Which Vid card to pair with REAL MAGIC "Hollywood Plus?" - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 06-05-2001, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll be building or buying (or something) a HTPC for my Sony Wega 36" NON-480p TV. This is for PAL DVDs alone. There are no DVD players that can convert PAL into NTSC properly, so I am going the HTPC route to enjoy my growing collection of R2 PAL releases (most from Hong Kong Legends).

I know the Real Magic is a great card, so what vid card should I pair it with? Gaming won't interest me for this PC. ATI? NVIDEA? I will be using the SVIDEO out from the Real Magic to my Pioneer Receiver (then into the TV).

I will want 16X9 (anamorphic) DVDsoutputd that way, as my Wega can do the squeze. How can I set that up? Do most current cards have that option? I know the ATI AIW in my AMD system has that feature.

What sound card should I use? I am 99% sure I will go Pentium III for this system. I have a SB LIVE PLATINUM that drives my AMD 1.2ghz nuts (so I yanked it out). I can always use this. It's a great card with tons of features AND SPDIF and Optical Outs!

[This message has been edited by Matt_Stevens (edited 06-05-2001).]

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post #2 of 24 Old 06-05-2001, 07:04 PM
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There's a patch to fix Soundblaster issues with VIA chipses.

Its a really weird error. I have two identical machines and one gets the crashes and one does not.

As for the video card, it doesn't really matter. The Real Magic will do pretty much all the work I believe.

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post #3 of 24 Old 06-05-2001, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Apparently getting the SB to work with the Iwill (ALi Magic chipset) is near impossible. Screw it. Not worth the headache. I'll use the onboard sound from the MB and just behappy. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

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post #4 of 24 Old 06-05-2001, 08:42 PM
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Might not be the answer you're looking for, but I'd get a Radeon, use the ATI player and scrap the RealMagic card for good. I couldn't believe the difference going from a RealMagic to PowerDVD almost 1 1/2 years ago, and the switch from PowerDVD to Radeon was a sizeable improvement as well. In one jump, the picture should knock your socks off.
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post #5 of 24 Old 06-05-2001, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Is Power DVD a card? Will it give me the PERFECT conversion from PAL to NTSC that I am looking for? What I mean by that is the aspect ratio not changing. Many PAL to NTSC conversions result in 1.85:1 looking either 1.5:1 (squished) ot 2.0:1 (flattened).

Every review of the Real Magic I've read has talked about the high quality of the card, plus its perfect PAL to NTSC conversion.

Of course, if the ATI Radeon can give me that, then fine by me. This is the 32mb DDR, yes?

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post #6 of 24 Old 06-05-2001, 09:07 PM
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Hmm... I don't have any PAL DVD's to give you a straight answer, but on the other hand I've never read anybody complaining that the ATI player _doesn't_ convert correctly...

Can anyone chime in who plays PAL DVD's on NTSC TV?

You might want to start a new thread asking that question.

At worst, you may have to use powerstrip or yxy (I don't use this program so I don't know if this is the sort of thing it can correct) to get the resolution correct for NTSC aspect...

Oh, and I'm using the Radeon LE, but any of the Radeon series will have the same DVD quality--the LE is just the cheapest.

Brian

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post #7 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 12:47 AM
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Let's not forget (quite hard sometimes) that he wants interlaced output to a tv.

So every player out there is not really suited to do this unless you're using the (most of the time lousy) tv-out of a vga card.

In this area, the HW+ is clearly a winner. And you'll have to use the bundled dvd player (or the alternative ; Eugene's dvd player).

Svideo (and even rgb ! See my other post) from HW+ is first class. It can do probably all the tricks you're talking about. I've just tried last week-end to force it to output 50hz PAL from a 60hz/ntsc dvd to record it on my (pal only) vcr. No problem ! This card is quite very "open" on those issues.

This means you can tell it "I've got a pal only tv" and he will take care of everything. Same thing with ratios ... tell it you've got a widescreen and he'll handle this.

See the htpc meta FAQ , or the Dscaler FAQ , and my looong htpc in the making thread
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post #8 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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This won't be used on a 480p or better TV. Strictly on my analog 36" Wega.

Soooo... What Video card will do the job for me without stuttering? The Hollywood + is right here in my home. So please, don't tell me to dump it. I'd love to hear from current Hollywood + card owners as to what Vid card they are using. I'm sure I don't need to spend a lot of money.

Thanks!

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post #9 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 03:28 PM
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I replied in the "Pausing problem with H+" thread, although it was off-topic...
The H+ won't care what you have for video. You could use a 512KB ISA video card (hey, I actually have a box of 'em) if you wanted...

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post #10 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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OK. A bit of confusion on your post in the other thread. With an average PCI video card and the HP hooked into my Receiver (then into the TV), will I be able to view the desktop on my PC? I realize it will be interlaced and therefore, kinda ugly looking, but since I won't have a monitor hooked up, I'll need the TV.

Also, will the HP card pass through a DTS signal? If I don't need a sound card, I'll be able to put my SB Platinum on eBay and make some money. That will make me really happy!

Thanks!

BTW: I'll probably end up going for a halfway decent video card. Say something in the $75 range. GeforceMX or something. It couldn't hurt and my budget can take it.

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post #11 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 05:32 PM
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For what your describing, it really doesn't matter WHAT video or sound card you use. The way my RealMagic is hooked up is from video card to RealMagic, then my computer monitor is on the output of the RealMagic. The analog audio out is usually hooked into the Line-In on my SoundBlaster (16 bit, ISA PNP version). When we are watching a DVD, I usually hook the S-video (with the included S-Video-to-Composite convertor) and the SPIDF into my Yamaha receiver Coax AC3 in. Works pretty well for me !

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post #12 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 05:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Are you getting picture quality as good as a stand alone DVD deck? Would the SPIDF go directly into the COAX on my receiver? It needs no additional processing, correct?

I am thinking of using the SB Platinum, a it has an optical OUT. My receiver has no free COAX inputs, but one free OPTICAL input. Any problems getting the SB PLATINUM to work with the Real Magic H+?

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post #13 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 07:04 PM
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I don't know how my RealMagic video compares to a stand-alone DVD deck - I don't own one. Someday I'll view a DVD with s-video connectors - over a distance of about 24 feet.

Yes, I'm connecting the SPIDF/coax output from the RealMagic directly to a COAX input on my receiver - nothing in-between. I don't know how you would connect the RealMagic digital audio to the digital audio of SoundBlaster.

[This message has been edited by Scooper (edited 06-06-2001).]

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post #14 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 08:11 PM
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Here is the poop on the Hollywood Plus:

The H+ will output both AC3 and DTS out the COAX S/PDIF port of the H+ only. This would connect to a COAX S/PDIF of a receiver. I am pretty sure the H+ can also do software decoding of the AC3 signal and can be outputted from the analog outputs of a 5.1 sound card. This is not the case for DTS.

You do not need a soundcard to use the Hollywood Plus. Everything sound related is already on the H+.

Any video card will work with the H+, period.

The desktop of your computer will NOT be displayed on your TV screen when using the H+. You will need a computer monitor in order to see the controls of the desktop. However there is a remote control you can buy from sigmadesigns.com which will control the software. In this case, once the software is running, you won't need a monitor.

The SVIDEO out of the H+ should be top notch and serve your purpose well.

Good luck!

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post #15 of 24 Old 06-06-2001, 11:29 PM
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Right, you get no desktop from the H+. For that you'd need a video card with video out. In my setup, I use my receiver for all my video switching, and just run s-video from the H+ and from my video card. Although honestly, with a little bit of work you can get your system set up where you'll never need to see your Windows desktop. I believe you can get a Geforce2 MX w/tv out for somewhere in that $75 price range. A Radeon LE w/tv out should be around that range too.
I'm about to order the component video cable for the Sigma Designs Netstream 2000 to see if it will work with the H+. If I get my H+ working with YUV and no soldering, I'll let you know.

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post #16 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Thorr, the only Coax IN on my receiver is currently taken by my standalone region switchable Toshiba SD1600, which has no Optical out.

So I need the SB LIVE PLATINUM for its OPTICAL Out. I can simply hook the SPDIF from the DVDROM to the SB, then the Optical out to my Receiver. Correct?

(My HTPC will be used exclusively for PAL DVDs. No NTSC, which is taken care of just fine by the Toshiba).

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post #17 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 05:28 PM
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Matt,

No that is not correct. The SPDIF on your DVDROM drive is not used at all for watching DVD's. The only thing it would be used for is when listening to audio CD's. Even then, with the latest Windows Media Player, audio CD's are digitally extracted from the CD and played out your soundcard without the need of the SPDIF on the DVDROM.

In theory, you could run the coaxial out of the H+ to the coaxial in on the SB, then run an optical out to your receiver. Assuming the SB Platinum has a coaxial in, and an optical out, this should work. However, I highly recommend against it if you have high quality equipment because doing this will noticeably degrade the sound quality of the movies (even though its a digital signal). The SB's are notorious for lousy sounding AC3. Regarding DTS, it should also work, but I could not get DTS to work out of my original SBLIVE. If your speakers are of an "ok" quality, this solution should be fine for you.

A much better card to do this with would be the M-Audio Delta Dio 24/96. The problem is it costs $199. You can get it from digitalconnection.com.

Mike
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post #18 of 24 Old 06-07-2001, 05:36 PM
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Matt,

There is one other thing you CAN do and it WILL work, but you have to be careful. You can get a "Y" adapter for your coaxial-in on your receiver. Plug your Toshiba coaxial out to one of the connectors and the H+ coaxial out to the other connector. Just make sure that you only use one digital device at a time. If I did this, I would turn off the device not in use. If you need to leave your computer on while using your Toshiba, then just unplug the cable from the H+ until you need to use it. This would be a cost free and by far the cleanest solution rather than going through the SB. Just be careful not to use both devices at the same time. I don't know if the H+ activates the SPDIF when not in use, so you may not need to disconnect it, but not knowing, I would disconnect it.

By the way, you may find that the H+ is fine for all of your DVD's and you wouldn't need the Toshiba anymore. I am very impressed with the video quality out the SVIDEO port of the H+. I think there are ways to make a H+ region free with DVD Genie, but I am not sure.

Mike


[This message has been edited by thorr (edited 06-07-2001).]
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post #19 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 07:26 AM - Thread Starter
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thorr, interesting card. No optical though. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/frown.gif I may have to see if my Sony AC3 demodulator can accept one more Coax input.

I cannot use a splitter for the Coax, as then I'd be switching S-Video cables in the receiver. One Coax Input is set for one S-Video input. :-(

What is POWER DVD? Is it something I should use with the Hollywood+ decoder card?

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post #20 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 08:53 AM
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PowerDVD is a software DVD player. For the H+ card you have to use the RealMagic "DVD Station" player. Using DVD Genie or Remote Selector and a region-free DVD drive, you can play any region DVD.

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post #21 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 02:45 PM
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Matt_Stevens:

I'm a "lowend" guy doing what I think you want. Use a H+ on an analog 4x3 set. I am doing that, works as well as can be expected http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif I also have a WinTV-D in the box to view OTA digital at 480i over svideo. I also am using an old ATI XPert@Play 98 via svideo to get the Windoze desktop on the TV for MP3, gaming, blah blah whatever. All of these route thru a Sima svs-4 autoswitching box.

The H+ outputs video (svideo) and audio (dd51/dts) direct from the card to your receiver. Works great, sounds great. I also use the RealMagic remote as well as other remotes/functions with an IRMan/girder.

So you need any card that can output composite/svideo to display the Windoze desktop to the TV, a box or receiver that auto-switches source is a big plus. Now, nothing will look "great" on the TV, but some cards do it better than others. And if you have any interest in 3D gaming, you'll want a card that can handle that as well as 2D display.

For DVD watching you'll use the Real software or Eugenes software. Eugenes works just fine with PAL discs (I've got a few).
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post #22 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt_Stevens:
thorr, interesting card. No optical though. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/frown.gif I may have to see if my Sony AC3 demodulator can accept one more Coax input.
Matt,

I think you were looking at the wrong card. Check out this link: http://www.midiman.com/m-audio/html/...ts/dio2496.htm
It definitely has optical. I have one, so I should know. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

Again, I would try the H+ as your only DVD player. You shouldn't need the Toshiba anymore.

Mike
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post #23 of 24 Old 06-08-2001, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
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thor, I am *very* close to going for that very same card, but am worried about it being a Professional" grade product and not Consumer. I fear it may be too good for my COMPAQ PC and Pioneer receiver. I have heard it wants high end equipment to work with. What is your opinion?

Another poster says I should go for the much less expensive "Guillemot Fortissimo" and the reviews I have found give it high marks. Opinion?

Thanks much!

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post #24 of 24 Old 06-09-2001, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt_Stevens:
thor, I am *very* close to going for that very same card, but am worried about it being a Professional" grade product and not Consumer. I fear it may be too good for my COMPAQ PC and Pioneer receiver. I have heard it wants high end equipment to work with. What is your opinion?

Another poster says I should go for the much less expensive "Guillemot Fortissimo" and the reviews I have found give it high marks. Opinion?

Thanks much!
Matt,

Sorry, I don't have any experience with the Guillemot Fortissimo. I have also read good remarks about it. I don't know anything about its digital in/out/pass-through capabilities.

I do know the Delta Dio is top-notch and would work just fine with your equipment. I couldn't believe my ears when I tried it the first time compared to my SBLive! This is when using a software DVD player, not the H+.

Maybe someone can confirm if the Fortissimo can convert your Coax signal to an Optical signal on the fly, and how well it works. Or you could just go for the Dio.

Good luck!

Mike
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