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Discussion Starter #1
I wonder if you guys can offer me any advice. Here's my dilema:


I own a Tag Mclaren DVD32R (which cost me $6000+) and a Panasonic TH-42PW3. Until recently I was extremely pleased with the picture. But one day I thought I would try plugging my PC into the plasma's VGA socket to see how good the picture was. To my amazement (and horror!) the picture from a crappy Radeon card was noticeably better than from the TAG.


So I am a bit stuck. The TAG still produces *fabulous* sound for CD's (which admittedly was the main reason I bought it), so I am reluctant to just get rid of it. On the other hand, I could probably still raise $3,000 if I sold it.)


So should I keep the Tag and spend perhaps another $1000+ on a good scaler. (Which isn't top of my list, since I don't feel like blowing another $1000 or more).


Or if I buy a really good, modern DVD player with a decent progressive scan output, do you think this will be as good as the PC I tested? This wouldn't sound as good as the Tag, but it would be cheaper. And I guess I could even just keep the Tag for CD replay only.


What do you guys reckon?


Chip


PS I guess the *very* best solution would be a DVD with a VGA output. But the only ones that seem to exist are far eastern models of dubious quality.... unless I am mistaken?
 

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Buy a cheap dvi out dvd player (Bravo, Momitsu, etc) then buy a dvi

to vga adapter. The technology on your Tag for playing cd's is mature

and will last you for years and years. Dvd technology is far from

mature and only deserves, for now, a minimum of investment.
 

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Hmmm,


Option A: Keep Tag and buy a scaler

Option B: Sell Tag and buy a 'modern' DVD player


However,

Option C: Sell Tag and either build or have someone else build you an HTPC.


Two things for sure:

1) You will like the PQ of a properly setup HTPC more than you like the PQ of your current PC.

2) You will like the functionality of an HTPC much more than any 'modern' DVD player.


PS: For your CD collection, you'll want to create a CD jukebox, ripped and compressed in a lossless format, and then sent out with a capable sound card with either the ASIO or kernal streaming plugin.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi & thanks,


I have some comments / Q's:


1) How do you know? The Radeon 9700 Pro isn't bad for PQ, is it. And I tried it at 848x480, and other resolutions to see what was best for picture quality. How will a "properly set up" HTPC be better?


2) The "functionality" I like is


o Switch it on

o Load a disk

o Press

o Sit back and view/listen (in silence, without the drone of a CPU fan/case fan / PSU fan / graphics card fan)


I have yet to find an HTPC that can accommodate this (unfortunately)


3) A PC may be OK for sound, but the Tag is still *miles* better than anything else out there, PC or otherwise. Especially with the Tag-link that connects the DVD player to the AV32R processor to synchronize the DVD output with the AV32R's DAC clock, thereby vastly reducing jitter.


What I think I am after is probably a very high quality DVD player, like perhaps the Denon A11?


Anyone else with any thoughts?


Chip
 

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My suggestion is to go the scaler route. The reason I say this, is that the reason you see such a difference is the quality of the scaler built into your display. At CES I had the opportunity to play with the TAG scaler and a Plasma, and though it was not possible to bypass the internal scaler entirely, feeding it a 720 p signal as opposed to a 480p signal made a night and day difference. Now admittedly a thousand dollar scaler is not going to be on a par with the TAG scaler, but it will be far better than the one built into your display, and probably equal to if not better than the video card in your computer. I have heard that the Enfocus is a good scaler and it runs about a thousand. As for the Bravo, we co-exhibited with them at CEDIA and I can tell you that it will not outperform your TAG.
 

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Chip,
Quote:
How will a "properly set up" HTPC be better?
1) I'm not familiar with your TV, but you will be able to feed it it's native resolution rather than being stuck with standard resolutions (unless the native resolution is a standard resolution). And, as you’ve already pointed out, you can feed this resolution via VGA, component, DVI.

2) Not all DVD software players are created equal and standard software players (decoders) are not the best.

3) 9700 is a very good card for PQ, but it does have a fan, which can be eliminated w/o PQ loss.

4) ffdshow provides software scaling options (superior to hardware scaling), de-interlacing options and picture filters which will affect, and likely improve PQ (PQ, at the end of the day, is a subjective assessment).

5) An HTPC offers black level, contrast, hue, saturation and gamma control. Obviously these have to dialed-in to achieve maximum results.


Functionality,


Can your DVD player perform your preferred process? The best I've seen a STB do is:

1) Turn it on

2) Load disc

3) Wait for the warnings, commercials, coming attractions (or press buttons to bypass)

4) Navigate the DVD's menu

5) Press play

6) Watch movie


This assumes no adjustments need to be made for formatting differences (anamorphic, non-anamorphic, 4x3) or aspect ratio tweaks or slight 'color' corrections.


My HTPC's process is (assuming disc):

1) Turn it on/wake it up (actually my HTPC is always on since it feeds movies and music to the whole house)

2) Load disc

3) Watch movie


My HTPC process is (assuming jukebox):

1) Turn it on

2) Press button to open DVD catalog

3) Use arrow keys to highlight desired DVD

4) Press OK

5) Watch movie


BTW, HTPCs can be made completely silent (can’t tell it’s on) from 1 foot away.


As far as CDs are concerned, I would look into that a little more carefully. Perhaps you will learn about music what you have already been shocked to learn about DVDs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all for your helpful comments.

gary, I agree about the quality of the internal scaler/interlacer in the plasma being a weak point. Actually I think its the de-interlacing that's particularly weak. If I feed the panel a 1024x768 RGB progressive feed from my PC, the picture is just superb, *even though* the panel is obviously still having to scale to 848x480. Strangely a 1024x768 feed looks *better* than an 848x480 feed, even having fiddled with all the panels adjustments to try to get it "pixel perfect". I will take a look at some scaler options, I think.

rbmcgee Thanks once again. (Actually I think we were a little at cross-purposes. You stated that a properly setup HTPC would be much better than my PC. This is what I was questioning: you have no idea how good my PC is!)


But anyway, despite your enthusiasm, an HTPC is really not what I am after. I just don't want a PC in my lounge and that's about the end of it. Thanks anyway.


Oh & BTW - perhaps *you* should do some further reading about how good a Tag DVD player & AV32R processor sounds. Just about the finest sound from a CD you can get, without spending $10,000+ on a Linn CD12 or Wadia xyz. There is no way on the planet *any* PC is going to touch it.


Chip.
 
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