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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
[Update: While the impressions below are valid, there is one possible configuration which makes all of the problems a non-issue, see my followup post later in this thread (post 10 or 11).]


Hi,


i just played around with PowerDVD4.0 and don't know what the fuzz is about, at least picture quality wise. I am not interested in the audio decoding functionality, so i checked out the picture quality first.


Up to 2.55, PowerDVD had the most decoding artefacts (blocking, banding, pulsing, quantization noise, chroma bug etc.) AND a soft picture. Version 3.0 at least solved the softness, but still wasn't up to WinDVD or let alone the ATI player, especially on the Radeon cards.


I haven't compared the picture of v3 to 4.0 yet, and its unlikely that i am going to install v3 again. So i don't know how big the improvement over the old PDVD versions is, but that isn't my concern anyway, it has to compete with todays players (WinDVD, ATI, TT).


Well, 4.0 still looks like PowerDVD to me :p


I took a few screenshots of PowerDVD4.0 and WinDVD2.6 and compared them:


PDVD still has more blocking and banding. The picture shows strong quantization noise (especially in the UV domain) and blocking pattern stripes are really distracting.


I still have to check out whether pulsing and the chroma bug behavior is improved.


The picture seems to be slightly sharper, but it appears to me that this is due to the higher quantization visibility and not more actual detail.


To take those screenshots, both engines were obviously running in software mode. At first glance, non of the issues were improved with PDVD in hard. accel. mode, at least on a Geforce. Will have to test a Radeon later. I doubt they actually use iDCT correctly (or at all) on the Radeon. If the picture doesn't improve considerably in hardware mode on the Radeon, then it won't even beat WinDVD, let alone the ATI player, whose beauty can't be captured in screenshot, due to iDCT.


I will post the A/B screenshots later if people are interested, to demonstrate the issues i mentioned.


I haven't tested deinterlacing of video content yet. Film mode only.


The TT player should have the same PQ as the ATI player for film based content and is supposed to have slightly better deinterlacing performance. That means, if my first impressions don't change drastically on PDVD4.0, its no real contestant for the TT player. Again, only from a PQ point of view, not audio or anything.


Features:

I thought there was supposed to be aspect ratio control similar to YXY or the TT player. Where is it? The P&S feature is neat, but useless. The Zoom feature is no ratio control either. So, how are you supposed to operate a 2.35:1 screen with this, let alone one with non-square pixels?


I love the 'forward 5 seconds' and 'backwards 5 seconds' feature, though. Very nice!


More later.
 

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Bjoern, for someone who I've known for a while on here and respect greatly, I can't believe how quickly you posted and dismissed with this player. Cliff W. will dispute everything you said, but then again he's got it set up under peak conditions and I sense you aren't quite there yet.


First of all, you need to test it with a Radeon card. Second, I run non-square pixel like you. If you uncheck Keep aspect ratio -- you're off to the races. Try disabling HW acceleration and see what you come up with.


As for PQ, there is unquestionably better depth with this player than the Ravisent decoder. What you need to do now is download the ATI 7199 drivers to place your gamma control into a new Windows Display tab called Overlay that will appear when you install those new drivers. Once you do that, you'll be in for quite an experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mike,


as i mentioned, my tests were with hardware acceleration disabled. All my disappointing conclusions so far are based on that. The performance did not improve at all with hardware accel. enabled on a Geforce. I will try later today whether it does on a Radeon.


Note: When you run in non-hardware mode, the results of screenshots aren't influenced by the card you are running on. They would look the same on a 10 year old S3 virge.


How has Cliff set the player up 'under peak conditions'? What parameters are there except HW accel. On/Off?


Cliff or anybody that is familiar with the player: Does the performance of the player in HW accel. mode differ from OS to OS? Is iDCT or motion compensation enabled in one and disabled in another? When i test the player on a Radeon later today, i want to know whether i should use W2k or W98SE. My XP environment isn't fully functional yet, so i hope i don't need that for optimal performance.
 

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Bjoern:


To be honest with you, whether I run this player with HW acceleration on or off with a Radeon card -- I see a totally fabulous picture.


Cliff can comment on his own findings for you. I know that he's quite pleased with this new player and that he does run it with a Radeon card.


My impressions are that the PQ is as good as Ravisent, but slightly different. I run WinSE. There is sharper detail and you need to click up saturation to get the same punchy velvet look of the Ravisent player. As I said, another key here is to try the new 7199 drivers so that you can better control gamma as well. Once I did that, I was really impressed.


Cliff has posted Test Pattern results with this player and you've never seen a better 6.75 pattern than this one. Perfect lines with no rolloff and excellent black/white continuity through the lines. Perfect in fact.
 

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Bjoern,


The real question in my mind is whether or not Pdvd 4 has better picture quality than the ATI player. Are you planning on doing any A/B comparison screenshots between the ATI 4.1 player and Pdvd 4 using a Radeon.


Steve
 

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I use WinDVD but have PowerDVD 2.6 and have never cared for the picture quietly. It has more of video look than film and bright red objects (like tail lights on a car) look like horizonal lines. I did not upgrade to ver. 3 for these reasons. I read where ver. 4 has an all new video engine and a lot of the people who worked for IntreVideo (WinDVD) now work for CyberLink (PowerDVD). Is it all new video engine or just an improved version?
 

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Bjoern, I think that PowerDVD 4 may in fact be able to use the iDCT features of the Radeon since this should be accessible through the DXVA specification it uses. At least ATI Player 5 uses DXVA and can still enable iDCT. I have not tried it myself, however.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Bjoern Roy
PDVD still has more blocking and banding. The picture shows strong quantization noise (especially in the UV domain) and blocking pattern stripes are really distracting.


I still have to check out whether pulsing and the chroma bug behavior is improved.


The picture seems to be slightly sharper, but it appears to me that this is due to the higher quantization visibility and not more actual detail.
Hi Bjoern,


Opinion AGREED! Yes, in my test, the blocking/banding AND pulsing artifacts are all as bad as older version of PowerDVD. No match for WinDVD. The chroma bug is indeed much improved but still not as good as WinDVD. Not to mention the WinDVD is also not perfect in chroma bug.


PowerDVD 4.0 does look every bit as sharp as WinDVD when those ugly artifacts are not visible! Fine resolution and color resolution seems much improved too, well, in bright scenes!


On a second thought, WinDVD should still has a better overall picture...


regards,


Li On
 

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Bjoern Roy,


Thanks for the feedback. There are a lot of smart people on this forum who may or may not agree on everything, but yours is the one of the opinions I trust must about picture quality issues. I would also be interested in seeing A/B screenshots, and I'd also be interested in hearing what you think about about running in hardware accel mode on a Radeon.
 

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â€i just played around with PowerDVD4.0 and don't know what the fuzz is about, at least picture quality wise. I am not interested in the audio decoding functionality, so i checked out the picture quality first.â€


Bjoern,


Are you sure that you have PowerDVD XP 4.0 and not PowerDVD Pro 6.1?


PowerDVD Pro 6.1 is nothing more than version 3.0 with an added analog audio channel for use on the Hercules Game Theater XP soundcard only.


If you do have XP 4.0 what is the build number?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Cliff,


its PowerDVD XP. The 'About' window doesn't say which build (does it for you?), but DVDGenie reports 4.0.1015.


All,


mystery solved!


1) The performance of v4 in software mode (without hardware accel.) is as bad as i described, even worse in fact. I could post several screenshots to support that, its kinda pointless as you will see. I tried both Win98SE and W2k. I doubt its better in any other configuration. It has all the flaws PowerDVD ever had in SW mode, but the 'chroma bug' is gone.


In SW mode, the engine has (always had) a very low precision, which yields high accumulative errors in the motion compensation. While I-Frames seem to be rendered quite ok (apart from some other artefacts), the last P-Frames before the next I-Frame look terrible, precision errors have accumulated so badly that the picture is a mess. This is much worse than the usual I-Frame pulsing.


2) HW accel. enabled under W2k.


a) On a Geforce, HW accel. does indeed work under W2k. This is easily verifyable with HyperSnap, if you can't take snapshots, its HW mode. The performance doesn't really improve, all or most of the flaws i mentioned above are still there.


b) On a Radeon, HW accel. didn't work under W2k. Tried older drivers and the newest i have: 3281. Note that the HW accel. switch in PowerDVD DOES stick, but that doesn't mean that i works. I could still take snapshots with HyperSnap, which means no hardware support.


3) HW accel. enabled under W98SE.


a) Didn't try a Geforce here, because HW accel. already worked under W2k, but didn't yield any improvement. Maybe there is a difference, but i doubt it.


b) With a Radeon under W98SE with the newest drivers 7199 and HW accel enabled, the picture quality improved significantly at last! Every artefact that i complained about is gone. Smooth film-like picture, just like the ATI player. Better than the ATI player? No, not really. I found the picture quality to be identical except for slightly better vertically interpolated reds on the ATI player.



Note: Non of the configurations above showed the 'chroma bug' in the classic definition, which yields streaky reds (the old PDVD versions i tested had this). But the vertical color interpolation can still differ, and while the new PowerDVD engine does this very good, i think the implementation on the ATI player is a bit better, a tad less blocky.


Other issues with PowerDVD that i found:

- with HW accel. ON, very unusual mapping of brightness/contrast/etc.. values to Radeon overlay controls.

- while gamma works through the new ATI driver 7199, there are several new issues how to set it and have it stick, sigh.


More on these issues later.


Conclusion:

The new PowerDVD is very good, but only in 1 situation, see 3b) above.


I found PowerDVDs deinterlace performance with HW accel ON to be as bad as it gets. Some people said its better with HW accel OFF, but since the software engine is completely subpar, this isn't really an option.


PowerDVD4.0 under situation 3b) against ATI player:


ATI player:

- has slightly better reds (a non-issue even to me)

- controls don't really stick

- no DTS

- has endlessly powerful aspect ratio control with YXY.


PowerDVD:

- has quicker response time.

- has neat '5 seconds' forward/backward feature. Great!

- DTS SPDIF out supposed to work (haven't tried yet).

- has great smooth scanning. In this configuration (Win98se,Radeon,7199), scanning at 2x or 3x forward was smooth as silk.

- has frame advance feature 'T' and even frame backward (although back to next I-Frame, thus more than one) 'CTRL-B'

- no advanced aspect ratio control. Does this new version work with YXY?



Overall, i would say for users of configuration 3b), this is the new player of choice. This does include me. But it would have to work with YXY, i haven't tried that yet. If it doesn't, i can't use it on my constant area setup.


Since it doesn't beat the ATI player in picture quality, but at least matches it, there is no reason for me to use it, once the TT player is here. TT probably has even better de-interlace performance even with HW mode enabled, plus mighty aspect ratio control out of the box.


But for people with don't have as fancy AR feature needs as i have, and who need the audio decoding (DD, DTS, DPL2), and who have access to configuration 3b), this player is a great choice.


Regards

Bjoern
 

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Bjoern:


Just to clarify...you do not need just the 7199 drivers for this player to look fabulous. I'm sorry, but it looks just as fabulous with 7093 drivers which are the ATI standard as well.


I knew you had to be doing something other than Cliff, myself and others to have the bad results you were initially indicating. Also, with HW acceleration OFF, your overlay controls will stick every time and your goal is then to set gamma from there. t looks simply gorgeous if you do. I have my overlay controls set at default except for Saturation up to 112 % and Gamma at +6. Simply marvelous. For those who have the 7093' and no overlay control, it still looks great using the players color controls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Mike,


do you actually read what i write, my friend? ;)


You keep saying that the player looks just as fabulous with HW accel. OFF, while i just posted a very detailed description why i think that the player looks like utter crap with HW accel. OFF.


And i am not really doing anything different than others. There have been a lot of people (including you) who said that the player looks 'amazing' with HW off or in W2k, or with a Geforce. As my post points out, i find all of these scenarios to look terrible. So i would consider that a disagreement and not a consense?


Are you really using HW off?


And how can you adjust gamma in PowerDVD with the 7093 drivers?


Regards

Bjoern
 

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Bjoern:


You need to read what I write and digest. I find all your comments on this player rash, too quick off the gun and off the mark. You talk about it being crap and then you qualify it as being good after you figure out something with HW.


The player does not look like crap with HW acceleration off on movie material. Maybe we're mixing up video and film. I'm talking film based DVD's, not video. The player looks fabulous on film based material with HW off or ON on my system and many others including Cliff agree, so i dont know what your problem is.


I know a good image when I see one and you're asking me if I read what you wrote implies I don;t. Maybe you should look again or clarify your remarks to be talking about video source vs. film based source.


I know 10 people using this player right now that I regularly communicate with who think it looks stunning -- not crap my friend.


It will also looks stunning with the 7093 drivers, but then you lose gamma control and it uses a default for gamma in that case which the user cannot adjust or identify.
 

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Another note:


On Power DVd 4.0 - XP, I have found that if you are using the 7199 drivers with the new overlay in the Windows Display box and you have HW acceleration enabled, the controls will go haywire on you whenever you start a new disk forcing you to go in there and readjust brightness. On the other hand, if you disable HW acceleration, control reverts back to the overlay tab and it remains stable. With HW acceleration off using film based DVD's controlled by the new overlay, the image is rock solid gorgeous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just to clarify, again. Yes, as i stated, all my testing was on film material. With HW off, all the artefacts i described make the picture look like crap. Do you even know what titles to select and where to look for the deficiencies i stated?


Post a screenshot from PDVD4 and WinDVD or ATIDVD, that shows that the I-Frame accumulation error i mentioned isn't as sever as i stated.


We all know i could post shots to show everything i mentioned, do i really have to go through all the trouble everytime i post something?
 

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Based on my experience, results are somewhat

dependent on the resolution running on your desktop.


My findings were:


PowerDVD4XP was the best player for my GeForce

based system:

[ GeForce2MX - 1600x1200 - system used for 4:3

DVDs - software decoding only (DXVA MC doesn't

look good) ]


On my Radeon LE (flashed with real Radeon32 bios)

Cineplayer4 had a slight edge in PQ over PowerDVD4XP

[ RadeonLE - 1920x1080 - system used for anamorphic DVDs - software decoding only (DXVA iDCT only works on my system at
resolution - maybe a 64MB Radeon would work

better?) ]

I thought PowerDVD4 had a nice picture, *except*

I run at (approx) 7.5IRE not 0IRE so I see

some weird (distracting) blotches in the dark

grey detail... Cineplayer 4 does not show these

blotches the way PowerDVD4 does. Basically

I felt PowerDVD4 tripped up a bit because you

see some digital artifacts on very dark scenes.

Particularly in the background of credits on

a black screen. Those running 0IRE or with

LCD/DLP/LCOS projectors may not notice these.

(I use a directview CRT)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Bjoern Roy
Just to clarify, again. Yes, as i stated, all my testing was on film material. With HW off, all the artefacts i described make the picture look like crap. Do you even know what titles to select and where to look for the deficiencies i stated?


Post a screenshot from PDVD4 and WinDVD or ATIDVD, that shows that the I-Frame accumulation error i mentioned isn't as sever as i stated.


We all know i could post shots to show everything i mentioned, do i really have to go through all the trouble everytime i post something?
You know what? Do and say whatever you want. I'm sorry to see you digress into condescension and superiority since you just can't believe others may have it running better than you do for whatever combination or reason. I have it running on the G90 -- it looks absolutely stunning. I have it running on Win98SE on two different HTPC's ..one loaded with the 7093 drivers and the other with the 7199's. It looks fabulous on both. I have tried both with and without Hardware acceleration on about 20 different titles including Toy Story, Gladiator, Fight Club, Phantom Menace and many others except Fifth Element which I refuse to buy. I suppose we're down to semantics where you say it looks like "Crap". Sorry, I just don't see it and neither does anyone else that I've talked to in the last three days about this player. Now, maybe you see something on a test that's microscopic to us mere mortals but stands out to you and therefore you think it looks like crap. I just think you shouldn't use such a generalization. By the way, I'm not married to this player and I'm sick of defending every piece of SW that comes along that happens to look good on my system. There are other experts on here besides you who are scratching their head right now looking at your commentary. Please don't post any screenshots -- you;re right it would be a waste of time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Aha, so thats how it is.
 
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