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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Finally, after lurking around this forum and gathering good information for forever, I decided to give something back to the community. This is my first post, so go easy on me.


I have tried both Samsung 931 and LiteOn LVD-2001 on my Toshiba 50HDX82 RPTV. Samsung 931 was connected using Belkin DVI-D cable, and LVD-2001 was connected via decent quality, non-Monster component cable (I'm a satelite ASIC designer with heavy back ground on RF analysis, so don't even get me started on Monster cable crap). Test DVDs include SW Eps II, Monsters Inc, LOTR: Two Towers, some non-anamorphic DVDs (such as TopGun) and AVIA. Here is some review on both players:


1) What everyone is wondering - 1080i PQ: Both DVD Players produced similar results on AVIA resolution patterns. Both players displayed upto 500 mark without much distortion or loss. 6.75MHz grid looked a bit sharper on Samsung than LiteOn where the individual lines did not overlap with each other as much as LiteOn. This difference is very minor, and compared to non-1080i DVD players difference was quite amazing. Note that I have not owned or seen Fraudja Panasonic/Denon models to really give you a better idea (although I have sampled many different models), but I did see some of the screen shots of the resolution patterns on those players and the output looked noticably (and on some screen shots slightly) better as far as I can tell.


All of the sample DVDs produced sharp image on both players. However, initially I did notice EE ringing around the CG images on both players, but once calibrated by AVIA, (which I lowered the sharpeness down to 20) both players did not produce any ringing or ghosting without loss of resolution. Also, neither players displayed any delays on the color signals nor dreaded "chroma bug" which seems to be a lesser issue with current generation of DVD players. On actual films, difference between the two was almost non-existant (as far as picture details are concerned). One thing I would like to add is that Samsung did show quite a bit of "grainy" textures overal. Digital artifacts (pixelations) were quite apparent on 931 as other people have reported. LiteOn produced more life-like pictures where digital artifacts are rarely seen, and overall uniform color without grainy textures. Based on the posts that other people made, this seems to be a difference between MPEG decoding capability of Samsung (dunno which chip since Fraudja is only doing de-interlacing) and Sigma EM85XX chip (which Bravo and Marantaz both shares).


At 480p (did not test 480i since I did not feel like switching to component hookup for 931), both players displayed sub-par performance with LiteOn being the worse of the two (resolution wise). But who would want to watch 480p when you can full blast 1080i signal? :p


At 720p, again Samsung had a bit more sharpness on the picture quality, and on LiteOn, it was actually worse than 480i or 480p. I know that some of this is due to the fact that my TV is 540p or 1080i native. Meaning it would have to go through another AD -> DA conversion which would explain this poor performance. However, there seems to be a quite bit of difference between 931 and LVD-2001 circuitry where 720p signal isn't optimized properly on LVD-2001. This would make sense since 931 does not have to optimize any of the analog circuitry (where 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i signals in Component connection would be residing on different frequency bands) since everything is digital, but on LiteOn, unless really expensive parts are used, the circuitry would have to be designed with a specific frequency band optimized (it seems like LiteOn focused their design on 1080i). This, of course, is just my speculation, and should be regarded as just as that.


2) Progressive flag detection: you can find more information on Secrets website on the difference between Fraudja and Sigma chipsets. Just as expected, 931 was the winner when it comes to deinterlacing with bad flagged movies. On several bonus materials, combing was apparent on LiteOn where Samsung did not. It wasn't horrible as when I had my old DVD player forced at Film mode without auto detection, but it is noticable. However, non of the movies I tested (old DVDs and some HK DVDs) caused any combing or jerky motions on neither players.


3) Minor tibits: on 4:3/non-anamorphic materials, LiteOn forced letterbox on the both sides of the screen, and Samsung displayed full screen stretched picture. Since my TV allows me to select different picture zoom mode at 1080i (it does not on 720p), having the letterboxs on the either side turned out to be more of a minus then a plus. However, this can be defeated on LiteOn by going into the setup menu and switching the display mode to 4:3 Letterbox which would fill the entire screen with stretched picture which then can be adjusted with the TV set. Also, LiteOn provides a zoom feature where the letter boxed picture can be zoomed in (much like how Bravo would handle - based on various posts). One thing I would like to add is that on my set, non-anamorphic movies looked better with 480i setting with TV doing the zooming on LiteOn. This, again just my speculation, is due to the fact non-anamorphic movies are generally not flagged properly, and LiteOn does not possess the superior deinterlacing capability of Fraudja chip. What this means is that having your TV do the deinterlacing does better job then letting LiteOn zoom the poorly deinterlaced picture within.


4) Problems and Issues: As everyone know, Samsung's remote was pretty bad, I won't go into the details, and besides LiteOn's remote isn't a dream either. Besides that I did not have much problems with it (other than a bit limited setup menu). The player looked very nice compared to the LiteOn (which I think is a hideous design). I do have to warn you about the horrible red power LED that is featured by the LVD-2001 when the system is off (wait until you see it in person *shiver*). Besides the cosmetics, I have two minor problems with LiteOn player. First is with subtitles. This is actually a big issue to me, since I have many foreign films. At 1080i, LiteOn displays the subtitle with some jitter. It's not illegible, but it annoyed me to no end. Imagine that you see a crystal clear picture, but also see subtitles with noise. It takes a lot away from the "wow" factor. If you don't watch many foreign movies, it's not a big deal, but this cannot be avoided on DVDs such as AVIA where sub menus are generated by using the same text engine. So the sub-menus will look aweful at 1080i. This is not a problem at any other display mode, and since I have not heard anything about it on Bravo with DVI connection, I would imagine this is a firmware issue (hard to imagine that this would be caused by actual hardware). Second problem is with the audio, whenever FF/REW button is pressed (either search or chapter skip), the player would produced a sharp static noise through the audio ports (even in optical port). Also, the analog output is disabled when the digital outputs are enabled. To me, it's a hassle since on some old DVDs or Divx movies, I rather not turn on the receiver and just watch them using the TV speakers.


I have contacted LiteOn Tech Support about the above issues, and they have been great with the customer support. They replied within a day saying they are working on those issues, and with a personal email address for some RD engineer to contact directly with (which I never experienced with any other company). LiteOn is a well known company in PC world with their frequent update on Firmwares, and this product seems to be no exception (They just released another rev of the firmware this past weekend).


5) Extras: Of course, the Divx capability. All of the Divx movies I have thrown at, LVD-2001 handled them without a hitch. I have acquired a 3 CD (2.1GB) DVD rip of a well known movie for this purpose (and for test purpose only since I will buy the DVD once it comes out). The movie was encoded in XViD format with high resolution pictures (720x525, I believe) and AC3 sound (@ 38400bps). The 3 files were transfered onto a DVD+RW disk, and as soon as I popped the disk in, I was watching the movie on my TV, 2 weeks before the mass public can get their hands on the DVD. The picturewise, it is almost flawless. No pixelations, and great sound. I say almost since the motion seems to be less fluid, but not noticable unless you are watching a very slow moving object intensly (the movie also displayed same behavior on my PC, so it's not the player's fault).


The Region Free code worked like a charm, and macrovision was also defeated at the same time. This was a big deciding factor for me since I have about 50+ foreign movies in my collection.


As many of you already know, LVD-2001 comes with 2 PCMCA cards for reading various Memory cards. I took some quick pictures with my 3MP camera and popped the Smart Media card, and the player displayed the picture as soon as picture button is pressed (well with some delay). The 1MB picture took about 5~10sec to display. One thing I would like to mention is that the player does NOT take advantage of the 1080i resolution. It seems like the LiteOn will downscale the picute in 480 resoultion and display it. Perhaps with future firmware update, this can be fixed.


Conclusion: Based on the minimal resolution difference and PQ, my Samsung was returned immediately. At a price point of $139 (us) I believe LiteOn is a bargain, providing a taste of what 1080i would offer until a full fledged HD movie materials finalize. However, if you own a DLP displays (which mostly are at 720p native), I would recommend going with Samsung 931 (or even Bravo D1) due to the poor performance in 720p on LiteOn.


As a side note, looking at the internal circuit layout, it seems that the LVD-2001 is pretty much identical to Bravo D1 (obviously minus DVI output). It's as if both companies followed a reference design provided by the Sigma, which is a common practice in the world of electronics. Even the setup menu layout, and buttons available on the remote are similar to one another. Just something I noticed.


I bet no-one actually read this whole review from start to finish :eek:


Hope, this review helps with your tough decisions. God knows how many players I had to go through before finding this one.


As I have stated on above, this review is comprised of mainly my opinions and my speculations. If you have any corrections or have something to add, please feel free to do so. I will also add anything that I hear back from LiteOn.
 

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Now, if we can get a feedback from someone that has a Liteon and a native 720p set. This wonderful review would be completed.
 

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Hmm just wondering if the LiteOn handles higher than PAL/Ntsc Divx's might be interesting to be used as a semi HDTV player ...

Very good review btw .
 

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Hello.


-I live in Denmark (Europe) and I am wery interrested in how the LiteOn handles Pal DVD's, any comments would be nice:D


Best Regards

Denner
 

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Nice, detailed review iori. Thanks. A couple of questions...


The component out 1080i picture didn't seem soft to you compared to the Samsung's DVI 1080i output?


How do you get the LiteOn to output 1080i? Is this done via the Setup menu or some other method?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Crap, my long reply just got wiped out cuz I put some http links. Let me try this again.


There are 2 sites that has more info on the LiteOn player. They are www_nerd-out_com and forums_divx_com (replace _ with . the BBS SW won't let me post direct link).


Ein:

One of my friend just got the new Samsung 61" DLP TV (720p Native). He's out of the town for 2 wks, but if no one tries out the combination until then, I will do so.


littledeath:

Interesting point. I wonder myself if Sigma's EM8500 has enough horse power to decode something with that big of resolution.


Denner:

LVD-2001 indeed support PAL DVDs as 2 of the screen modes are designated to PAL outputs. I don't have any PAL DVDs myself, but other users on the above sites have indicated that the PAL movies play fine on the player.


Brajesh:

The LiteOn's component out indeed look softer than Samsung's DVI out. However, Samsung also showed grainy pictures (eg. person's skin tone) and pixelations. I almost ordered the Bravo D1 (but canceled it after some thought), but according to some of the users, the grainy picture of Samsung player is not due to DVI connection since Bravo does not show this problem. In either case, both players look distinguishibly sharper than any of the 480p players that I have seen.


As for the 1080i output, there is "P-Scan" button on the LiteOn's remote that cycles through all of the display modes on the fly: 480i composite, 480i component, PAL composite, PAL component, 480p, 720p and 1080i.


One thing I forgot to mention in my review is that when I was hooking up both players, I was expecting light years of PQ improvements. I guess I got too psyched up by reading all these wonderful reviews about these 1080i capable players. In the end, DVDs themselves only have maximum resoltion of 525 lines, and that's the bottom line. It is sufficient to say I was fairly well let down when I first saw the picture quality on both players. It was like getting excited with the whole "Progressive Scan" DVD players back in the old days. However, after the initial disappointment settled down, I watched some of my favorite DVDs, and I started to see the difference. Pictures are definitely sharper, colors are more vibrant than ever. It was like falling in love with my home theather all over again.


My advice is that as long as you have a good idea of what to expect, you will be more than delighted... Of course, until something better comes along the line (HD-DVDs anyone?).
 

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I have a number of PAL DVD's and thanks to the region free setup of the LiteOn, I have found the playback to be perfectly acceptable with my InFocus X1 projector. The added bonus with the LiteOn, is that it also does NTSC->PAL and PAL->NTSC conversion, so wathcing an NTSC DVD converted to PAL with the projector results in a reduced colour wheel speed and less noise from the X1! So far the only complaint I have is the remote, and the odd quirk when changing from a CD to DVD (it occassionally suffers from stuttering - but a power reset makes it go away). Also, the region free hack (setting to region 0) does not work with all DVD's (but one can always change the region to the required in a few seconds). The best part about it - it cost me $129. LiteOn where great as far as service goes - there was a delay in shipping from PCClub, and LiteOn sent a latter apologising for the delay. Not often the manufacturer even admits to the problem being with them. I guess if you want a good player with a number of bonus features for a low price, it is hard to beat - so far 5 work colleagues have also bought the player (I should get a commission) and I have not heard many complaints from them either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
blakrj,

Have you or your colleagues experienced any subtitle jitter problem @1080i???
 

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ZipZoomFly (formerly Googlegear) has it for $151 including free FedEx 2nd Day shipping...
 

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Anymore reviews? Anyone seen this dvd player on an X1 projector or other projector? Does it have color and tint controls? I'm really interested in this if it has color and tint controls, which I want for my X1....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It has Brightness, Contrast and Saturation control in the setup. Also, if you read blakrj's reply, he said he's using it on X1 with good results.
 

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Thanks for the great review. Here is a link to another one with complementary info and pics plus FAQ and firnware update link.


If I understand correctly this player can scale a 480p picture up to a 1080i. Is that correct? I am confused because the other review says you can only do that via DVI. This prompts the second question.

Does the player have a DVI output? I guess not. If there is no DVI output, is the 1080i signal correctly transmitted in a normal component cable?


Thanks for your answers, this might be a player to try out at this price.


Till
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Till,


Must have missed the link, since it's not on the post.

Yes, LVD-2001 does upscale 480p picture (or 525 DVD resolution) upto 1080i via component. On the other review, the guy did not have a 1080i capapble TV, so he just recited what the Sigma 8500 spec stated. That Sigma 8500 does not upscale via component if the copy protection is enabled. I have disabled macrovision thru the secret menu, and had no trouble outputing 1080i via component what so ever (with all the latest dvds that I have). Also, LVD-2001 does not have a DVI output.
 

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Just picked up mine today from PC Club.


Great 1080i picture on my HDTV, especially of Region 2 DVDs. This is exactly what I needed.


I own a Bravo D1 for the DVI output, and the LVD-2001 for 1080i component and Region Free. I am finding that I don't have as much need anymore to use my HTPC...
 

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Noel,


It's hard to compare them because the D1 is not region-free and does not pass 1080i component for original DVDs. There have been no hacks so far.


I think this player is a value also because its loader (unlike the junk one in the D1 that I had to replace) is a Liteon drive that generally retails for $30+ alone.


I will add more later this weekend as I watch some movies.
 
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