Algolith FLEA HDMI Review, with pictures - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 02-28-2007, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone, T+W Marketing, who distribute Algolith's products in Europe, were kind enough to let me try out the FLEA HDMI (as part of my hardware reviewing job for DVD Times.co.uk). As I was looking for more pictures of this device in action a few months prior, I thought people here would enjoy reading my findings with this unit as well as seeing how good the results can be:

http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=64146

My favourite example is the one at the very bottom of the page.

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post #2 of 22 Old 02-28-2007, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyris View Post

Hey everyone, T+W Marketing, who distribute Algolith's products in Europe, were kind enough to let me try out the FLEA HDMI (as part of my hardware reviewing job for DVD Times.co.uk). As I was looking for more pictures of this device in action a few months prior, I thought people here would enjoy reading my findings with this unit as well as seeing how good the results can be:

http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=64146

My favourite example is the one at the very bottom of the page.

Thanks for the post.

mark
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post #3 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 04:56 AM
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I am sorry to say but you have missed out on what the flea does best, make HD-DVD and blu-ray look AMAZING!
sure it can clean stuff up, and gives much more depth on dvds but its REALLY good sources it kicks ass on, but that means using the sharpness and all those things you left off (why?)!
basically this thing is so good everybody should have one!

I think you should take more screenshots with HD-DVD and play with those settings you didnt bother with and you shall see that you can get better blacks, contrast, sharpness, presense, depth ad a picture that makes people go... WOW!
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post #4 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beagle five View Post

I think you should take more screenshots with HD-DVD and play with those settings you didnt bother with and you shall see that you can get better blacks, contrast, sharpness, presense, depth ad a picture that makes people go... WOW!

Funny. I thought that good HD is the one thing that needs no 'enhancements' because if it's good HD it shows pretty much what the master tape looks like and if it's further 'enhanced' it does no longer. Better blacks? The master tells you how black things are supposed to be. Lack of proper blacks on the display are a display issue not solvable by fiddling with the source. Contrast? Same here. What is contrast challenged? The display or the source? Sharpness? Good HD is sharp. And if it's not that's how the master looks. Not all images are intended to be (pin) sharp. And who wants artificial sharpness on top of a soft picture? There is really not much to do with a good HD source looked at on a properly calibrated display with adequate contrast. Unless you decide the master looks wrong and you want to redesign the look of the content in question.
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post #5 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 10:28 AM
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Thank you for the review, Lyris. I enjoyed it, and I'm surprised how little coverage this interesting little product gets. Especially given how much poor SD there is, a trend for greater compression with HD broadcast, and how lacking most sources, displays, and VPs are with noise reduction. Although I believe Gennum may be ramping up noise reduction performance in their chipsets.

I was a little surprised by the Beagle's comments too. Sounds like he's describing a Dragonfly rather than a Flea?? Maybe this dog just really loves his fleas??

I wish the Flea had a bit more flexibility built in, like recalling different presets, etc. And it should come with the remote. But then I guess Algolith want you to buy the Mosquito - but at double the price, it's too expensive. In fact, I think the Flea is too expensive, especially here in Europe. These small companies just can't sell enough units to amortise their costs. They need to look at Audyssey and DVDO / Anchor Bay's licencing model.
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post #6 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beagle five View Post

I am sorry to say but you have missed out on what the flea does best, make HD-DVD and blu-ray look AMAZING!
sure it can clean stuff up, and gives much more depth on dvds but its REALLY good sources it kicks ass on, but that means using the sharpness and all those things you left off (why?)!
basically this thing is so good everybody should have one!

I think you should take more screenshots with HD-DVD and play with those settings you didnt bother with and you shall see that you can get better blacks, contrast, sharpness, presense, depth ad a picture that makes people go... WOW!

According to Algolith support in another Flea thread, it has no effect on brightness, contrast, or any other factor which will affect a display's calibrated settings.
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post #7 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 01:00 PM
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well I have seen this little guy twice now and it does improve a HD-DVD signal rather dramatically. and I know its hard to believe but trust me, it does!
and no it doesnt put stuff in the image that wasnt there in the first place, it just enhances what IS there already.
I took a screenshot of a HC5000 playing king kong to show others who just wouldnt believe that flea make hd-dvd look better, so here it is, its rather crap but you can see a clear difference.
http://www.minhembio.com/bild/130687.jpg

in my opinion ( who like very sharp images and with flea there is no ringing/halos ) for SD material the flea is really nice and the biggest improvment is the depth it brings, but its just to much money.
but for HD material its PRICELESS!!!
I am not a rich enthusiast but I am going to buy a flea as soon as I can afford one!
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post #8 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beagle five View Post

well I have seen this little guy twice now and it does improve a HD-DVD signal rather dramatically. and I know its hard to believe but trust me, it does!
and no it doesnt put stuff in the image that wasnt there in the first place, it just enhances what IS there already.
I took a screenshot of a HC5000 playing king kong to show others who just wouldnt believe that flea make hd-dvd look better, so here it is, its rather crap but you can see a clear difference.
http://www.minhembio.com/bild/130687.jpg

in my opinion ( who like very sharp images and with flea there is no ringing/halos ) for SD material the flea is really nice and the biggest improvment is the depth it brings, but its just to much money.
but for HD material its PRICELESS!!!
I am not a rich enthusiast but I am going to buy a flea as soon as I can afford one!

Yes, there are other people who say that HD DVD is much improved by the Flea. My point was that it doesn't make blacker blacks, or change brightness/contrast.

The other thread is located at http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=739920
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post #9 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 04:01 PM
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I think I'm going to pick up one of these over the next couple of weeks, so I'll report back my experiences. I am primarily looking to clean up my overly compressed digital SD channels, but I'll be very interested to see what it can do for HDTV content too.

I'd eventually like to get a a good deinterlacer/scaler as well, but right now I think I'm going to get more bang for my buck with the Flea than with anything else. Plus, the WAF is much higher on a $995 component than on a $3000 component.
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post #10 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Boden View Post

My point was that it doesn't make blacker blacks, or change brightness/contrast.

The Flea does have a Dynamic Range Stretching feature that is specifically designed to enhance contrast. Like you said, this won't give you blacker blacks (or whiter whites), but it could make a washed-out image look a lot punchier. Interestingly, the manual recommends leaving this feature off -- I imagine crush would be a danger of using this feature too much.
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post #11 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Hothersale View Post

The Flea does have a Dynamic Range Stretching feature that is specifically designed to enhance contrast. Like you said, this won't give you blacker blacks (or whiter whites), but it could make a washed-out image look a lot punchier. Interestingly, the manual recommends leaving this feature off -- I imagine crush would be a danger of using this feature too much.

This makes sense. There is a clear difference in contrast levels on the split screenshot provided by the Beagle. And I now understand why he was in raptures over picture attributes which should not have been affected by noise reduction. He obviously prefers the Flea's recalibration of the projector

What was strange was neither Algolith rep on the thread referred to by Jim mentioned this feature, with Algolith Support stating it was an artifact from the photo, and Ceehad saying there was a small shift in black levels which just required a minor recalibration of the display.

Will be very interested in your feedback, and particularly if you can find a setting which suits most sources rather than having to fiddle with it on each program / source.
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post #12 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Beagle:

I did indeed try the Flea with HD movie discs on both HD DVD and Blu-ray. Most HD DVDs are encoded with VC-1 which 9 times out of 10 in my opinion needs absolutely zero alterations at all. Even with movies that show compression artefacts, I felt that it was best not to introduce any Spatial Noise Reduction, because the relatively minor nature of the artefacts compared with SD Digital TV meant that it was hard to remove them without killing detail (and detail, after all, is the whole point of HD).

As for altering colours, black level etc, the Flea shouldn't be doing that. Are you absolutely sure it's not a placebo effect or that you're not simply wanting to alter the picture for its own sake?

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post #13 of 22 Old 03-02-2007, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sejour View Post

Will be very interested in your feedback, and particularly if you can find a setting which suits most sources rather than having to fiddle with it on each program / source.

The user guide also includes Algolith's recommended settings for both SD and HD. I'll be tweaking from those values, but I'm guessing they already represent a nice compromise that works well with a variety of content.
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post #14 of 22 Old 03-05-2007, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hothersale View Post

The Flea does have a Dynamic Range Stretching feature that is specifically designed to enhance contrast. Like you said, this won't give you blacker blacks (or whiter whites), but it could make a washed-out image look a lot punchier.

Nice, but not accurate. The amount of wash out in an image is defined by the source and the look of the source by the film makers. If there is more washout on the display than in the source (as on contrast challenged displays) the display needs improving, not the source. That contrast enhancement is just playing film maker yourself with someone else's film and redesign the look at your gusto. You can do that but the source is not in need of that 'improvement' (apart from actually incorrectly mastered sources).
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post #15 of 22 Old 03-05-2007, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, exactly. Algolith themselves even recommend leaving it off.

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post #16 of 22 Old 03-05-2007, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejour View Post

This makes sense. There is a clear difference in contrast levels on the split screenshot provided by the Beagle. And I now understand why he was in raptures over picture attributes which should not have been affected by noise reduction. He obviously prefers the Flea's recalibration of the projector

Sejour - does this image describe the contrast change that you refer to?

http://www.cinenow.com/uk/image-repo...31212.jpg.html

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post #17 of 22 Old 03-07-2007, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by ceenhad View Post

Sejour - does this image describe the contrast change that you refer to?

http://www.cinenow.com/uk/image-repo...31212.jpg.html

No, but I admire your taste in cable & power distribution manufacturers - I am a fan

Beagle's screenshot was not affected by ambient light reflections, and more clearly showed a difference as I noted earlier. The blacks look slightly crushed and the whites blown out in the "popped" version. But the original looks washed out which suggests a calibration issue. It also supported his descriptions of the change, which I felt could not be due to noise reduction alone.

I didn't realise the Flea had a dynamic range enhancer, but would agree with the comment that it is best left off.

I think the challenge here is that the MNR and BNR abilities of the Flea can be hinted at in screenshots, but are likely most notable on moving pictures.
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post #18 of 22 Old 03-07-2007, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sejour View Post

No, but I admire your taste in cable & power distribution manufacturers - I am a fan

Beagle's screenshot was not affected by ambient light reflections, and more clearly showed a difference as I noted earlier. The blacks look slightly crushed and the whites blown out in the "popped" version. But the original looks washed out which suggests a calibration issue. It also supported his descriptions of the change, which I felt could not be due to noise reduction alone.

I didn't realise the Flea had a dynamic range enhancer, but would agree with the comment that it is best left off.

I think the challenge here is that the MNR and BNR abilities of the Flea can be hinted at in screenshots, but are likely most notable on moving pictures.

LOL! The Shunyata devices look better in aluminium but the performance is outsatnding regardless of what clothes they are wearing!

Whilst the image is affected by ambient light, this is the scene where most people typically comment on an increase in contrast. They are incorrect in their usage of the term but I understand what they mean.

The scene is taken from Annie Hall which must be one of the worst transfers ever for dyanmic noise. This manifests as light coloured pops and flecks over the entire image. When photographed these specks have a tendency to make the image look washed out (the camera is catching all those white specks rather than the underlying image). This is what you see on the left side of the split screen. The right side which has been processed has almost none of the white flecks in the solid brown background which results in quite a different look when photographed. The set in use is a Pioneer commercial panel and although not greyscaled was accuarately calibrated for all user controls. I can't comment on Beage 5s calibration but the removal of the noise making the picture less washed out can be dramatic, especially if the display is already running a slightly elevated black level.

The dynamic range enhancer function works well at exposing shdow detail on poorly calibrated displays (and seems to work well on many LCD panels) but on a calibrated display is of course not particularly required.

There is no doubt that it is better to see the devices in person rather than relying on photographs to determine the performance of any video device. Although the review from Lyris I think did a good job of illustrating these features.

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post #19 of 22 Old 03-13-2007, 01:09 AM
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lyris commented:
> because the relatively minor nature of the artefacts compared with SD Digital TV meant that it was hard to remove them without killing detail (and detail, after all, is the whole point of HD). <<br />
I agree completely. And looking at the examples on their own web page, I'll take the unprocessed church spires with all the mosquito noise exhibited there any day of the week, over the soft murky mess on the right that the Flea provides. Hey, I can! And for a net cost of $0.

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post #20 of 22 Old 03-13-2007, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by VideoGrabber View Post

And looking at the examples on their own web page, I'll take the unprocessed church spires with all the mosquito noise exhibited there any day of the week, over the soft murky mess on the right that the Flea provides.

Really? I prefer the image without the compression-induced artificial edge enhancement. To each his own, I guess.
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post #21 of 22 Old 03-13-2007, 07:07 PM
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For HD I turn the BNR off which cleans the image without softening the details. BNR is the main culprit that smooths & softens the image a bit. In my setup I prefer watching HD programming with the Flea. Ofcouse I would prefer that people comment on the product only if they have used it & not based on some pictures on the web.

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post #22 of 22 Old 03-13-2007, 07:42 PM
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Quote:


I agree completely. And looking at the examples on their own web page, I'll take the unprocessed church spires with all the mosquito noise exhibited there any day of the week, over the soft murky mess on the right that the Flea provides. Hey, I can! And for a net cost of $0.

The device has a very wide range of adjustment. I think most users don't agree with Algolith's default/recommended settings which tend to be very agressive. The picture can become blurry or "a mess" if the device is overused.
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