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Discussion Starter #1
I built my 1st HTPC over the weekend, and I'm not happy with the results. Here is my setup:


P3 1ghz/ 440BX

256mb PC100

Geforce2mx (latest official Detenator)

IOMagic PVR Svideo capture

Pioneer 16x DVDRom

SBLive, Ethernet card (not in use)

Win2000

PowerDVD 3

Powerstrip (latest version)

DScaler (latest version)

Best Buy VGA -> RGBHV breakout cable


Mitsubishi WS65807

Denon 3802 reciever

Toshiba 5109 DVD player

Better Cables component cable w/ red push attenuator

Radio Shack and AR Svideo cables



I test with the THX Optimode Monitor Performance patterns off the Toy Story 1 & 2 DVDs. The 4 setups, in descending order of quality:


A. Tosh 5109 via component @ 480p. The best.

B. Tosh 5109 via Svideo @ 480i.

C. Tosh 5109 to Dscaler @ 960x540p.

D. PowerDVD3 @ 960x540p. The worst.


Here are my complaints:


1. There is significant chroma noise on the IOMagic. There are horizontal bands of moving intereference that is most obvious on the purple and blue color blocks. This intereference is not seen on the TV direct from the DVD player. It can be seen on DScaler with all other materials, such as Tivo. This becomes very obvious when DScaler scales the image.


2. Dscaler seems worse at deinterlacing than the Mits. All patterns on Avia and THX Optimode twitch and jump like crazy, especially the resolution patterns. On Tivo, Greedy HM doesn't drop frames, but there are frequent tears and jaggies on moving objects. The Mits set to "video" mode almost always looks better.


3. PowerDVD has significantly less resolution than the other 3 setups. The "THX Tech Check" is blocky and illegible, much worse than the Tosh direct or through Dscaler.


Part of the problem is that the geometry and convergence of my Hidef input is significantly worse than my SD inputs. I may need to hire someone to help with that.


But why the intereference on the IOMagic? All the reviews I've read on this card praised it's clean Svideo capture. Is this card susceptible to intereference from other cards? Other than moving it's PCI Slot or exchanging for another card, is there anything I can do?


And what's the deal with PowerDVD? The resolution is awful. Is this just a terrible DVD player? Or is there a problem with the Geforce2mx's scaling?


Big thanks to anyone who can help me out. I don't want to give up yet. But I'd like to get back to actually watching TV, instead of fiddling endlessly for little or now improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Quick update: I pulled the SBLive and Ethernet cards, and moved the IOMagic to a different slot. I also swapped cables, and went straight from the DVD player to the HTPC. No luck, I still have the same non-specific chroma noise. Turning on Dscaler's noise filter stabilizes the color noise, at the expense of some detail and a few dropped frames. I still can't say the improvement over Svideo direct to the TV is worth the hassle of assembling the HTPC.


Any advice, other than exchanging the IOMagic or giving up entirely?
 

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The Mits HDTV has one of the better doubler (behind the Pioneer Elite) so it doesn't surprise me that it did better than Dscaler and video capture card. HTPC generally gives the best image for DVD but does tend to have "jutter" on pans. Component progressive DVD player into Mits. HDTV may do better for sound and jutter-free video. HTPC generally works best for FPTV where their deinterlacer is inferior to HTPC. That's why people use external scalers and deinterlacers like Rock, NRS, DVDo to help with satellite, VHS, and other interlaced sources.
 

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noise like you are describing can be from a "noisy" power supply. seeing how you sound generally unhappy with your overall output from your htpc and not just the iomagic pcpvr, you might considering using an antec or enermax 300-400W model. this alone eliminated >95% of my video noise.


i also found that having pci cards plugged in to the slots immediately adjacent to the pcpvr resulted in less noise. my only conclusion was that the other cards were shielding the pcvr card.


monster cable or equivalent s-video cable are also a must. shorter probably better than longer.


i still have a slight mount of video noise, but you really have to be looking for it and i am the only one who can actually see it . the image with my pcpvr/dscaler can be quite pleasing but as with any htpc it will take time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
q2,


The color noise I see is only on the IOMagic. If I put up the THX optimode patterns on both Dscaler (through my standalone DVD) and through PowerDvd at the same time, I can A-B them. Powerdvd has poor resolution, but rock-solid color. Dscaler/Iomagic is sharper but has noisy color. There is also no noise in the desktop.


Could this be due to bad power? If it was the power supply, shouldn't both Powerdvd and Dscaler be noisy? My home theater equipment runs through a 40db electrical noise filter, but my HTPC is on a standard power strip.


I've tried moving the IOMagic card to 3 different PCI slots with no change. The tuner seem suceptible to interference, but not the Svideo.


The only cables I've ever had die on me were Monster. Now I use ARs from Loews, or gold-plated Radio Shack.
 

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Thanks! Good suggestion, great link. I'm starting to think that since I have a RPTV with 7" guns (as opposed to an FPTV) this whole HTPC project might not be worth the effort. Not that tinkering isn't fun, and it did expose how bad the convergence & geometry is on my HD input. But I don't see the point of jumping through hoops to scale my Tivo to 540p when I can't really see any improvement.
 

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I agree. There just might not be that much of an improvement for you. A progressive DVD player should produce a great image.


As a last hurrah, make sure that you've calibrated your overlay for a good color and then use the autocalibration in DScaler to dial in a good gray scale and color for your IO Magic. Make sure the full luma range is unchecked on Advanced-Advanced Video Flags before doing the auto-calibrate.


Re #1, I think it was addressed in another thread.


Re #2, make sure you set Sleep_Interval=0 in the [threads] section of your dscaler.ini.

"But why the intereference on the IOMagic? All the reviews I've read on this card praised it's clean Svideo capture. Is this card susceptible to intereference from other cards? Other than moving it's PCI Slot or exchanging for another card, is there anything I can do?"


It varies too much by machine. The people who gave you good reviews probably saw what they saw, but you're seeing what you're seeing too.
 

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If your HD input hasn't been calibrated at all, this just isn't a fair comparison. In addition to geometry and convergence, grayscale and color decoder definitely need to be calibrated to get the optimum picture. Using the RGB mode for the HD input also guarantees massive red-push.


You opinion of S-Video input to a capture card and using dScaler matches my own. No matter how good dScaler is, none of the cards I've tried could provide a noise-free signal. I still prefer this route to using the internal Mits doubler for NTSC satellite, because the Mits doubler doesn't handle the satellite MPEG artifacts well and produces a terrible picture. But I definitely wouldn't go this route for DVD.


As for the lack of resolution in PowerDVD: well, PowerDVD 3 wouldn't be my first choice in DVD software, WinDVD 2.6.4, or better yet the upcoming TheaterTek DVD player will produce a better picture.


But your problem with lack of resolution could also be due to scaling artifacts due to the 960x540p resolution. Translating 480 lines to 540 lines isn't always an easy thing for the video card to do, and you end up with scaling artifacts. Same thing goes for horizontal resolution.


You might be better off with a 480p resolution such as 720x480p or 1440x480p would produce a better picture. I believe PowerStrip comes with some predefined resolutions like this that you could try out. If not, maybe Joe Queen or Wayne Karnis will post some of their custom resolutions.


I use a Radeon under WinME with the 7093 which allows me to use interlaced resolutions, and I've found that 1440x960i producers an excellent picture, which thanks to being exactly double a DVD's native resolution does not have any scaling artifacts. Even on my 55" Mits RPTV the difference is very noticeable compared to anything else I've tried.


If you're not quite ready to give up on the idea of an HTPC, my suggestion would be to get a Radeon card, which allows you to get interlaced resolutions and also has better overlay quality than the GeForce. Radeon + the TheaterTek player is an awesome combination.
 

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slightly off topic but are there radeon drivers for win2k that allow interlaced resolutions? 720p works pretty well but i'm always up for trying something new.


thanks
 
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