NEC 42" ED Resource - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 364 Old 01-03-2005, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
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In early December I joined this forum to assist me with the purchase of a 42" plasma EDTV. I started a thread comparing the NEC, LG and Panasonic and, through much research and a lot of plasma viewing, as well as with the assistance of the comments of many on this site, purchased the NEC VR5 42" just prior to Christmas. Key to my decision to buy the NEC over others was my feeling (based on repeated viewing of the 3 sets noted as well as Sony and Pioneer) that it produced a very realistic three dimensional picture and represents good value amongst the various EDTV offerings available at this time.

Since then I have been working with the plasma to get the best possible picture for DVD playback as well as TV. In doing so I have gone back to this site a few times to ferret out what others have done to set up their NEC's 42"s and it became apparent that there are actually a reasonable number of owners out there. It also seems to me, judging by the number of times various threads dealing with NEC's have been viewed, that there is a fair amount of interest in the NEC products.

Therefore, I thought it might make sense to try to create a single source - a one stop shop if you will - devoted to the NEC 42" EDTV's. The reason for not including the high definition "X" series is that I believe that the HD 42" sets will have much more in common with the 50" HD versions than with the ED's. It also will save us all the debate over which is better - ED or HD - in the 42" size. But please correct me if I'm wrong here.

Purpose of this resource thread is two-fold:

1) Provide a forum for current NEC 42" owners to exchange information re: settings, configuration tips, associated equipment that mates synergistically with the unit (ie. DVD players, set top boxes), source material (esp. DVD's) that highlight the strengths/weaknesses of the unit, etc.

2) Provide an information source for those interested in the NEC ED models looking to find out more about them.

I believe that using DVD's as source material will provide the best opportunity to help all of us as the software is readily available and it will be easy for others to replicate/compare/contrast each of our findings at our respective home or in sales outlets. Additionally, EDTV's and DVD's share the same basic resolution and therefore DVD's should provide arguably the best possible picture. Knowing that each of our experiences will be anecdotal and subjective, going this route will at least provide others with a chance to try to see the same things that we're each seeing.

This is not to exclude references to SD or HD TV watching and how it does/does not look good on the NEC. The key is that there are many variables in the methods of delivery (cable, satellite, over the air) for television and that, coupled with the transitory nature of the medium (ie. shows are only on at certain times and in certain markets) means that it will be difficult for anyone else to replicate what any of us sees. Don't misunderstand me here - I'm highly interested in others' experiences with SD TV feeds. However, it seems to me that that information will be more general in nature due to the variables specific to each person's home/each sales outlet.

So having said that perhaps its clearer to say that in the best of all worlds contributors could perhaps relate their findings separately to TV and to DVD reproduction.

I hope that this thread will evolve over the coming weeks/months as interested parties contribute tips, tricks and general knowledge - all designed to obtain the best possible picture out of the NEC.

Having said that, here are a few notes so far:


BACKGROUND - VIEWING ENVIRONMENT:

Plasma: NEC VR5 42"

Set-up: Stand mounted. I chose to go with a stand as I wanted to pull the unit away from the wall in order that it might "float" in space in the dimness at night - which is how I do the bulk of my viewing .

Key measurements/TV: The front of the screen is 15" from the rear wall currently - I may move it closer to the wall. The plasma sits on a Sanus frosted glass/steel frame stand. The stand is 22.25" tall, and the top of the plasma 48.75" inches off the floor (47.25" inches to the top of the actual screen - the remaining 1.5" is the silver bezel).

Distances for viewing: Seated in a couch more or less centred on the TV my eyeball to screen distance is 9' and my seated height is 44". So I'm looking slightly down into the centre of the screen (it feels like I'm looking straight ahead level with the centre of the image).

Room/Environment: The room is dedicated to HT and measures 12' deep x 11.5' wide. The plasma is on the 11.5' wide wall. Walls are neutral taupe colour.

I thought to provide the above in order that my comments that will follow re: resolution, colour, etc. can be put into context.


TEST DVD'S:

Following are the DVD's I have used most frequently to test my set-up the last few weeks:

1. DVE - all chapters but especially for picture resolution and colour fidelity section 1 chapter 5 "Nasa Montage", section 7 chapters 1 - 12 re: video calibration, and basically all of sections 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and the audio/video demo's in section 17

2. Seabiscuit - various chapters for colour fidelity, and especially for skin tones

3. Master and Commander - Scene 3, fog scenes for false contouring

4. XXX - resolution of detail in walls (scene 10 "Milan Sova" and 11 "Anarchy 99") and depth of field/detail for interior (scene 16 "lunch with a secret agent)

There are many others but I have tried to cut this down to a few readily available discs that are good tools. Please suggest others.



DVD PROCESSOR VS. NEC PROCESSOR (COMPONENT VS. INTERLACED)

I did some tests to ascertain which is the best of the above options. My DVD player is a Pioneer DV 37A which, unfortunately is not equipped with a DVI or HDMI output. So the signal was carried by 2m of Monster Video 3 component cable into the NEC component ins.

I a/b'd back and forth, pausing the test tracks and then switching from 480p component (Pio processor) to outputting an interlaced 480i signal and letting the NEC processor do the work. On the movie scenes above I was hard pressed, try as I might, to see any difference. However, when I used DVE two things became apparent:

1) Section 13 chapter 7 (Pb and Pr Sweep) - on the coloured bars on the right side of the screen the last 10% or so became indistinct and fuzzy when I output interlaced.

2) Section 15 and 16, video test signals, I saw small bits of noise in some of the smaller "boxes" and on the central moving pattern when outputting interlaced.

Conclusion - Either the DVD player or cable is imposing an error on the signal or the Pioneer is doing a better job of processing the signal in component. At any rate, I have stuck with component output since (except for the following test).


COMPONENT CABLE VS. S VIDEO CABLE

I tried the same test as above, this time using an "UltraLink" S video cable, also 2 m and outputting 480i. In this case the picture appeared more bright but also more "etched" when watching movies. On the 2 DVE sections noted above, section 13/7 was much worse, with fully the right half of the screen showing basically mush, and the video test signals exhibing increased noise.

On the basis of these 2 tests I have stuck with component output from the Pioneer at 480p.


CONTRAST

I know that NEC doesn't publish its contrast settings but have to say that I have never had an issue with the contrast, either in dim light or daylight. Compared side by side with the Panasonic and LG (4000:1 and 5000:1 respectively) the NEC held its own with respect to contrast.


QUESTIONS:

1. Has anyone tried to a/b a signal output from a DVI or HDMI DVD player into the NEC's DVI input? Has this been tested at 480p as well as at 720p and 1080i (assuming that the player will do so - ie. the Panasonic S97S). Any comments re; PQ comparisons? I'm interested to know if there is a substantial PQ upgrade by going with the DVI input and foregoing the digital/analogue/digital conversion when using component.

2. What experiences have others had with sending the NEC a 480i signal?

3. What DVD players have you found to work well with the NEC (ie. synergistic mates) and why? I'm not sure that the Pioneer DV 37A cannot be replaced with a better/newer model (its about 4 years old).


I must also apologize for one thing. This was going to be a much longer post, describing settings etc. but I have run out of time. Hopefully this will "prime the pump" though and others will contribute their experiences with the various inputs, settings, equipment and configurations for the NEC 42" models.

I will add more in the future. Sorry to cut and run!

johnnycanuck
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post #2 of 364 Old 01-04-2005, 11:07 AM
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Johnny,

Just a quick note to say thanks for getting this started and the information you have provided. I purchased the 42VM5 right before Christmas and am very satisfied so far...BTW, purchased from Plasma Concepts and the service was great. I have to say that I am no expert in this area and probably not the most discriminating viewer so I'll likely be taking alot more than I can give to this thread.

For DVD I'm using a Cambridge Azur 540D via component video output. I suscribe to D* and have an RCA Ultimate TV PVR using S video output. I plan to switch to the high def Tivo in the next few months, so I'm "saving" the DVI connection on the VM5 for that. I'll miss the PIP function of the UTV as I use it quite a bit watching NFL Sunday Ticket. Frankly, I have been quite pleased with the SD picture on this display, having come from a Panny 32" CRT I can say the NEC is every bit as good for my day to day viewing habits. I can't wait to see HD on this display! So far have watched a bunch of DVDs with the kids as they now want to see every DVD they have ever owned on the new TV. Just watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Ascoban which is very dark and never felt the blacks were an issue. Right now I have my brightness and contrast dialed pretty far down, low 20's off the top of my head, until I get through a break in period. I love the fact that the Azur 540D and UTV both have a built in screen saver function for when the kids pause an image out of habit and leave the room. I have not seen a trace of image retention so far, and am making sure to view everything full screen for now. I find the Stadium strech mode very acceptable for SD TV watching. Looking forward to seeing your settings when you have time to post...very helpful for a rookie like myself.

David
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post #3 of 364 Old 01-04-2005, 07:21 PM
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Sorry for the relatively simple questions, but what's the difference between the VR5 and the VM5? At a quick glance I couldn't see any significant difference besides the bezel color. Also, does the VR5 and/or VM5 come with a tuner?
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post #4 of 364 Old 01-04-2005, 08:41 PM
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How is the fan noise and image retention on the NEC ED plasmas? From other threads in the forum, it appears the NEC HD plasmas (well the 50" at least) suffer from both of these issues. Not that either one is a deal killer for me.
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post #5 of 364 Old 01-04-2005, 11:42 PM
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NEC ED plasma doesn't have fans, so this is not an issue. I can hear it buzzing sometimes though. This may be related to the 220v/50hz power in my country though.
I did see some image retention on my plasma. It is relatively new (just under 60 hours) and I'm trying to use it with low contrast and brightness levels, not watching stuff with black bars and logos etc. Once I browsed through the Spiderman 2 DVD in full mode (with bars) just to see how it looks. Right after that I immediately turned the screen off in complete darkness and I could see black bars on the screen. The other example, I saw dark vertical band in the middle of the screen after playing titles at the end of the movie. This was only visible on the black screen (turned on) and quickly wend away. I could not see any image retention that was visible when the screen was on and showing other content.
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post #6 of 364 Old 01-05-2005, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by babigm
Sorry for the relatively simple questions, but what's the difference between the VR5 and the VM5? At a quick glance I couldn't see any significant difference besides the bezel color. Also, does the VR5 and/or VM5 come with a tuner?

I believe the VR5 is considered a residential model, VM5 commercial. Main difference as you note is bezel color, but also has 3 year warranty versus 1 year. Think it also comes with DVI cable. Neither the VR5 or VM5 has built in tuner.
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post #7 of 364 Old 01-05-2005, 06:57 AM
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just to add my 2 cents. (i have had the VM5 for approx 2 weeks, thanks to JC's and others fabulous comments.)

1) total bevel (outside and non-viewable screen) is larger than immagined. not a big deal.
2) no problem with IR
3) no problem with black levels.
4) daytime viewing can produce glare.
5) missing PIP features.

overall, very happy with the purchase!
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post #8 of 364 Old 01-06-2005, 06:12 AM
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is this only for ED Nec ?

I have the HD XM2 and this thread is such a good idea, hopefully applies to both.

I have had mine for just a year now, never have calibrated, I am sure I am missing something. Yet the PQ is excellent. And mine did not come with all setting maxed out, everything was right in the middle and that is where I left it.

Now, I did purchase DVE (something like that) for calibration but never used it. Should I ?

gio
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post #9 of 364 Old 01-06-2005, 10:34 AM
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also could anyone imagine differences, particularly in PQ, between my model (XM2) which is more that 1 year old, and the current ones ?
I noticed that the XM2 is still offered and at a price that is not so different that what I paid for.

Any comments ?
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post #10 of 364 Old 01-06-2005, 01:16 PM
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Windwaves, as more senior NEC owners, I guess we're to be left out of this thread... (ED only).

But as mentioned before, NEC are very sensitive to feed cable quality. Don't skimp on your cables or you will be disappointed.

NOTE: The new Pioneer 42" ED plasma appears to be a pure NEC that has been rebadged. It is also priced very competitively.
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post #11 of 364 Old 01-06-2005, 01:47 PM
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Indeed, certainly senior by now. How long have you had yours now ?

You are right, you did mention that about the cables. I have a mixture of cables, nothing high end, but I can't notice any problem with the pq so far, hence I've had very little incentive to check. Well, what I am saying is that one of these days I will have to do that as well as dig out my DVE disc and do some calibration. I have a feeling I still have lots to get out of the plasma, I never really played with it. And I want to get the famoust Momitsu, I remember you were pretty happy with it!

Also, did you notice that the diff. betweem XM2 and XM2/S is now almost nothing, can't recall exavtly, very interesting.

Sorry long - I will erase this later !

gio

all the best
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post #12 of 364 Old 01-06-2005, 11:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Its taken me longer than I expected to complete the tweaking of the NEC display - and I know I'm not there yet. But I thought I'd post an interim set of measurements. But first ...

BABIGM
Martini Man is correct. The only thing I also picked up when looking at these models is that the remote for the VR5 features buttons to access the various inputs directly (ie. video 1, 2, 3, DVD/HD 1, 2, 3, etc). I understand that the VM5 remote isn't equipped with direct access buttons - you have to work through an onscreen menu. Contrast, Picture Mode, Colour Temp and Brightness are also one touch button accessible from the VR5 remote, which is highly convenient. I'm not sure if this is the case with the VM5.

WINDWAVES
(evocative handle - sailor by any chance?) I have spent a fair amount of time working with the DVE disc with excellent results. I strongly suggest that you try it especially since you already own it. Write down your settings in advance so that you can restore them or, better yet, use one of the NEC's memory settings as your DVE sample and then you can toggle between the original and DVE adjusted ones and see which you prefer.

WBLYNCH
Yes, I set this up originally as an ED thread simply because I thought the HD version would have different set-up issues, questions etc. But that was just a thought at the time. If it makes sense to use this as an open forum for both ED and HD 42" models lets do it. I think its more important to have a place to exchange information on the NEC plasmas than that the thread be prescriptive. Feel free to add your comments etc.

BTW, you mention the importance of "feed cable quality" for the NEC. What brand/model are you using or have you heard works well with these models?


On with the saga ...

One of the things that has been timeconsuming in this adventure has been the sheer adjustability of the NEC VR5. This is one tuneable beast and I know I have't got the last ounce of performance wrested from it - but I'm getting there. A couple of notes re: its flexibility (more for non owners than owners):

PRE-SET PICTURE SETTINGS
The VR5 allows you to ajust and set all parameters of picture (details below) secifically for each of its inputs - Video 1, 2, 3, DVD/HD 1. 2, 3 abd PC/RGB. PLUS it permits one to set 6 picture memory settings independently - ie. they're not dedicated to a particular input. This is in addition to the "picture mode" settings that quickly allow one to tailor the picture to the ambient lighting of the room with Theatre 1 and 2 (for dark rooms - my dominant mode), Normal (for bright rooms), Bright (brighter than Normal) and Default (for fatcory default settings).

COLOUR TEMP
This function offers 4 standard settings - Low (redder), Middle Low (slightly red), Middle (standard - slightly bluer) and High (bluer). But not only can you select one of the above, but you can also adjust the White Balance for each of the settings to a significant extent by accessing a sub-menu that allows you to adjust the "Gain" for each of Red, Green and Blue (which provides white balance adjustment for white levels) and "Bias" for each of Red, Green and Blue (which provides white balance adjustment for black levels). I used this control to significantly fine-tune the colour of the display using the excellent "Steaming Rat" approach.

OTHER ADJUSTABLE PICTURE QUALITY PARAMETERS
In addition to the above, the standard Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint cotrols are included, as well as Noise Reduction (3 levels), Gamma (to adjust the Gamma curve in 4 steps of increasing darkness), Low Tone Adjustment (to allow more detailed tone to be reproduced, especially in dark areas - 4 settings), Set Up Level (black level - 0%, 3.75% lower than normal, 7.5% lower than normal), Colour tune (red, green, blue, yellow, magenta, cyan) and Cinema Mode (on/off).

These are just the directly picture related settings, without delving into the HD screen modes (anamorphic, zoom, etc.), HD settings, Image Adjustment (position on screen) Screen Savers, etc , etc.

My point is that this is an incredibly versatile and adjustable display - one that with a bit of work will yield the kind of gorgeous pictures you see in the Steaming Rat thread.

CURRENT SETTINGS - DVD:
Here are the current settings I have determined for DVD - but its a work in progress and will be revised. Note: I will not include TV settings yet as I have not done any more than rudimentary work on the cable feed signal. Source - Pioneer DV 37A via component feed by Monster Video 3 cable.

DVD player settings (the Pioneer also has its own menu of highly adjustable settings). I set these first and then worked on the display, on the premise that its best to do as much signal processing as possible in the DVD player (see first post re: test of DVD player vs. plasma video processing). All of the following offer either on/off or a bar (sliding scale) with 8 segments from left to right, with off generally on the left and full on the right.

Progressive Motion - full slow (8 of 8)
Pure Cinema - on
YNR - 2/8 (Noise Reduction)
CNR - 7/8 (Noise Reduction - useful in getting clean test patterns in DVE)
MNR - 4/8 (Mosquito Noise)
BNR - 5/8 (Block Noise Reduction)
Sharpness High - 1/8
Sharpness Mid - 1/8
Detail - 4/8
White Level - 3/8
Black Level - 3/8
Black Set-up - 0 IRE
Hue - 4/8 (midpoint between green and red)
Chroma Level - 3/8
Chroma Delay - 5/8 (useful in getting clean test patterns in DVE)

I suspect that the DV 37A outputs a slight green bias based on the adjustments I made to the VR5. Given the signal adujsted as per the above, following are my settings for the plasma display:

Contrast - 24 (midpoint is 32 in all of the following to Tint)
Brightness - 37
Sharpness - 2
Colour - 30
Tint - 30
NR - Off
Colour Temp - Middle with the following adjustments:
Gain Red - 38 (mid is 40 for the following to Bias Blue)
Gain Green - 40
Gain Blue - 43
Bias Red - 38
Bias Green - 40
Bias Blue - 40
Gamma - 2.2
Low Tone - Auto
Set-Up Level - 0%
Colour Tune (adjusted as per following)
Red - 30 (mid is 32)
Green - 28
Blue - 32
Yellow - 32
Magenta - 32
Cyan - 31
Cinema Mode - On
Picture Mode - Theatre 1

I still have a few things to complete adjusting. I see more graininess in some images (ie. light coloured sky) than I'd like and also in the DVE test images (Chapter 17 section 2) the orange animated plants that grow out of the screen show a disturbing small bit of noise in a few specific sections pf the fine detail of roots. I think that can be removed but I still have to work at it.

I'm interested in anyone's response to the above - comparisons and contrasts? I believe that I have got the colour and picture detail calibrated based on DVE, Seabiscuit, XXX, Master and Commander etc. Occasionally, ie. with Black Hawk Down, I thought the picture looked slightly better with the Colour Temp set to the "Middle Low" position as it warmed things up a little. But I'd be the first to admit that I have not yet mastered this display - but it looks significantly more real than it did when first powered up.

I'm also very curious whether the VR5 will look better with a direct DVI feed, avoiding the conversion to/from analogue that is required when one uses the component input. The Panasonic S97S is a pretty inexpensive player that seems well reviewed (other than the macroblocking issue) and would allow the digital image feed. Does anyone have one hooked up to a VR/VM5? Any comments?

PS AUDIO UPC 200
Here's one more thing that has affected the quality of my picture and audio significantly. Last weekend I purchased one of these units primarily for protection of the plasma after heavy research on the Forum Accessories site re: power conditioners. I also thought that it might clean up the noise on the picture that I referred to above. Since I had it on trial it was a no risk proposition.

I ran a few DVD sections (test DVD's as above) to get a reference feel and then re-plugged everything into the UPC 200. Since I have only 4 components - display, receiver, VCR/tuner and DVD player - and since the unit comes with 4 outlets it suited my needs perfectly. Additionally, internally the UPC 200 allows you to group together the 2 pairs of its 4 outlets so that you have 2 completely isolated duo outlets. I plugged the plasma and DVD Player into one set (both digital devices) and the receiver and VCR into the other set (both analog devices).

When I fired everything back up the changes were immediate and readily apparent. These were:

VIDEO:
- Slightly reduced noise
- Better dimensionality, clearer outlines around people and objects and a better sense of depth
- Brighter and more vibrant colours
Overall the effect was like one of those Tide laundry ads - brighter brights and whiter whites. The picture was simply punchier, truer and more 3 dimensional - and much more "real" looking.

AUDIO:
- More holographic presentation ... things were located in space better and images were more precisely located in space
- Sharper transients and more articulate base
- Deeper base
- Clearer and more natural sounding, as if a layer of grunge had been removed
- Slight hum in the audio feed from the VCR gone
Overall the effect was to create a more believable, smoother and more relaxing soundstage that supported the movies to a greater degree than previously. Black Hawk Down from Chapter 4 ("Irene") to the end of the helicopter crash was very useful in demonstrating the change due to the excellent audio track with its many highly localized sounds, lots of panning helicopters and other vehicles, each with its own specific sonic signature, etc.

I unplugged everything and tried it again just to be sure that the differences I was seeing/hearing were not solely in my mind. But they were as apparent the second time as the first.

I know that there is a raging debate out in Forum land about whether these devices are snake oil or useful. I'm not going to get into that - merely reporting my anecdotal findings that are specific to my home and my equipment. I was openly sceptical at first and bought the UPC 200 on trial primarily as a long term surge protector. I possibly could have obtained the same effects by running dedicated lines to the outlets as one Forum reader suggested in a PM to me. But that would not have given me the protection I sought. In the future I expect to do so just to see what the difference might be. But for now, the UPC 200 has become a key piece of equipment in my set-up and it has contributed significantly to my enjoyment of DVD's by making them look and feel much more real.

Long post - sorry about that. I had meant to get this in over a few days in pieces but the post-holiday return to work has been hectic.

I'm interested in any/all responses. What do y'all think? What settings do you use for DVD? What about TV? One advantage of the memory settings of the VR5 is that if you post your settings any of us can try them in our systems and quickly a/b compare. That might assist all of us to dial in the performance of our displays quickly.

Thanks. I'll post more updates re: the VR5 PQ shortly. Cheers,

johnnycanuck
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post #13 of 364 Old 01-07-2005, 06:17 AM
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johnnycanuck,
fantastic post. I stopped at some point because I have to print this out and go through it while at home in front of my plasma. I can't disagree with you, I should go ahead with DVE !!!

As to ED vs HD I wonder whether there are great differences in the way one sets them up, but I would guess not for non HD material at least. Anyone ?

And you got that right, my user name is form my big time favorite sport, windsurfing, and in general I love sailing.

Anyhow, I will play around with my set and revert.

best
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post #14 of 364 Old 01-07-2005, 09:29 AM
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Has anyone figured out how to adjust overscan on the NEC? Oversan is often mentioned in other threads as offering a substantial improvement in PQ, which is why I thought it would be worth looking into.

There is a menu item called "Image Adj" that I've fiddled with a bit, but I'm not entirely sure this is adjusting for overscan. Contained within are settings for horizontal and vertical image size adjustment (as well as horizontal and vertical image position adjustment), which on my PDP were defaulted to "1". I tried setting both image size adjustment settings to "0", and there was a definite contraction of the image, but no perceptible improvement in PQ.

Has anyone played with this setting, and if so, did it have any obvious effect on PQ (either positive or negative)? Or is oversacn something that can only be adjusted from within a service menu, and if so, does anyone know how to get into that menu?

Thanks
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post #15 of 364 Old 01-07-2005, 08:02 PM
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johnnycanuck, Thanks for the Great Post .
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post #16 of 364 Old 01-08-2005, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Windwaves:
Thanks. Just another traveller on this road who has found a friendly inn here, one in which I can grab a seat by the fire and, tankard in hand, share stories of my journey with fellow travellers. We're not all bound for the same destination but, like travellers of old, our tales and information may assist others in their quests. I look forward to your settings info.

Desjars:
Like you I'm curious. I'd like to make this overscan adjustment as well but have not delved into it yet.

Bruzzi:
Thanks. Feel free to add/comment. I'm just trying to chronicle/collect what works and what doesn't with these displays.


Here are a few updates:

Gain Blue Adustment - after repeated viewing of a number of scenes from Seabiscuit and other DVD's, scenes that show close-ups of faces or white objects especially, I have adjusted the Gain Blue in the Colour Temp menu from 43 back to 40 (default setting). This has softened the fleshtones just a bit and made the whites a little more natural - they had looked a touch bright.

Cinema On - In the post of my stettings I noted that I had the "Cinema" control set to On. This is incorrect - I was mixing up my notes from the cable settings I had been working on. As I have the DVD/HD input set at the moment the option "Cinema Mode" doesn't appear on the menu. I''m curious if this is the case with others or whether I have adjusted something that has made it disappear as an option. It still shows on the video inputs but not DVD - which I find a little odd since the purpuse of Cinema Mode seems to be to "Set the picture to suit the movie. The film image is automatically disriminated and projected in an image mode suited to the picture" (ie. NTSC, PAL, 480i etc.). I can only presume that since I'm feeding a 480p signal out of the DVD player this menu is not required. Does anyone know anything about this control and how it functions? BTW, I find that the NEC operation manual tells you HOW to do things but not WHAT they do, or the differences between them. Guess I was hoping for more "education" along with the basic instructions.

Black Levels and Grain:
I spent a fair bit of time last night working with the Low Tone Settings. Options are "Auto", "1" (which applies dither for still pictures), "2" (which applies dither for motion pictures) and "3" (which applies the error diffusion method). The one thing that I still have to work out in my settings is that there remains a slight grain that can be seen in some images, and it seems to be a function of noise of some kind. I wondered if this was an artifact of the component input but can't test that until I have a DVD player that outputs to DVI.

But the Low Tone Settings control does make a marked difference. First, I ignored "1" as its for stills only. Toggling back and forth between "Auto" and "3" it seemed that they were applying the same type of thing (error diffusion) as I could never tell the difference between them. Toggling back and forth between "2" and "3" the difference between error diffusion and dither was obvious. These included:

1. On setting "2" (dither) the dark parts of the picture cleaned up significantly and the noise I referred to mostly disappeared. I could see this both in small areas (dark part of a leaf) as well as overall on the full screen. It was readily apparent on the DVE chapter 17/2 section of video test images in the fountains scene. In this one the background black areas were pretty noisy on setting "3" but much cleaned up on "2". The changes on the entire screen were easy to see from a distance of 12" while toggling back and forth between "3" and "2". The noise overall wasn't completely eliminated but this was a step in the right direction. I thought I had the problem licked but ...

2. On careful viewing I noticed, again from 12" distance, that the "2" setting was imposing another kind of noise, almost an aurora (best word I can think of to describe it - if you've seen the northern lights you'll know what I mean). Its not like it was a rainbow coloured noise but it had elements of colour in it and appeared in specific areas, usually where there was a dark background with a highlight or some other type of faint lighting that it could not completely resolve. And it moved around in the area of the highlight in the same way that the northern lights move - ie. it fluctuated in position and in colour probably in accord with the intensity of the highlight it was trying to reproduce. This showed up in the lighting around the buildings in the background of the fountain scene (DVE 17/2) in the background left and right very clearly. It also showed up on the darker shoulder of the man eating dinner with the woman in 17/3. In that case it was like a very small section of dark violet or purple strobing pixels.

So I am unsure what the correct application of the Low Tone Settings is. I can clearly see the difference between the "error diffusion" and "dither" methods but perhaps others can guide me re: the one to choose. In the "Auto" mode I'm curious as to whether it applies elements of both methods or just variable amounts of error diffusion.

Meanwhile, the slight grain problem I have persists. Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe its the Monster Video 3 Component Video cable I'm using.

Cables:
Just a comment to follow up what wblynch remarked re: cables. I had a no name but supposedly good quality video composite cable connecting the VCR (and tuner) to the plasma so I can watch standard def TV. However, the picture was poor (muddied) and I was seeing a lot of scrolling lines etc. When I first hooked the PD up I thought this might be due to a poor cable signal. But before complaining to my cable company I decided to replace the video cable. I bought a 6' Radio Shack Evolution ll high performance composite video cable on sale for cheap and replaced the existing lead. Problem mostly solved - at least significantly better picture. Its not perfect by any stretch but it is much improved and at least watchable. So I believe wblynch nailed it.

So ... what cables are people using with the VR/VM 5 model? Which cable products are working in your set-up?

TV Settings:
I have been working on the TV settings and will post them this weekend. The most difficult issue is the variability in colour and quality of signal (colour, sharpness, noise) on various channels. They are all different. This is likely not as much of a problem for those of you with satelite feeds I suspect - the times I have seen those feeds I have been impressed by how much better the PQ is vs. cable. I'm working on a compromise setting that works optimally for most cable channels - will post later.

On the cable note has anyone tried one of those cable signal amplifiers/boosters? In my house the cable run from the external box to my TV set is long - literally diagonally corner to corner. The cable length is probably 60'. Do you think the addition of one of these will improve the signal and PQ? Anyone use one?

PS Audio UPC 200
One note I forgot to mention in my last post. On audio one of the benefts has been the raising of the apparent source of sound from the CC. My CC (Paradigm CC 470 in an all Paradigm Studio system) sits immediately below the PD. I have raised the front edge of the CC slightly in order to tilt the cabinet up a bit and direct the sound more towards the listener's ears. With the addition of the UPC 200 the sound from the CC actually moved upwards to appear to source from the centre of the plasma screen as opposed to slightly below it. This is the type of increased "holographic" presentation I was referring to.

I have a theory re: why the UPC 200 is improving the quality of audio and picture. I believe that the power conditioning unit is probably compensating for barely adequate power supplies in the receiver and DVD player. Both the Pioneer DV 37A and the Denon 1603 receiver (good enough for my needs in a small room) are not high end pieces. Better quality electronics always feature much more robust power supplies, power filters, etc. I suspect that in less expensive AV electronics the power sections are designed to function best under "perfect" conditions and that what is at work here is that the UPC is providing the components with the cleanest, most regulated signal possible - in other words much closer to "perfect" than the straight wall feed. Just my .02 on why this is improving things. Comments?


That's all in the way of updates for now. I have tickets to the Seahawks/Rams playoff game this aft and was originally going to drive down there from Vancouver for the game. But its snowing here and the I-5 highway is treacherous. So looks like I'll watch the game from home on TV - which should give me plenty of time to adjust the TV settings. :-)

Ciao for now.

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post #17 of 364 Old 01-09-2005, 10:08 AM
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I have VR5 connected via digital cable to Pioneer 868i DVD player. I compared digital and component signals. Even though I haven't spent much time playing and tweaking I have noticed a difference (which is not big). The digital picture is more sharp and crisp, but component is more smooth on tones and half tones and less noisy. So, yes, the digital connection does give some noise on blue sky and things like that and can even be more noisy than component. I think this may be related to the fact that component feed goes through the 12-bit color processor of NEC which is otherwise bypassed with digital connection.
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post #18 of 364 Old 01-09-2005, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmmm ... Thanks Mojito. But if I follow what you're saying then would not the best route for the time being be to go via component inputs and take advantage of the 12 bit video processing if your feed is 480p from a DVD player? And if the plasma's video processor is bypassed when you feed via the DVI inputs then where is the video processing applied - the source device?

The 12 bit processing will give you the 4096 shades of grayscale etc will it not? And that is what I believe is one of the strengths of this display, and one of the reasons it exhibits very, very few false contours and produces a highly dimensional image. Is it true that the DVI input cuts this processor out of the chain, or am I misunderstanding things here?

Part of the reason I ask is that I have been contemplating purchasing a DVI out player such as the Denon 2910 or an HDMI out unit like the Panasonic S97S in order to take advantage of the DVI input on the NEC (notwithstanding the macroblocking issue). From your post it appears that this purchase would be a waste of money if the goal is to improve PQ.

Comments? Thanks.

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post #19 of 364 Old 01-09-2005, 04:14 PM
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From my position of ignorance, and without a lot of thought, I wonder if the following is true:

For non-HD of any type, including DVD, quality is based less on the connection than on the image processor. A really, really good processor in a TV would negate the value of the DVI cable, because you'd be relying on the image processor in the source device (e.g. DVD player). You might be better off sending an analog (component) signal, and letting the TV work its magic.

On the other hand, if you have a DVD player with an exceptional processor, you'd want to use DVI to pass the full digital glory of the image to the TV, and avoid any extraneous processing at that end.

For an HD source, with HD material, it should be as good as it's going to get to the bit level at the source, so the fewer conversions the better... this is where DVI/HDMI ought to shine.

Does this make sense to those that actually understand this stuff??

"I'm more of an idea rat..."
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post #20 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 09:45 AM
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I see that the input panel on the VR5 is on the side of the panel. Is this recessed at all? I am considering buying this, and would be putting it in a cabinet that will be a pretty tight fit. So the question is, once you've got your cables plugged in, how far does it stick out beyond the edge of the panel? I would have the cables then wrap around behind the panel.
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post #21 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 09:51 AM
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On my VM5, the cables are recessed, IIRC. (not in front of it right now). But regardless of that, make sure you have lots of unrestricted airflow around the NEC. Putting this display in a "tight" cabinet sends up a red flag, to me at least.

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post #22 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 09:56 AM
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It will be sitting in an armoire, at the front of the main opening. The sides of the panel will come up very close to the sides of the armoire (less than 1"). Above and behind will be plenty of space. Does that seem better?
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post #23 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 09:59 AM
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Don't mind me, I'm just obsessive about stuff like this. Best recommendation: have a look at the NEC documentation that came with the plasma...it should give you the minimum recommended clearances for airflow.

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post #24 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 10:05 AM
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Now that I think about it more, they do sell a cover for the input panel, and I would assume it mounts flush to the rest of the side of the panel. Anyone know for sure?

If it does mount flush, I should be fine, since if you were using the cover, the cables would have to wrap in a similar manner as what I need them to do.
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post #25 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 10:11 AM
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I have the VM5 installed in a 22" deep armoire that is 41" wide. The side inputs are set back several inches to allow for cables. I did not even bother with the cover, and you can't see the cables at all as the NEC supplies a couple plastic zip ties to bundle your wires.
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post #26 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 10:17 AM
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Thanks, just what I needed to hear (especially since I already placed my order this morning and just saw this little tidbit now!). After much painful deliberation between this and the panny 7uy, I went with the NEC. Cable guy is coming Saturday to hook up my new dvr/hd box (comcast), woo f'n hoo!
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post #27 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 10:32 AM
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I have had the cover for I don't know how many months and have not installed yet ! It looks pretty cool though, it is just that with the plasma installed on the wall I am not sure how to screw it in... I am sure it is very feasible, I am just lazy. Anyhow, this is to say that depending on the situation it can actually really improve on things. My cables are in good part hidden by the right speaker also on the wall (NHT L5), so not really vital.

Has anyone tried the DVI port yet ?

I did with my Mac and a utility to adjust video resolution, it was fantastic. I want to try though with a DVD player, I heard great things.
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post #28 of 364 Old 01-10-2005, 12:55 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by johnnycanuck
Hmmm ... Thanks Mojito. But if I follow what you're saying then would not the best route for the time being be to go via component inputs and take advantage of the 12 bit video processing if your feed is 480p from a DVD player? And if the plasma's video processor is bypassed when you feed via the DVI inputs then where is the video processing applied - the source device?
....Is it true that the DVI input cuts this processor out of the chain, or am I misunderstanding things here?

Well, at least this was the situation with last year's VR4 models. This became clear after NEC published 12-bit color in US site and 8-bit color in UK site. People were confused first, but then NEC's tech support cleared things out. Check this thread in UK forum:
http://www.avforums.com/forums/showp...0&postcount=26
I presume this should be the same for VR5 models, since jump from 8 to 12 bits on the phosphorus reproduction ability seems too optimistic.
The advantage of digital input is to avoid D-A-A-D conversion, that's why the nec's on-board ADC is bypassed.
On the issue of which is a better input it is difficult to comment since it will depned a lot on hardware you have. I was comparing the outputs on Pioneer 868i DVD player (DV59) which has 14-bit/216MHz video DAC and it produces great picture from both, the analogue and digital outputs. Your player may not be as good as 868 on component therefore you may actually benefit from going digital. You can't really tell without trying.
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post #29 of 364 Old 01-13-2005, 04:48 PM
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I am a recent convert to the NEC camp. Just too many negatives concerning Panasonic. I have a TV nook that is about 65 inches off ground and 42 inches wide. I talked to Plasma Concepts and they recommend a tilt mount for the following reasons...
1. Cleaner, More ventilation.
2. At elevated height may want to tilt it.

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post #30 of 364 Old 01-15-2005, 07:11 AM
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2 questions: (on VR5)

1. When I watch a 16:9 dvd, the only way I can get it to fill the screen is to use the zoom mode. It looks fine, not distorted, (and no part of the picture is chopped off) but my dvd on screen comands appear just off the top of the screen. On my old crt, they appear in the black bar on top. So I'm wondering if zoom mode is how others watch 16:9 dvd's (also listed as 1.78:1 on some dvd cases) and if they have the same issue with the dvd menu. The manual also makes it seem as if this is the correct mode for widescreen movies. I really am wondering if I need to change a setting on my dvd player to somehow output widescreen instead of 4:3, so I won't have this problem.

2. Can you use a component/vga cable on this panel's rgb/vga input? I know you can on the panny but not sure about the VR5.

Thanks.
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