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post #1 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
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I am not going to get all technical with this post. Instead I am going to tell you my basic observations when using the crystalio II (latest firmware version 1.24a). I have been using it now for 2 weeks. I have DirecTV (HD TIVO and their new HR20 HD DVR) going into an Onkyo TX1000 and the out going into HDMI input 4 on the crystalio II. I have a JVC HM5 U DTHEATER player going into HDMI input 3. I then have a Panasonic Blu ray unit for spot 2 and then a Toshiba HD DVD XA1 in spot 1. I am using a Sony Ruby (HDMI, DVI and component). So far switching has been a breeze. I have tested the audio as well and have never experienced a single drop out over any of the signals.

The userface of this unit is remarkable. Besides the very clever Dynamic VP (which allows you to set specific parameters) it also has a very intuitive menu system. It is so easy to use that even my wife can figure it out! It pretty much consists of INPUT, OUTPUT, IMAGE, AUDIO, and SYSTEM. The INPUT section has the input configuration which allows you to select your video level coming in or if one wants to then can just select AUTO. I like being able to see what is coming in. Either 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 or RGB... The OUTPUT is also very easy to navigate thru. Here you can select your resolution (like any VP) and also what video level to send in. Then there is the screen masking and screen shape options. IMAGE is full of features. Here is where the crystalio II separates itself from the pack. Besides having a ton of Gamma, color temperature, and video settings it also has the deinterlacing options as well. Being able to pick between the VXP chip for HD and the faroudja for 480i sources is a tweakers dream. And you can set it to automatically switch between them depending on the resolution coming in. The aspect ratio under IMAGE has 1:1 Pixel Mapping as an option. finally one can just pick it instead of wonder if they are doing 1:1. It also includes built in test patterns to confirm it! Also there is full screen, 16:9 letterbox/2:35:1, 16:9, 4:3 letterbox, 4:3, a NLS option and finally there is even a custom option. That is not all there is to do under IMAGE either. Here you can set your video profiles, and also set the Noise Reduction option. I know many say never turn on a NR option but I will say if I am watching a source and see one dot of grain after turning the NR on low it is gone! I have found it works wonders for those older titles on HD DVD. It truly cleans up the picture without causing me to lose sharpness. The AUDIO section is just that. AUDIO. It allows you to pick each source and also do delays (if needed)... The SYSTEM is also nice because it enables you to turn on the advnced options. Those would be the HDMI port configurations. Also allows one to adjust R/G/B individual gamma curves. I could go on and on about the many features there are that many. Even the faroudja chip has its own options. Also I would like to mention the Voltage amp option (off, low, high) for longer cable runs.

So enough with the userface, how does it do with Picture Quality? After you set it up just the way you want to you finally get to SEE what it can do. The crystalio II has 2 HDMI outputs and a BNC component style output. And all 3 OUTPUTS are always simultaneaously active! I have been using HDMI on my ruby but also plan to use the DVI input when the 1080p 48hz ouptut is fixed (in the next firmware). I use the component on the ruby for my xbox 360. So far I have not been dissapointed. I have said time and time again, you get what you pay for and the crystalio II is no exception. The picture is the absolute best I have seen on my ruby. It really gives it a DLP look without the rainbows. Sharp and vivid. You can actually SEE the adjustments to the picture as you make them. I was playing Madden 07 and I could not believe the amount of detail on the turf alone. I could never see that before with any other processor. I actually had to turn down sharpness because I was getting a headache. Mission Impossible 3 looked terrific. Also my Toshiba HD DVD DEMO disc is jaw dropping. I put in some of my best material so I could judge it with great sources before I put in 480i material. Chronicles of riddick, Charlie and the chocolate Factory all looked great on HD DVD. Then of course I put in the older titles. They looked cleaner when the NR was turned on low. I think their FineEdge, FidelityEngine and TruMotionHD features all played a key role in making these older titles look pristine. Fast times at Ridgemont High and Animal House were other good examples. For Blu ray I only have about 6 titles. I started with Evolution. Wow! That looked great. Monster House and Dinosaur were very nice to. It was hard for me to see what grain others have mentioned with Monster House. I am very impressed with the detail level in dark scenes. The Great Raid was spectacular. Click, even though it may not be one of the best Br titles out there, still looked very good. I have found that average looking HD titles (whatever format) look much better. And the best ones are unbelievable. I can't wait for Ice Age 2 in a couple weeks. For SD dvds I expect Cars to look HD. These Disney titles always look great no matter what display but for this set up I expect it to be hard to tell the difference between it and a HD title. For DTHEATER, the results were just the same. I, ROBOT was so 3D like it was scary. I then played some older titles in 480i to see what the faroudja deinterlacing can do. Not bad at all. After selecting the A/R I was very impressed. Usually it is crap in, crap out. Not in this case. Same for my DirecTV sources. Whenever I sent in 480i (playboy channel) they did not look bad at all. And of course HD sources looked excellant. I leave the NR on low at all times with satellite. I am a tweaker at heart and having this many options is awesome.

So to sum things up, I have had a DVDO VP30 and 50, and also a Lumagen HDQ. I really liked the HDQ's picture Q. I hated its menu system (userface). I felt like I needed a QB wristband. I liked the DVDO VP30 with its ABT 102 card. I also liked the VP50 which is pretty much a VP30 with 1080i deinterlacing. The DVDO userface is better than average and has nice color.The VP50 does a nice picture to. But for me I just LOVE (not like) the crystalio II. The remotes are all pretty similar to. The crystalio IIs is simple with a backlite (blue buttons) option. You can also hit INFO at anytime to see what is going on. There you can confirm whether you are using the VXP chip or faroudja. Also if you are in 1:1 mode. Also whether it is FILM or VIDEO, 3:2, resolutions in or out... You get my point. You can have any question answered at a push of a button. And as far as looks go the crystalio II is the most impressive looking of the bunch. It has an excellant display window on the front. I like it when it goes to commercial and you can see it switch between film and 2:2. And yes you can turn that off if it is distracting. Even though it is just a dot (blue, orange or green-which indicates PASSTHRU). So when the next fimware hits (later this month) and the 1080p 48hz, Picture in Picture and Picture by Picture are added it will be an even better VP. PiP is going to be a great feature to add that will feel like the cherry on top!

Kudos to Pixel Magic!

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post #2 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 08:28 AM
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Nice review. Looks like the Crystalio is well worth the price for HD but if someone has a very simple system including HD STB and 480i DVD on plasma is the improvement on SD significant enough to sway a buy decision?
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post #3 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 09:05 AM
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Thanks for the post - but just curious, are you saying (and seeing) that the Crystallio's DcDI chip does as well on 480i (or better) than the ABT102? Unfortuneatly, in my case, I probably watch as much SD as HD - few of the sports teams I follow are "big" enough to get the HD treatment. Last year, even two out of the 3 bowl games I watched were low-tier enough that they were SD. So in my situation, SD performance is much more critical than how much a Blu-Ray pic is improved.

- now I may change my mind, after I score a PS-3, but that's another story.

Jon

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post #4 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 09:21 AM
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Great Review!

As an owner of the DVDO VP50 I am considering switching video processors. Do you own the VPS3300 or the VPS3800?

Thanks,
Gary

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post #5 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I think you can tweak a 480i image to look nearly as good as the ABT102 card. The DCDI technology with motion adaptive noise reduction is a great combo. Not to mention their TrueLife enhancement and cross color features. Don't get me wrong, the ABT 102 card is excellant. That is the best feature (in my opinion) the DVDOs have. But for 1080i in and sending out 1080p the crystalio II is the king. If you don't have a true 1080p display or watch more SD than HD then the crystalio II is not up your alley. If you watch a lot of SD then th DVDOs would be more ideal (and cost effective). But since I watch 85-90% HD and my display is 1080p the crystalio II is priceless.

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post #6 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 09:29 AM
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Thanks for the review Joe.

I am a littel confused about one thing: can you choose between Faroudja DCDi and the VXP chips to deinterlace standard def material?
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post #7 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I also forgot to mention that I also am a big fan of the USB inputs. Being able to do firmware updates by using a USB flashdrive is so conveinant. Not having to disconnect all my cables is really time saving. That is another nice feature worthy of being mentioned!

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post #8 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes Rob, you can choose to enable or keep disabled the faroudja deinterlacing. When you enable it whenever there is a 480i source it automatically turns on. Whenever you send in a 1080i source the VXP chip is on... I like a VP that does all the work.

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post #9 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 09:44 AM
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Here is a newbie question about VPs in general. I have heard that certain plasmas will not allow you to overide their internal VP. I have a Samsung (current model), how can i find out if the internal VP can be overidden and I can use an external VP?
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post #10 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 10:11 AM
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Glad you're enjoying your purchase Joerod - I'm certainly enjoying mine.
I hear time and time again that it's expensive, but tbh, once you've made the decision, it seems like a bargain - there's so many nice touches with the package and with regard to PQ - I find it transparent - i.e. for the first time for ages, I'm able to watch the content rather than analyse the processing.
Nice one!

Like you I'm looking forward to the pip - it's always something I've coveted - whether I'll use it or not - who knows!

I'm thinking about getting s second small monitor for it too - basically you can output any of your inputs to the second monitor - as well as watching 2 at the same time, I'm also thinking about having something small so that I don't have to fire up the PJ to play some music off the Media Player or set something on the PVR.
Only one of the outputs can be fully processed at once, but it's still a cool feature.
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post #11 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post

Yes Rob, you can choose to enable or keep disabled the faroudja deinterlacing. When you enable it whenever there is a 480i source it automatically turns on. Whenever you send in a 1080i source the VXP chip is on... I like a VP that does all the work.


So the VXP chip CAN deinterlace a SD 480i signal? If so, how does it compare to the Faroudja?
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post #12 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omeletpants View Post

Here is a newbie question about VPs in general. I have heard that certain plasmas will not allow you to overide their internal VP. I have a Samsung (current model), how can i find out if the internal VP can be overidden and I can use an external VP?

Try it with your PC if you can override it before buying a VP.
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post #13 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes it can. I like the extra features the faroudja offers for deinterlacing the 480i signals. With those extras it produces a sharper, clearer image than the VXP. Of course the VXP was made for 1080i signals so when it comes down to it this is one hell of a combo!

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post #14 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post

Yes it can. I like the extra features the faroudja offers for deinterlacing the 480i signals. With those extras it produces a sharper, clearer image than the VXP. Of course the VXP was made for 1080i signals so when it comes down to it this is one hell of a combo!

Thanks Joe. I guess Faroudja still is hard to beat for SD deinterlacing. But you said you would prefer the ABT over the Faroudja for SD?
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post #15 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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To be 100% clear as mud I would say they are so similar in pic Q it is like splitting hairs picking between the two. Still the choice for a crystalio II over the DVDO VP30 or 50 is crystal clear for me. I want the whole package. And for me HD deinterlacing is top priority.

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post #16 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post

To be 100% clear as mud I would say they are so similar in pic Q it is like splitting hairs picking between the two. Still the choice for a crystalio II over the DVDO VP30 or 50 is crystal clear for me. I want the whole package. And for me HD deinterlacing is top priority.

Thanks for answering my query Joe. I've also been following the PM C2 thread - it's certainly not without its problems either though. The media player section is still very buggy and only just now, after nearly six months or more, implemented and becoming usefull. Ah well, looks like the days of having a device come out complete and bug free are long gone. I didn't see much on any gremlins like audio and video problems etc etc. Are there none with this device?

Phil.
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post #17 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post

To be 100% clear as mud I would say they are so similar in pic Q it is like splitting hairs picking between the two. Still the choice for a crystalio II over the DVDO VP30 or 50 is crystal clear for me. I want the whole package. And for me HD deinterlacing is top priority.

Thanks a lot Joe, I appreciate it.
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post #18 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I waited and just go my crystalio II. This is obviously a later production unit with the latest firmware already intact. I have not has a single issue with this unit. It has worked flawlessly. It has done everything I have expected and more. When the roadmap gets closer to being completed it will be even better. I really have no use for the built in HD media player so I can't complain about anything there. This unit has more than enough for any home theater. A lot of it I will never use. Like the 2 HD SDI outputs. Still, it never hurts to have more than you need...

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post #19 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 02:37 PM
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Thanks Joe for a very informative review!

I've been following the DVDO VP50 thread with great interest. Unfortunately due to the many ongoing and still unresolved issues I think that I'll pass on the DVDO product line. From what I can tell they haven't fixed a single problem since the initial product release.

Unless those issues are quickly resolved with the VP50 I see a Crystalio II in my future.

Thanks again.
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post #20 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
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If you do get a crystalio II, I guarrantee you will never look back. I haven't... I also did not mention how well it does with HD sports like the NFL!

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post #21 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 03:48 PM
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im in the market for my first VP and had my mind set on the CII however after reading this I'm not sure. I watch mostly sd since live in iceland and there are no HD broadcasts here and I'm not buying HDDVD/BLURAY until sometime next year. What do you guys think, is ABT that much better at sd? Also my pj (barco cine 8) doesnt really output 1080p
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post #22 of 892 Old 11-06-2006, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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There is not much difference between the two. But if you are holding off on Blu ray and HD DVD and there is not any HD broadcasting in your neighborhood then I would suggest getting a more cost effective VP like the DVDO VP20 with the 102 card. Especially since you are not doing 1080p... Save the extra cash for now and upgrade in the future when it will meet your needs better...

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post #23 of 892 Old 11-07-2006, 01:20 AM
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I think the ABT is supposed to be better at deinterlacing particularly difficult SD, but that doesn't guarantee that the pq will be better - it's only one part of the equasion.
Also the majority of programming I've encountered doesn't pose any problems to CII.
Maybe if I watched loads of varied anime, it would show the differences, but not at the moment.
The DVDO game mode is also of interest to me - I'm looking forward to the Wii and I hope there isn't too much lag using VXP - My HTPC with DScaler gave too much lag for my liking.
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post #24 of 892 Old 11-07-2006, 04:37 AM - Thread Starter
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I have not experienced any lag issues using the 360 with the crystalio II. I agree about the SD topic as well. Just for me there is no way I would consider passing on a crystalio II so i could get the 102 card in another VP. The crystalio II's benefits far out weigh it and there is not that big of difference watching SD anyway. I have had both in side by side comparisons... If the VP50 out performed the crystalio II there is no way I would have even thought about keeping it instead of the VP50. The extra I could have saved could have went towards something else...

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post #25 of 892 Old 11-08-2006, 06:01 AM - Thread Starter
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We watched X-MEN 3 last night. Wow! Very good picture going thru the crystalio II. I was very impressed again. I expect the newer releases to all look terrific with this VP. Also I was able to play Gears of War using the 360 and VP combo. Now this has to be the best looking video game I have ever played. And no lag time either. The crystalio II has to be my best home theater purchase (that and my ruby) in a long time...

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post #26 of 892 Old 11-08-2006, 06:22 AM
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Quote:
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(that and my ruby) in a long time...

How is your Ruby hooked to your VP? HMDI?

How does your VP support film frame rates, aka 24, 48, etc?
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post #27 of 892 Old 11-08-2006, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
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It supports them flawlessly. I have not had a single issue. Everything I have sent it has been handled. I am sending both HDMI outs to my ruby (1 for HDMI and 1 for DVI). I also use the component out to the ruby for my Xbox 360. I like the flexibility. I can use the HDMI though with the component input (all outputs active simultaneous) but I like keeping it all down the same signal path.

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post #28 of 892 Old 11-08-2006, 06:50 AM
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Quote:
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It supports them flawlessly. I have not had a single issue. Everything I have sent it has been handled. I am sending both HDMI outs to my ruby (1 for HDMI and 1 for DVI). I also use the component out to the ruby for my Xbox 360. I like the flexibility. I can use the HDMI though with the component input (all outputs active simultaneous) but I like keeping it all down the same signal path.

The Ruby is not suppose to handle 24fps over HDMI - only Component.
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post #29 of 892 Old 11-08-2006, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, I just noticed you put in 24. Your right, I only get 48hz 1080p over the DVI input. I have been very happy with 60hz 1080p over the HDMI input.

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post #30 of 892 Old 11-08-2006, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joerod View Post

Sorry, I just noticed you put in 24. Your right, I only get 48hz 1080p over the DVI input. I have been very happy with 60hz 1080p over the HDMI input.

That is what I thought - 48Hz over DVI and 60Hz over HDMI.

I assume your preference is 60Hz over HDMI.

That is what I use with my Ruby - from a VP50.
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