Affordable SCALER outperforms my HTPC - Page 13 - AVS Forum
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post #361 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 05:41 AM
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Jon,

I didn't look through all 12 pages of posts, but ndidn't see your comments till now. What PC setup do you have, and how is DVD PQ compared to your VP30? That's one of the more "affordable" scalers I've seen.

Forgetting the hassles of a PC, when all is said and done, which looked better (just for DVDs)?

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post #362 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Smith
Jon,

I didn't look through all 12 pages of posts, but ndidn't see your comments till now. What PC setup do you have, and how is DVD PQ compared to your VP30? That's one of the more "affordable" scalers I've seen.
Good thing you didn't - I hadn't weighed in, cuz I wasn't sure if the VP30 qualified as affordable - I've been waiting for over a year, before dropping that kind of coin.

P4 2.8 nonHT, Asus board,1 gig ram. ATI Radeon 9600 Pro - 256meg ram. TDK dvd burner. I would slightly disagree with some of the above, re dvd transports - my TDK has some problems with some disks, that my Sony dvd-rom plays fine.

PQ - with my rig, I'd give the nod to the VP30 on dvds, but this could be because I have NOT installed and gotten all of the tweaks running that are in the other 12 pages with my HTPC. I have mainly tried Powerdvd and the ATI dvd player; Dscaler is installed, but I don't have TT for a software player, and I haven't played with all the filters, nor have I used ffdshow. So yeah, I'd say you could get at least 90% of the pq I get from the VP30 by using my HTPC - tweak it to death, upgrade video cards (I have an X700 just waiting to be put in) and you can probably get to the point where you can fool yourself that either one is better, while watching program material on a well-mastered dvd.

Cavaet/disclaimer - I have not sat down and analyzed test patterns off Avia - my conclusions are purely from subjective viewing. Dvds looked nice on my HTPC - no complaints, but I did not get the WOW factor I keep reading about on this forum. When I connected the VP30, I was amazed at how good dvds looked. To my eyes, the VP30 simply was a bit more transparent, making a dvd played on a Denon 1600 look virtually indistinguishable from a good HD feed. (Which is also improved by the VP30, but that wasn't what you asked.)

Jon

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post #363 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 07:43 AM
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I don't care much about test patterns, if it looks good to me thats what counts.

I'm so on the fence here. I'll probably not spend $$$ on a PC upgrafe for a year and wait to see prices of the scalers.

There seems to be a large group that think TT2.2 with a 6600GT is "close enough". I'm not sure how much better PQ $700 worth of PC components (to allow ffdshow) would get me compared to just that.



Moome's card should also give me some flexability, since the only other thing besides DVD playback that counts to me is HD off satellite. wouldn't need the scaler to switch sources.

Your statement about HD being better intrigues me, what HD source do you use?

Thanks,

Jeff

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post #364 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 08:33 AM
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Just OTA/QAM unencrypted - the major networks. Samsung 165 and LG3510a boxes - I used to run thru an rgb switcher, then direct rgb to my Runco. So I was viewing hd unprocessed - now I can scale it to the pj, plus tweak settings. I like to think it looks just a touch smoother - then again, I was watching HD at 1080i - now I can watch it at 720p or 960p. And switch ref rates for film or video. Plus the VP gives me control on sharpness and saturation. For sure not as big a difference as when viewing dvds, but it is a nice, unexpected benefit.

If you want a dvdo you can also look into their upgrade program, as well as talk to the guys at AVS. I know Jason has a deal on some open box VP30s right now- I have no idea how many people actually paid full pop for their VP30.

And you don't need a Moome box - the Ophit also works nicely, for under 2 bills. With any projector - nice easy DVI -> RGB conversion. Not dead on perfect, but not too shabby on an 11' screen. Probably even less noticeable on a 7' like many people use.

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post #365 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 08:48 AM
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Well, time for a story :) Maybe this will help some people with their decisions.

I'm very comfortable working with pc hardware and software. I've built up the htpc as a media center also. It also serves as an everything pc. All those other functions it does is worth a lot to me. I like free things, the cost of a scaler is a lot of money for me. So MPC, ffdshow, they're all great from my perspective. Software is great, upgrading doesn't require new hardware. I frown on standalone components, because when there's something it can't do, I'm stuck.

I'm good at fixing pc problems, and my time is pretty cheap, so I don't mind the 'hassle'. I end up learning a lot too. There will probably be a day, when my time is more valuable, and money less so, when I'll just be too lazy or busy to learn about the newest tweaks, and will be satisfied with an out-of-the-box solution. And when I need more functionality, another out-of-the-box solution. Or maybe I'll remain a tweaker all my life :)

As for those after the best PQ, I'll have to side with scalers, but with a caveat. Those scalers that cost way more than a htpc are designed to do the processing they do. Nevermind the processing done, the signals they produce are probably cleaner because their electronics are better. However, when you get down to scalers that cost about the same as a htpc, I think the PQ overlaps quite a bit. Scalers are constantly improving, but so is pc hardware, software, and most importantly, software settings. So it really boils down to how comfortable you are with either solution, and the peace of mind and time saved probably outweighs the PQ difference.

*waves white flag* :D
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post #366 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingvee
Phil - thanks for the latest post - I was tempted to overclock my perfectly good pc; now I think I'll pass - my box is working well, and I'm pretty happy. Don't need any more headaches.
V,

The problem didn't have anything to with overclocking itself. Trying to flash bios with a CDROM (because I don't have a floppy drive) and the badly behaved overclocking software I tried to use (which also caused me OS problems when I removed it) are the reasons for my problem. There were no problems whatsoever when I was using bios to overclock. Once I get it fixed, I plan on overclocking it again.

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post #367 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 09:19 AM
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linecircle,

I must say I don't enjoy working on PCs at all. But for some reason I do it anyway. I've built almost every PC I've owned, and that's several. Glutton for punishment i guess. :D

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post #368 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 09:28 AM
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In my opinion, you haven't seen what a HTPC can do until you use LimitedSharpen. There is a big difference in PQ. Let me repeat, BIG difference in PQ.

Where it really starts to come alive is when you use "super sampling". Not sure exactly what that means. Maybe it's a resize function?

Super sampling is the "ss_x=1.0,ss_y=1.0" part of the call:

Import("C:\\Program Files\\AviSynth 2.5\\plugins\\LimitedSharpen.avs")
LimitedSharpen(ss_x=1.0,ss_y=1.0,Smode=3,strength=40)

To turn it on, you have to change the "0" to a "1" or higher. I was originally running "ss_x=1.1,ss_y=1.0" and getting increadible results. It's amazingly sharp, to the point of seeming impossible. Once I overclocked, was able to run "ss_x=1.1,ss_y=1.1". I'm not sure if it was any sharper, but it seemed to be cleaner, if that makes any sense. Super sampling takes a lot of CPU usage, so even overclocked I couldn't run it higher than "1", even if I wanted to. But the picture at "1" seems to me as sharp as it could possibly be, so I see no reason to run it higher than "1".

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post #369 of 385 Old 01-20-2006, 12:53 PM
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Phil, I feel for you... That program is total and utter CRAP! I have no idea why Asus still have it on their site. The only type of overclocking that works reliably is to do it manually in the BIOS. Also, perhaps you need a new backup system? Try to get a hold of PowerQuest DriveImage 2002. That's the version you need, since it doesn't require a CD in the drive to do restores. When Symantech (Norton) took it over, they messed it up big time (like they usually do - the word bloatware comes to mind...) and changed it so you need to have the installation CD in the drive to be able to do a restore. The 2002 version from PQ can run everything from Windows.

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post #370 of 385 Old 01-21-2006, 09:39 AM
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Tor,

Life is good! I bought a floppy drive yesterday. Opened up my HTPC, connected the drive, flashed bios and within a half hour I had my HTPC working perfectly again.

Apparently my bios is totally different than yours. I didn't have the same options in the manual mode and didn't have a clue what to do, so I just used the percentage mode. I'm overclocked 10% which gets me to a little under 3.1. At 3.1 I'm running very cool and without any problems. When I get time, I'll research overclocking my particular motherboard and see if I can get it a little higher.

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post #371 of 385 Old 01-21-2006, 01:19 PM
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I always do my BIOS flashing by copying the necessary files to a FAT32 formattet drive (I have one on every computer for images - PQ Drive Image has certain problems with NFTS drives when you create the backup images, so I use that drive) and ten starting up from a boot CD (I normally use the Win 98 installation CD). That's more reliable than a floppy.

As for the bios, that was kind of strange. Never heard of a BIOS where you choose percentages instead of the actual FSB. Also if you don't push the VCore (CPU core voltage) it won't run much hotter than a regularly clocked CPU. The problem is that to get higher overclocks you need to push the VCore. If you don't it won't be stable. And that's what makes it run hotter.

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post #372 of 385 Old 01-21-2006, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dokworm
I redo any 1080i stuff back to native 1080P, probably losing some quality with re-encoding, but it is awfully convenient to have your stuff stored in 1080P instead of 1080i, especially US based stuff.

It would be great to have a real shootout of scalers vs hot HTPCs on Clarence's G90, perhaps a dealer could be talked into loaning a real high end unit for a shootout, it would certainly be great to see how they compare to a well tweaked PC with both HD and DVD.
What do you use to re-encode to 1080p?
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post #373 of 385 Old 01-21-2006, 09:10 PM
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1 vote here for a shootout scaler Vs HTPC
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post #374 of 385 Old 01-21-2006, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clarence
What do you use to re-encode to 1080p?
Depends on what system I am running at the time, on Windows I use AviSynth/Virtualdub, on Linux I use cinelerra, which is my preferred option, on the Mac I use Final Cut pro and a bunch of plugins, it depends which system isn't in use at the time.

The advantage is no pulldown/deinterlace issues, and less work on the CPU if playing back from a PC.
Some movies that have 'issues' re-encoding allows me to add filters to fix the problems, and means I don't have to run any realtime filters.

My only problem is a lack of storage really.

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post #375 of 385 Old 01-21-2006, 10:05 PM
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Thanks. What does a typical 10Gb 1080i movie expand to? (filesize at 1080p?)
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post #376 of 385 Old 01-22-2006, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastiff
I always do my BIOS flashing by copying the necessary files to a FAT32 formattet drive (I have one on every computer for images - PQ Drive Image has certain problems with NFTS drives when you create the backup images, so I use that drive) and ten starting up from a boot CD (I normally use the Win 98 installation CD). That's more reliable than a floppy.
I struggled with making a boot CD, among other things. The floppy was the best solution for me. I would have saved a LOT of time if I had just used it to begin with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mastiff
As for the bios, that was kind of strange. Never heard of a BIOS where you choose percentages instead of the actual FSB. Also if you don't push the VCore (CPU core voltage) it won't run much hotter than a regularly clocked CPU. The problem is that to get higher overclocks you need to push the VCore. If you don't it won't be stable. And that's what makes it run hotter.
It has a manual mode, but the names of most of the parameters are different than what you described, so I didn't know what to do. The percentage mode allows no options other than to pick a percentage: 5%, 10%, 20% or 30%. 10% was as high as I could go without getting the blue screen of death.

I've poked around and tried to find info on overclocking my MB. So far I haven't found much that I understood. Maybe I'll break down and read the manual. :D

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post #377 of 385 Old 01-22-2006, 07:08 PM
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Motherboard manuals generally aren't much help beyond stuff like "FSB: Sets the frequency of the FSB in mhz". Google for some overclocking guides/tutorials for your processor (or maybe someone has a bookmark handy?).

There aren't too many parameters that need fiddling, so you could just reply here with questions :)
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post #378 of 385 Old 01-22-2006, 09:30 PM
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I'll give you my bios options! You can tell me what I should do.

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post #379 of 385 Old 01-23-2006, 12:04 AM
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That sounds like a very wise way of doing it, yes. There should be something about core voltage, memory voltage, AGP voltage and FSB, but if it's in percentages, we're up for a fight! ;)

Edit: I did a bit of Googling, and I think where your problem is: Under Jumperfree configuration you need to set overclocking to manual, not AI. See if that doesn't get you a bus speed/FSB instead of that stupid percentage. If you can do that, we're in business, because I think you have all the necessary options there. Lock AGP/PC first of all, if not you won't get far. Also lock memory to 1:1, and go up on the VCore. I'll see if I can find my notes from overlocking my own 478 board (an Abit IC3, they should be pretty evenly matched) to see what you should do about voltages.

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post #380 of 385 Old 01-23-2006, 05:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clarence
Thanks. What does a typical 10Gb 1080i movie expand to? (filesize at 1080p?)
It depends on the source, if it is 1080i and has the pulldown actually represented by extra frames containing the two fields from two different frames, then the movie gets considerably smaller in size, as you are throwing away all of the unnecessary 'repeated' frames.
I usually re-encode to WMV so the filesize drops markedly if the source was MPEG-2.
If I keep the bitrates reasonable, then even going in to compare frames side by side in photoshop before and after the re-encode there is very little difference, and nothing I can see when the picture is moving - but then again I'm not running a G90.

Or did you mean how big is the movie when uncompressed completely?

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post #381 of 385 Old 01-23-2006, 06:02 AM
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Dokworm, this sounds interesting! I'm about to get some ts movies from a friend. Could you detail the process with Virtual Dub? I'm very accustomed to use it (I use it every day to convert movies for subtitling, but that's from a special copy protected version MPEG 4 to MJPEG). I'm guessing that I won't see any difference either on my Barco Graphics 808. That's no G90 either...

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post #382 of 385 Old 01-23-2006, 06:35 AM
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You would need to use avisynth with virtual dub.
It is pretty straightforward, you really just want to remove the excess frames (eg use telecide()) and re-encode.
There is a rather outdated but pretty comprehensive thread right here on AVS that I just found.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ferrerid=25812

Have a read, and if you can't work it out, let me know and I might start a new thread on archiving .ts 1080i to 1080P if it isn't too OT for this forum.

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post #383 of 385 Old 01-23-2006, 07:04 AM
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Can your method be adapted to remove the re-encoding step? ie. frame removal only, and the video remains a .ts?
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post #384 of 385 Old 01-23-2006, 07:29 AM
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I don't know enough about .ts streams to know, it might be possible to just remove the unwanted frames I really don't know.

I re-encode anyway to any of the MPEG4 derivative codecs as the filesize is much smaller and I really cannot see any difference.

Anyway, when I get home I'll post a full 'guide' (i.e. write down what I do, and others can come up with a better way).
But in short, for you windows guys...
I check the transport stream for errors usin ec.exe found here:

http://www-personal.engin.umich.edu/~balazer/atsc/

If it is OK, I run it through projectX to demux it.
http://sourceforge.net/projects/project-x
(doom9 has a nice guide and reference for projectx, also grab the compiled version so you don't need a java install)

then in avisynth just load the demuxed file and IVTC it with a simple script - e.g.

MPEG2Source("insert your filename here")

Telecide().Decimate

if going down to 720P then add:

LanczosResize(1280,720)


If you wanna cut the commercials (if you have them) then you can use the log file from projectx to look for the audio changes, it makes it easy to find the start and end of the commercials.

The beauty of this system is that you can also rip audio from a dvd and use it instead if your HD transmission had sub-par audio.

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post #385 of 385 Old 01-23-2006, 09:53 AM
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Thanks! I'll try that when I get my ts files.

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