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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had another forum member over yesterday to look at a new HTPC that I was selling. He owns an NEC LT-150 and brought his projector along with him (isn't portability great :) ). This PC has a Radeon card in it and has the 0IRE reg tweak applied. It also has WinDVD 3.0 installed. I made some very surprising observations, to me at least, about preceived picture quality between these two software DVD players.


Now before I get going let me say that I am a CRT owner (8" gunned NEC XG). I also own a NEC LT-155 (LCD with MLA). I use the CRT for watching DVD movies and the digital for watching satellite TV. Let it also be said that I am a sticker for picture quality when it comes to movie watching. I have never done side-by-side comparisons between these two software DVD players on my digital projector since I never bought the LT-155 with the intention of watching DVDs on it. When I run the digital all I use is Dscaler and nothing else.


While I was demoing this computer a peculiar issue previously undetected with the ATI player was causing the overlay not to start when the player was exited and reloaded. A reboot would cure the issue until you loaded, exited, and reloaded the player again. The overlay would also start when minimizing the ATI player and going back to full screen. This did not happen with WinDVD. In the process of trying to determine why this was happening we connected the LT-150 to the computer (prior to that the PC was connected to my Sony 21" E500 aperature grill monitor).


Once the LT-150 was hooked up I ran scenes from The Fifth Element (Superbit) and Starship Troopers in both software players. At first I was just casually looking at the image on the screen but as I progressed through these screen tests I began to take note of what I was seeing. Much to my surprise I felt as though WinDVD produced a better picture in terms of dynamic range and smoothness. On WinDVD the blacks were better and the picture looked more fluid than the ATI player. I was pretty stunned by this result since I have the opposite perception on my CRT projector.


The member who came to look at this system was not comfortable with ATI player behaving the way it was and at the time I did not have any good ideas why this might be happening so he left empty handed: I felt pretty bad about this.


After he left I setup a custom powerstrip resolution on that same computer for my CRT projector and hooked it up. I was leaving room for the possibility that the minor overlay issue in the ATI player was somehow affecting the picture comming out of the decoder. That turned out not to be the case. On my CRT the ATI player produced a clearly superior picture in terms of dynamic range. It also had a slight edge in smoothness. This is precisely the same result that I get on my own HTPC when mated to the CRT projector.


Does anyone have any thoughts or theories about why the perceived picture quality between these two DVD players might be as I have observed it on the LT-150? I expected the ATI player to be better overall regardless of projector and that expectation just did not hold up against experience.


After I finished testing I did get to root of the overlay issue in the ATI player, corrected it, and now it behaves as one would expect. It's a shame that this did not occur several hours earlier. So, if anyone is interested I have relisted this system in the classifieds. It's a terrific HTPC and an exceptional value.


A final observation about the LT-150 specifically. When viewing satellite TV connected to the PC via a BT878 capture card using Dscaler we both noticed severe rainbow effect. I thought it was so bad that the picture was not really watchable. Please note that we did not see this effect to this extent on film source DVDs. With DVDs I saw very slight, hardly noticable rainbow on very rare occasions and I did not feel it hurt viewing pleasure. But with a NTSC satellite source it was plenty bad. I bought a LT-150 myself on the Dell deal and since my plan was to use it for watching satellite TV via the PC, it did not work out for me. I had the same result and sold the DLP and have since bought the LT-155 and am pleased with my choice. Thoughts on this phenomenon are welcome.


I am not looking to fan the flames of the ongoing digital vs CRT debate. If you think differences in the technology have something to do with it then let's talk about it in a gentlemanly fashion. I would very much like to confine this discussion to a cogent discourse in a attempt to better understand my observations regarding the software DVD players. Which at this point have me very puzzled.


--Jerome
 

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I agree with you that WinDVD appears better than ATI player on Radeon video card mated with LT150. I changed from Geforce2 GTS Pro since I heard all the Radeon hyped. The ATI player produced grainy picture while WinDVD gave a smoother, high resolution, better colors image. I know this is heresy but that's what I saw. Go figure. I did not figure it out. I even upgrade to beta drivers 7199 and the result is the same. This is OK with me as I prefer WinDVD for DTS throughput anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Huey,


We did not see an especially grainy picture with the ATI player--no more so than WinDVD. Color performance was about equal.


I don't know about heresy. Like you, I am far more persuaded by what I see on the screen. It's just that what I did see came as a very big surprise.


--Jerome
 
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