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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Leeza Testing:


I wanted to put the Leeza through all sorts of tests before posting this final section of the review. I will break down the review into sections based on the viewing material so, if you are only interested in how it performed on DSS, you can just go to the DSS section.



Let me begin by saying that my monitor, a Pioneer 1000 plasma, is said to have a 60hz refresh rate, so optimally, the picture should look best with the Leeza set to 60hz. After days of testing on ALL material, I found that 72hz is the best setting for MY plasma, your viewing may be different. At 72hz, all graphics (Directv guide, commercials, sporting scores, CNN overlays etc.) looked rock stable, had no shimmer or flicker and appeared normal. On 60hz, graphics were shaky, shimmered and moved rather than remain stationary as graphics should. Also, movement and motion was much improved with 72hz and people and motion looked more natural and fluid when set to 72hz. For this reason, all of the testing below was done at 72hz.


There are some things potential buyers of the Leeza should know. It does not scale HD. What that means in layman’s terms is that if it receives an HD signal, it cannot and does not scale that signal to the rate you select, or any rate for that matter, it just “passes through†the signal. On all other signals, if you set the Leeza to 1280x768 for example, it will take Cable or DSS and output it to the rate you chose for optimal viewing on your specific display. On HD signals, whether through cable, over the air or from Directv, it will only pass the signal through at whatever rate it is being broadcast. From what I have seen, this isn’t a big deal and scaled HD sometimes looks worse. I have no problem with the current quality of HD and with the limited programming available, I am not so concerned about this feature, although you may want HD scaling. If you do, look elsewhere.


A more troublesome feature for me regards the DVI output. There is no question that the DVI output cleans up the image significantly. The difference between running DVI out when compared to 5 BNC out and D-sub15 out was not subtle and was quite dramatic. All static, wavy lines, snow and miscellaneous crap just disappeared and what was left was clear “pure†signal. Even my TWC looks good now through DVI, unbelieveable. The problem I have is that when outputting through DVI, you cannot watch HD broadcasts. Apparently, the HD signal cannot be broadcast through the Leeza’s DVI output, only through one of the analog outputs. So, if you want to watch ANY HD, you must run 2 outputs from the Leeza. One will be the DVI and the other, as in my case, is D-sub15. You can use component out or 5 BNC outs as well, I chose D-sub 15 for the fact that I had the cable, the plasma had the input and it was all done with 1 wire rather than 3 or 5 wires. This means that when watching HD material you must now change inputs on your monitor instead of having everything go through 1 wire and 1 input. Not a tragedy but, definitely something potential buyers should know.


CABLE: I have tried many scalers and have found that nothing cleans up Cable TV. It is just crap and no matter what I did, remained crap. When testing the Leeza through 5 BNC’s, the cable looked better but, no better than it did when run through my Faroudja NR. I would say the image went from a 4 to a 6, a big improvement but, 6 isn’t so great. So the answer to the question: “will a scaler improve my Cable broadcast?†is YES it will, but don’t expect miracles. However, the miracle isn’t in the scaling, it’s in the connection and DVI is the holy grail, for now anyway. When connecting my cable via S-video to the Leeza, scaling it to my plasmas native rate AND outputting the signal through DVI, the image was excellent, far better than anything I have seen from TWC or from any other scaler. I would say the signal is more like an 8 now, which is twice as good as without a scaler and that’s a major improvement. Local channels that looked so bad on plasma I couldn’t watch are now watchable. Decent and good channels look very good and the premium channels that always looked good, now look great. It’s all in the connection, 1 minute in my home will prove that DVI is the ONLY way to go if you have the connections available to you. Movies looked great and so did sports. The 72hz refresh rate, while better than 60hz, shows only a hint of shudder and “robotic†movement. I am very particular and no one seems to notice but me. It is difficult to describe but, at times people look frozen for a split second and then back to normal. At 60hz, it’s very robotic, at 72hz hardly noticeable and occurs very infrequently. The other refresh rates did not improve on the 72hz rate so, it is as good as it can be. This “shudder†effect occurs on all types of programming, video and film based, fast and slow moving action. It is not bad but, it is there if you look for it and are reviewing it.


DSS: Watching about 6 hours of movies on Saturday, 10 hours of football on Sunday and 5 hours of basketball on Tuesday, I can say without hesitation that the scaler looks real good. Deinterlacing and scaling on video and film based material is excellent. I can say that it is almost as good as the Faroudja with the exception of the aforementioned “shudderâ€. The lines on the football field are solid, not wavy or jagged. Colors look excellent. Detail, oh my the detail. Between the 3rd gen plasma, digital broadcast from DTV, scaling and deinterlacing the signal, THEN outputting the image “dot for dot†at the plasmas native rate through DVI, well I am happy now and my ass stays on the sofa a lot. The picture is not grainy, it is clear and bright, very detailed and natural, dare I say “almost†HD quality. No, not that good but very close, as close as I have ever seen standard DTV look. I must explain why. When your monitor does the up and downcoverting, it just is never as good as even a DVDO outboard scaler that is designed to do nothing but scale. Going external hopefully bypasses the internals of your monitor and leaves all of the tough work to the scaler. When you have the ability to match your monitors native rate, nothing can be better, that is the optimum rate. Throw in some high quality scaling and deinterlacing and you are in business. The final factor is the connection. Composite is the worst, then S-video. Stepping up from these 2 will give you significant improvements. Component is next followed by D-sub15 and 5 BNC’s. I have heard arguments that 5 BNC is better than D-sub and vise versa but, it’s a close call. Moving to DVI, or perhaps SDI, is like moving from composite to 5 BNC’s, it is dramatic and easily discernable for anyone to notice, not just a reviewer or AV geek. This connection is truly magnificent and I could not be more happy with the way things look. All of these factors contribute to the final image which is stunning. If only I had a 100†screen with projector, I would never leave home.


DVD: This is going to be a 2 part review, one with scaled component video and one with SDI. As I write this, my SDI player is on it’s way to me but, I have not yet tested the SDI with the Leeza. The following is for component scaling from a Panasonic RP-91. The Leeza only accepts interlaced video, not progressive so the RP-91 was outputting an interlaced signal to the Leeza. For all of the same reasons mentioned above, DVD looks awesome. To see it at it’s native rate through DVI is unreal. Using all of the standard test discs and scenes, the Leeza passed them all.

TOY STORY: No chroma issues, tinkertop lid does not flcker or bleed

GLADIATOR: Entrance to Rome: no flickering or deinterlacing issues, smooth and film like.

AVIA: No Y/C delay, no ringing, slightly less resolution than I have seen on the 6.75 patch but, the vertical lines are visible

VIDEO ESSENTIALS: The flag has some jagged edges as did the lamppost scene. Both video based material and not as good as Faroudja but, better than anything else tested.


On tests, I have seen other scalers look better. The video based tests in particular, look better on the Faroudja. However, as previously stated, this does not present a problem in actual viewing. Hours of video based sporting events produced no jagged lines, stairstepping or wavy boarders, just clean solid lines. These are torture tests, the most difficult to pass. In real life, very few broadcasts will have the type of video image that will present a problem, I have yet to see even one example in actual viewing. The same goes for the resolution test. I have seen the 6.75 test circle look better and sharper, but no DVD is capable of that frequency anyway so, it is of little importance. I must restate that the circle looked good, just not the very best that I have seen.


SDI DVD: Review to come soon.



Final Thoughts: The On Screen Graphics are personal, you may love them or hate them but, they work fine. I don’t think the Leeza is perfect but, it has the features I need and no other scaler does. It outputs a 1280x768, apparently not the easiest rate to find. It is remote controlled. It has an SDI input and a DVI output, go make a list of who else has this combo..no one. It has the ability to pass through 3 HD sources, most scalers can only pass through one. A multitude of input rates, output rates and refresh rates, something NO Faroudja can offer. Then you have the standard scaler features like: color control, saturation, noise reduction, the ability to assign any type of connection to any input (s-video, composite, component), the ability to output via s-video, composite, component, 5 bnc, D-sub 15 and DVI. There is more but, you get the idea. This scaler can be tailor matched to almost any system, however, it does not have 1365x768 which I feel is a terrible omission based on all of the Fujitsu, Panasonic and all 61’ plasma owners. Get on Key Digital, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t create this rate if people wanted it.
 

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Ericbee,


Great review, very thorough.


Can't wait for your remarks on SDI DVD player. Which one are you going to use (RP56 ?).


Do you have any PAL material to test with?


How do you think this scaler compares with the NRS (on all points), which one would you prefer for your own HT? Have you heard anything from KeyDigital regarding the fan noise?


BTW, that's a new native rate you mentioned, first time I've seen it to date (probably because I had no info on the new 61" plasmas).
 

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eric:


so that's why you got up so early!


nice work.


re HD: the pronto is the answer to switching, using two cable sets to the plas: 5-BNC/RGBHV for the HD material into one plas input and SD via DVI;


one command to the RCA to change to HD/SD;

one command to the plas to change from RGB input to DVI input;

the leeza can supposedly output rgbHV and DVI simultaneously.


Here is a tid-bit:

Leeza is the daughter of Michael L. at Key Digital, national sales manager.
 

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Eric,

Thaks for your thoughtful review.


Since you have extensive experience with both the NRS and the new Leeza, could you comment on the following:


-If one does not have DVI input to their projector (ie I am purchasing the sharp dlp 9000) obviously, one will not receive the benefit of this connection. Thus, how do these two scalers stack up using simple VGA or RGBHV BNCs connects. Basically, which scaler would you purchase for a projector with analog only inputs?


Thanks

Jeff
 

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jeff:


i had a similar concern; it boiled down to this:


for now, the sharp does not have dvi, so the best digital path you could get would be SDI from your sources to the processor. The Native Rate doesn't offer SDI and has not indicated that they will. So if you want the benefit of SDI, you pretty much have to go with the Leeza, Rock+ with sdi option, or the vigatec with SDI option.


If sdi isn't in your plans, then the Native Rate is a great choice: it has a standard 1280x720 output, same as the Sharp.


Of course the 2002 Sharp is probably going to have DVI, then your back to the Leeza.


the price difference goes: NR+$3K=Leeza+$1K=rock+=vig (all with sdi options)
 

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thanks for the excellent insights Ericbee.


As a second tier concern, how does the User Interface of the Leeza compare to the Rock+? Are the thought processes parallel? I have the Vigatec and I have seen the Rock+ as a point of reference.


Vince
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Jeff, my short answer to you would be to purchase an NR ONLY if it has a rate that is identical to the projector. I do not know the rate of your projector so I cannot tell you for certain. If the NR had a 1280x768 rate, I would never have tried the Leeza. The rate is most important, followed by the processing, followed by the connection. DVI and SDI aside, if the NR has your rate, run don't walk and buy it.


Vlubbers: The rock I saw a long time ago has been changed more times that a hookers linens. I have not seen the upgraded rock, rock plus or rock plus sdi so, I cannot comment on their user interface. I will be posting some screen shots here, possibly tonight, so maybe you can comment as to how it compares to the rock.
 

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Quote:
The rock I saw a long time ago has been changed more times that a hookers linens
Sounds like a high class hooker...at least they change the linens :)


Screen shots would be very useful, thanks eric. Any chance you could show comparison shots to your NR?
 

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Quote:
...how does the User Interface of the Leeza compare to the Rock+?
Very similar, if not identical on some screens based on what I see on Eric's screenshots in another thread, although the color of the text is different (green on the Rock+).

Quote:
While firmware changes used to be too frequent, they are not right now.
Absolutely true. Mark has done a termendous job--he deserves a raise! There were a lot of revisions early on because TAW was adding a LOT of features and/or fixing minor problems. I, for one, didn't mind it as the firmware upgrade process is extremely simple. What's weird nowadays is how quiet the TAW R&D forum is compared to the early days--there just isn't much to "complain" about anymore! ;)


I'm glad Eric now gets to enjoy what some of us Rock+ users have been seeing. The Leeza sounds like a worthy entry into the scaler marketplace. Why would anyone spend more for a scaler, unless it was for a Teranex? :)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ericbee
If the NR had a 1280x768 rate, I would never have tried the Leeza. The rate is most important, followed by the processing, followed by the connection. DVI and SDI aside, if the NR has your rate, run don't walk and buy it.
Eric - Thanks for sharing such a crisp ongoing summary of your experience and testing with the LEEZA. Having just purchased the NRS and the 503CMX arrives tomorrow -- I have a little buyers remorse. There is still a lot to said for the NRS..


If the Leeza rates 100% optimal i.e Native Rate matches, Scan Rate matches, DVI output to DVI output.


What percent rating would you give to the NRS paired with 503CMX?


ALSO - what is the latest on your reaction to the Fan Noise from the Leeza -- This would drive me crazy -- I am very audo sensitive.. expecially fan noise. The kind of work arounds you were contemplating are beyond me -- ie cracking it open replacing fans etc...


I am thinking about sending the NRS back -- it would be nice to have them both for a day or 2. But my credit card couldn't carry both.!!!


Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There is a lot to be said about the NR. I loved it. It was simple to use and to this day had the best color and deinterlacing I have ever seen, that includes my current Leeza. Unfortunately, Faroudja the company is very, very stubborn and difficult. The rate at which they introduce new native rates is ridiculously slow. The NR has been out for over a year with 480 as the only new rate. They never made the 1365x768 and sold units claiming they were. Now more than ever, that rate is needed for Fujitsus, Panasonics and all 60 and 61" plasmas. They still haven't introduced a 1280x768 for the Pioneers, the most popular and most widely sold plasma in the world. That inlcudes the 502, 505, 503, and Pro 1000. This is unacceptable. They have a niche. It is far and away the best value in scalers and it destroys the DVDO, but it is also more expensive. I could have lived without SDI or DVI for a while. Once you see the difference between a plasmas native rate to any other rate and you will never consider anything else. Add DVI and SDI and no one will keep their NR's, at least not me and JLM. In conclusion, if your choice is between an NR or any plasmas internal scaler, the NR is a huge improvement. If you want the latest and greatest, the NR is way past it's prime.
 

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Is the Leeza the only external scaler right now that has DVI output?
 

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a quick two-bits:


i have the Leeza hooked up without DVI or SDI temporarily:

s-video from sat; component from dvd, HD in and bypassed; display is Pio pro100, using rgbhv inputs from the Leeza


the hookup went ok, but it requires an s-video/2BNC breakout cable and a VGA/5BNC breakout (my HD comes from the rca-dtc100).


no problems with the remote or any software glitches.


PQ: after a very brief viewing with no attempt yet to optimize settings:

DVD was excellent, no red fringing/smearing on Toy Story (like the Faroudja), not much else to say yet;

HD pass worked fine;


S-video: I observed here a bothersome effect. The image appeared as if it were projected onto a woven fabric screen with the fine weave texture showing. The material was The Patriot on Showtime, via direct TV. This effect never appeared with the Faroudja or with a direct feed to the display.

This effect did appear with the Rock i tried out in June and was never fixed by TAW at the time, resulting in the return of the unit. (Mark Rejohn: are you lurking?) I haven't been able to try changing variables yet to try to optimize settings.

when the rock was tested, i had the pioneer 505, but otherwise the same components. Eric, did you notice this weave effect?


Fan noise is louder than i like; i won't leave the unit on in standby because of the noise; though when playing the audio usually drowns it out.
 

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Eric, I take it that you would suggest the NR for CRT projectors and rate matching digital displays. Especially for CRT projectors since there is less need for the extra aspect ratio control and no need for the DVI out. I hate to hit you with another question but I haven't seen any opinions on the good 'ole CRT. I have an NR on the way and I just want to make sure I'm going the right way.

Thanks for the excellent review.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jlm
a quick two-bits:


i have the Leeza hooked up without DVI or SDI temporarily:

s-video from sat; component from dvd, HD in and bypassed; display is Pio pro100, using rgbhv inputs from the Leeza


the hookup went ok, but it requires an s-video/2BNC breakout cable and a VGA/5BNC breakout (my HD comes from the rca-dtc100).


no problems with the remote or any software glitches.


PQ: after a very brief viewing with no attempt yet to optimize settings:

DVD was excellent, no red fringing/smearing on Toy Story (like the Faroudja), not much else to say yet;

HD pass worked fine;


S-video: I observed here a bothersome effect. The image appeared as if it were projected onto a woven fabric screen with the fine weave texture showing. The material was The Patriot on Showtime, via direct TV. This effect never appeared with the Faroudja or with a direct feed to the display.

This effect did appear with the Rock i tried out in June and was never fixed by TAW at the time, resulting in the return of the unit. (Mark Rejohn: are you lurking?) I haven't been able to try changing variables yet to try to optimize settings.

when the rock was tested, i had the pioneer 505, but otherwise the same components. Eric, did you notice this weave effect?


Fan noise is louder than i like; i won't leave the unit on in standby because of the noise; though when playing the audio usually drowns it out.
John,


I have seen this effect before just recently on a Rock+, and it ended up being a defective "S" video cable. Once the cable swap was made all was good. Some devices are more susceptible to bad cables.
 

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Ericbee:


Very clear - I trully get the importance of maping processor to the native rate whether CRT or Plasma!


So where are you with the fan noise? My setup is in a smaller than optimal room - though still distant viewing distance from the 503 ~ 12' --- it would be hard to distance the Leeza?


You were pretty frustrated in your earlier posts


Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I won't BS anyone, the fan noise bothers me. I have never been sensitive to fan noise before, my DTC-100 has one and I have never heard it and I leave the unit on 24/7. The Leeza is loud enough to keep it turned OFF at all times when not in use. If it was on with the room silent it would be similar to an air conditioning unit running, it's annoying. My room is small and my seating area is about 10-11 feet from the screen. I have buried it deep in my rack but, it is still loud. My only other issue is how ugly the Leeza's faceplate is but, I am working on that right now.
 
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