, and 1080i. DVD video is 480i. So, somewhere, somehow, the 480i signal has to be upconverted somewhere in order to watch it.

    The wildcard here is that if the conversion is done in the TV, you have a digital signal from the disc being converted to analog by the DVD player, then sent via component video cables, then converted back to digital inside the TV for the upconversion/scaling.

    So if you're anal about everything being all digital all the time, you want an upconverting dvd player. Theoretically all things being equal (and they never are) it can possibly be better to have an upconverting player do the job digitally without the a/d d/a conversion. How that theoretical difference translates to something visible is going to be completely dependant on each different combination of hardwares.

    Personally I could care less. My X1 does a miraculous job with the 480i inputs for both DVD and LaserDisc, so I have no interest in upconversion.
     
  6. trey-m

    trey-m Stunt Coordinator

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    I too have an X1 and I'm using the VGA breakout cable to send in a Progressive signal over component. I did not purchase the special S-Video breakout cable so that I can compare with using the X1's deinterlacer instead of my DVD player's. I wonder though which would be better. Something I have noticed though is that somehow the X1 can take a 1080i signal in through the VGA breakout cable, and when I set my HD box to 720p it looks noticeably better than 1080i. I'm guessing this is because my HD box has better processing than the X1. It could also be though that the X1 does an easier job downconverting 720p to 450p than it does from 1080i to 450p. (I'm also guessing that VGA projectors display HDTV in 450 by 800 progressive.)
     
  7. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  8. trey-m

    trey-m Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Rich, that answered all of my questions, and confirmed my suspicions.
     
  9. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I hope it also confirmed that in many situations, an upscaled image will be an improvement! The author is careful to differentiate the positive potential of upscaling to some of the snake oil of the past.

    FWIW, I have an upscaling DVD player (Panasonic S77), and the improvement that the upscaled-to-1080i vs. 480p on my CRT-RPTV (Panny 53x54) is readily apparent.
     
  10. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    Well for the first time I must say, I fully got it now. I use the Zenith DVB 318 and I bought it for the hype and to use with (at the time) my new Sony HD Ready CRT-RPTV. I love the picture and will never go back, but I now feel confident in explaining upscaling players even though upscaling is misused.
     
  11. Robert-J

    Robert-J Auditioning

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    Wow! Great thread!

    I am going through this dilema now as I just got a Samsung HLR4667W and my Sony DVD player is about 6 years old. I was really confused with the whole progressive and upscaling thing.

    My big problem is that the TV only has one HDMI input and I've got the HD box connected via that since it really is an HD signal.

    I guess that based on the above link I have to decide if I should get a upscaling DVD player or wait for the HD discs to come out.
     
  12. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Pretty much on the money. You want the highest quality processing possible, and usually this is not available on players or internal to displays, although some very high-end projectors have really good processing, and same with some very high-end players which can cost $5K. You can also spent tens of thousands on outboard video processors, for the most demanding applications. HTPCs are a great way to get this kind of astronomical performance for quite cheap, actually, you may only need to spend a grand or so for that kind of processing power and quality if you do it right.
     
  13. John S

    John S Producer

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    I have an odd situation that makes the upconverting player extremely valuable.

    I have a 4:3 display with a native 16:9 widescreen mode that is only available from 1080i sources fed on component video.


    Makes a player like the Zenith a no brainer of a choice as it is the only way for me to get full resolution out of anamorphic widescreen DVD's.....
     
  14. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    Robert-J, looking at your thread I can understand the dilemma. The best way I can answer that is how much HD do you get and watch and how much DVD do you watch in comparison to HD Programming. If you watch a lot of HD programming then I would use HDMI for it, the best picture by far and the connection is being used as it should be used. Of course you can get an expensive switcher and solve the problem and enjoy both. I don't have HD yet but I'm waiting for my DVI to HDMI cable to finally hook up the Zenith DVB 318 via HDMI as oppose to component and upscaled to 1080i.

    I personally think for the price of about 160.00 at reputable sites like Amazon, Best Buy also (I think) is not a whole lot of money to get one and watch your DVDs in a whole different light. Yes we all know that it's not true HD, but the picture is so pleasing to the eye it makes it worth the plunge until you get HD-DVD or Blue-Ray, which ever format comes out. You can play the Zenith via component at 1080i once you get the firmware off the web and never look back like myself [​IMG]
     
  15. Robert-J

    Robert-J Auditioning

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    Jerome - I must not be thinking today. I didn't even think to inquire if there was a switch for HDMI. You just solved the one problem I had with my new TV.

    Now if I can only figure out if and what DVD player to pick up...
     

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