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Can a mac make DVD's look as good as a standalone?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi guys, Im new to this forum but not to AVS. I was wondering if there is a better way to play DVDs on a mac, macbook pro to be exact, to a Projector. What I mean is how can DVDs on my played form mac look as good as my Panasonic DVD player. Im assuming a software based player can't compete with a set top box with a Faroudja chip set. Is there a way to add a better DVD decoder? maybe via USB or Express card?

Also would running the mac at 1280x720 playing a DVD be the same as a DVD player with HDMI up-conversion?

Thanks
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by orbitalpunk View Post

What I mean is how can DVDs on my played form mac look as good as my Panasonic DVD player. Im assuming a software based player can't compete with a set top box with a Faroudja chip set. Is there a way to add a better DVD decoder? maybe via USB or Express card?

I have no first-hand knowledge, but the consensus around here seems to be that the problem is due to Apple's software. Evidently, neither Tiger, DVD Player nor Front Row do (allow?) any hardware acceleration for videos, so all processing is done "the hard way," without fully exploiting Intel's Core Duo or GMA. There is hope that this neglect will be rectified by Leopard. In the meantime, some have installed Windows under Boot Camp or Parallels, in order to take advantage of such processing.
post #3 of 11
The Mac does a pretty good job of deinterlacing and upconverting. Probably not as good as a Faroudja chip, but good. Processing power isn't really critical with SD material. Pretty much where it becomes an issue is with HD. As to using the Mac stock as a DVD player, it probably comes down to how much you watch DVD's vs. other sources. I'd rather save my pennies for a BD or HDDVD player, or whatever comes next if they can't get the prices down and the format war over with. I find that my Mac does a far better job than my old Panasonic RV32, enough so that I'm fine with it on my 37" 1080p westy. But if someone came over and plugged in an Oppo 981, and showed me a significantly better picture, I might be persuaded to go that way for a while. But Leopard could bring some advances in DVD Player and OS/hardware integration that may bring it closer to Faroudja quality, and speed up codecs.
post #4 of 11
orbitalpunk, it's been demonstrated that software players on the Windows side do compete with and surpass standalones. There's a whole confusing, disjointed cottage industry that's sprung up feeding the Windows crowd fervor for better dvd processing on their PCs.

For having no firsthand knowledge lsarver has done a darn good job summarizing this forum's feelings, I think.

There were people around here, me among them, who hoped Tiger would bring about some improvement in Apple's forlorn dvd player app.

Didn't happen.

Most of the people here who feel it does a good job "deinterlacing" and "upconverting" don't have that much hands-on experience with good standalone players--if they did they'd have had a few standalone upscaling players by now, would have had them for years--or would be running an HTPC with Windows already for its better post-processing abilities--and would be in a position to compare. They mean well, but on this particular issue are misguided.

It's been discussed a million times here. Find the threads, try it for yourself, read outside this forum, like in the long dvd player forum threads where folks have spent much time imparting knowledge on this issue, learn about "upconversion" and "upscaling" and how a player reacts with a given display type and you'll find out that what the Mac and Apple dvd player does is NOT what the good standalone players do. A dvd upconverted at 720p is not fed equally. The eyes don't lie, especially on big digital screens, especially if you also learn how to calibrate your display. Decide for yourself whether that difference matters to you--but don't delude yourself into thinking otherwise. And if you don't have a lot of experience with the better upscaling dvd players you probably shouldn't state an opinion on this--it won't even take a Faroudja chip in a standalone or an Oppo to kick some Apple dvd player app butt. Well-chosen (for your display type) but still lame ass (in the grand scheme of things) inexpensive sub-$100 progressive standalones with HDMI or DVI easily surpasses it.

Sorry to come off with this wizened tone, but this is one of the subjects that's been hashed and rehashed for years. If you want superior dvd playback with your Mac, you won't find it with OS X. Yes, improvements in Apple's static dvd player app are rumored to be coming in Leopard--but those improvements seem more interface-releated than processing. Apple forsook that app long ago--and at least in my case helped move me forward to HD that much sooner, which the Mac has always handled much better than PCs.

Dvd is less about processing power as wildrock says, it is processing and post-processing. The Mac does a far better job playing back HD than it does a dvd--HD to HD. HD displays tend to reveal and exaggerate flaws when you play back sd material--it's just the nature of the beast when you're dealing with something that's 720 x 480 and so compressed anyway. Play around critically, you'll see that apple dvd player app doesn't do as good a job of squeezing blood from that turnip as other methods. Then decide how invested you are in that old medium before you move forward.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
So i take it there are now external mpeg decoder cards i take it. I already knew the dvd player was inferior to my Panasonic DVD-S77S. Thats why i was asking about decoder cards.

Thanks chefklc for the informative, yet partial jerk response.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

For having no firsthand knowledge lsarver has done a darn good job summarizing this forum's feelings, I think.

Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

And if you don't have a lot of experience with the better upscaling dvd players you probably shouldn't state an opinion on this--it won't even take a Faroudja chip in a standalone or an Oppo to kick some Apple dvd player app butt.

Not wanting to start a pissing contest, I didn't mention this earlier: Faroudja chips are not--and have not been for some time--a standard of performance. All the better stand-alone players use alternatives. (Disclosure: I play DVDs on an Onkyo DV-SP1000 and DVD rips through a PhotoBridge. I'm looking for a single do-it-all box. Hoped mini was it.)
post #7 of 11
No pissing contest necessary, we're not disagreeing, the take home message is even the now-several-year-old standalones still easily surpass what's possible in OS X via Apple dvd player app or VLC. That plenty of people don't have displays susceptible to MB and still love their Faroudja players is, well, beside our point.
post #8 of 11
Is it possible for a third-party developer to access the hardware directly for acceleration under OSX, or does the OS prevent that? If the latter, nothing will change until Apple changes it. If the former, there is hope beyond MacWin.
post #9 of 11
Hi, new to the forum. Found it by searching about this topic.


Now 10.5 is well and truly upon us, is there any decent upscaling on OSX? Is upscaling ever performed on graphics card?

(my personal situation is that of buying a 1080p projector, and I'm curious as to whether I can get any upscaling of full screen DVD playback on my mac.)
post #10 of 11
It's not going to be close to the quality of an Oppo but if you are already using a Mac for playing media then why not use it for DVD as well. It's not an excellent DVD player but it is decent. The software that makes the biggest difference is the quality of the scaling and deinterlacing software. The good standalone players have dedicated ASIC's which have teams of people dedicated to making the software that uses these be as good as it can be.
post #11 of 11
I agree with chefklc's post; I presently feed an ATV (previously mac-mini) into a Lumagen processor that compensates in total. There are some pretty strong rumor posts that suggest Snow Leopard has finally brought Apple into high quality video processing; but I have no direct knowledge if this is actually true (just suggesting some research or waiting for that possibility might be in order); ATV/iTunes does an excellent job with HD, so it's clear they know how to do it now... just have to decide to incorporate it...

ken
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