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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The RCA MM36110 is a complicated beast. According to the specs, it can support the following resolutions:


800x600 @ 60 hz progressive

640x480 @ 72 hz progressive or 60 hz progressive.



I am planning to hook up a HTPC to the RCA via the VGA input and use PowerDVD 4.0 for DVD playback. My question is as follows:


I will be using 800x600 @ 60 hz to watch 4:3 TV via the ATI Multimedia Center 7.7 (I have the ATI Radeon 8500 AIW).


When I decide to play a 16x9 anamorphic DVD, I will be using PowerDVD which is configured to automatically change the resolution to 720x480 @ 72hz when playing DVDs. Will the RCA TV accept that signal and automatically do the 16x9 vertical squeeze? Is [email protected] a valid resolution given that the RCA specs say it can handle only 640x480 and 800x600?


Did anyone have any experience with this? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
It appears that the user has to go to the RCA service menu to do the 16x9 vertical squeeze. Can the HTPC trigger the vertical squeeze in the RCA?


I don't want to keep going to service menu to shift to 16x9 vertical squeeze every time I play a DVD and then back to 4:3 after the DVD finishes playing.


RCA MM3*110 owners with HTPC, your input is appreciated here. Thanks.
 

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I've tried 640x480 @ 60/72 with my 36110 and it won't sync with it (It'll display for like 2sec off 1sec on 2sec...), if I use powerstrip I can get it to 720x480 @ 60. But if you leave it at 800x600 you shouldn't need to use the vertical squeeze you'd get an 800x450 16:9 picture (would be simpler). What do you thing of you 36110? Are you using multiple monitors, i've got mine hooked up to the secondary on my GF4 MX440? Have you tried ATI's "Theater Mode" everyone here keeps saying get a Radeon but ATI's drivers have always scared me, but I need something like the Mtrox DVD Max/nVidia Video Mirror/ATI Theater Mode.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't actually have the MM36110 but I am actively considering buying one. However, this problem with the vertical squeeze is giving me second thoughts.


So you are saying that you have tried 640x480 @ 72 hz and it didn't work? Which video card are you using? My HTPC is hooked up to a Panasonic CT-36HX41 via the ATI component dongle. There is too much overscan and geometry problems associated with Powerstrip/component dongle.


The reason I'm considering buying the RCA is so that I won't have to deal with Powerstrip. How does 800x450 16:9 look compared to 720x480p 16:9? Don't you lose a lot of vertical resolution when watching 16:9 on 800x600?


Have you tried sending a 720x480p signal to the RCA? Did it trigger a vertical squeeze on the TV? Let me know. Thanks.
 

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Can't really comment on the 800x450 vs 720x480 I have never tried "the squeeze". However you only loose 30 lines of resolution and I'm not sure but if you ask some of the zoomplayer gurus you can probably set it up so that it will cut the 30 lines from the bars on a 2.35:1 movie instead of line from the picture. Personally I like the picture from my Pioneer DV-C36 with Tibutaries cable better but I've got my pc hooked up with a crap 15 foot belkin extention cable from best buy.


How did you decide on the 36110? Are you space/price limited? Just curious because I've been wishing I'd gotten a real 16:9 especially since my parents got their 46" Mits.
 

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Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have gone 16:9.


One way to look at that debate is from a resolution and PQ perspective, particularly when you switch back and forth between HDTV, DVD, SDTV and NTSC (analog) TV.


On a 4:3 TV, the 4:3 images fill the entire screen, but the resolution of the source is not as good as for 16:9 images, whether anamorphic DVDs or HDTV. The effect is one of magnifying low resolution 4:3 content to fill the screen and make its low resolution obvious, while actually shrinking high resolution content to fit the screen and not take full advantage of the high resolution content.


Conversely, with a 16:9 TV, the low resolution 4:3 content is reduced to fit, which tends to downplay its low resolution, while high resolution 16:9 content is "magnified" to fil the entire screen and show off its PQ and detail.


If you also consider which direction we're headed, buying 16:9 is more "future-proof" than buying 4:3.


If you don't believe the PQ story above, go to a showroom with real HDTV (not CC or BB with their DVD promos loops) and high quality DVD and see it for yourself. I know it is true because I am living with my decision to buy 4:3 because "most available content is still 4:3." Reduced 4:3 on a big 16:9 screen looks far better than reduced 16:9 on a big 4:3 screen.


When I was buying 2 years ago there was a big price difference between 16:9 and 4:3 HD-ready TVs. There is very little price difference today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Stranger89,


I'm considering the MM36110 primarily for budgetary reasons. I found a dealer who is selling a factory reconditioned MM36110 TV for $1000 shipped with a 1-year RCA in-house warranty.


Another reason I'm considering the 4:3 instead of a 16:9 TV is because I watch 4:3 TV about 85% of the time. DVD take about 10% of my time and I'm planning to play video games in the remaining time.


Obviously, there are burn-in issues when watching 4:3 TV 85% of the time. And also, computer games are designed to be shown on a 4:3 display.


I don't plan on watching HDTV shows right now. But in a couple of years, I will probably get a 60" UXGA plasma display for less than $2000.


By the way, Dave, the largest 16:9 direct view TV you can get today is the RCA F38310 and it doesn't even have VGA inputs. In fact, direct view TVs with VGA inputs are a fast-disappearing breed.
 

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I have the RCA 36100 - I believe the actual specs are the same for the number of pixels as the 36110 but mine has two vga inputs and I think they transformed one of these into a component input that can do HD on the later sets (my component input is not HD)


But as to your question - I watch both power dvd and theater tek on my set. They both look great with the computer at 800 by 600 - thats the only resolution available as the monitor is a plug and play


You can cycle through a number of zoom and letter box formats for any give DVD to get something to your liking.


Watching in HDTV I initially only had 1440*1080i and 720 p by something. Now Myhd has 800 * 600 as well. Again you can cycle the aspect ratios and resolutions to your liking - but digital tv @4*3 on this set looks great in a normal size room.


Granted you have to letter box HD material to see it in 16*9. However you can also watch it at 1920*1080i which does place the entire show into the 4*3 albeit distorted to tall and thin. If you don't want to letter box you can still watch HD shows in 1440*1080i not letterboxed and you get the real crisp HD detail in 4*3 with the edges cut off. In my mind its a good compromise to geting a 16*9 when so much of the material you watch is in 4*3
 

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I have a MM36100, which came out before the 36110 did, but is essentially the same monitor, with the main difference being that the component inputs are able to do 480p and not just 480i.


Mine is designed for 640x480, 800x600 and 1080i HDTV (but not 720p).


If I were you, I would use PowerStrip and see if you can get 1080i to work for your DVD's. The vertical squeeze sounds like too much trouble unless you have a remote that you could program a macro into to make the switch easier.


It's a nice monitor. I still use it for casual viewing even though I have the Marquee for the evenings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Mongo & RalphArch,


One of the main reasons I am considering buying the MM36110 is so that I won't have to deal with Powerstrip.


If I am not running Powerstrip and I'm using the ATI Radeon 8500 All-in-Wonder, then what are my options in terms of DVD playback, watching 4:3 TV, and playing video games?


RalphArch, the important question is:


How does anamorphic DVD picture quality compare when watching it in the following resolutions:


[email protected] (no vertical compression so some vertical lines wasted on black bars)


[email protected] (vertical compression enabled)


If the picture quality is the same, then I won't need to bother with vertical compression, right?
 

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Mongo,


What is the advantage of 1080i over 800x600? I haven't had the opportunity to try any HD modes with my 36110. Does it crop the 16:9 > 4:3 when displaying 1080i, or does it squeeze it into a 16:9 window?


kharvel,


I'd say that if you've decided to go 4:3, you won't find another TV that will give you anywhere near the connectivity options or the picture quality, especially in that price range. I keep looking for a new TV but keep stumbling over connectivity, having a direct SVGA input is something I'd really miss, man it's nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
stranger89;


Yeah, that's another reason why I'm considering the MM36110, in addition to the Hitachi 36SDX10 which has the same tube as the RCA. Direct view TVs with VGA inputs are a fast-disappearing breed.
 

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Quote:
RalphArch, the important question is:

How does anamorphic DVD picture quality compare when watching it in the following resolutions:


[email protected] (no vertical compression so some vertical lines wasted on black bars)


[email protected] (vertical compression enabled)
I don't have powerstrip (alright I downloaded the free version a while ago and have since uninstalled - It let me do 1024*768 instead of 800 by 600 but truthfully the video was not very satisfactory at that resolution considering the large dot pitch (around .78mm versus .27 or so for a good computer monitor and so I only run the set at 800*600 - however when I was running at 1024*768 power dvd and theater tek looked identical on the screen - I don't know why but they were the same.


I don't know how to to do 720*[email protected] - but maybe thats what the MyHd card is doing when I choose a 720 output mode. The 720 and 1080i and 800*600 modes all look very similar on my set when watching HD OTA. Some are just a tad bit bigger or slightly off screen on the edges and others like the 800*600 look like they are wasting just a bit of the real estate. I think the 1080i mode is where RCA gets the claim for the number of Pixels these sets display (Digital TV Compatible with: - Up to 864,000 Pixels - 930 lines of Horizontal Resolution) (so the actual max resolution is 930*930?)


I don't know what anamorphic means with respect to watching DVDs. I watch them either full letter boxed or choose some of the other options in the zoom menus to make the presentation somewhere between full zoom and the mode for a wide screen with the large black bars on top and bottom
 

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I will give you one other data point for the 36100 relating to COMCAST hdtv signal.


On my set I can receive either the 1080i or the 720 p signals using the Motorola 5100 set top box with a key digital transcoder to get the component output into a vga signal. I would imagine you will be able to avoid that $300 expense since you would have an HD component input available. I can get the boxe's 480i output directly on my component inputs


However a caution - the Motorola set top box I have currently can't letterbox or zoom or pan and scan - so the HD programming I get from COMCAST is just like OTA viewed at 1920 by 1080i - I get the full screen tall thin treatment. And the box adds black bars to 4*3 shows so the picture actually gets letter boxed on my set. I think COMCAST is coming out with firmware and software changes that should make viewing with a 4*3 set palatable on their HD service but a word of caution until you actually hear its working if a Motorola STB is provided by your cable company
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
RalphArch,


When you watch the DVDs with black bars on top and bottom, do you watch the DVDs at [email protected] hz resolution?


Have you ever tried watching the DVDs while there is vertical compression (via the service menu)?


How do they compare (i.e. vertical compression vs. no vertical compression)?
 

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Quote:
When you watch the DVDs with black bars on top and bottom, do you watch the DVDs at [email protected] hz resolution?
yes - I only use that resolution when using tv as a computer monitor. However for a while I was also occasionally watching DVDs at 1080i using the MyHD US beta 2 program that got pulled when the DVD consortium got on the manufacturer. This input was through the VGA 2 output (or alternately was identical if I chose a single monitor approach and toggled the computer display to HD mode) To tell the truth I didn't notice much of a difference between 1080i and 800 by 600 - but may other folks with truly large displays were raving about the diffences on their sets.



Have you ever tried watching the DVDs while there is vertical compression (via the service menu)?


I don't have this on my set - Maybe thats a feature in the set you are looking at that is not available on the 36100.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The vertical compression can be enabled only through the service menu on the MM36110.


Getting the vertical squeeze via the service menu is a big hassle and is the reason why I was asking about the picture quality of 800x600 in uncompressed mode vs. 720x480 in compressed mode.


If there is no difference in PQ, then I can stay on 800x600 when watching TV, DVD, and playing video games. I don't plan on watching HDTV so 1080i isn't much of a consideration.
 

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Hey guys,


Well I tried to hook up my 2-3 year old Sony VAIO laptop to the VGA 1 input on the back of my MM36110 the other day and got less than good results. The picture appeared to be all smashed into about a 3 inch area at the top of the TV screen. I tried monkeying with both the output resolution and refresh rates from the video card in the laptop, but nothing seemed to help (highest setting I used was 800x600 at 72Hz I think.. also tried 640x480 at 60Hz and 72Hz). The plug and play part of Win98se discovered the TV as an "RCA/Proscan Monitor", but just loaded a generic monitor driver. I've searched high and low to find an actual RCA monitor driver out there in internetland, but found NOTHING. Can someone out there tell me what you did in order to get your computer to display correctly on the VGA1 input?


Also, is it possible to hook a computer up to the VGA2 (Hi-Def) input as well, so I can play the Video Essentials DVD through my laptop and calibrate that input as well?


Also, I don't recall which video card is in the Sony VAIO, so I'll have to find that info out tonight once I get home.


Thanks,

Jeff
 

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Well I finally got the TV to display the output at 800x600 @ 60Hz on my MM36110 and it looks HORRIBLE. The display flickers regardless of whether I use Text/Computer or Video mode on the VGA1 input. The crappy video card that is in the VAIO is a NeoMagic Magic Media 256AVP card. I couldn't really find any updated info or drivers for this, in case that was the issue. I'm pretty ticked off now. I was expecting the picture to rival that of my second gen Toshiba DVD player and in actuality it looks like a bad VHS tape. Yuck. My two desktop pc's are not easily removed from my study/music studio, so trying them isn't really an option. I was really hoping the picture from the laptop would be much better. I am at a loss.


Any ideas?


Thanks,

Jeff
 
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