Changed my mind, got a Sony 36 XBR450 instead of RCA 38310. Give me your 2 cents - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Long time reader, first time poster.

Moving into my new House tomorrow and the last item on the list was a simple HDTV setup. I didnt want to get a Projection set just yet, figured that the Direct View I get now will end up in the bedroom in a few years. Here is the lowdown:

Been buying form Goodguys the last 9 years from the same guy, and I get some special deals from time to time.

Last week I was setup with an RCA 38310 for $1750 and a 3 yr plan for $200. Free Delivery. I was ready to go!

Then started getting cold feet on this set, since I wasnt getting anything delivered till this Weekend I had some time to read this forum and get some other feedback. I liked the idea of the 16x9 and the built in DirecTV reciever (which is what I will be running) , but the history of problems with this set (this was even the new YX5 model) and some of the horror stories started to make me worry. So I went back today to talk to my buddy and he told me that they were putting out a new Sony 36 XBR450 last night and noticed that there were some nicks in the right speaker and that they had to sell it as an open box. Normally they wouldnt sell the floor model till they are out, but like I said I get some special privs there.

Long story short I got it for $1660 + the same 3 yr plan for $200. I am also getting the Hughes E86 STB for $450, and of course free delivery still and 18 month no interest.

I think i got a much better quality setup for the additional $300 I paid, and I eliminated some of the negatives from the RCA (no output, only 1 Component In, and the quirky menu system)

The only drawback is that I am now back to 4:3 but I think I can live with it for a few more years. The picture quality was very good in my opinion. And the less reflective screen will be handy considering there are 3 large windows behind my sofa that would hit the TV.

Any opinions on my last second change? Would you have done it? Why or Why Not? I value all you folks input and would like to get some comments if possible. WHo knows you may get me to change my mind again! My buddy @ Good Guys is gonna kill me! hehe.

Thanks!
--Pat--
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post #2 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 03:38 AM
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Pat--

Just an opinion but I say all to the good. Cannot beat that Sony 36XBR look (except maybe with a Sony 34XBR2 or 800).

Congrats!

Hoppy
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post #3 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 03:59 AM
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Obviously if you bought the set and then ask questions, you may have doubts about your decision! That's okay...

I am an F38310 owner and I will be biased (but, you asked for input!).

Agreed there are a lot of gripes posted about the F38310. But, IMO, you rarely get to hear compliments and always hear complaints (did you ever see a 'Compliment Desk' at a store?).

Although Sony has it's place and followers, I feel that Sony is overpriced just based on the name. Also, I also have read a lot of articles in regard to inherent 'bugs' with Sonys too. So, that's basically a wash.

I think the F38310 would be a better choice because:
16:9 - This is the direction for digital/HDTV. Big plus with DVD's also!
38" - Larger picture with 16:9 material. (16:9 on a 36" set will be small)
Built in receiver - Saves a lot of bucks!
Cheaper than your current situation all around!
(Not to insult your buddy, but are you sure he didn't pull the old 'bait and switch' on you?)

Just my $.02
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post #4 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 05:10 AM
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Pat, I have both of these, and let me give you my opinion.

Sony 36XBR450:

Pros:
1. Excellent image quality (except for HD100 SD DirecTV through component)
2. Excellent build quality
3. Tons of inputs and actually has monitor out support
4. Looks great
5. Way overpriced

Cons:
1. Clunky remote
2. Geometry was off
3. Convergence errors near the corners
4. One side of the screen was brighter than the other
5. No built in ATSC tuner
6. Not user friendly (some of the controls did not make sense)
7. 4x3 format sucks when you watch mostly 16x9 HDTV

RCA F38310:

Pros:
1. Excellent image quality (all around)
2. Nice remote (very user friendly)
3. Built in ATSC and HD DirecTV Tuner
4. Excellent value for the money
5. HUGE 38" screen will make anything else look like a mini screen
6. On screen menus make sense.
7. Looks great

Cons:
1. SVM out of control on some scenes and cannot be disabled (regardless of what everyone else says on this form as even unplugging the orange/brown wire does not disable it)
2. Geometry was a little off
3. Build quality is very good, but not up to the Sony.
4. Edge compression (correctible for me and I no longer notice it).
5. Horror stories (this is what extended warranties are for).
6. It's Super HEAVY
7. Not for you if you mostly watch 4x3 stuff.

Overall, I'm much happier with the RCA. I bought the XBR for over $2000 and add $850 for the HD100 (way overpriced!). I paid a total of $2000 including a 3 year extended warranty for the RCA. Althouth the RCA has quirks, you shouldn't have put it off until you tried it for yourself.

If you read around the forum, you will notice that people post COMPLIANTs more than they do COMPLIMENTS and should not be indicative of your future experience. I'm guilty of this myself.
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post #5 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 06:51 AM
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I suggest adding a dual-tuner DirecTiVo (pretty cheap most of the time) and an MX-500 univeral learning remote (and then scanning the MX-500 board at www.remotecentral.com) for the perfect 36XBR450 experience.

Keep in mind for BOTH of the sets involved ... not ALL of the sets will exhibit all/any of the known potential problems. I have a KV-32XBR400 and it has NO problems ... speaker grills are solid, no geometry problems, no un-even brightness, no un-initiated shut-downs, no popping ... nothing.
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post #6 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 07:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by PatNOregon
Long time reader, first time poster.

Moving into my new House tomorrow and the last item on the list was a simple HDTV setup. I didnt want to get a Projection set just yet, figured that the Direct View I get now will end up in the bedroom in a few years. Here is the lowdown:

Thanks!
--Pat--
Excellent choice for this point in time, the half dozen RCA's I’ve closely examined were nasty at best, flimsy build quality, noisy fans, nasty curved tube, 4:3 looks nasty at best on this set also. There were two floor models of the 38 at a local shop here and both were marked down to 1100.00. They were both next to Xbr's (36 & 40â€) displaying an HD loop and the Sony’s just blew them away. Owners of the rca also seem to think they are saving money with the built in tuner but your getting what you pay for ( a cheaply made set with a built in rca hd tuner). That fellow tom has a 32xbr not 36xbr so disregard his opinion because the 32 has 30-40% less viewing area. No matter how much you love 16:9 content 80% of your viewing will be 4:3 plus either format looks much better on a calibrated xbr anyway. Rca also yanked this set from production because it’s nothing but problems & returns. Get a service manual for the 36 and a copy of Avia, set the geometry, redpush, black levels and you will be mildly stunned how nice it can get. Head over to Agoraquest.com for setup advice, service menu codes etc., good luck.
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post #7 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shaun


Excellent choice for this point in time, the half dozen RCA's I’ve closely examined were nasty at best, flimsy build quality, noisy fans, nasty curved tube, 4:3 looks nasty at best on this set also. There were two floor models of the 38 at a local shop here and both were marked down to 1100.00. They were both next to Xbr's (36 & 40â€) displaying an HD loop and the Sony’s just blew them away. Owners of the rca also seem to think they are saving money with the built in tuner but your getting what you pay for ( a cheaply made set with a built in rca hd tuner). That fellow tom has a 32xbr not 36xbr so disregard his opinion because the 32 has 30-40% less viewing area. No matter how much you love 16:9 content 80% of your viewing will be 4:3 plus either format looks much better on a calibrated xbr anyway. Rca also yanked this set from production because it’s nothing but problems & returns. Get a service manual for the 36 and a copy of Avia, set the geometry, redpush, black levels and you will be mildly stunned how nice it can get. Head over to Agoraquest.com for setup advice, service menu codes etc., good luck.
Sorry to disagree with you... but I'm really not!

The half dozen RCA's you are 'experienced' with were unproperly set up demo units.
My set does not have a flimsy build quality at all (it's same plastic used in Sonys).

The fan is not noisy! The only time I hear the fan is when the TV is off in a quite house!

Curved tube or flat tube... each has their deficiencies.

What??? 4:3 on this set is NO DIFFERENT than 4:3 on a 4:3 set!! What's nasty???

You know.... I'm not even going to waste my time rebutting the rest of your inaccurate comments. You are WAY off base with your 'observations'.

My F38310 (after some tweaks in the service menu) has an excellent picture quality with all formats SD, HD, ED, DVD, and even EIEIO! I'm very happy with my 'NASTY' set!
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post #8 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 11:36 AM
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You should SEE for yourself and judge for yourself. Do your "research" and make use of that 30 day money back guarantee.

Most of all, don't let people that have NEVER owned (and only examined? wtf is that?) an F38310 sway you. After watching so much HD on my XBR, I NEEDED (not wanted) a 16x9 TV. The RCA was the clear winner.

BTW, no the RCA's tube isn't flat, but it's no fishbowl either. And I don't care what anyone else says, flat screens reflect as much crap as non-flat screens.
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post #9 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 11:41 AM
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Some people may actually hate the RCA for some reason - maybe they had one of the early lemons. I know I swore off Thomson Consumer after my MM52100 experiences a couple of years ago!
But the 38310 is now a solid performer. When these sets first came out, they were horrible - most of those early models were recalled. When you buy the RCA today, you are not buying someone's problem, you are buying their solution.
Many, many people have recent RCA's and are thrilled with them. Bear in mind also that the RCA has identical "nasty" curved tube that Loewe puts in the Aconda, which The Perfect Vision recently rated the ONLY Class 1 Direct View set!
I saw a Sony 36XBR set up at Best buys last weekend and couldn't believe how TINY the 16:9 image looks next to the RCA.
In HD direct view, size may not be everything, but it's way ahead of whatever is in second place!
:D

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post #10 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Ya know guys, I think one of the earlier posters nailed it on the head. I wouldnt be asking for feedback if I didnt have my own doubts. I guess I'm just being too picky about the whole thing. I mean my original instinct was GET 16X9, I've wanted a widescreen since I was like 13 yrs old, (24 now) but the stories of the RCA probs did concern me, but those concerns really get washed out by the 3 yr warranty through Good Guys. So that really shouldnt be an issue. And yes having the internal HDTV decoder is very nice, it will save me about $300. Flat Screen vs. Curved. Other poster was right, I'm gonna get a glare either way. Will just get some better blinds to block out the sun. I think I may just go with my original instinct and give the RCA a fair chance. Its true that you dont hear as many compliments as you do complaints, but the ones I have heard regarding the RCA have been very good. I think I'm going to be calling my buddy again tonight and changing the order once again. I'm going to put that RCA throught the gauntlet in the next month and on day 29 of the return policy I will make the final decision.

Any tips on hooking up these devices?
Sony Progressive Scan DVD (via component, but what about other settings?)
Sony 30 Hr Tivo, I figured I can use an analog DirecTV box and run this through one of the S-Vid's so I can still timeshift Dish

Thanks for the input guys, and any other comments are welcome.
--Pat--
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post #11 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 12:21 PM
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Keep the insults off the forum please. Lets keep this on topic.
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post #12 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 01:06 PM
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I highly suggest that you consider the F38310. Yes, there will probably be some geometry issues when you first set this baby up. ALL 16:9 sets and even 4:3 sets need adjustments. These can easily be resolved by a 'knowledgable' tech or yourself. Most of us have done the adjustments ourselves and we can help you if you want.

As for the glare stuff... I have the TV in my living room with two large windows (facing south) on the right side of the TV. No shades, shutters, bilnds. I get sunlight most of day. The glare is not bad at all. Take the curved vs. flat with a grain of salt. This picture is just fine!
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post #13 of 23 Old 07-18-2002, 02:28 PM
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why would you get an xbr450? the new xbr800s are coming out soon and they outperform the 450s in every way. but if you spent that 300 and some more change having the rca ISF calibrated, it would blow away the uncalibrated xbr450 and probably the new xbr800s as well.

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post #14 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 05:13 AM
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I'm not sure about the F38310, but my RCA MM36110 has a great picture when driven from an HTPC DVD. However, the internal line doubler stinks and if you are going to run your dish into it via S-video, as I do, you will be disappointed. I am currently evaluating using dscaler with the svideo out of the dish stb to fix this.
The component inputs on mine are not progressive, they need VGA. Be careful, I'm not sure if your component inputs will be progressive either and you may need to convert to VGA if you are using a progressive scan DVD.

my $.02
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post #15 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 07:21 AM
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I went through this dilemma last year but I knew I wanted a flat screen and knew I did NOT want another Thomson (RCA, GE, Proscan) television - our last one had problems from day one and their was a class action suit that would give you a $100 voucher...for another Thomson product - no thanks! Another guy I know had problems with his higher end Proscan. I was overjoyed when the Sony 40XBR700 came out - you get a 36.9" 16:9 screen for DVDs and a whopping 40" 4:3 screen for SDTV (which I watch 99% of the time). The 36XBR probably was going to be my default choice until the 40XBR came out, then it was a no brainer. Personally, I would avoid the RCA due to all the initial defects, complaints about noisy fans and the fact that it is being discontinued which means future repairs become costly...if you want that same form factor and same tube...and have the cash, get the Loewe, otherwise get a Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung...pretty much anything but RCA...although I don't find a 34" 16:9 screen acceptable for much of anything...too small...you may also want to consider a tabletop RPTV if Direct View isnt a must-have....Good luck
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post #16 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 10:14 AM
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tomwid -

what do you mean that SVM can't be disabled? a bunch of us unplugged those wires and saw a difference. What are you seeing?
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post #17 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 11:04 AM
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One quirk with the F38310 and progressive video:

The F38310 cannot scale non-NTSC video. For NTSC video it has three modes, Fullscreen 4:3, Stretched anamorphic and Zoomed letterboxed. For 480p (progressive DVD) and for HDTV, the screen is locked into widescreen mode. This isn't a problem for anamorphic DVD's as they are mostly expanded properly by the player, but for letterboxed DVD's it is -- if your DVD player doesn't do scaling then the letterboxed video will be stuck in the 4:3 window.

DVD players with the genesis video chip, like the Panasonic RP91 are preferred for the F38310.

As far as SVM, regardless of what everyone else says, I noticed a significant difference in test patterns on the Video Essentials DVD with the wire pair connected/removed. I can't say how much it removed it -- if you can suggest a test pattern to throw up that will provide an objective measurement, I'll be happy to compare the two modes. As to how much removing SVM improves the picture for movies/video, that's going to be very subjective. I think it helps.


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post #18 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 01:13 PM
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The RCA is a great value. When set up with care the picture quality is among the best available. The geometry issues vary from from sample to sample, but the current sets seem to be as close to defect free any any mass produced product. My particular example does have a slight edge compression issue with 480 and 480p material, but not when displaying HDTV. I've been trying to figure that one out for a while....

At the end of the day, it's all a matter of personal preference. I love the 16x9 aspect ratio, the size, and the HDTV picture. It's not a perfect set, but its the largest direct view 16x9 and is a great HDTV set.
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post #19 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 02:13 PM
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count me in with support for the RCA. i love mine, HDTV looks simply FLAWLESS on it, but like JoeFloyd said you have to calibrate the set for these results. I have some slight edge compression with 480p dvd's, but not bad...nothing near the scrolling "funhouse mirror" geometry i have with my Sony Wega 27".

the price is the main thing here...for under 2K, a tube this size (16:9 too!) with a built in HD receiver is a great deal.

and for a long time i thought i was only going to use the HD receiver for OTA broadcasts, but after getting a taste of HD from the networks (from what little is offered from them), i activated the receiver and get the 3 HD channels DTV offers....HDNet is amazing on the 38" RCA!!! You might really want to consider the advantage of having the extra size, especially if you plan to watch HD or a lot of dvd's. The only downside is that dvd's will never look the same to you once you get used to HD...at least that's what happened for me.
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post #20 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys just another update on this.
I am getting the RCA delivered tomorrow and will have OTA and HD DirecTV hookup by the end of the day.
My only question now is regarding the DVD player, I went out and got a Sony Prog. Scan last night for about $180. But I keep hearing that you may not need a Pro Scan or that there are certain models that you should or shouldnt get. Basically from the RCA owners out there which DVD player do you have now and why. I'm not going to be able to go blow another $400+ on the perfect DVD player but for the time being, I was hoping I could get by with this Sony DVP-NS715P. Let me know what yall think.
Thanks!
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post #21 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 05:38 PM
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I really don't think you're going to be disappointed in the RCA.

As far as DVD, stick with Progressive scan. I use the Panasonic RP-56, which is under 200.00 and works very very well with the RCA.

Let us know how your RCA performs!

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post #22 of 23 Old 07-19-2002, 06:01 PM
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I read the specs on your DVD player, and the one negative is that it looks like it doesn't scale video what that means is that for letterboxed DVD's, you will have to watch them in interlaced mode, and use the TV to zoom them to fit the screen. With a dvd player such as the Panasonic RP91, the player will scale letterboxed DVD's in progressive mode. Go to the DVD hardware forum, search for and ask about progressive scaling.


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post #23 of 23 Old 07-20-2002, 02:11 PM
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for the F38310, you really want to have a progressive scan player that does scaling of non-anamorphic dvd's and 4:3 dvd's since the TV locks into "full" when presented with a progressive or hd signal.. Only a few out there - i have the panasonic rp91 which i got after returning two JVC players that also did the scaling. The JVC's were half the price but had some problems - with last year's JVC, there was an uncorrectable bug where it would not display english subtitles on some dvd's (like the alien subtitles in Phantom Menace, and some Bond titles) and the newer JVC, with a misflagged non-anamorphic dvd, if you tried to manually zoom the picture in, the "zoom" icon would stay on the screen and was unremovable. otehrwise they were good players for the F38310....but the RP91 handles misflagged dvd's (and there are a lot of them) very well. Problem is it's more expensive at around $499.

The new Panasonics (rp62 and rp82) do not perform the scaling function, just manual zooms...this doesn't address 4:3 dvd's (like tv shows) which will look stretched on the F38310 without a player like the Rp91.
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