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Panasonic DVD-S97S FAQ / Brain dump

post #1 of 4322
Thread Starter 

I have the DVD-S97S DVD player.

If you have any questions concerning this player, please ask them!

  1. NEWS -- S97 Firmware Thread link
  2. REVIEW -- Full text review when written.
  3. PICTURES -- Pictures of the DVD-S97S, test patterns, movie scene comparison, oddities.
  4. TIPS/FAQ's/MANUAL -- Tips and special requests. Information on specific video and audio settings, Macroblock enhance tips, DVD compatibility.
  5. EQUIPMENT -- Equipment used in evaluation.
  6. TEST RESULTS -- Calibration DVD and operational results.
  7. SHOOTOUT -- Comparisons / Opinions of the DVD-S97 vs. other players.


Panasonic DVD-S97 firmware update is available. Link to the firmware, installation instructions, and impressions are found in the first post of this thread:




The DVD-S97 player is slim but sturdy. It has a metal top, bottom, sides, and back panel. The front is the now-fashionable silver painted plastic. Still, the player feels solid, the buttons have secure tactile feel, and the case is rigid and not subject to flexing such as with the Denon DVD-1910. The display is florescent behind a mirrored background which is in vogue as well. While the mirrored surface "hides" the display while not is use it does make the display a little bit fuzzy while in use. The display is recessed a bit so in reading the display one must be facing the unit head on. The disc loading tray is clear, illuminated by blue LEDs. Blue, as any astronomer or photographer knows is not the best light for preserving "night eyes". Thankfully, the player can be configured to turn off the blue illumination and dim the florescent display a couple of seconds after starting disc play (a big Whew! there). Since the tray is clear and has a glossy surface, I hope it holds up over time with repeated use and doesn't become cloudy with fine scratches. The disc load/eject mechanism sounds secure and solid closing with a nice, little "thud". Player operation is fairly quiet and one hardly hears a noise during normal operation. This situation is in contrast to the Denon DVD-1910 which vibrates and can make quite a racket. The DVD-S97 has four, individual feet which are each padded. The rear connections and jacks are nothing special, but not bad either, fairly typical. 5.1 analog, coaxial, and optical outputs are present as is the highly desired HDMI connection. The power cord is polarized and is detachable.




The remote has a a top of silver painted plastic and a lower half of black plastic. The buttons are black-colored and rubber-like. I like this remote. It is leagues better than the DVD-XP50, in my view. The buttons have a good feel and are reasonably arranged. There a lots of buttons and Panasonic has provided for direct access to picture adjustments. The overall feel of the remote is nice and is balanced well. No illumination. No tray open/close button, either. I don't know if this is an oversight or Panasonic ran out of room. It's a curious omission. Happily, the open/close button on the DVD-XP50 remote will open and close the tray. The remote supplied with the Panasonic TC-22LH1 TV can open/close the player tray. I suspect the chances are good that many Panasonic remotes with DVD tray open/close will work. Angle of operation seemed to be fairly wide and response is pretty good. Sometimes the remote command will lag just a bit with rapid use. I didn't find it a problem. The remote takes two AA batteries and the battery door is hinged as seems to be common with many (but not all) Panasonic remotes.


Note: My camera, apparently, isn't particularly good. It seems to add contrast and the color is a bit off as well. Still, these pictures may be of some use:


FRONT: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...691&fullpage=1
BACK: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...697&fullpage=1
TOP: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...699&fullpage=1
BOTTOM: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...701&fullpage=1
SIDE: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...704&fullpage=1

Interior Pictures courtesy of JKA/V:

FULL INTERIOR: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...612&fullpage=1
Genesis/Faroudja: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...617&fullpage=1


PATTERNS (Avia) -- FULL Aspect 4:3 pillarbox

Note: loss of resolution introduced by pillarboxing as seen at 6.75mHz. In non-Pillarbox mode the resolution returns albeit "stretched"

HDMI 1080i
Y/C: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...581&fullpage=1
Zone Plate: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...610&fullpage=1
Resolution: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...605&fullpage=1
Resolution 6.75: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...617&fullpage=1
Pixel Cropping: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...626&fullpage=1

HDMI 480p
Y/C: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...629&fullpage=1
Zone Plate: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...585&fullpage=1
Resolution: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...637&fullpage=1
Resolution 6.75: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...639&fullpage=1

Y/C: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...642&fullpage=1
Zone Plate: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...647&fullpage=1
Resolution: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...651&fullpage=1
Resolution 6.75: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...652&fullpage=1

Y/C: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...659&fullpage=1
Zone Plate: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...663&fullpage=1
Resolution: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...666&fullpage=1
Resolution 6.75: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...670&fullpage=1

PATTERNS (DVE) -- FULL Aspect 16:9

HDMI 1080i
Snell & Wilcox: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...448&fullpage=1
6.50 & 6.75 mHz: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...452&fullpage=1

HDMI 480p
Snell & Wilcox: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...458&fullpage=1
6.50 & 6.75 mHz: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...462&fullpage=1

Component 480p
Snell & Wilcox: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...465&fullpage=1
6.50 & 6.75 mHz: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...469&fullpage=1

Component 480i
Snell & Wilcox: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...470&fullpage=1
6.50 & 6.75 mHz: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...472&fullpage=1

PATTERNS (DVE) -- FULL Aspect 4:3 pillarbox

HDMI 1080i
ICP: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...140&fullpage=1

Component 480i
ICP: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...144&fullpage=1

SCREEN SHOTS (from "Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory"):
HDMI 1080i: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...675&fullpage=1
HDMI 480p: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...680&fullpage=1
Component 480p: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...682&fullpage=1
Component 480i: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...685&fullpage=1


Macroblock enhance (aka "macroblocking") (Brightness enhanced photo): http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...688&fullpage=1
HDMI@1080i This picture is from "Ben Hur" - it is taken right before the famous MGM lion appears. Look closely and one can see the circular area around the lion just beginning to form. The TV's brightness was enhanced so that the blocks could be captured by the camera. Look closely and the top and bottom black bars of the letterboxing can be seen. The overly blue look to the picture is added by the camera -- it is NOT that blue! Ideally, this background should be almost smooth with only a hint of grain. Although enhanced in this picture, one can see the blocks in my system under normal conditions, if one looks carefully and quickly.

Menu Anomaly: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...690&fullpage=1
HDMI@1080i I have only seen this problem with the "deep" Avia menus. I have looked on other 4:3 discs for this problem. The problem has also been sighted on the "THX Optimizer" included with "Monster's Inc.".



The owner's manual is located here:



My settings. Just a "quick quide"

Setup->Video->TV Aspect: 16:9
Setup->Video->TV Type: LCD TV / Projector (choose your TV type -- see TV TYPE SETTING section below)
Setup->Video->Still Mode: Frame
Setup->HDMI->RGB Range: Enhanced
Setup->Others->FL Dimmer: Dim

Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: Contrast 0
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: Brightness 1
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: Sharpness -1
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: Color 0
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: Gamma 0
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: Depth Enh. 0
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: MPEG DNR 0
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Picture Mode-> User->Picture Adjustment: 3D DNR 0

Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Video Output Mode: 1080i
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->Transfer Mode: Auto1
Display->Other Settings->Picture Menu->HDMI Color Space: YCbCr 4:4:4 (if it can be selected)

Display->Other Settings->Audio Menu-> CHANGED NOTHING

Display->Other Settings->Display Menu-> 4:3 Aspect Ratio: Auto
Display->Other Settings->Display Menu-> Just Fit Zoom: 16:9 Standard
Display->Other Settings->Display Menu->GUI Brightness: -3


There has been some discussion concerning the setting of the:

Setup->Video->Black Level Control

If using the HDMI output, the setting doesn't matter. This setting pertains to the component output. The usage is explained in the manual on page 16. Set to "Darker" if using component. If using composite or S-Video use the default of "Lighter". Note that there is no mention of HDMI. The setting does not pertain to HDMI.


Try setting "A/V Enhance" to "Off" (front panel button).


4:4:4, 4:2:2, RGB which to choose?

There is no "right", "wrong", or "should" with the setting. The Panasonic is going to allow for whatever setting is allowed for by the display.

First digit is luminance: Y.
Second digit R-Y. (Red)
Third digit B-Y. (Blue)

4:4:4 Color information is sampled at the same rate as luminance.
4:2:2 Color information is sampled at half the rate as the luminance.

4:4:4 would provide more color information, in theory, it should be better. 4:4:4 is great for HD.

For a thorough explanation, try here:


With certain HDMI connections -- all three may be allowed. With a DVI connection only RGB will be allowed -- that's what DVI supports. If your connection allows for 4:4:4 then give it try, however given the color depth of present day DVD, it's probably overkill.


Press and hold on the player the buttons "PAUSE" + "OPEN" and press the "7" button on the remote. The full version will be displayed on the florescent read out and the last 3 numbers on the right is the version number.

DISCRETE ON/OFF CODES (thanks to dm71):


"Macroblocking" (accurately, "macroblock enhance") has become a hot topic these days with the introduction of the Sage/Faroudja FLI23xx solution. To some degree or other players with this chip family seem to exhibit the issue.

What does "macroblocking" mean to the viewer? Black backgrounds may not look entirely black. The backgrounds might look "busy". Black and white programming may have an occasional, small, subtle, momentary introduction of a shade of color on a particular, small portion of the screen. Large areas of solid beige, light brown, "earthtones" may have small areas of momentary, subtle emphasis of color. Thankfully, in the vast majority of material the issue isn't visible or the occurance so quick as to be unnoticed.

What can be done? The best thing to be done is critical adjustment of the display and DVD player. A lot of the macroblock enhance activity is noted in dim scenes with low level brightness and color or bright scenes with low level color. The key is "low level". Adjustments that can emphasize "low level" picture characteristics will emphasize macroblock enhance.

My best suggestions:

Get Digital Video Essentials (DVE), if one does not have it.

Brightness and Contrast: Adjust critically. Avoid the temptation to "give it a little boost". Boosting the brightness will emphasize dim scene macroblock enhance.

Color: Adjust critically. Avoid the temptation to "add a little zip". Boosting the color will emphasize low color level macroblock enhance -- especially in Black and White material and large areas of beige and light brown scenes (such as the desert sands in Lawrence of Arabia).

Dynamic picture "enhancements". This is tricky. The enhancements typically tend to emphasize color and contrast which normally encourages the presence of macroblock enhance, however the enhancements also tend to reduce brightness in dim scenes and introduce some "black crush" which can help reduce the appearance of macroblock enhance Best bet: try it/remove it and see.

Try 480p. The possible benefits of upconversion may be lost but Faroudja processiong is still functional at 480p and one *may* see fewer or less enhanced blocks or oddly colored tints.

Suggestions that come with a penalty:

Introduce a bit of "black crush" at the display. While removing some low level detail and shading it can also hide dim scene macroblock enhance.

Reduce color. While it removes a little of the color it also reduces the emphasis place on low level color blocks. In truly Black and White material, reducing the color to minimum (at the display) can remove the low level color macroblock enhance.

Introduce some MPEG NR on the 'S97. While it can smear some fine detail, it tends to smooth out the macroblocks making the occurrence less noticeable.

Reduce the Contrast on the 'S97 to -1. While it can take away a bit of the vibrancy of the picture, it seems to minimize a bit of the occurrence of enhnaced macroblocks.

GUIDE TO S97 NOISE REDUCTION: (thanks to Hugh2)

Depth Enhancer, MPEG DNR, 3D-NR

I've spent some time with each of the above noise reducer options and would like to share my thoughts. First off I'll say that yes all three of these noise reducers do work and all in slightly different manner. I know little of the algorithms and processing of how these filters work so I'll just offer my viewing observations.

Depth Enhancer

Effect is subtle but evident on a number of disks I've looked at at full player zoom plus full Iscan zoom. The filter averages dark and light areas in a random manner smoothing the image subtly on both the horizontal and vertical plain equally. This filter does not discriminate noise artifacts from non therefore smooths the entire image equally on all plains. Except for the smoothing effect this filter has no obvious artifacts. This filter seems to work more precisely on a more pixel by pixel basis and is far more subtle than the MPEG DNR.


This filter has the most obvious most intrusive effect of the three. It appears to work by smoothing much larger blocks of the image than the others but surprisingly smooths the image by smoothing pixels biased on the vertical axis. On setting one I can see the vertical streaking beginning to appear as the filter begins to squeeze out the contrasting elements of the image. The untouched lightly colored areas become thinner therefore also appear taller which gives the overall effect of light colored vertical streaking artifacts similar to what you see in scratched moving film but much finer obviously. At the highest position most evidence of the streaking is gone as the smoothing oils merge and become one. This filter does not discriminate and affects the entire image.


This filter is quite interesting and is completely different from the other two. It has no affect on a static image or parts of the image free of visible noise. Therefore when either the image is paused or when no noise is present the filter does nothing, to use a military term it works like a smart bomb with little collateral damage. The filter attacks only the quick moving noise artifacts of the image and instead of the usual smoothing method of concealment this NR instead somehow slows down the quick movement to a relative crawl and in some cases to a stand still (sort of like digital molasses filter). I've noticed the NR does not work with all types of noise where on some noisy images it's effect was obvious while seemingly similar conditions in other images no effect was noticed. This filter has no negative smoothing/blurring streaking artifacts I could perceive and can be cranked up without worry. Overall this filter is very impressive though subtle.

Edit: After a few more days of using the 3D-NR filter I have noticed during certain scenes it does have an obvious artifact. I've only witnessed this artifact on human skin during slow or fast movement but it must be present elsewhere as well. The artifact is a quasi double image which appears in sections where there is obvious color changes such as blushed cheek bones for instance. When the subject moves one image legs behind by slightly but is pulled along like it's attached by an elastic.

Using 3D-NR and Depth Enhancer in tandem has a synergistic but subtle effect and works pretty well at removing minor noise and except for the double image artifact at times there is only minor loss of image quality. Setting Depth Enhancer on 1 (2, 3, and 4 have little additional benefit) and 3D-NR on 1 or 2 (not cranked as previously thought) should be suitable for most conditions but YMMV.

Since all images have a certain amount of noise I feel comfortable turning on these two filters and just leave it. If further NR is required then simply using the MPEG DNR at setting 1 or 2 should suffice, but I would avoid using this filter unless necessary.

TV TYPE SETTING:(thanks Hugh2)

The TV Type setting has no effect if one is using the S97 manual "USER" settings. If the USER settings are not employed then the following applies:

I just finished some additional testing using grey ramps and brightness pluge patterns the results surprised me a little. I'm using an X1 PJ and "TV Type" is set to LCD/Projector.

For testing contrast I set the level just where the two whitest bars begin to become one color but left it so I could barely see the lower bar. My contrast setting is 50 when adjusted like this. I then flipped through the tv types and then readjusted the contrast to maintain the same level of brightness on the ramps IE: the upper two bars just beginning to crush. I similarly tested for brightness using the pluge test pattern I had to re-adjust to the following contrast and brightness settings to achieve the same reference levels:

....................... Contrast................ Brightness
Standard/Direct. 56.............................47
LCD/Projector.....50 (reference).............48
Projection......... 66.............................42
Plasma............. 50.............................48

As you can see there are varying contrast and brightness levels among the TV types. The projection setting offers the most significant level changes offering what I consider significantly less contrast and an elevated black level when compared to any of the other. As one might expect the LCD/Projector attempt to give the impression of a brighter picture in comparison with the other settings with a slighter darker black level using this setting.

If you have a setup dvd it goes without saying (but I will anyway) the all the levels of contrast and brightness in the above settings can be adjusted out by using the control of the pj.

I also checked for color changes and didn't perceive any, though I did not check for sharpness or gamma changes.


DVD-R: Yes, confirmed
DVD-RW: Yes, confirmed
DVD+R: Yes (according to Radsman)
DVD+RW: Yes, confirmed
DVD-VR: Yes, confirmed
PAL: Yes, if region free (according to Rich4av). Ensure the display is capable of accepting 50Hz.

DVD Disc compatibility can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.


Display: Panasonic TC-22LH1 LCD HDMI 1280x720 @ 1080i & 480p & 480i
Hitachi 32HDT55 Plasma DVI @ 1080i & 720p & 480p

Cable: HDMI-HDMI supplied with DVD-S97S, Monster HDMI->DVI cable

DVDs: DVE, Avia, various movies, animation



Upconversion: HDMI only. HDCP only.

Upconversion via component video: No

Change picture settings via HDMI: Yes

Layer Change: Noticeable, .5 sec or thereabouts

Remember last played position of ejected disc: Yes. Via "Position/Memory". There are five memories. When the "memorized" disc is reinserted into the machine, a message will appear on the screen to press "PLAY". Pressing "PLAY" will resume play at the location where the memory button was pressed.

Blue light: The tray illuminating blue light will extinguish a couple of seconds after play begins and FL display dim when configured for AUTO. DIM will extinguish the blue light except when the tray is opened and closed. with the DIM setting the tray is also illuminated less with the blue.

Zoom: Yes. Auto screen-filling, anamorphic zoom. Virtually continuously variable. While the zoom feature is extremely flexible, the picture quality suffers even with the minimum of zoom, introducing jagged lines and reducing sharpness. If a problem with the picture quality is seen, check the zoom settings and ensure that it is not enabled.

Simultaneous HDMI and Component output: Yes. If HDMI is enabled, component output is still active with 480i. Cannot determine if 480p via component in this situation can be configured.

HDMI->HDMI 1080i,480p / HDMI->DVI 1080i, 720p, 480p:

Differences between the modes/resolution noted in red. Avia in "pillarbox" mode.

Deinterlacing Processor: Genesis/Faroudja FLI2310LF

MPEG Decoder:

Macroblock enhance: present, visible - this condition may vary from display to display and from DVD to DVD but I see it.

Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE): No

Low IRE gray/pink: It is noted that HDMI->HDMI seems to introduce a slight "pinkish" cast to gray. It can be seen with 10IRE field on Avia disc.

BTB or crushing: Passes blacker than black, if "USER" setting brightness set to "+1". No crushing noted with HDMI--> DVI connection.

WTW or crushing: Passes all white steps, no crushing. This is true *only* if one uses the "User" picture settings and does not set the contrast higher or the "Cinema1" setting. Other settings, including, "Normal", can crush white.

Color accuracy via 720p/1080i (green depression): Appears accurate, no "green depression" noted. The player appears to transform the SD color matrix to the HD color matrix for the upconversion.

480i via HDMI: Not Available, cannot configure

4:3 Pillarboxng: Yes. Will automatically pillarbox 4:3 material via HDMI at 1080i, 720p, 480p, if configured to AUTO. No additional button presses, down resolution, or other configuration needed. Loss of resolution does result when "pillarboxing" is utilized (see 6.75Mhz Avia resolution photos). Anomaly noted: in the Avia menus (and only seen in the Avia *menus*) the background screen was set at 4:3 but the menu selections were stretched 16:9 and resulted in a double/overlapped image. Weird. Otherwise, 4:3 pillarbox looked good on other DVDs.

Non-Anamorphic DVD zoom: Yes. Screen ratios can be selected: Cinemascope, Vista, etc. It does zoom to fill the screen. There is a noticeable drop in picture quality, however.

Frequency Response (DVE):
1080i - Looked good, no edge enhancement noted
720p - Looked good, but might be some enhancement
480p - Looked enhanced the high frequencies looked "etched"

Avia 4:3 Pillarbox Pixel cropping: Left and Right sides -- none. Top and Bottom -- a few but it may be my display.

DVE 16:9 Cropping: Left and Right sides -- a few. Top and Bottom -- a few.
HDMI 1080i seems to have the fewer pixels cropped.

Avia Y/C delay: Blue, Green OK, +0.07 for Red For the Hitachi @ 720p, the red may have been a bit better, closer to +0.00

Avia Moving Zone Plate: mediocre, IMHO, the finer lines turned to mush with either rate.

DVE Motion Pattern: looked pretty good, motion adaptive

Subtitle synchronization: Very good.

480p, 480i

Differences between the modes/resolution noted in red. Avia in "pillarbox" mode.

Deinterlacing Processor: (might be using the Faroudja. Regardless deinterlacing look pretty good)

MPEG Decoder:

Macroblocking: present, visible - this condition may vary from display to display and from DVD to DVD but I see it. At 480i, the macroblocking seems to be non-existant.

Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE): No

Low IRE gray/pink: None noticed.

BTB or crushing: Passes blacker than black if Setup is conigured to pass "Enhanced" black.

WTW or crushing: Passes all white steps, no crushing. This is true *only* if one uses the "User" picture settings and does not set the contrast higher or the "Cinema1" setting. Other settings, including, "Normal", will crush white.

Color accuracy (green depression): Appears accurate, no green depression noted.

4:3 Pillarboxng: Yes. Will automatically pillarbox 4:3 material, if configured to AUTO. No additional button presses, down resolution, or other configuration needed. Loss of resolution does result when "pillarboxing" is utilized (see 6.75Mhz Avia resolution photos). Anomaly noted: in the Avia menus (and only seen in the Avia *menus*) the background screen was set at 4:3 but the menu selections were stretched 16:9 and resulted in a double/overlapped image. Weird. Otherwise, 4:3 pillarbox looked good on other DVDs.

Non-Anamorphic DVD zoom: Yes. Screen ratios can be selected: Cinemascope, Vista, etc. It does zoom to fill the screen. There is a noticeable drop in picture quality, however.

Frequency Response (DVE):
480p - Looked enhanced the high frequencies looked "etched"
480i - Might be slightly rolled off and less "etched" looking

Avia 4:3 Pillarbox Pixel cropping: Left and Right sides -- none. Top and Bottom -- a few but it may be my display.

DVE 16:9 Pixel cropping: Left and Right sides -- a few. Top and Bottom - a few. Component seems to have just a few more pixels cropped than HDMI.

Avia Y/C delay:
480p : Blue, Green OK, +0.07 for Red
480i : looked near perfect

Avia Moving Zone Plate: mediocre, IMHO, turned to mush with either rate

DVE Motion Pattern: 480p : looked pretty good, motion adaptive

Subtitle synchronization: Very good.


HDMI passes two channel: Yes, confirmed

DVD-Audio multichannel via HDMI:

Audio/video delay/sync: No problem noted, but it can be configured. It must be configured in the main setup which requires stopping the player which results in no picture or sound. So, one must guess at a setting and then try it out. If not sync'ed, stop the player, try another setting. Not ideal to be sure, but better than nothing.


Original firmware version: 85E528
1st revised firmware version: 85E536
2nd revised firmware version: 85E540
3rd revised firmware version: 85E541

Beginning with April 2005 manufacture, firmware version: 86H360
This version would indicate a hardware change. It is not known what that hardware change might be.

Early report is that the revised firmware versions significantly reduces the macroblock enhance issue.


HDMI cable: Yes, HDMI-HDMI 6ft. cable included

Composite, L/R audio cable: Yes, included

Remote: Yes
a. Open/close tray: No. BUT DVD-XP50 remote can open/close tray
b. Directly access screen adjustments: Yes
c. Control other devices: Yes, TV
d. Illuminated/Glow: No

Batteries: Yes, AA

Power cord: Yes, detachable, USA polarized type.


My opinions. Not always scientific. They are what they are.

vs. Momitsu V880

Picture: Panasonic. One way to describe the picture difference is to set the Panasonic's MPEG NR to its maximum setting. Notice the slight blurring and loss of fine detail. To me this is one way how the Momitsu looks -- as if there is some fixed, continous noise reduction. Set the Panasonic MPEG NR back to off and enjoy the finer detail. At 1080i the Momitsu distorts subtitles slightly and introduces a bit of jitter with subtitles. The Panasonic exhibits none of that. The Panasonic's deinterlacer is superior as well. Details missing on the Momitsu with fine pinstripes and lines reappear on the Panasonic giving that extra edge in believability. Pluses for the Momitsu is a lack of "macroblocking", a superior "Zoom" function, and somewhat more detail when 4:3 pillarboxing is enabled. Both players have excellent color and frequency response (via DVI or HDMI) and neither have the "green depression", or crush black or white.

Operation-wise: Panasonic. The Panasonic has it all over the Momitsu. Menu operation is quick and reliable. The Momitsu always seems to lag or give the appearance of jumping ahead when navigating menus. The professional-looking GUI is a refreshing change from the Momitu's crude GUI.

Features/adjustments: Panasonic. But there's a "depends" as would be the case with any feature set. The Panasonic is *loaded* -- download the manual and see. If one doesn't fear the flexibility offered by the Panasonic, it will reward with lots of configuration opportunities. However, the Momitsu does have some *major* points in its favor: Defeatable HDCP, upconversion via component, defeatable Macrovision, selectable region, DVI configuration -- any of which could make the Momitsu an essential purchase.

Construction: I think both players are pretty solid. Given the construction of low-cost DVD players these days both of these players should be considered modern-day sub-$500 "tanks". Both of the players are sturdy and are not easily flexed. Both are all metal except for the front panel. The Momisu does have gold plated RCA jacks.

Remote: Panasonic. Panasonic easily wins here. While the Momitsu does have the advantage of a tray open/close button, the Panasonic is superior in every other way I can think of.

vs. Sony DVP-NS975V

Picture: Leaning towards Panasonic. In my case, the major showdown is between macroblocking and color matrix decoding.

Macroblock enhance. For the 'S97 the macroblock enhance is present, no doubt. If the display is carefully adjusted and one doesn't look for the macroblocking it might never be noticed. I have to look for it in scenes and situations that I think it is going to appear, and it does sometimes appear. Overall though, it doesn't distract me from enjoying the movie. It is understood that some people do not tolerate macroblocking. In carefully looking at the macroblocking with the same scenes, one can see that both DVD players are having issues with the same patches of material that will show the macroblocking. The Sony handles it much more gracefully.

Color Matrix Decoding. Depends. For '975V the issue depends upon one's display. Some TVs do not allow for the selection of the SD color matrix at 1080i/720p. NTSC (SD) and ATSC (HD) process color in a different way -- not radically different but somewhat different. DVDs are encoded for SD matrix. The DVD player converts the 480i signal to 1080i. So far, so good. However, in the case of the Sony, the SD color matrix of the DVD is not converted to the HD matrix. In viewing on a display fixed at HD color matrix only at 1080i, the differences between matrices with red and blue are slight. With green, however, the difference is significant. Sending an SD color matrix to a display that is expecting an HD color matrix results in a significant reduction of the color green -- the "green depression" (and some boost to red and blue). If the display cannot change the matrix at 1080i there isn't much that can done. The display could have the color decoders recalibrated to compensate but that might come at the expense of color fidelity with true HD material. The display's color can be boosted to bring up the green but the red and blue become unreal and the color imbalance still exists. Adjusting the "Tint" -2 on the '975V holds some promise with "non-critical" viewing.

What does this "green depression" mean to the average viewer with a TV with a fixed HD color matrix? In viewing the material at 480p and switching between the matrices, one can see the major difference is in the rendition of facial tones. EVERYONE has a slightly "yellowish" or "jaundiced" look when viewing HD/480p. Most people might not notice but the inaccuracy is there. Switching back to HD/1080i confirms what is seen at HD/480p. I can live with the "jaundiced" look as well but, in my view, it's more "in your face" than macroblocking (pun intended). The Panasonic has glorious color. No complaints at all -- color transitions, color strobing, facial tones all look realistic.

If the TV allows for selection of HD/SD color matrix at 1080i, then great! Sony color conflict solved. But with some displays the choice isn't available.

Both players present enormous amounts of detail. The Sony has slight etching noted while the Panasonic has a smoother presentation of the detail.

Movement. I think the Panasonic, overall, handles movement better. Pans seem smoother. Every so often I see a bit of combing on the Sony.

I haven't fully decided but, in my case, I'm leaning towards the Panasonic. In my situation the macroblocking is easier to ignore than the jaundice. However, if one's display allows for HD/SD matrix selection at 1080i/720p the Sony might get the nod for overall "average viewing" PQ.

Operation-wise: Panasonic. The Panasonic seems more secure in disk handling. The Pansonic loads the disc quicker than the Sony. The Sony takes a while to load a disc, but it has very fast disc access once loaded. Sometimes however, the Sony lags when respond to disc commands but when it does respond it moves *fast*. Also, on occasion, the Sony player has spontaneously "rebooted" itself. I have not been able reproduce it at will but it seems to be related to changing tracks. I haven't had any problem of this sort with the Panasonic.

Features/adjustments: Panasonic. Between the adjustable GUI, adjustable subtitles, variable zoom, color manipulation, noise reduction, the Panasonic overwhelms with features. The Sony is no slouch, however, it does allow for 480i via HDMI and has a nifty "jacket" feature for display when the DVD is stopped. Not all discs have the "jacket". I think the Panasonic's GUI is a bit more refined, while the Sony's in some cases might be a bit easier to navigate, the presentation and "look" of the GUI is better with the Panasonic.

Construction: Panasonic. The Panasonic feels solid and more secure than the Sony. I like the Panasonic's tray better. The Sony, while being virtually all-metal -- including a front panel, doesn't quite have the solid feel of the Panasonic. The Sony's rigidity is much better than the Denon DVD-1910, however. The Sony does have gold plated RCA jacks.

Remote: Panasonic. It's close. I prefer the layout and overall feel of the Panasonic's keys better, but the Sony does have the open/close tray button.

I'll probably eat my words, but *just for fun*, my "Secrets" prediction: low-mid 70's for the Sony, mid 80's for the Panasonic.

vs. Sony DVP-NS975V #2

Here is another comparison (thanks to GreggPenn):



Thank you: JKA/V, CriCriCri, umr, Rich4av, Radsman, Sango, MVPinBoynton, willieaspen, Hugh2, mallu2u, GreggPenn, dm71, Jay Suburb, Tohoho, LiteUp!, sfhub

Paul Bigelow
post #2 of 4322
Paul: I own a 4805 and I would love to hear about the S97's performance at 480p (both HDMI AND 480i over components. Please compare with your xp50 if you're willing to do so. As the 4805 uses the FLI2310, I care about the core section more than the deinterlacing capabilities.

Thanks, Lucky one !
post #3 of 4322
Thread Starter 
Sure, I'll be happy to compare with the DVD-XP50 and let you know what I see. I'll use Avia and DVE for test pattern comparisons. Will look for macroblocking and other anomalies.
post #4 of 4322
Thread Starter 
What questions would people like to see answered?
post #5 of 4322
A must for me on my next player is the capability to play DVD-R's since I backup my DVD's.

Would you happen to have any DVD-R's you can test?
post #6 of 4322
Getting a new TV in the near future and want to get a new DVD player for it, since my other one is pretty old and not pro-scan. Thinking of getting the new Toshiba 52HMX94, which I believe converts to 720p... will this be a good player at a good price for me? 98% movie watching, 2% listening to CDs. HDMI to HDMI. Thanks for your opinion.
post #7 of 4322
Thread Starter 
iqwertyi -- Yes, I have DVD-R's to try out.
Lodey, will let you know how the HDMI to HDMI works out.
post #8 of 4322
Thanks Paul... basically, I have had my eye on this for a while as a new player for a new TV... this is weird, in the manual it looks like if you use optical from DVD player to receiver, it only allow 2 channel sound? Huh?I am looking at the top of page 7 of the manual. I would have the HDMI to the TV, but optical/coax from the DVD player to the receiver.
post #9 of 4322
Paul: Have you already ordered the player?
post #10 of 4322
Thread Starter 
Yes, indeed!
post #11 of 4322
from onecall? How is their return policy and customer service? Any thoughts?
post #12 of 4322
Thread Starter 
Right here: http://ww3.onecall.com/Policies.mpt?Pos=122

Is good enough for me.
post #13 of 4322
Will wait for your review!
post #14 of 4322
Please check for macroblocking as well as blacker than black and whiter than white passing. I'm also curious as to which chip it's using, FLI-2310 or FLI-2301.


Lodey, I read through the manual a while ago, and from what I remember, the 2 channel audio thing only applies to DVD-Audio disks. The deal there is that for DVD-A, you have to use the 5.1 analog outputs to get any more than 2 channel from that type of disk only - it doesn't apply to normal DVD's.
post #15 of 4322
Thread Starter 
As I understand it, this newest implementation of HDMI will allow for DVD-Audio multichannel.

Will probably know more when the SA-XR70 is released (November?) and I can try a full HDMI connection.
post #16 of 4322
Did Jason (onecall) mention if onecall is planning to increase the price as well? I am wondering whether to buy now from them or a bit later, after few reviews. The price difference might help me make the decision faster
post #17 of 4322
Thread Starter 

We'll see if the whites are clipped. Between the ramps, steps, of DVE and Avia we should be able to tell.


Jason mentioned nothing about a price increase. I'm not certain that there is going to be a price increase. It could easily be a typo. But then again....

Again, if anyone has questions they want answered ask 'em here!
post #18 of 4322
sold out on onecall. Hope it shows in stores soon. I am on the east coast. Per your calls to stores, where should I be looking for this player to appear first? CC, BB or others?
post #19 of 4322

I will seriously purchase this unit if it receives positive reviews from you (or other AVS members who have receive this in the next few days).

I currently own a Panasonic RP91 and the Zenith 318. The RP91 was a great player but the 318 just kills it with the 1080i/720p upconvert via component - especially when fed to the Panny 50in 7uy plasma. The 318 also, if you have not read, exhibits excellent surround audio via it's digital output -- don't ask me how, it just does. However, I still find quirks with this player and am looking for a replacement. I have HDCP connections on the plasma so HDMI is not a problem.

May I ask you to review the following:

- HD 720p/1080i upconversion (colors, details, MB?, white/black crushes, etc.)
- Digital Audio quality from DD and DTS (does it sound any more or less or the same as any DVD player you've had)

Also, may I ask you to post some pictures of the player itself and any displayed in pictures (upconvert mostly). Thanks -- looking forward to seeing your review.
post #20 of 4322
Thread Starter 

I don't recall if any of those discs have a fabled "105" IRE! I think the Avia and DVE have 95IRE and 100IRE settings.

post #21 of 4322
Mine already shipped from OneCall this afternoon and I was charged $287.95 to credit card account. I contest this charge because OneCall charged me for FedEx shipping even though I should get it for free ("FedEx shipping included"). I should had paid $269.10, which is after the 10% discount for DVDs and DVD recorders over $199. I had already contacted OneCall on this and should receive a telephone call sometime tomorrow.

mallu2u, since OneCall no longer has the unit in stock, you may want to contact 6Ave when it will have it in stock. However, you will be missing the 10% discount, free 3 day FedEx shipping, and if you are a OneCall PASS member receive an instant $2.69 discount.
post #22 of 4322
Thread Starter 

Thanks for asking! Will do. The camera is charging as I type. I wish I had the matching SA-XR70 to connect to it but I guess that unit will be available soon.

I can compre the player to a Momitsu V880 and a Panasonic DVD-XP50. Those are my main/most modern players (no real point in comparing to a Sony DVP-S7000!).

post #23 of 4322
Does the S97 pass unadulterated 480i YCbCr over HDMI (so one can use a dedicated scaler do the scaling and deinterlacing)? Thanks.
post #24 of 4322
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by japanesegeek
Does the SD97 pass unadulterated 480i over HDMI (so I can have dedicated scaler do the scaling and deinterlacing)?

We don't know for certain, but I suspect it will not if I read the manual correctly. Still, I will check.
post #25 of 4322
If I may be so bold and make a testing suggestion...

Nobody on any forum or any review that I could find has done a real A/B comparison with these newfangled upsampling HDMI/DVI players on a CRT RPTV, comparing component progressive to 1080 upsampling. I'd love that test done.

My fundamental question, of course, is whether or not the beastie is as good as (or better than) the RP-82 for "normal" component progressive scan DVD-playing, with the added bonus of HD-ish upconversion.
post #26 of 4322
Thread Starter 

I don't have projection of any kind but if someone chimes in with a test of the 'S97S with RPTV and I see it, I'll place the info here. I don't have the RP-82 but can compare to the XP50 -- just not with RPTV.

post #27 of 4322
The Digital Video Essentials disc has whiter than white and blacker than black signals in several places. One such test pattern is the Reverse Gray Ramp scale (Title 12 Chapter 14). What is digital white (235) resides at the second to last bar in the white section. You will see 3 white dots above/below (depending on whether you're looking at the top or bottom section of the scale) this bar in the black section. The bar that is next to it (at the end of the screen) is an above white signal (>235). As for what IRE value (>100IRE) it should have on the analog output of a DVD player, I don't know.

You really need a test pattern with an above white signal (>235 digital, >100IRE analog) to set the Contrast level. The same goes for black: you need a below black (<16 digital, <0IRE/7.5IRE) test pattern to set the Brightness level. Without these signals, you are only estimating the proper setting.
post #28 of 4322
Layer change? I'd really like little or no layer-change pause in my next player.
post #29 of 4322
Originally posted by Paul Bigelow
As I understand it, this newest implementation of HDMI will allow for DVD-Audio multichannel.

Will probably know more when the SA-XR70 is released (November?) and I can try a full HDMI connection.

Hi Paul,

Can you elaborate about how the connections would be in this implementation? i.e. Would you run HDMI from the DVD player to the TV, then another digital cable connection from the TV to the receiver to pass through the DVD-A signals?

There are only a few HDMI-ready receivers currently, and they are very pricey. Sorry if this questions already been answered elsewhere - I'm still waiting to connect up my first HDMI component, and it looks like this player may be the one.

Looking forward to your review.
post #30 of 4322
Thread Starter 
Hello basselope,

Glad to answer. Actually, it should be like this:

DVD Player ---- HDMI cable ----> Receiver ---- HDMI cable ----> TV

The receiver decodes the multichannel DVD-Audio.

If all works according to plan only two HDMI cables will be needed for the multichannel-audio/video connections.

I don't know if the other HDMI-equipped players will decode multi-channel DVD-Audio.

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