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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone comment on this set top tuner / video processor? I would like to use it with SD cable to feed the A10X at 1024x768. It has RF, composite and s-video inputs. It has an RGB input also, but I think it is just a pass-through (don't know if it can be used for component). The output is RGB 800x600/1024x768/1280x1024 @ 60Hz. And it uses the Trident DPTV 3DPRO video processor chip and a VPX3226E tuner. I found it for $135 OTD.


Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.
 

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Trident is a good all-in-one chip for scaling and deinterlacing. It is found in AVT-3700 Imagemax and Zinwell Brightview scalers. You may want to search for these 2 here. These 2 scalers allows component input, no Macrovision issues, and 16:9 squeeze mode, but no RGB pass-through (a pain for HTPC users). They do a great job (better than most built-in processors of PJ especially the cheaper ones like the Sharp A10X. These are $400-600 each so for $135 I would advise you to go for it and give us a good review as Trident is a decent chip. Good luck and let us know how it performs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply Huey. I should have it by Tuesday. I will post my results (as best I can: I'm no expert) sometime next week. I currently am running my Comcast SD cable through a JVC SVHS VCR and outputting s-video to an iScan Pro, which outputs RGB through a manual switchbox (shared with my PC) and on to the A10X RGB input. My Toshiba non-progressive DVD player is outputting component to the iScan Pro. The iScan Pro's output is 480p, so the A10X's scaler is involved in the final image output. I am trying to achieve a sharper overall picture, primarily from my SD cable (which is currently running through three processors), but also from my DVD, if that's possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the tip. Yes, I have seen that document. Do you know if the Trident DPTV 3DPRO is the same processor used in the scalers you mentioned? There seems to be several versions of the Trident DPTV chip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Also, notice the output resolutions on the S-Media unit. They computer VGA type resolutions (perhaps not geared to HDTV).
 

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 http://www.laaudiofile.com/briteview.html has a review and inert images of Zinwell Briteview (black case and AVT-3700 Imagemax has silver case but otherwise identical inside--possilby Zinwell has newer firmware but I'm not sure). Its chipset is the (I have AVT-3700 and have opened it up to update firmware chip and also confirmed this) Trident DPTV 3D (older version of 3DPro). You do pay premium for component input and output. Since your A10X supports RGB and your low price scaler does support 16:9 (including centering 4:3 inside 16:9 window) squeeze it should not matter and should work just as well without component output. RGB may be a tad sharper than component while component's colors may be slightly smoother. The old VB50HRTV only did XGA and could not do the 16:9 squeeze. It also suffered very mild, very faint Macrovision light/dark pulsing every 3-5 seconds (hopefully this scaler does not). Only way to tell is to try the unit. NewEgg is pretty good at returns so just try it and let us know. $135 shipped is pretty sweet for this nice scaling chip.
 

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Yeah, I saw that PDF also and after close comparison on paper, 3DPRO has more features, probably better deinterlacing algorithms, better grayscale (a problem with AVT/Zinwell), better skin tone, LCD screen dithering enhancement (smoother color gradient). Interesting that 3DPRO supports component in and out but the cheaper scalers like Smedia does not use it (Svideo/Composite in and RGB out only with RGB passthrough). The RGB passthrough is nice for HTPC users as you don't have to get a VGA switcher or get up to swap cables. Since it is a passthrough, I would bet that you can pass-through HDTV/1080i/720p/480i/480p component if you use 3RCAmale->VGA female (male can be converted to female with gender changer from www.pccables.com which has VGA->BNC->RCA breakout cable also) in case you have HDTV receiver or scaling DVD players like Bravo D1, Momitsu v880, LiteON LVD-2001, DreamX108, Mecotek, Yamakawa, etc. This is particularly useful for business projectors like Sharp A10X or NEC LT150 DLP which uses its VGA (HD15) port for component (interlaced or progressive) or RGB input. Thus, I would bet you will love this cheap unit especially if Macrovision pulsing is not an issue (try Disney tittles to be sure MV is on :D). TV tuner is an additional bonus although Svideo out of JVC SVHS or cable/satellite boxes should be better (better PQ, more responsive channel surfing, and certainly better audio)
http://images10.newegg.com/productim...117-302-04.JPG


VGA breakout cable can be found at various internet sites (Rams electronics, A2zcables, bettercables--pricey, bluejeans cables--pricey, etc.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK, I received the S-Media box. It is hooked up as follows: VHS player to composite input (for tapes); DVD player to svideo input; Comcast SD cable to RF input (sound is output through stereo miniplug to Harman Kardon for CATV); PC's VGA output to VGA input (passthrough, cable supplied by S-Media); VGA output to A10X.


The S-Media box has color/hue/sharpness/brightness/contrast controls. Settings are retained for each of the three inputs individually. There is a noise reduction setting that I have set to high for the RF input. The channel scan picked up all of my existing cable channels. I set the S-Media box to output [email protected] (the native resolution of the A10X). There is also a setting for overscan, underscan and center. I have it set to overscan (even though I do not know what this does).


My screen is 100" diagonal and my viewing distance is 12'.


SD cable - I can say without reservation that the picture is much sharper. And, the white text overlays (on news channels, for instance) are no longer dancing around, they are steady. The wife noticed the improvement immediately. The picture is not perfect: from two feet away you can see noise. But, from my normal viewing distance, it looks very good.


VHS player - Same improvement as SD cable.


DVD - The image appears to be ever so slightly sharper. I cannot detect any loss of picture quality. I thought I might due to the fact that I was using component and am now using svideo.


PC - no change in image quality, as was expected.


I had a distinct lack of sharpness before on my analog sources. I don't know if the problem was the projector's internal scaler, or maybe that there were two processors converting the signal (de-interlacer and scaler). The output of the S-Media box is clean and sharp (to mine and my wife's eyes). I will be keeping this setup.


Another problem I had with the iScan was that every channel change caused a re-sync on the A10X. The S-Media box does exhibit this behavior, not even when switching input sources. The S-Media box also eliminates the need for my manual VGA switchbox.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Correction to my last post:


"The S-Media box does exhibit this behavior, not even when switching input sources."


should read:


"The S-Media box does not exhibit this behavior, not even when switching input sources."
 

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Wow, thanks Mike. That's an awesome deal for $135. The picture controls are similar to AVT-3700 (minus the component input/output but adds the TV tuner and VGA pass-through). What about Macrovision? Have you tried Disney DVD's yet? Are there light/dark power cycling every 3-5 seconds ever so slightly? How does the 16:9 squeeze look? Is it in appropriate proportions? It's very nice that Smedia remembers the settings for TV, composite, and Svideo separately. I don't think AVT does (component, Svideo, Composite all share the video settings and you have to readjust when switching sources).


Congratulation on your purchase. Perfect companion for your A10X LCD PJ. Sometimes a RF signal booster (12db for $15-20 at Walmart or Kmart or 25 db for $35 at Home Depot) may help weaker stations to clear up noise and snow (may overdrive stronger stations causing ghosting). I may have to pick one up for my office PC :D
 

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I am curently using a no-name vga box ("Universal XGA box" ) To connect my DVD player to my lcd PC monitor (ViewSonic VG150 1024x786). Would switching to the box mentioned in this thread (S-media) improve my picture any? Its not bad right now as it is but I would like for the picture to be a little sharper as it is a little bit fuzzy looking right now. Thanks for any help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi Huey,

no macrovision problem that I can detect using A Bug's Life and Holes. I wish some one could explain 16:9 squeeze in one paragraph or less. I don't mean aspect ratios or the history of digital TV. I don't care for stretching or squeezing. But, I'm not sure I know what 'the squeeze trick' is or does. Anyways, I digress...my pj is native 4:3 and is defined as such to my DVD player. When I view 16:9 DVD's, my player will insert the appropriate black bars top and bottom. The S-Media box has three output resolutions (all 60hz): 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024. I have it set to overscan, but do not understand what this does. When HDTV becomes real in my living room (not 10% of the channels, but 70%) then I will probably transition to a 16x9 TV. As it stands, if I have my choice of watching 4:3 material on a 16:9 TV or 16:9 material on a 4:3 TV, I prefer the latter. The vertical and horizontal stretching bothers me, so I will always watch with bars.
 

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To take advantage of all the resolution of "anamorphic" or "enhanced for 16:9" widescreen DVD you MUST set your DVD player to 16:9 mode. This will display a 4:3 vertically stretched image of the movie (everyone is tall and skinny). Your PJ must have a 16:9 mode (not true 16:9 resolution or LCD/DLP panel) which squeezes it back to appropriate 16:9 ratio. For 2.35:1 movies DVD player will be stretched to 16:9 and your PJ will squeeze back to 2.35:1 ratio. Other odd-ball display ratio (1.66:1, 2.0:1, 2.4:1) will be stretched by the DVD player and your display will squeeze it back.


If you set your DVD player to 4:3 mode then it will not display all the lines of an "anamorphic" or "enhanced for 16:9" DVD, and the image is reformatted to the 16:9 image (losing a some lines or resolution so image is not as sharp) and your PJ in 4:3 mode will display this unmolested. If your PJ is set to 16:9 mode when your DVD player is in 4:3 mode then the image will be vertically squished (16:9 will be squeezed to 2.35:1 and 2.35:1 will be squeezed even further) making everyone appear short and fat.


For nonanamorphic (most "4:3", "pan and scan", and some older "widescreen" or "letterboxed" tittles) then you may still leave your DVD player in 16:9 mode as it won't matter, but your PJ needs to be switched to the 4:3 (nonsqueezing) mode otherwise your image will be overly squished. Some XY scaling DVD players like Panny RP-91, Samsung P230/231, all JVC, most newer Toshibas, Liteon LVD-2001, Malata, etc. will automatically put the nonanamorphic or 4:3 image inside the larger 16:9 image (window boxing) so your PJ does not have to be adjusted to display the image ratio correctly.


The problem is some business projector like my NEC LT150 XGA DLP does NOT allow 16:9 mode for VGA/RGB input. Thus, the scaler needs to do the aspect ratio control. Smedia supports 4:3, 16:9, and center (displaying 4:3 tittle in center of 16:9 image (window boxing). Thus your DVD player can be left in 16:9 mode to take advantage of all the lines or resolution on anamorphic tittles (most newer widescreen DVD's). Without this feature, you can't take advantage of your anamorphic DVD's higher resolution as certain PJ can't do the "16:9 squeeze" (squishing the stretched 4:3 image back to correct 16:9 ratio).


In conclusion, I was asking about the aspect ratio control ability of Smedia's box. It's great that there is no obvious Macrovision light/dark pulsing which plagues cheaper scalers like Viewsonic VB50HRTV, Nextvision 4/5 (6 is OK as it uses Trident chipset), etc. Sounds like a good deal. It will definitely beat any "VGA box" if your PJ native resolution is above VGA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Huey, when you say "Smedia supports 4:3, 16:9, and center", are you referring to the overscan, underscan and center setting?
 

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I'm not sure as I don't have this unit yet. I saw on the specs that it support 4:3, 16:9, and center mode. Is this not the case? I've cut and paste the advertised specs below:


Display Chip:

Trident DPTV 3DPro + VPX3226E


Output Resolution:

800x600 / 1024x768 / 1280x1024


Refresh Rate:

60Hz (NTSC), 75Hz (PAL / SECAM)

W/H Ratio: 4:3, 16:9, Center


Accessories:

Power Adapter

Full-Function Remote Control


Connectors:

Tuner: Antenna / Cable TV

Video Input: Composite / S-Video

Video Output: VGA D-Sub

Audio In/out

Advanced Video Features:

Digital 3D Comb Filter

Digital Voice Reduction

Motion De-interlacing

15 Degree Edge Smooth

3:2 / 2:2 Pulldown

PIP (Picture in Picture)


Audio:

Stereo / MTS


Channel Preview:

9 Preview Windows


OSD:

Graphical On Screen Display


TV Systems:

NTSC, PAL, SECAM
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK, that must be the setting that I wasn't sure about. Thank you for the explanation on the 16:9 squeeze. I will try setting my DVD player to 16:9 and setting the S-Media box to underscan. I will then try a few anamorphic DVD's and report my results here. I will also find out if that setting is per input or for all inputs.
 

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Yeah, please do give us an update when you can as I may get one if it does indeed do the "squeeze" and not suffer from Macrovision. I can do a shootout between AVT-3700/3800 and Smedia cheaper solution.
 
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