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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are Home Theatre Computers the Perfect DVD Players?


Well why don’t you come over to the HTPC forum and find out. There have been some major advances for HTPC DVD players in the last week or so. We now have a version of FFdshow that lets even old athlon computers resize to almost 3 times the DVD resolution. Nvidia has also released a new $20 MPG2 Decompressor that eliminates the Chroma bug. Now you can put together a HTPC that upscales to 1080i perfectly over component or DVI without Black Crush, and it plays the 1080p WMV video files. All of this only cost me $440 delivered. Come check it out!

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forum...?s=&forumid=26
 

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Does this count as "spam" since it's directing us back to AVS Forum? :D


(Just kidding)


I'll see what new developments there have been in the Linux arena... :)


Peace...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A lot of people won’t even consider an HTPC because of the problems I listed above(Price and Chroma Bug) but since people are reporting that these have been improved or corrected you might want to give it a try? If you consider this spam because I am trying to show you that there are other options then I guess it will be your loss.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mpgxsvcd
A lot of people won’t even consider an HTPC because of the problems I listed above(Price and Chroma Bug) but since people are reporting that these have been improved or corrected you might want to give it a try?
In addition to the things you've mentioned, I've read comments here from people who have expressed other frustrations with using a HTPC. I'm more of a standablone DVD player kind of guy but if I had the spare time, I would be open to getting a Linux-based solution up and running mainly for the experience.


I'm not "anti" HTPC at all. :)

Quote:
If you consider this spam because I am trying to show you that there are other options then I guess it will be your loss.
Nope, that's not why I jokingly considered the initial post to be spam. I considered the initial post to be spam because it basically sounded like an "ad" for the HTPC forum. If you had posted a link to a specific thread, that would have been different.


However, I don't think your posting a link to the HTPC forum here was "bad" or anything at all. :)


Peace...
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mpgxsvcd
Are Home Theatre Computers the Perfect DVD Players?
For me they weren't. I dropped the HTPC with TheaterTek for a Denon 3910 which resulted in a far superior image.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Charles R
For me they weren't. I dropped the HTPC with TheaterTek for a Denon 3910 which resulted in a far superior image.
That is EXACTLY what I'm thinking about doing. Right now I'm using a HTPC running TT2.01 w/ the new nvidia file to remove the chroma bug; running 1920x1080i to a 30" Loewe. The picture quality is very good, but I'm not sure if would be as good as the 3910.


One advantage I like to the HTPC is the fact all my music, pictures, and movies can be in one box. But, audio quality out of the M-Audio 24/96 will not be as good as the 3910 (I use analog out to a Krell 400xi and Paradigm S2s). And I'm sure it's almost impossible to completely remove any kind of buzz from the audio out.


So I'm trying to decide which direction I want to go... opinions please!


- Ryan
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Charles R
For me they weren't. I dropped the HTPC with TheaterTek for a Denon 3910 which resulted in a far superior image.
Interesting. Were you using the latest and greatest video hardware and software? I'm just curious... Generally speaking the edge of video performance usually goes to the HTPC, based on comments I've read here and elsewhere.


Peace...
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by tomdkat
Interesting. Were you using the latest and greatest video hardware and software? I'm just curious... Generally speaking the edge of video performance usually goes to the HTPC, based on comments I've read here and elsewhere.


Peace...
Admittedly my HTPC wasn't the strongest though I tried all of the filters and never found any settings that in the end didn't add edge enhancement or some other artificial look to the image. One time I spent a few hours tweaking it for The Fifth Element and thought it looked great. Afterwards viewing a few rentals which I thought looked really bad for the fun of it I removed the filters and boom they looked much better.


It was fun to play with but I got tired of all of the tweaking with every new software release (video drivers, etc.) and it was time to upgrade hardware to keep up. So it was much easier to buy a upscaling stand alone player and I even ended up with a better image. Heck the 3910 has almost as many settings as the HTPC did if you still want to play around.
 

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I played around with HTPC when I first started out two or three years ago but it was not for me because:


- I had to spend a lot of time dialing it in

- I had wait for the PC to boot up.

- it did squat for my other sources, I tried the video capture card thing as a video scaler for my old laser disc player

- noise from the PC - yes you can now get quieter PCs now

- size

- needed a bunch of other accessories to make this convenient (KB extensions or wireless etc)

- didn't play SACD or DVD-A (maybe things changed now)

- needed an Extron splitter amplifier to drive long cable connections


I have a friend who swears by HTPC using it as a scaler via the Immersive Holo 3D card. For me, I like the Plug and Play aspects of a DVD player coupled with external scaler.
 

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How do you solve the problem with PC video spec output to the TV(VGA or DVI)? Is there easy ways to config the playback software to use video spec signal levels rather than PC video spec?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Foxbat121
How do you solve the problem with PC video spec output to the TV(VGA or DVI)? Is there easy ways to config the playback software to use video spec signal levels rather than PC video spec?
On some PJ's there is a setting or switch for Video spec eg 16-255 if I recall and one for PC spec 0-255. On some scalers this can be set as well. Not sure about the HTPC but with the proper greyscale calibration hopefully this will be nullified.
 

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I know some PJs can do this but majority of the TVs can't. If you output PC spec from DVI (sometime VGA as well), there is no amount of calibration can fix the issue for most of digital TVs. That's why Samsung's HD931/841 black crush problems are widely criticized in this forum for its outputting of PC spec video. So unless this issue is resolved, HTPC is not going to be in my living room any time soon.


PS, if the HTPC can properly output correct video to TV, its display on a PC monitor will be washed out with video spec.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Foxbat121
How do you solve the problem with PC video spec output to the TV(VGA or DVI)? Is there easy ways to config the playback software to use video spec signal levels rather than PC video spec?
For DVI connections everyone uses FFdshow to change the output to the proper TV spec signal. Ffdshow allows you to change the color scale.


However, I use the component outputs that have the proper color scale to begin with. Some people argue that the DVI picture is better but I really think that with a good set of component cables the picture is the exact same. Either way there is a way to correct black crush for either type of connection. Let's see you fix black crush that easily with a Samsung DVD player or the Zenith DVD players!?


Yes the HTPC take a lot of effort but they pay off end the end. The picture quality is definitely better than any current standalone player, they don't have color or Chroma problems now(Thanks Nvidia), They play DVD-A discs(My Creative Sounblaster NX usb Audio device plays them to analog discrete 5.1 output), They can play even 1080p wmv Discs with DRM, I can record high def signals(ATI HDTV wonder)....... What else is there? Yes I know Sacd but how long is that going to last anyway?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by umr
I have looked at several HTPC's both professional and amature creations and none have matched the performance of my DVD-3800. Some may, but most people are probably experiencing substandard PQ with these things.


I can't argue with using them for other things though.
UMR what specifically was substandard with the HTPC that you saw? Was it deinterlacing, was it compression artifacts, was it color related? You have been the authority in tweaking the GWIII(My TV has never looked better) so I would like to hear what you were seeing that was wrong with the HTPC.
 

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No computer has "progressive scan" which will leave you with youre tv to do it, which i find is not as good as a good dvd player.. Also no remote control for htpc...
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mpgxsvcd
UMR what specifically was substandard with the HTPC that you saw? Was it deinterlacing, was it compression artifacts, was it color related? You have been the authority in tweaking the GWIII(My TV has never looked better) so I would like to hear what you were seeing that was wrong with the HTPC.
The list is long and varies between HTPC's.


- Video level errors are pretty common.


- The colors can be in error and when they are frequently the displays do no let you change them.


- People think they are improving things with scaling in the PC and generally they just make a mess of it.


- They are loud.


- They are buggy.


- They can have problems switching between 4:3 and 16:9 formats.


- Many have Y/C delay problems.


- The 3:2 pull down is usually not in the same league as Silicon Image.


- It is very difficult to do the audio side correctly as well with Microsoft in the mix.


- They tend to have hickups while playing movies.


- TV overscan complicates the mess and PC's are not generally setup to deal with it well.


This is not to say it is not possible to have excellent PQ from an HTPC. I just think most are not in the same league as a Denon 3800 or 2900 for example.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Zues
No computer has "progressive scan" which will leave you with youre tv to do it, which i find is not as good as a good dvd player.. Also no remote control for htpc...
You are completely 100% wrong on both of your points.


umr,


I can only conclude from your list that you were not talking with a 'professional' (whatever that is?) or anybody who truly knows what they are doing.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rbmcgee
umr,


I can only conclude from your list that you were not talking with a 'professional' (whatever that is?) or anybody who truly knows what they are doing.
I would call people professional's who sell these boxes as part of a business. I agree they suck. I did not say it was not possible to get a good one. I have not seen it. I would guess it takes more expense and effort than I have seen. I am also including amateur home made ones that people think are great until I point out what they are doing wrong.
 

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I'm not going to comment on PQ since that's a subjective thing. However:


- The proper player will give you far more color tweaks than any STB. A properly calibrated display can be dialed in perfectly with a properly setup HTPC.


- Via scaling, I can make almost any picture look better. Try any of the Lancoz flavors. Once again, proper software, proper setup.


- HTPCs can not only be made quiet, they can be made silent. Mine is.


- Once again, an HTPC can be made rock-solid stable. Must know what you're doing.


- With the right software, switching between 4x3 and 16x9 is automatic (no buttons pushed at all). Much easier than any STB.


- Any Y/C problems can be corrected for.


- 3:2 pulldown can be as good (stutter-free) as any STB. Deinterlacing video material lags behind however with Nvidias new decoders, cadence-reading is at hand.


- Audio (via SPDIF) can be every bit as accurate as a STB. Analog is trickier, but also doable. Kmixer doesn't matter with DVDs and can be circumvented rather easily (asio).


- Once again, rock solid, stutter-free, hiccup-free, crash-free, freeze-free, 100% of the time.


- Overscan is much, much easier to deal with on an HTPC than it is w/ any STB. As far as having to get to things like the 'taskbar', 'start' button ... an HTPC GUI makes that whole thing irrelevent.


The downsides with an HTPC are as follows:

- Cost

- Expertise

- Setup time

- Video deinterlacing
 
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