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Toshiba HD-A1 vs Samsung BD-P1000, Round 2  

post #1 of 181
Thread Starter 
If you're reading this thread, it's safe to assume you read the previous thread "Round 1", where I compared bootup and shutdown times, as well as DVD playback.

For those that haven't read that thread (or want a quick recap), it goes something like this:
- The BD-P1000 beat the Toshiba HD-A1 in bootup time (by 12 seconds) and shutdown time (by 8 seconds).
- The HD-A1 has a more comprehensive setup, as well as USB and Ethernet (the BD-P1000 has a card reader, no USB or Ethernet).
- The HD-A1 won in terms of responsiveness (ff, rew, chapter skip, menu nav) and PQ (by a slight margin) during DVD playback tests.


Now that I have got my hands on a Blu-ray disc, it was obviously time for "Round 2."

I decided to use the two discs which seem to be the consensus choice in terms of overall a/v quality: The Chronicles of Riddick [HD] and Underworld Evolution [BD].

Disc load time (from the instant I hit "Close" until video appeared on-screen):
HD-A1: 60 seconds
BD-P1000: 33 seconds

Note: The Blu-ray player has an "hourglass" which is displayed when the player is busy (presumably buffering data before playback). This appears after certain menu selections, adding to the load times a bit. When the HD DVD player has loaded the disc, there aren't any noticable load times.


Menu Navigation (navigating to special features and to specific chapters via scene selection):
HA-A1: Very Good
BD-P1000: Good

Notes: There is a slight lag navigating HD DVD menus, though the transitional animation probably has something to do with that. There is a much longer lag navigating the menus in Underworld. Selecting anything other than Scene Selection causes a dropdown menu to appear, though it is revealed VERY slowly, as if the player just doesn't have the horsepower to draw it fast enough. It's pretty irritating and feels slower than HD DVD... by a noticable margin. Scene selection was equally sluggish. I'm curious to see if the BD camp plan to create custom menus for specific titles or go with a standard menu system in the same fashion that Warner and Universal have done (on the HD side).


Chapter skip times (forward and back, after video played for at least 5 seconds):
HD-A1: 2-3 seconds
BD-P1000: 2 seconds

Fast-forward/Fast-reverse (no hard numbers, just my observation):
HD-A1: more responsive (smoother)
BD-P1000: less responsive (jerkier)

Video Quality (see notes below):
HD-A1 (Riddick): Excellent
BD-P1000 (Underworld): Very Good

Notes: I compared scenes from Riddick in the Necromonger ship since they are a bit darker and similar to those in Underworld Evolution. It's obviously not a perfect comparison, but the best I can do given the fact that there aren't any cross-platform discs yet.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of Underworld given the fact that they crammed a 106 minute film, U-LPCM audio, and 45+ minutes of extras onto a 25gig disc using "old fashioned" MPEG2. It looked great, but wasn't as stunning as some of the stuff I have seen on HD DVD. I want to note that this is my "first impression" and things will change when 50gig dual layer BD's hit the streets sometime in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. If only the BD camp would get their act together and use VC-1 or H.264....


Audio Quality (DD+ vs U-LPCM):
HD-A1 (Riddick): Excellent
BD-P1000 (Underworld): Excellent

Notes: The finest quality audio (that we can listen to today) on HD DVD is Dolby Digital Plus, while Blu-ray offers Uncompressed LPCM. This requires the use of the analog outputs on both players. Again, this isn't an Apples-To-Apples comparison, though I will say that both sound uniformly excellent. From what I have been reading, others have said that U-LPCM isn't much better than DD+. Both disc formats will support Dolby TruHD, as well as additional advanced codecs. There are already a few HD DVD discs with TruHD tracks, though there is no way to play these yet. As far as I am concerned, I'm already declaring the audio quality of the two formats a WASH. It will be up to the studios to decide what audio formats they use in the future.

The only way I see BD pulling ahead is if/when they release dual layer discs using something other than MPEG2 for video. The HD DVD camp will have less space and be forced to compromise on video quality or omit TruHD soundtracks for longer films.

The saving grace for HD DVD is the fact that the studios have already gotten the hang of advanced video codecs, producing STUNNING HD discs. Some even include TruHD tracks without sacrificing video quality (i.e. Training Day). It will be interesting to see how this plays out throughout the year and into 2007.


So that's the tale of the tape (thus far). What's next?

Clearly the HD DVD camp rushed their hardware to market, as witnessed by some sluggish startup/load times. This will undoubtely improve with future firmware updates and hardware revisions. The HD camp didn't rush their disc format, as they have provided studios with the tools to create stunning presentations within the confines of an inexpensive 30gig disc.

The Blu-ray camp chose to wait a couple months longer, releasing a solid (if unspectacular) player that behaves more like a consumer electronic device (faster startup, load, and shutdown times), though they are way behind in terms of software. MPEG2 is "So 90's" and U-LPCM is nice, though hardly what you would call groundbreaking (or original). The initial releases also prove that 25gigs isn't really enough space for old, bloated A/V codecs. I fear that the Blu-ray camp is cutting corners on the software (using old codecs to save money) to compensateg for the high cost of developing a new disc technology. I hope that this is a stop-gap until 50gig discs are ready and they get their act together when it comes to codecs. I'll be mighty peeved if they squander their disc technology by sticking to "codecs of decades past."

One side rushed the hardware, the other rushed the software. It's still way too early to call this one. I'm leaning towards HD DVD due to the cheaper discs and hardware, though the Blu-ray camp has some heavyweights backing the format. If they make some bold moves (i.e. cut the price of players by half come Christmas 2006), they could pull ahead. A $500 player is a much easier sell than a $1000 player, though Joe Average Consumer will continue to sit this one out until players hit $299.
post #2 of 181
Thanks for taking the time to review the product and relaying them to us. :)
post #3 of 181
Very informative write-up. Thanks!
post #4 of 181
Nice report.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMikeATL
The HD DVD camp will have less space and be forced to compromise on video quality or omit TruHD soundtracks for longer films.
Or put longer films on 2 disks.

One thing I was disappointed in the HD-A1 is that it could loop between two bookmarks with DVDs, but not with HD DVDs. Do you know if this Samsung will do something like that?

Thanks,
Darin
post #5 of 181
Good job! Better than the usual: BLU RAY SUX or HD DVD BLOWS! Nice, even review.
post #6 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by darinp2
Nice report.
Or put longer films on 2 disks.

One thing I was disappointed in the HD-A1 is that it could loop between two bookmarks with DVDs, but not with HD DVDs. Do you know if this Samsung will do something like that?

Thanks,
Darin
According to amir (I realize he works for MSFT and obviously favors HD DVD) but he said 4 hour movies with lossless sound can fit with great picture quality. Im still waiting for someone in the BD camp to refute or challenge those claims.

Is there an expert here?
post #7 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew P
According to amir (I realize he works for MSFT) but he said 4 hour movies with lossless sound can fit with great picture quality. Im still waiting for someone in the BD camp to refute those claims.
If "Ben Hur" is as grainy as I think it probably is from viewing on an HD channel, I think that would be tough with that title. It also depends on how many interactive extras they want to do and other things. No matter whether videophiles like it or not, I bet these extras sell disks and I would rather see them compromise by going to two disks before compromising video quality. Early on I think it makes sense that video quality would win out over extras, but a year or two from now when the customers have a different makeup and the studios have had more time to do advanced extras, I'm not very confident that this will be the case. Especially if studios are aiming for the PS3 crowd.

--Darin
post #8 of 181
Quote:
A $500 player is a much easier sell than a $1000 player, though Joe Average Consumer will continue to sit this one out until players hit $299.
I think because of low DVD prices the expectations have come down (or up if you wish). Now people want DVD players around $100. So, I think regardless of other factors, the format that can bring in a reliable player for below $150 (or even $200) will win the war. Do that by 2007 x-mas and a knockout punch can be delivered.
post #9 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew P
According to amir (I realize he works for MSFT and obviously favors HD DVD) but he said 4 hour movies with lossless sound can fit with great picture quality. Im still waiting for someone in the BD camp to refute or challenge those claims.
I would also like to see someone confirm his statement. The burden of proof should not be on the accused alone.
post #10 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neuromancer
I would also like to see someone confirm his statement. The burden of proof should not be on the accused alone.
It will be confirmed once Lord of the Rings Trilogy is released on HD-DVD in the next couple of months. ;)

I don't understand why it so hard to believe it been proven that HD-DVD has better PQ than BD25/MPEG2. Since VC-1 is 2 to 3 times more efficient compressor than MPEG2, effectively HD-DVD is like a 60GB to 90GB disc with MPEG2. ;)

...Angelo
post #11 of 181
...at dvd bitrates and below, sure!
post #12 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo913
I don't understand why it so hard to believe it been proven that HD-DVD has better PQ than BD25/MPEG2.
I've never questioned this. You are construing my intrinsic need for proof, as a form of fanboyism or denial.

I just don't subscribe to blind faith. Some people may find it sufficient to be told something, and leave it at that. I prefer having some form of definitive proof, especially if there is only one person making the claim, and that person is suspect (Microsoft employee and known HD-DVD advocate - the two do not necessarily walk hand in hand, but they are also not indipendent of each other).

I just want another party to come forth and either refute, or confirm, his claims.
post #13 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMikeATL
If you're reading this thread, it's safe to assume you read the previous thread "Round 1", in which I compared bootup and shutdown times, as well as DVD playback.

while Blu-ray offers Uncompressed LPCM. This requires the use of the analog outputs.
See the second paragraph and first sentence of the third paragraph of this post…………………………
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...&&#post7866094

what the hell, read the whole thread for continuity…..it’s only a total of nine posts so far(and there may be a little pearl in there for those that don’t have HDMI receivers but are bass connoisseurs ;) )

Nice report. :)

One question......is this going to be a 15 rounder like a Heavyweight Championship fight or are we going to reserve that for Pioneer, Sony, or Panasonic vs. Toshiba ?
post #14 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo913
Since VC-1 is 2 to 3 times more efficient compressor than MPEG2, effectively HD-DVD is like a 60GB to 90GB disc with MPEG2. ;)

...Angelo
Where was this established?

Can you cite a study?
post #15 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penton-Man
One question......is this going to be a 15 rounder like a Heavyweight Championship fight or are we going to reserve that for Pioneer, Sony, or Panasonic vs. Toshiba ?
Might be more like the WWF*, with one against a tag team.

* I don't know their new name, but that was their name before an animal rights group kicked their ***es. :)

--Darin
post #16 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by darinp2
Might be more like the WWF*, with one against a tag team.

* I don't know their new name, but that was their name before an animal rights group kicked their ***es. :)

--Darin
That would be the WWE, and a "handicap match" is the term. I knew my years of watching pro wrestling would finally come in handy :)
post #17 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnu
That would be the WWE, and a "handicap match" is the term. I knew my years of watching pro wrestling would finally come in handy :)


Hulk Hogan would be proud. :)
post #18 of 181
thanks for a honest review...
post #19 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMikeATL
There are already a few HD DVD discs with TruHD tracks, though there is no way to play these yet.
Que?

Why can't it be played? Any existing DD or DTS decoding receiver with either HDMI inputs or multi-channel analog are able to "decode" the new DD and DTS formats, in all of their higher bit-rate glory.
post #20 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew P
According to amir (I realize he works for MSFT and obviously favors HD DVD) but he said 4 hour movies with lossless sound can fit with great picture quality. Im still waiting for someone in the BD camp to refute or challenge those claims.

Is there an expert here?
Me too...

And while we are at it can someone remind us when was the last time Amir made a technical statement which is proved to be wrong.
And its not an attack on anyone, its just that things happen too fast on this forum & it is difficult to keep track of everything.
Thanks.

Rhoniel
post #21 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo913
I don't understand why it so hard to believe it been proven that HD-DVD has better PQ than BD25/MPEG2. Since VC-1 is 2 to 3 times more efficient compressor than MPEG2, effectively HD-DVD is like a 60GB to 90GB disc with MPEG2. ;)

...Angelo
Let's not forget that MPEG2 is still a very good codec - provided the bitrate is high enough. Newer codecs are optimized for lower bitrates. I was just talking to an authoring house who's been doing tests with all three, and they said they still prefer MPEG2, as long as the bit budget allows bitrates of 22+ mbits.
post #22 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew P
According to amir (I realize he works for MSFT and obviously favors HD DVD) but he said 4 hour movies with lossless sound can fit with great picture quality. Im still waiting for someone in the BD camp to refute or challenge those claims.

Is there an expert here?
A 240 minute movie with a audio stream at 3 mbit would yield an average bitrate of 14mbit.

The same movie on a 50GB bluray would be at 25mbit.

I was looking for a thread where i saw bitrates on some of the HD-DVD movies, it got lost :-(

I would think that the average bitrate on VC-1 titles should be around 3 times the needed average for the same movie on DVD ?
post #23 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by originalprime
Que?

Why can't it be played? Any existing DD or DTS decoding receiver with either HDMI inputs or multi-channel analog are able to "decode" the new DD and DTS formats, in all of their higher bit-rate glory.
This is incorrect. A Receiver or SSP can decode the PCM sent over HDMI if the HD-DVD/BD player decodes the DD+/TrueHD/etc. stream first. Receivers and processors that do this natively are a bit off in the future.

An analog input also implies that the decoding has been done already. Once the signal hits an analog format, what you need then is voume control and amplification.

Later,
Bill
post #24 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by pteittinen
Let's not forget that MPEG2 is still a very good codec - provided the bitrate is high enough. Newer codecs are optimized for lower bitrates. I was just talking to an authoring house who's been doing tests with all three, and they said they still prefer MPEG2, as long as the bit budget allows bitrates of 22+ mbits.
Yes, if you feed enough bits to MPEG2 it will give a transparent transfer. As an editor I get transparent transfer with VBR MPEG2 at 6Mbit/s with 720x480 at 29.97fps using a high-end encoder, Canopus' ProCoder2 with Mastering Settings.

Let's do some simple calculations:
480i29.97 is 720x480x29.97 = 1,0357,632 pix/s (pixels per second).
1080p24 is 1920x1080x24 = 4,9766,400 pix/s.

1080p24 has 4.805 times more pix/s. With 480i29.97 at 6Mbit/s it's transparent, therefore 1080p24 with MPEG2 encoding with require an average rate (VBR) of 4.805x6Mbit/s = 28.8Mbit/s.

Where VC-1 would only require 9.6MBit/s to 14.4Mbit/s to get the transparency.

...Angelo
post #25 of 181
It entirely depends on the material. If the image is a basic subject with out-of-focus background, then compression with transparency comes along fairly easily. If it is a very busy image, you will need every last bit you can get your hands on, and even then it will not truly be "transparent". That's why it isn't as simple as taking a ratio of sd total pixels and hd total pixels and applying it to a target hd bitrate. On a technical level, the degree of compressibility will be highly reliant on if pixel to pixel, the difference is very small/predictable, or is pixel to pixel extremely unique and not easily predictable from a data standpoint (essentially, an image with very-defined textures and edges)?
post #26 of 181
Thanks for the great review Mike.

Very nice and fair and balanced.
post #27 of 181
These kind of discussions is what AVS should be about. Thanks for an honest and balanced review.
post #28 of 181
i cant wait for round 3... nice writeup. thanks.

All i can see is that everything is only going to get better.

(round 3... HD disc is mistakenly put in BD player, the home a/v world crashes in slow motion as the players firmware is rewritten to display the microsoft logo on bootup. J/K)
post #29 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by cadbury8
(round 3... HD disc is mistakenly put in BD player, the home a/v world crashes in slow motion as the players firmware is rewritten to display the microsoft logo on bootup. J/K)
Funny thing is, the samsung player warns that it does not play HD DVD! Duh...
post #30 of 181
Just a dumb question... will a BD fit into a regular DVD player?

(Funny thing is, the samsung player warns that it does not play HD DVD! Duh...
LOL yes but this is the day in the age that your coffee cup has "warning contents are hot" written on it.)
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