AVS Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've suddenly realised I may possibly have the PC kit to enable DVD playback etc. on our new family Panasonic 50PHW5 plasma!, however i'm completely new to this.


Plasma native res is 1366 x 768, however does not support DVI input (there is a Panasonic DVI card out there but evidently it only supports 1024 x 768), so the only input option I have (as I understand) is the VGA in.


Current PC is AMD 2100XP on ASUS 333 motherboard, 1GIG 2100 RAM, x2 60GIG Maxtor 7200rpm DMA133 drives, GeForce 4 Ti4600, Creative 128 sound card, XP Pro.


Questions:


1. Will matching the output resolution of the PC to the native resolution of the plasma via a VGA cable yield a stunning picture? From what I've read this may be the case.


2. Will it perhaps improve on picture quality from existing Arcam DV270 DVD player in progressive mode (via RGB component)? I have to admit the picture from the Arcam player is very good, however you don't know what you're missing until you know what you're missing!


3. How can I set the correct PC output resolution (if the option is not available via Windows 'Display Properties')? Is there a software package that will enable me to do this?


4. What would be the best software to actually play the source DVDs?


5. The Arcam DVD player uses Vaddis and Sil504 chipsets, I understand these technologies are to 'clean images', e.g. remove jaggies and other artifacts, etc.. Will the GeForce 4 handle this? or is a Radeon perhaps a better HT option? or this handled in DVD playback software? (I've read lots of HTPC systems seem to use Radeon cards!).


I hope my questions above make sense and apologise in advance if I'm obviously barking up a wrong tree! Also hope I've posted this in the correct section!


Perhaps rushing into the Panasonic plasma (with no DVI support!) was too hasty! Is all lost?


Any help or guidance would be very much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,496 Posts
I can only respond to these


3. What you are looking for is called PowerStrip. If you were using a Radeon, there is a possiblity that it could be done without powerstrip. Radeon has hidden resolutions (1360x768 @ 62 Hz). You can not get 1366 since it is not divisible by 8. Also be aware that some Plasmas have rectangle pixels and not square pixels which will affect PQ.


4. Theatertek and Sonic (possibly with Zoom Player).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,751 Posts
You have not lost anything going with the Panasonic, except perhaps DVI. Other than that it's a great HTPC plasma, and it even has square pixels, which is mostly preferable.


What you need to do is, download and install the latest Detonator drivers from www.nvidia.com and then you can select 1360x768x32 at the standard Windows display properties. The refreshrate doesn't really make a difference in PQ, but can later be tweaked to give smooth pans from DVD.


While you are on the NVIDIA page, download the trial version of NVDVD as well. It's the best DVD player for NVIDIA cards.


When you are in 1360x768 resolution, you select 16:9 aspect ratio from the remote, so that it fills the screen.

To make it fit 1 pixel from graphics card to 1 pixel on the plasma screen you must set the correct size of the picture on the plasma. You can take a look at a guide I made for calibrating with the 42" 4UY model. The same patterns can be used for the 50", they just don't fill the entire screen. But when the correct size is found, everything snaps into place and the image gets crystal clear.


I have a NVIDIA graphics card as well, even though most people in here use Radeons, so I'm probably missing out on the last percent of utmost performance, but even though, the picture is very good on my set.

Of the software players that I have tried (WinDVD, PowerDVD, Cineplayer 1.5 and NVDVD) NVDVD seems to have the best picture.


Whether it matches or exceeds your Arcam DVD player is up to your eyes to judge, but I'm sure it does.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
jkaiser and Esben, many thanks for the advice, you have given me light and the quest is on!


jkaiser,

Thank you for the software recommendations, I'll search on these and download/evaluate.


Esben,

You saved my life...and square pixels too!

I thought the Panasonic only accepted up to 1024x768 even on the standard VGA connector (the default input card is replaced on our display due to 'tuner' specific card installed instead). The tuner is Panasonic TU-PT600B and accepts: x2 RGB SCART, x1 component (RGB), x1 Composite, x1 Svideo (x2 more on SCART) and outputs to plasma via a single lead (26 pin, three row D type).


I'll update Detonator drivers (currently running 3.0.8.2!) and read/understand your guide in order to 'align' picture. I hope a 'snap in' moment occurs!


The Arcam DVD was a recent purchase also, but Home Theatre PC may well contend! Will report back with findings. Many thanks again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
540 Posts
What about refresh rate does that not effect native rate too for example I have an NEC mp3 which is 848x480 @60hz


Couple of questions is it better to use 72hz for DVD or won't I lose native rate. or 75hz for pal dvd.


Secondly would DVI be a better bet as I have a machine with Geforce 3 and has dvi out.....does native rate ie 60hz matter with DVI?


Thanks Rick
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,751 Posts
Mr. Penguin, can you get it working?


I'd love to hear how you think it looks.


RickD, I don't know with your NEC plasma, but on my Panny 4UY everything correctly adjusted in 848x480 is native rate. I run it 75 Hz as it matches good with PAL DVDs (and Windows won't let me select any higher). But that's due to the later drivers. Previously I ran it at 120 Hz with no problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Esben,


I have updated to Detonator drivers v40.72 and selected 1360x768 @ 75Hz. Plugged into the Plasma and Windows desktop appears. Looks pretty good but you can tell it's not DVI (very slight blur on fonts). Thanks for the excellent advice.


Unfortunately my PC CDROM drive is not DVD enabled :eek: .


I've ordered a DVD drive and this arrives tommorow. Already downloaded NV DVD. Once the DVD drive is in I'll use your images and adjust screen, then slap in a DVD and see what it looks like.


One tiny problem so far, the Panasonic doesn't seem to let me select 16:9 when PC is plugged in? I get 'Normal', 'Full' or 'Zoom' options. Normal looks like the correct aspect ratio, however I'll need to adjust the horizontal position a little to the right.


PS. I like your logo, is that the expression when 'snap-in' occurs? I'm looking forward to step 2 tomorrow and will report back. Thanks again for your excellent help and advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
121 Posts
RickD, you are pretty much stuck with 60Hz on the refresh for 848x480, even in DVI. The panel doesn't support any other refresh rates for that resolution. If your graphics card supports it you can also do 852x480 with VGA or DVI at 60Hz, which will enable the use all but one vertical pixel line on your 42MP3.


To answer your second question, DVI is better! I have a Radeon AIW and when I originally used the VGA connection I noticed problems in the shadow detail, the pixels would flicker somewhat when barely energized. This was completely eliminated after switching to a DVI cable, every pixel was rock steady whether bright or faint. Also, under VGA I found it necessary to play around with the 42MP3 picture settings, the automatic mode never seemed to consistently produce a properly positioned picture when switching between resolutions, and there were occasional horizontal scaling problems. With the DVI connection, the picture is perfect all the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,751 Posts
Yes, it is the famous "snap-in" moment perfectly captured using a digital camera :D


With aspect ratios the 16:9 I described was the name that the smaller model calls it.

If normal gets a widescreen picture, then it's usefull as well. If I don't specifically select 16:9 here the widescreen image is sqeezed together into 4:3. The zoom option just enlarges an area of the image, like when watching letterboxed movies.


The size calibration in the extra guide is essiential for any use, not only DVD. I'm sure your fonts will look sharp and focused when the size is properly adjusted.

The reason it is so important is that the internal scaler is in the works when size is not 100 % precisely adjusted, and that blurs the image greatly.

If you put on the pattern you'll notice is immediately.


Are you using the latest version of NVDVD or did you download it a long time ago? The latest one offers much better quality than versions
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Esben,


I have downloaded the latest NV DVD, version 2.22. I have also looked at PowerStrip today, although I'll download this after phase 2 tomorrow. One step at a time!


I noticed in another thread you were thinking of getting the Sony FW900. This is the PC monitor I went for and am very happy with it. Some people complain about the 'damper' wires but once you get used to them you don't really notice. IMHO the finest 24" CRT monitor available :)


Thanks for the additional advice regarding Clear Type, I'll enable that and experiment. A full report will follow (and I will have to create a 'snap-in' piccy of myself!).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,751 Posts
I'm looking forward to the snap-in picture :D


My old PC monitor is a 15" ArtMedia Trinitron based monitor, also with damper wires and they don't bother me. With the plasma I replaced the old monitor, instead of going with the FW900. I simply have no more room for additional displays (except my VFD display in the DIGN case).

But I completely agree that the FW900 is one of the absolute best 24" displays PERIOD


I'm not personally using PowerStrip, as the drivers support the plasma as of installed. But perhaps I'll have to install it sometime to tweak refresh rates for butter smooth playback, and since Windows refuses going above 85 Hz, even though I've selected a monitor profile that supports higher refresh rates (FW900 profile). But when I apply it at 120 Hz it just shows 85 Hz.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Esben,


DVD drive failed to arrive, grrr! Be here for sure tomorrow. The testing is tomorrow night (Wednesday). Was thinking of creating some bitmaps (based upon yours) for 1360x768, i.e. 680 (black white pairs) vertically, 384 horizontally (using Photoshop).


The issue you have with 85Hz may be a video card driver issue. You mentioned you have an NVIDIA card. Have you tried a program called ' Refresh Lock '?


I use this with my GeForce Ti4600 and Sony FW900 combination, it addresses (a bug?) in that the card will not output above 85Hz via OpenGL/Direx X/ etc. Refresh Lock fixes this (can now enjoy Half Life at 120Hz plus :)


It sounds like this may solve your 85Hz issue.


Arcam/PC shootout report imminent!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,751 Posts
The problem is in the Windows desktop itself. Even if I try to switch to 848x480x32x120 it just shows 85,2 Hz. I don't think I can solve what to do. :(


Feel free to create the additional bitmaps like or based on mine. If you want to do it easily, just download the 2 (horizontal and vertical), 1 pixel striped bitmaps, cut them off at 680x384 and stretch them 200 % each direction.


Eg. load them in Paint, select Attributes (CTRL+E), enter 680x384, press OK. Select Stretch (CTRL+W), 200 % in each direction (horizontal and vertical). Press OK, and you have a nice bitmap at 1360x768.

Then press View and select the buttom option (Show fullscreen)

Of course do it with both bitmaps. :)


And then your off calibrating, on the way to HTPC-vana. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Snap In moment occurred!


I created some simple images consisting of 1 pixel lines spaced 1 pixel apart in a 1360x768 format (horizontal and vertical versions), adjusted image size on the vertical and horizontal until ‘rainbows’ disappeared. It’s highly visible when you get it spot on, the picture ‘snaps’ into place and desktop fonts look excellent (virtually no blur whatsoever).


Then popped PAL version of Star Wars Episode 2 into PC DVD and played under nvDVD (at 75Hz)…hmmm…still out to lunch on Arcam vs. PC, although the PC PQ was excellent. I fiddled around with some different de-interlacing modes (combine fields, adaptive etc.) and think the optimum setting is ‘combine fields’. The Arcam DV27 DVD player is an expensive progressive scan unit (£1,500) so I'll need to do my homework to get the PC just right. I think I've caught the Plasma/HTPC bug :)


I need to do some more tests, i.e. using a variety of discs and more closely compare results. Biggest downside was the decibel level from my PC! Our family room has only one soft furnishing (the large sofa) and a wooden floor, so you can really hear the PC :(


The PC will be upgraded in January, so the current PC is the HTPC project. Will need to look into ultra quiet operation! My intention to use it for DVD, Satellite, CDs etc. I'm also keen to get Windows XP Media Centre Edition loaded.


Thanks again Esben and everyone for your excellent advice, I'm a few steps closer!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top