Home DVD players vs old PC DVD configs - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 5 Old 05-09-2020, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Home DVD players vs old PC DVD configs

Hello to all,
this is my first message and I see there're impressive amount of threads and info on high end modern home theatre setups. I'd like to know your opinion on the subject of modern DVD oriented consumer setups (not high end) versus the older/oldest ones usually on PC.

I have been always a fan of DVD decoding since early PC configuration couldn't handle the MPEG2 decoding and since then I begin to understand this world. Back in the 90's having a K6-2 cpu based PC I went for the Creative Dxr3/Hollywood+ PCI card that was (and somehow I think still is) a great solution not necessary for the solved cpu speed problems but focusing mostly on the quality that could give on a CRT monitor. After that LCD monitors came and those cards along with the GPUs having mostly all the necessary hw engines to do that task, were not necessary anymore.
As you know many GPUs began having motion compensation, IDCT acceleration for years and I usually remember these video cards since 1999 to 2005 around.

Nowdays I got to test these old setups compared to some (cheap) dvd players even low end blu-ray ones and I was impressed that the feelings the older solution were somehow better than any dvd players I used in these years. Many dvd players I tried beside the few output they have when I'd like to have all the possible outputs included VGA and DVI not only HDMI, have also fixed resolution and any sort of who-knows pixel processing to upscale or (try-to) improve visual quality, end up with a really fake image. I always believed that no post-processing or upscaling can do "magic" but with the few resolution of a usual DVD I'd prefer an hardware acceleration that does not a bad job even in a 768p resolution. Also most of these players does not let you fix your own resolution with only few options that need to be accepted or refuse by the monitor.
So I tested again these old Hollywood+ EM8300 based cards and old ATi gpu acceleration with old sw like Powerdvd or Windvd and I am impressed by the great results they can still do (Windows ME enviroment), on an old but good 1280x768 26" monitor/tv having both VGA and DVI . The first decoder had the problems of the external pass cable that degraded quality and suffered the LCD tech imho but was indeed a great solution for its time and doing excellent in the upscale external chip, the second wasn't a complete solution depending on which sw used but still the hw work / upscaling is excellent with no fake filtering or noise removal, and with the DVI output to the wanted perfect resolution.

What's your experience with those old solution and modern ones? I've also tried a modern GPU with VLC and linux with VDPAU acceleration and noticed the same problem of other home solution: speed is obviously not a problem anymore but quality is not improved imho maybe I still prefer the really old solution.

Thanks for your opinions.

Bye
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post #2 of 5 Old 05-23-2020, 06:58 PM
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Welcome aboard, 386SX.

I used a PC to upscale DVDs to my first HDTV, via DVI. That's probably as close as I came to what you're describing.

The quality of the scaling was probably not as good on my first upscaling HDMI player. But it was much more convenient and easy to use than the PC approach, I found. So definitely my preference. And all things considered, it really didn't do such a bad job for a less than $100 piece of hardware.

Getting the PC to sync to the TV's resolution was actually quite a bi***, since the DVI port on the TV wasn't designed for any standard VGA modes. So I had to use a special utility to create custom resolutions and timings for it. (Can't remember the name of it though.) Plus, I had the PC's cooling fans running all the time... So not an ideal situation for watching movies.

I made sure that both my first upscaling DVD player and Blu-ray player had no fans before I bought them. I don't like the fans folks!
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post #3 of 5 Old 05-24-2020, 12:07 PM
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The hardest part of DVD decoding is deinterlacing the 480i to 480p prior to scaling (if needed). Scaling is not a big deal. Back in the day Chroma Upsampling Error or CUE was the biggest issue.

And when DVI output became available, "black than black" was an issue also. Some players used PC luma values where black is 0 instead of Studio luma values where black is 16 and encoded that way on DVDs. (8bit video) DVI was created to connect monitors to PCs using digital video. So having some DVD players with DVI do that was no a huge surprise, but still incorrect for DVD decoding. That's the best I can explain it now given it's been around 15 years ago.

Here's something to read about CUE: https://hometheaterhifi.com/technica...hroma-problem/. Stacey and Don used to post here back when DVDs were "the thing". There are some test discs you still may be able to find where you can see if your player passes various tests. The Secrets of Home Theater published tests of many DVD players that were current at the time. You are going to have to do some digging here and on the internet. I don't think threads here go back far enough due to the AVS switch-overs of the forum platform software, I could be wrong.

Also, I have no idea how current Blu-ray players fare. Once Blu-rays came out, people didn't care about DVD player performance.

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post #4 of 5 Old 05-24-2020, 01:37 PM
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This is gettin a bit off-topic, but I researched my BD player pretty carefully, to ensure that it had accurate color before I committed to buying it. And tested it with my own equipment. Both of the HDTVs I've owned (Sony XBR800 and Samsung J5200) have had red, green and blue-only display modes, which make it easier to check the color accuracy of video sources, with a simple color decoding test.

Most of the Blu-ray and DVD players I tested had inaccurate colors, and were often pushing more green. And I also found that the color was broken again on some BD players that originally had accurate decoding, after new software updates were applied.

I've only tried one UHD player so far, and it clearly had some contrast enhancement when playing regular 1080p Blu-rays that I couldn't defeat, so I returned it. Since I don't really have the $$ for UHD discs anyway, I haven't bothered to look at any more since. The only reason I wanted to upgrade was to get a more sturdy unit that's quieter and vibrates less than my more cheaply made Sony BDP-S390 Blu-ray player,... which still has accurate color.

If I could take the guts of my current player and put them in more sturdy case, then I'd probably be a happy camper. But I don't think I have the wherewithal to do that. So I make due with a little noise and vibrations.
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post #5 of 5 Old 05-25-2020, 09:29 AM
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^^^^ That's why calibrating a display to each source input is done.
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