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post #1 of 31 Old 12-31-2013, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Got my newly built HTPC working with my home theater last week (AMD A6-5400K, Asrock FM2A88M-HD+, 4GB DDR3 1600, Win7 Ultimate SP1 64bit), but wasn't happy with Windows Media Center (didn't like Windows Media Player picture quality relative to VLC among other things). Just got XBMC 12.3 running to playback served video files with it adjacent my Server (couldn't keep playing around on my plasma.) Until its setup is finalized, I'll be using an 18" CTX CRT VGA 4:3 monitor for playback .

Tried viewing a couple films today and was disappointed with the video quality. As an example, have been playing portions of "Batman" (1966) 1080p 6.6GB MkV. In back-to-back comparison with playing back the same portions full screen via Windows Explorer and VLC, The VLC image clearly looks like 1080p (high detail), whereas the XBMC image looks more like 720p (distinctly softer, very evident loss of picture detail). This doesn't require close scrutiny to spot, just normal viewing (which is what led me to direct comparison.)

Is this normal? If not, I don't see anything in the XBMC picture adjustment settings that would correct it unless a better CODEC than DXVA is available. Is a better CODEC available? If not, is there any way that VLC can be used as the video display engine? If this is as good as XBMC gets, then is there another Windows compatible Media Center that put's more emphasis on picture quality?

Thanks -- Trevor

PS. The A6 graphics is Radeon 7540D with AMD driver version 13.101.0.0
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post #2 of 31 Old 01-01-2014, 08:54 AM
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Few thoughts:

First, You can use an external player with XBMC for better PQ. Many people use XBMC with MPC-HC and MadVR for better results. Here is the sticky:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1357375/advanced-mpc-hc-setup-guide/0_100

That has long been considered one of the very top choices for PQ (but you need decent hardware to use MadVR at high levels)

This replaces the less ideal XBMC player with a better one but lets you continue to use XBMC.

Second,

You could try another Front End like MB3 Theater, Jriver, or MediaiOS that also support different integrated players and are stand alone products. All three of these also support MadVR if you want it too.


Third,

You can update your WMC player and codecs with the SHARK007 pack:

http://shark007.net/forum/Thread-Setup-and-usage

This usually lets people use WMC (or MB classic inside WMC) and the WMC player with very good results. It includes LAV audio and Video, subtitle support and more. The icons after install appear in your bottom taskbark (near the clock click the arrow in windows 7) if you want to tinker more.

All three options are good.

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post #3 of 31 Old 01-01-2014, 09:01 AM
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Interesting that you think you can discern 1080p from 720p. There is recent a thread on here where people were just debating that it's almost impossible to tell the difference and many actually prefer 720p as it saves them some space.

I am not familiar with vlc but it's possible there are some settings that are enabled that are disabled in xbmc,wmc, etc. I would also try mpc-hc to see if you see a difference there.

I would also highly recommend that you use a hdmi/dvi based display.
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post #4 of 31 Old 01-01-2014, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the inputs. The reason I key off VLC is it's the best image quality and most flexible free player I'd yet learned of. If there's better, I'll have to check them out. Frankly, I'd prefer not to use VLC verbatim since its GUI isn't fully navigable with my remote, I have to resort to a mouse for expanding the display window and exiting. Turns out I received some very helpful input from a Canadian member of the XBMC forum and here's what happened.

XBMC defaulted to "Auto Detect" rendering and it either defaulted to or I happened to select hardware decoding during earlier setup attempts. I tried "Pixel Shader" rendering with hardware acceleration and there may have been a little improvement, but turning off hardware acceleration clearly made a larger difference, however, the image still lacked the degree of clarity and sense of dimensionality of VLC 2.1.2 (most recent 64bit release). So, I took the suggestion of Gotham and loaded the Alpha10 monthly release from December 1 and started playing with the "Advanced" settings. I expected that running up the HD Scaler from the default 0 to 100 would cause misbehavior, whereupon I'd back it off as needed, but saw no issues and so left it as is. Did a video back to back comparison and there was further improvement over before and so next was enabling Multi-Thread Frame Decoding. At that point the picture was very near VLC, but still missing a little something, so I boosted the contrast from the default 50 to 55. Picture is now extremely close to VLC 2.1.2, not sure my vision would allow me to clearly recognize any difference. That is to say, IMO, the tweaked picture quality with Gotham Alpha10 is excellent!

I'll do a few more spot checks with other films to see if any of my settings create problems, but my "Batman" (1966) 1080p 6.6GB MkV server file looks really really good on my CRT! Perhaps my results will be useful to someone else. smile.gif

PS. 'Course, I don't know what problems others may run into running one of the Gotham monthly alpha builds. May be fine, may be not.
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post #5 of 31 Old 01-01-2014, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Told the HQ Scaling only affects appearance when Display resolution is greater than media resolution, so need to check behavior with less than 1080p material. Not sure under what conditions the Frame Multithreading would make a visible difference, I didn't do a comparison before changing the HQ Scaling and wasn't sure anything improved following adding Multithreading, but it appears the total gain was due to turning off hardware acceleration, selecting pixel shader rendering, moving from Frodo 12.3 to Gotham Alpha10, and slightly boosting the contrast.

EDIT: Turns out the Multithreaded Frame render parameter is only for use if hardware acceleration is turned off, believe it's purely an efficiency question relative to default single thread. Believe I got the meaning of the 0 to 100 HQ Scaling parameter reversed, but tried an SD file both ways and in comparison to VLC, could identify no differences in image quality on my CRT.

Mfusick -- Thanks very much for the MPC-HC tip. Believe I've met my original goal of achieving a VLC 2.1.2 quality image with XBMC, now I'll try to improve on it with MPC-HC! smile.gif
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post #6 of 31 Old 01-01-2014, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

PS. The A6 graphics is Radeon 7540D with AMD driver version 13.101.0.0

Go into Catalyst Control Center and make sure the following are disabled:

Color Vibrance
Flesh Tone Correction
Brighter Whites
Edge Enhancement
De-noise
Enable dynamic contrast
Enforce smooth playback

Then try the video again. I suppose it's possible that VLC bypasses those settings (not really sure since I'm not familiar with VLC other than it's my go to if XBMC or MPC fails at a video) or vice versa.

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post #7 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 01:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks -- I'm interpreting De-Noise to be De-Mosquito Noise and De-Blocking. Turned both off. Had no idea all that stuff was in there! Always turn these things off in TVs. Given everything else, was expecting to see options for color-space as well, but guess not. Course, with a VGA connection, that might be locked out -- perhaps with DVI-D or HDMI?
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post #8 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 02:23 AM
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Yeah the color space could be locked out over VGA. I use HDMI and it shows up in my options. Turn off all the post processing crap in the video quality tab. I don't know why they turn a lot of those on by default since they fudge the picture. I have a AMD E350 w/ 6310 video and it has De-Noise but not de-mosquitoe noise so that option probably depends on the video chipset.

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post #9 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 03:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Few thoughts:

First, You can use an external player with XBMC for better PQ. Many people use XBMC with MPC-HC and MadVR for better results. Here is the sticky:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1357375/advanced-mpc-hc-setup-guide/0_100

That has long been considered one of the very top choices for PQ (but you need decent hardware to use MadVR at high levels)

This replaces the less ideal XBMC player with a better one but lets you continue to use XBMC.
Been crunching through the install instructions, after right clicking on the playing video I can select filters and see the three LAV entries, but when I left click on madDR and select Edit Settings, Processing/Scaling Algorithms/Rendering all show blank pages. Hmm, think I skipped a post MadVR install configuration step (wasn't mentioned in the guide) and that likely explains the blank pages. Guess I need to remove and reinstall MadVR, perhaps the filters too. Do I just accept whatever's offered during the post install configuration?

Also, are there instructions on how to tell XBMC to use MPC-HC? Or is that wiki territory?

I fired up MPC-HC with the SD film and it looked a lot less fuzzy than before, but when I fired up "Batman" (1966) again, my jaw practically dropped -- it looked like film. Don't know how much is attributable to the changed driver settings and how much the player, but the result is mesmerizing! Got the impression there must have been a far amount of processor overhead because system response was clearly impacted during playback. Is there a description somewhere of what all those pieces are for?
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post #10 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

Also, are there instructions on how to tell XBMC to use MPC-HC? Or is that wiki territory?

I would suggest so - have a look here http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=External_players
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post #11 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by |Tch0rT| View Post

Yeah the color space could be locked out over VGA. I use HDMI and it shows up in my options. Turn off all the post processing crap in the video quality tab. I don't know why they turn a lot of those on by default since they fudge the picture. I have a AMD E350 w/ 6310 video and it has De-Noise but not de-mosquitoe noise so that option probably depends on the video chipset.
Intention is to only use VGA long enough to get the HTPC final configured, target setup has HDMI to a receiver that drives the plasma. Just not willing to do all this stuff on the plasma, too subject to image retention. However, appearing final video and audio configuration has to be done with the target equipment, too bad, but guess unavoidable. Also too bad since I probably can't readily move it back and forth for maintenance issues.

Also don't know yet how amenable MPC-HC is to use with a remote instead of a mouse, at least when called by XBMC. Need to be able to set aside keyboard and mouse. Lot's yet to learn.
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post #12 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 03:25 PM
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MPC-HC is fully functional with all the basic playback controls out of the box, the only one you may have to add (if using as an external player in xbmc) is mapping the 'exit' command in mpc-ch to 'MEDIA_STOP', this will stop the file playing and return you to xbmc gui. MediaBrowser is another worth looking at as this adds a resume function to external player playback - which none of the other front ends do.
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post #13 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

Intention is to only use VGA long enough to get the HTPC final configured, target setup has HDMI to a receiver that drives the plasma. Just not willing to do all this stuff on the plasma, too subject to image retention. However, appearing final video and audio configuration has to be done with the target equipment, too bad, but guess unavoidable. Also too bad since I probably can't readily move it back and forth for maintenance issues.

Why not use a remote desktop program? I use Splashtop to log into my HTPC from my laptop or desktop to do maintenance and setting up stuff that needs a keyboard and mouse.

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post #14 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

Intention is to only use VGA long enough to get the HTPC final configured, target setup has HDMI to a receiver that drives the plasma. Just not willing to do all this stuff on the plasma, too subject to image retention. However, appearing final video and audio configuration has to be done with the target equipment, too bad, but guess unavoidable. Also too bad since I probably can't readily move it back and forth for maintenance issues.

Also don't know yet how amenable MPC-HC is to use with a remote instead of a mouse, at least when called by XBMC. Need to be able to set aside keyboard and mouse. Lot's yet to learn.

Good God how old is your Plasma? I have 2 and have never had issues with image retention despite my wife leaving XBMC open all day.
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post #15 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Did some Batman (1966) video compares between my Gotham BXMC Alpha10 tweak, VLC 2.1.2 and MPC-HC. The driver setting changes make a valuable difference for all in increasing clarity and dimensionality, but although I tried again and again to convince myself otherwise, MPC-HC kept moving the picture into a greater sense of touchy-feely reality/being there. I could definitely live with my current XBMC result, but the MPC-HC image beckons smile.gif!

In light of the above mentioned empty MadVR pages I uninstalled everything, cleaned up the registry and disc partition, and carefully reinstalled according to instructions. I found I'd misremembered the skipped configuration window, it belonged to XY-Subfilter, not MadVR. I reviewed the content, all about subtitles and all seemingly supplied with defaults, so I merely accepted it and carried on. Last thing I did after configuring the audio was to install the downloaded DTS decoder DLL file (just in case), but ultimately, the result was the same as before. During video playback, I left click on madDR, select Edit Settings, and Processing/Scaling Algorithms/Rendering still all show blank pages. I'm really doubting it's an installation problem -- I suspect MadVR just doesn't have any preloaded data describing my APU processor capabilities and so can't present options, at least, that's my guess. On the other hand, if MadVR is supposed to query the processor to find out its function set, it clearly isn't doing a very good job of it.

So, I'm supposing that's about all I can do regarding MPC-HC install for now and am turning to tying it into XBMC.
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Originally Posted by steelman1991 View Post

MPC-HC is fully functional with all the basic playback controls out of the box, the only one you may have to add (if using as an external player in xbmc) is mapping the 'exit' command in mpc-ch to 'MEDIA_STOP', this will stop the file playing and return you to xbmc gui. MediaBrowser is another worth looking at as this adds a resume function to external player playback - which none of the other front ends do.
Yes, the remote "Stop" button would be perfect for returning to the Media Center (mapping remotes is something else new to me). Does the Media Center automatically put playback into full screen mode (my other remote concern)?
Quote:
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Why not use a remote desktop program? I use Splashtop to log into my HTPC from my laptop or desktop to do maintenance and setting up stuff that needs a keyboard and mouse.
Sounds worth looking at, I gather it relays the HTPC display to the Splashtop PC.
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post #16 of 31 Old 01-02-2014, 11:19 PM
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Sounds worth looking at, I gather it relays the HTPC display to the Splashtop PC.

Yes, it sure beats trying to use a wireless mouse and keyboard sitting on the couch as they really weren't meant to be more than a few feet away.

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post #17 of 31 Old 01-03-2014, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by |Tch0rT| View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrevorS View Post

Sounds worth looking at, I gather it relays the HTPC display to the Splashtop PC.

Yes, it sure beats trying to use a wireless mouse and keyboard sitting on the couch as they really weren't meant to be more than a few feet away.
??? What brand and model do you have??? Mine all wok fine @20' or more!
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post #18 of 31 Old 01-03-2014, 01:10 AM
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??? What brand and model do you have??? Mine all wok fine @20' or more!

LOL I tend to buy Logitech peripherals so that could be the problem. Also maybe wireless interference? Anyway this is the one I have issues with:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823126332

I think I bought a refurb one for like $15 shipped so I didn't care too much since it was so cheap. Though I've similar issues with other Logitech wireless mice but not near as bad as that one. Remote desktop makes it moot anyway for 99% of my purposes for when I need a keyboard and mouse on my HTPC.

A friend of mine has had issues with wireless keyboards and mice not working more than a few feet away from the PC too but I don't remember what brands they were.

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post #19 of 31 Old 01-03-2014, 06:59 PM
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Interesting that you think you can discern 1080p from 720p. There is recent a thread on here where people were just debating that it's almost impossible to tell the difference and many actually prefer 720p as it saves them some space.
I would say they need glasses then.
Is it a big difference? Not with normal (50") viewing sizes. But it should be obvious in particular on things with straight lines/textures such as brick walls or hair.

Anyway, MPC-HC was mentioned to use with XBMC. Just wanted to mention the XBMC version with built-in DSplayer. It can't use madVR, but it can use EVR with bicubic, and that's fine by me, and it works with XBMC overlays. There's an easy setting in XBMC to make DSplayer the default player, though that easy setting works off of the computer's hierarchy of filters/codecs.

I had to manually change the text file to force it to use the decoders and splitters I wanted. I may have only had a problem with that due to getting SVP to work with it, though, since you have to get the FFdshow raw filter in there.

And then slap some FFdshow Asharp or SWsharp(?) on there to sharpen the picture up, or whatever else you want to do.
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I would say they need glasses then.
Is it a big difference? Not with normal (50") viewing sizes. But it should be obvious in particular on things with straight lines/textures such as brick walls or hair.

Anyway, MPC-HC was mentioned to use with XBMC. Just wanted to mention the XBMC version with built-in DSplayer. It can't use madVR, but it can use EVR with bicubic, and that's fine by me, and it works with XBMC overlays. There's an easy setting in XBMC to make DSplayer the default player, though that easy setting works off of the computer's hierarchy of filters/codecs.

I had to manually change the text file to force it to use the decoders and splitters I wanted. I may have only had a problem with that due to getting SVP to work with it, though, since you have to get the FFdshow raw filter in there.

And then slap some FFdshow Asharp or SWsharp(?) on there to sharpen the picture up, or whatever else you want to do.

They both look great to me but then I don't ever stop the movie to compare them during stills to compare things like straight lines and texture. Mostly I just sit back and enjoy the movie on my 120" screen as to my eyes they both look great. smile.gif
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post #21 of 31 Old 01-03-2014, 08:02 PM
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I can tell the difference if they are played back to back. I like 1080p better. biggrin.gif

I can also tell the difference in rendering types if I pay attention. Especially on text or patterns or diagonal lines or images.
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I would say they need glasses then.
Is it a big difference? Not with normal (50") viewing sizes. But it should be obvious in particular on things with straight lines/textures such as brick walls or hair.

Anyway, MPC-HC was mentioned to use with XBMC. Just wanted to mention the XBMC version with built-in DSplayer. It can't use madVR, but it can use EVR with bicubic, and that's fine by me, and it works with XBMC overlays. There's an easy setting in XBMC to make DSplayer the default player, though that easy setting works off of the computer's hierarchy of filters/codecs.

I had to manually change the text file to force it to use the decoders and splitters I wanted. I may have only had a problem with that due to getting SVP to work with it, though, since you have to get the FFdshow raw filter in there.

And then slap some FFdshow Asharp or SWsharp(?) on there to sharpen the picture up, or whatever else you want to do.

MeediOS and MB theater both support MadVR. MeediOS will also do SVP. Jriver would be a third option too.

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post #22 of 31 Old 01-04-2014, 01:15 AM
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I can tell the difference if they are played back to back. I like 1080p better. biggrin.gif

I can also tell the difference in rendering types if I pay attention. Especially on text or patterns or diagonal lines or images.
MediaiIOS and MB theater both support MadVR. MediaiOS will also do SVP. Jriver would be a third option too.

That would be MeediOS your talking about.
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post #23 of 31 Old 01-04-2014, 06:12 AM
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That would be MeediOS your talking about.

No my comment was that I can tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. assassin was suggesting people can't.

The three players listed were the three front end I understand support MADVR. Otherwise external player must be used.

Assassin's comments make no sense to me because if you have a 1920x1080 display you can't get real 720p and your display likely up converts this to 1080p. The comparison would be between your AVR or display doing that versus MADVR or your HTPC doing it.

A more complicated discussion ^

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No my comment was that I can tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. assassin was suggesting people can't.

The three players listed were the three front end I understand support MADVR. Otherwise external player must be used.

Assassin's comments make no sense to me because if you have a 1920x1080 display you can't get real 720p and your display likely up converts this to 1080p. The comparison would be between your AVR or display doing that versus MADVR or your HTPC doing it.

A more complicated discussion ^

Not what I said. I said there was a thread devoted to this very discussion (which I found interesting) where some were saying they couldn't tell a difference.

What I said is that they both look great to me and that I don't sit down and pick apart the fine detail.
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post #25 of 31 Old 01-04-2014, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

No my comment was that I can tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. assassin was suggesting people can't.

The three players listed were the three front end I understand support MADVR. Otherwise external player must be used.

Assassin's comments make no sense to me because if you have a 1920x1080 display you can't get real 720p and your display likely up converts this to 1080p. The comparison would be between your AVR or display doing that versus MADVR or your HTPC doing it.

A more complicated discussion ^

I wasn't questioning, chastising or correcting your comment. I was however correcting you on the front-end name for anyone looking to further investigate it - MeediOS - not MediaiIOS
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post #26 of 31 Old 01-04-2014, 07:09 AM
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Oh. lol. I fixed the typo. Sorry.

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post #27 of 31 Old 08-22-2014, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post
Interesting that you think you can discern 1080p from 720p.
I know you're a poster with a long history so I won't accuse you of trolling, but that would be my first thought after reading that.

Most people here are using 60+ inch displays with many of us using projectors at 100"+. 1080p is a huge difference over 720p that's all I will say. 1080p is 2.25 times the resolution of 720p.

5 years down the road, will you also argue that one can't discern 8k, 4k, and 1080p?
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post #28 of 31 Old 08-22-2014, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by aftcomet View Post
I know you're a poster with a long history so I won't accuse you of trolling, but that would be my first thought after reading that.

Most people here are using 60+ inch displays with many of us using projectors at 100"+. 1080p is a huge difference over 720p that's all I will say. 1080p is 2.25 times the resolution of 720p.

5 years down the road, will you also argue that one can't discern 8k, 4k, and 1080p?
I said it was an interesting comment or theory --- not that I agreed with it. I also thought the thread where people were debating it was interesting.

I never said there wasn't a difference. Read again.

From this VERY thread...

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Originally Posted by assassin View Post
Not what I said. I said there was a thread devoted to this very discussion (which I found interesting) where some were saying they couldn't tell a difference.

What I said is that they both look great to me and that I don't sit down and pick apart the fine detail.
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post
They both look great to me but then I don't ever stop the movie to compare them during stills to compare things like straight lines and texture. Mostly I just sit back and enjoy the movie on my 120" screen as to my eyes they both look great.
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post #29 of 31 Old 08-23-2014, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by aftcomet View Post
5 years down the road, will you also argue that one can't discern 8k, 4k, and 1080p?
5 years down the road . . . someone will resurrect this thread again
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post #30 of 31 Old 08-23-2014, 12:52 PM
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5 years down the road . . . someone will resurrect this thread again
LOL... yes, when trying to discern between 8k and 20k...
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