I think the main reason to choose the RP91 over the RP56 is the upscaling of non-anamorphic DVDs which works well with HDTVs that "lock in full" when they detect a progressive signal. This way ALL of your DVDs will appear anamorphic and you shouldn't get HUGE letterbox bars when watching non-anamorphic DVDs (depending on the aspect ration, of course).
I am sorry for what may be a silly question ... but I just don't understand what happens with the scaling feature.
I have an XBR400 which automatically goes into 4x3 mode when it detects a 480p signal. It is the one thing that I hate about the set. It requires a manual change to 16x9 every single time. IS this what is meant by "full" mode described above?
I am considering the RP56 versus the RP91. Does the scaling feature buy me anything on the XBR400? Or, for this set, is the RP56 the better idea.
The "full mode" that people are talking about is that some TV's lock into a particular mode when receiving a progressive signal. For widescreen digital TV's, many will lock into "full mode" where the incoming progressive image is forced to fill the entire 16:9 area, regardless of the TV's scaling setting. This is great for anamorphic widscreen DVD movies, since that's exactly what you want in order to view the image correctly with the director's intended original aspect ratio (OAR).
However, if you try to play a letterboxed (non-anamorphic) DVD movie, which only looks right on a 4:3 set, then the TV (locked in "full mode") stretches to fill the 16:9 area, resulting in very fat-looking people, with HUGE top/bottom black bars! Since this type of TV can't change the scaling when receiving a progressive scan signal, you have to live with this. There are a lot of letterboxed/non-anamorphic DVD titles out there. Bug's Life, Armageddon, the earlier 2001 are a few. My Mitsubishi widescreen RPTV does NOT lock into full mode, but it's scaling quality is mediocre.
For playing letterboxed movies, scaling within the DVD player can solve these problems. If your TV locks into "full mode", the player can scale vertically only just the right amount to make the OAR correct. It also does the scaling in the digital domain, which provides a cleaner picture - it avoid a analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion, resulting in less noise. Also, even if you have a TV that doesn't lock into full mode, it may just spread out the scan lines to do the scaling, which looks pretty bad.
I don't know the particulars on the scaling in your XBR400. Is it a digital 4:3 set or 16:9 set? Perhaps it's actually changing the scan rate to provide your 480 visible lines in the middle portion of your 4:3 set? I've heard some ditigal tube sets do this.
You are correct in that on your XBR400 you need to manually perform the anamorphic squeeze when viewing anamorphic dvds. On those sets, the component inputs will not detect an anamorphic signal and perform the squeeze automatically as it does with the composite and s-video connections. But it doesn't acutally "lock" into full mode because you are still able to manually perfrom the squeeze. Also, a dvd player's scaling ability will be of no benefit to you on a 4x3 TV. I had a 36XBR400 before I replaced it after about a year with a Mitsubishi WS65908 RPTV.
While the Sony XBR400 will automatically detect a 16:9 interlaced source and adjust the scanning accordingly. it will not do so with a 480p signal. The squeeze is important because in 16:9 mode, the set compresses the scan lines to allow for full scanning resolution within the 16:9. This gives it higher quality image.
So, I end up with 3 choices when viewing a 480p signal:
1. Watch the picture with the ends cut off.
2. Set the DVD player to letterbox, but then you lose the advantage of the compressed scanning as the TV scans the letterbox.
3. Manually go into the TV -- through a very complex set of commands, to set the screen to 16:9. This is the perfect image -- but very annoying to do.
I was just wondering if the video scaling in the RP91 would do anything for me. But, Ken's explanation confirms it. The set does not lock in "full mode".
So, I was thinking about the Panasonic RP91 or RP56. From what I can tell, people think the image is better on the less expensive RP56. So, perhaps I should buy that with a Pronto remote set up with a complicated macro to switch the TV.
So -- given that scaling will not provide any benefit -- any reason not to do the RP56? Seems to be the best for under $1000 according to what I have read.
The RP56 was not out when I ordered my RP91 - Otherwise, I may have considered it.
What size is your XBR400? If it's 36" or less, I'd recommend the RP56. If it's larger, or if you plan to get a big RPTV later, I'd recommend the RP91. Why? From various posts, including some comments by the Secrets of Home Theater Hi Fi guys, the video signal quality (SNR) may be cleaner on the RP91. This difference may not be visible on typical sized TV's, but is much more noticeable on very large screens.
The RP56 will have better de-interlacing capability, and there's always going to be a better model just a few months away... I chose the RP91 for it's better video signal, better scaling for large screen TV's on non-anamorphic titles (better than my TV), and its adequate de-interlacing. I haven't noticed ANY combing on ANY of my movies. I HAVE noticed quite a bit of combing on the 'extras' on several of my movies. The RP56 will do a better job there. Lastly, if you really want to have DVD-Audio, the RP91 has that feature.
In your position and with your TV, I'd probably go with the RP56, and get a different player in the future if I got a big screen. By then, there will be players with more features, less bugs, the best de-interlacing, etc.
RP91 is an audiophile grade DVD-A player. I had both, and there is no comparasion between 91 and 56. If Panasonic pricing startegy is right (I hope so for an electronic giant), the question may be "does it worth the ~$200 difference". The remastering features and film-like quality worth it, for me!
Well, I have finally settled on the Panny RP-91. Did lots of evaluations using my Sony XBR400. Here is my executive summary:
1. The Toshiba SD-9200 has the best audio quality by far. If you are looking for a CD or DVD-A player, that happens to have DVD-V in it, this is the one. The sound quality is true audiophile grade and rivals my CAL CD player. But, the video exhibits a lot of combing, which I do not like.
2. The Denon 2800 was a real disappointment, even after the firmware upgrade. I had high hopes. I could not get past the "stuttering" problem in progressive scan mode. The screen would go black and then the image would be reacquired. This was quite disturbing. I tried all sorts of adjustments and settings and could not solve the problem. Also, the chroma bug is bad.
3. Sony ES unit was just not up to the best today.
4. Panny RP-56 is a great unit. Probably the best value in the bunch. Would have kept it, except the audio and video on the RP-91 are better!
5. The RP-91 audio is clearly superios to the 56, even for DVD-V. It seems that the circuitry is just cleaner and more alive. I also happen to prefer the digital coax to optical, so this was better. The video has a more three dimensional feel than the 56. The darks were darker and the brights better -- even after adjustments. All in all, I felt more into the experience.
So, I stay home with the RP-91!
Thanks everyone for your advice, discussions, etc.
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