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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in Hong Kong, where there is a total lack of satellite and terrestrial program sources, yet there is a curious blend of broadcasted NTSC and PAL signals. Hence, a "multi-system" TV is the norm here. I have owned a Sony 34" CRT monitor for nearly ten years, and was considering upgrading it the latest Wega KV-DR34M97 CRT monitor, a stylish design with a smooth, gracefully-arced silver box containing a deep-blue frame bordering the 4:3 flatscreen glass. It closely resembles the North-American DV-40XBR700 http://www.sel.sony.com/SEL/consumer...v40xbr700.html , but instead of a 40" tube, it's 34".


I came across the newly-released 43" Pioneer plasma TV, and was sufficiently impressed to consider buying it (instead of the Sony). However, I have a bunch of questions which the dealer could not answer. I would greatly appreciate responses from the more technically-enlightened members of this forum!


The supplied "media box" functions as a tuner, as well as a input device for multiple video formats, including S-video, composite (vanilla) video, and component video. After the video signals are processed inside the media box, it exits in the form of a DVI-I connector (24 digital pins, plus 5 analog pins).


Similarily, the plasma monitor ONLY accepts video signals through a DVI-I connector.


My questions concern the processing functions of the media box, the functionality of the DVI-I connector, and the video processing electronics within the plasma screen itself.


1) The component video inputs on the media box does not make a distinction between progressive and non-progressive component video. Is the box "smart" enough to "know" the difference between the two, and apply the appropriate sort of signal processing (conversion to DVI) to each of them?


The ability to distinguish between the two is important, because I'd like to know that an outboard de-interlacer or scaler which outputs progressive-component signals would be of some benefit to the ultimate quality of the plasma picture. Ideally, a progressive-component signal should trigger a "bypass" response from the media box, shouldn't it?


I wouldn't want the media box to muck around with a pristine signal coming out of a Faroudja or Runco de-interlacing unit...


2) Broadcast TV signals - are they converted to "digital" by the media box, and then shot to the plasma screen via the digital link in DVI-I, or are the analog signals presented to the plasma screen "as is" through the analog link in DVI-I?


3) If by chance analog signals are indeed being sent into the plasma panel, what sort of scaler or de-interlacer is built inside the plasma screen?


4) The digital signals sent through DVI-I to the plasma screen... are they scaled or de-interlaced by the electronics inside the plasma screen?


5) Or perhaps the scaling and de-interlacing job is done PURELY by the media box, and the plasma screen is nothing more than a "dumb" fixed-resolution display device?


6) Finally, I guess I won't know unless I crack open the media box with some screwdrivers, but would anyone know which scaler and de-interlacing chip Pioneer uses? This is the most crucial component which determines the quality of the picture, so I'm doubly curious.


Pixelworks? Genesis (Sage, Faroudja)? Or some in-house Pioneer chip?


7) The fact that the monitor can only be driven through a DVI input - is the DVI connector something which people are happy to see, in terms of being "future proof"? Are next-generation set-top boxes, DVD-players, outboard video processor boxes, etc. going to be built with DVI outputs?


8) Finally, the DVI connector and its associated electronics... will it result in a superior picture through better signal integrity, transmission, etc.? Or is the traditional impedance-controlled BNC connector (or even S-video) connectors just as good?


Thanks !
 

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Hello John


Here in the UK we are just about to receive the first batch of the new Pioneer PDP-433MXE plasma display.


You may be better looking for a release date on that model in your market - the PDP-433HDE PlasmaTV does not sound like an ideal match for your aspirations - it is an 'aspiration' product but not really the best system when you are considering using an expensive external processor and the like.


The Media Box is built by Sharp and really hampers the picture quality of the PlasmaTV - the current 50" Pioneer MXE Plasma display for example looks far better than the also current 50" Pioneer PlasmaTV; though they both use the same glass panel!


The new 43" MXE model uses the same video board, PDA-5002, as the PDP-503MXE and this seems to get the nod on this forum as possibly the best video board for DVI connectivity - though others will also jump in with recommendations to look to Fujitsu and NEC.


The HDE PlasmaTV is not really intended for what you are alluding to - it is a lifestyle TV and will not generally be asked such searching questions about progressive or interlaced and the like; its for connecting up your mid range source kit and enjoying movies, games and the web on.


Look to the higher spec MXE models with no tuners, teletext, PnP and the like to get in the way of raw picture processing power.


Best regards


Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There is no news on the availability of the PDP-433MXE in Hong Kong. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that it would NEVER be available here.


Therefore, could you explain in more detail why having an connection board (composite, S-video, and component video) on the plasma chassis itself would necessarily lead to a BETTER picture?


Isn't it really the PERFORMANCE of the scaler and de-interlacer which determines the quality of the picture?


That's why my original post tries to address questions related to the differences in PERFORMANCE between scaler in the media box VS the PDP-503-MXE's built-in scaler.


As far as I know, offloading the scaling and de-interlacing task to an outboard device (and sending the digital signals via DVI) is a superior approach. An outboard processor provides better flexibility, upgradability, electrical isolation, etc. - ASSUMING that the DVI link does not introduce significant artifacts, distortions, etc.


Is there a chance that the media box's scaler is BETTER than the on-board scaler in the PDP-503-MXE? Does anyone have any observations or comments?


And suppose the next-generation outboard scalers from Runco and Faroudja have DVI-I outputs. Wouldn't the PDP-433-HDG then be a "better" match than the PDP-433-MXE, which still uses the old-fashioned analog connectors?


As far as I understand, the PDP-433HDG's media box is built by Pioneer. Sharp's PZ-43HV2 is actually an OEM version of Pioneer's PDP-433HDG (and not vice versa).


Has anyone had the opportunity to compare the PDP-503-MXE against the PDP-503-HDG (driven by the media box)?


If the former is better than the latter, then I'll have to agree that the on-board scaler is better than the out-board media box's scaler. Which would mean that the PDP-433-MXE would produce a better picture than the PDP-433-HDG.


Thanks.
 

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Yes, I've done a comparison demo of the 503HDE and the 503MXE and as Joe says, the MXE was a very clear winner.


The level of detail in the blacks was significantly better with the MXE, the HDE version just seemed to drop information in the darker areas of the image.


I used the early chapters of Gladiator and Moulin Rouge for the demo, both of which have a lot of dark scenes.


The MXE doesn't only use 'old-fashioned anaolgue connectors' the PDA-5002 card has a DVI connector on it as well.


Another factor that may be important to you with a mixture of PAL and NTSC signals is that we were unable to get the HDE version to accept a Progressive PAL signal, the assumption was that the media box only expects to see interlaced PAL. The MXE version handled Progressive PAL with no problems at all. Both handle NTSC Progressive of course.


Having seen both together I could not really find any good reason to take the HDE version over the MXE version. If the prices ever fall to the point where they are competing directly with more normal consumer TV's then I guess the ease of connection via the tuner box of the HDE version may appeal to some people, but you are giving up a lot for it.


The PDA-5002 card used in the MXE version can be swapped for other cards in the future when they are released, the HDE does not have that flexability.


The custom cable that connects the HDE to its media box is either 3m or 7m in length and is of course pre-terminted which can make installation a bit more challenging if you want to run cables through the walls.


Both MXE and HDE units are class B devices so both conform to the standards for home use.


Hope this helps,


Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Responding to Halov, who also lives in Hong Kong...


The salesperson at Chung Yuen Electrical quoted "around HK$56,500", while I think the price tag at the store next doors read "HK$65,000". Both stores are on the 6/F of Times Square. I believe the former is about right, and the latter, inflated.


What do you think of the PDP-433-HDG, and do you know if the PDP-433-MXE will be available in Hong Kong?


I was in Tokyo's Akihabara during March - Pioneer's Japanese brochure shows the following models:


PDP-503HD side-mounted speakers, with media box, DVI-input only

PDP-433HD-U bottom-mounted speakers, with media box, DVI-input only

PDP-433HK-S side-mounted speakers, with media box, DVI-input only

PDP-503 PRO 1125i to 1125p conversion (uncertain which connectors it uses)


That's the latest from Japan regarding Pioneer's plasma screen offerings.


Thanks, all, for your collective opinons and observations on the PDP-433 thus far... though the MXE version appears to offer a better picture, I'm afraid only the HDG version is available in HK (so far).


Although everything I've read seems to indicate that the Panasonic TH-42PW4 (and the OEM'd Toshiba 42WP26H) has better blacks, better contrast, etc., the 852 x 480 resolution appears a bit too pixelated to my eyes. I am intrigued by Pioneer's 1024 x 768 resolution, which appear significantly "smoother", depite of its "not so square" individual pixels.


I guess I don't mind trading off superior blacks and superior contrast against the Pioneer's higher resolution - 1.923 times higher, to be exact...
 

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Thx for info. John.


I've been meaning to pull the trigger on a plasma for a few months now but have not offloaded my 34 direct view Toshiba. Price on the Pioneer does seem reasonable if you got Quoted around 56k HKD in Times Square. Then it can probably be had for even a little less. Someone on this forum bought his Panasonic plasma at Chinese Club (Causeway Bay for example) and that was an imported unit; 48K at the time i believe (couple months before X-mas).


Problem then is the restricted guarantee (only shop guarantee), but maybee they will import the MXE as well ?.


I have only compared the NEC Mp3 and the Panny; and pref. the Panny. Have not seen the Pioneer yet myself but will check out Times Square this weekend !. (There is a shop in Wan Chai Computer Center on Lockhart Road that has 3 or 4 plasmas set-up; have you checked them out ?. So far i have not seen the Pioneer there though).


Brgds,

Marcus
 

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To Mr Taylor; can you advise when the HDE version was launched in UK & how about MXE ? I am surprised to see that better version is available in UK and not in Japan.


To John: Chung Yuen quoted me HK$53K (US$ 6.5K) the other day so if you negotiate hard, you can get it. Even if a HDE is the only available option in HK, I likely would buy it if it is the only version available in HK. I would send an email to Pioneer HK to confirm.


Good Luck in your decision. For mine, it is Pioneer as even @ HDE version, it is better than NEC or Panny.
 

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I was talking about the 50" 503 MXE and HDE, these screens have been around for a while now in the UK.


The 43" 433 versions are just hitting the UK market now, the HDE version is here already and I believe the first few MXE's have either just arrived or are about to shortly.


Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
For those in Hong Kong : good news!


The Pioneer 503MXE and 433MXE are both available - according to my friend who runs a very classy high-end audio/video shop in Central (Audio Celebrities - Chekiang Bank Center, Duddell Street), where you can view over half a dozen plasma screens, side-by-side in real-world setups, with real-world (as well as state-of-the art Faroudja and Runco) equipment. No more endless (and mindless) repeating loops of Bug's Life and Toy Story - bring along your favorite DVD to REALLY check out the different displays!


I intend to do my own detailed comparison in a couple of weeks, once I have the free time. Been pretty busy lately - until then, I intend to browse these forums to gather more information + knowledge...
 

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Hello John; once you audition the 433MXE, can you please: a) advise if it is better than HDD version, Panny, NEC, Fujisu, b) its best price, c) if it includes speaker/stand, d) the DVI input card.


Thanks for your help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Kenny,


It's going to be a couple of weeks before I'll have another chance to look at the plasma screens. So I suggest that you go ahead and do your own research and comparisons.


The MXE should be better than the HDG version - it's a lot more expensive. However, I don't know where I can physically compare the MXE side-by-side with the HDG. The MXE is pretty much "special order" merchandise, as far as I know.


Since NEC announced their new 1028 x 768 42" plasma, I am now interested in comparing that model against the 43" Pioneer plasmas.


What I really want to get is a 1028 x 768 version of the Panasonic 42" plasma. Or perhaps an upgraded version of their current 50" plasma. I suspect that the competition will force Panasonic to annouce upgrades to their current models soon. I suspect it will happen in time for Christmas.


Suddenly, I believe in Santa Claus again !:p
 

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John; this is a dumb question: but does the Pio MXE version accept any component output from any progressive DVD player ? I am so confused.


By the way; NEC MP4 is confusing too. I hope it is XP comparable + plug/play too as I may need it. I think the Pio is.


Anyhope I hope it is not that expensive as MP4 may be 25% more expensive than MP3.
 

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Panasonic can announce upgrades whenever they feel like. I really doubt anything will ship before next January's CES.


Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Kenny - read Mark Taylor's post regarding the MXE. From what I understand, PAL progressive (component) is something which has only become available very recently, and hence not a lot of monitors are equipped to accept it.


What I don't understand is the 433-HDE's media box - its spec say that it will enable the plasma monitor to display "progressive" images only when interlaced PAL is fed into the box.


I thought that with the exception of the 1024x1024 plasma screens, ALL of the other versions are, by definition, progressive scanning display devices.


Is Pioneer implying that the 433-HDE plasma lights up alternate pixels in an interlaced manner when NTSC signals are fed through the media box?
 

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The problem with PAL Progressive is that it is still not an official licensed standard.


The standard exists and by way of hacks there are now quite a few DVD players capable of outputting the signal. There are also a number of ways of displaying the signal.


The Pioneer MXE display with PDA-5002 card fitted supports 625p (PAL Progressive). It may well also support it with other 3rd party cards fitted but I've not personally tested it.


As far as I know, all plasmas other than those using the 1024x1024 Fujitsu glass are indeed progressive devices. They either accept a progressive signal, or convert an interlaced signal to progressive using an internal line-doubler.


From my direct experience with the 503-HDE it was able to accept and display an NTSC progressive signal, but it would only accept an interlaced PAL signal. The interlaced signal can still be fed via component connectors, it just can't accept the PAL progressive signal.


I suspect that the part of the spec's you are reading are trying to say that it will not accept PAL Progressive, only PAL interlaced which it converts internally to a Progressive signal.


Mark
 

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Thanks for your reply. Actually I just want to know if MXE can accept the DVD component output as I see that MXE has either a RGB or a 5 BNC combination of RGB.
 

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I'm a newbie in this area and after much reading in this forum, I was convinced to get a Panny 42. But the Pioneer PDP-433HDG changed my mind when I saw the PQ in it. It was not as impressive as the Panny... maybe the adjustment wasn't done properly as I saw more depth in the Pioneer.

Can't seem to locate much information about this model except this as I stay in Singapore.


Is it true that all plasma tv have 100 Hz progressive scan as I'm lost when that was mentioned on the website?
 
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