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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,


I never post in this forum, and don't know exactly what to make of this experience, so I'll just throw it out to you guys and see what you think.


I have a Panny 42" ED (852 x 480 pixel) plasma. A while back I discovered that connecting my Panny RP-91 DVD player to my display via a high quality (Nordost) S-Video cable provided a cleaner, sharper signal than my component connection. It's the best image I've ever seen on this Panasonic plasma...and I've seen this plasma in countless set-ups. But that's not quite the point.


Today I checked out Runco's version of my display, wherein they re-badged the Panny, changed the frame, and if I remember properly did some work on the screen and/or internal (I'm not sure about that part). The salesman touted the Runco outboard scaler heavily, which is sold along with the plasma as a package. He went on about how it made for a better picture than I would ever see from this plasma from a stock unit (like mine).

The Runco was in a dedicated room, using a Classe' DVD player (expensive), feeding the Runco scaler, into the display. The display looked pretty well calibrated.


But....the Runco image was absolutely inferior to the image I get from the Panny at home. It looke pretty much like the image I see from the Panny in most store set-ups, and not one iota better. The image from my Panny is significantly sharper, cleaner, with more solid noise-free color...hell in every way it's better. I told that to the dealer and he said: "So you're telling me a Toyota is running better than a Porsche?" He was skeptical to say the least.


Any comments? What's the deal? How the heck can I be getting a better picture in my set-up than the expensive-as-heck Runco gear with all it's "picture-improving" technology and scaler? It's hard to believe Runco's technology could be THAT over-sold.


Thanks,
 

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If you're getting the best image from S-video rather than component on your unit at home, and, what's more, a "well calibrated" Runco using a scaler didn't look better to you, then...well, what can I say. To each his own. Perhaps your visual tastes are different from the "ISF" standard.


Nothing wrong with that, actually. For exapmle, on my computer monitor, I much prefer 9300K over 6500K. It's not right, but I like it, at least with web pages and text.
 

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Iv'e got news for ya... Toyotas usually do run better than Porsche's!!! HeHeHe! It's great when your quite content with your current setup, isn't it? Iam glad you are enjoying your setup!


Glenn
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
PF,


It's not simply a calibration issue. I've had my S-Video input professionally ISF calibrated (as well as my Component inputs). But I also experiment a lot with my own settings...basically I've seen my S-Video with settings all over the mat. The qualities I'm describing remain no matter which of my settings I choose.


My Panny image is better than the Runco I saw in ways I can "objectively" describe, not simply in ways I "prefer" : the image is more precise - as if the pixels are more perfectly mapped. On the Runco "focus" was not maintained to the tiniest details - they get softer and more smeary, whereas my Panny looks pin-sharp to the finest detail.

The scaling on the Runco plasma looked, for lack of better a better phrase, "perceptible to the eye" - like when you can see the scaler working. Object outlines, patches of skin, areas of color - nothing on the Runco had the absolute solidity that I get with my Panny. The difference I'm describing is almost exactly how people describe a direct digital connection (e.g. DVI) into a fixed pixel display, vs an analog connection - with the Runco having the less precise "analog" connection, and my Panny looking more like the cleaner, clearer, more solid digital signal. Subtle to some, but certainly distinct to someone familiar with both screens.


This might give the impression the Runco image looked "bad" and that there was something egregiously wrong in the set-up. The Runco image looked really, really good - so good most people would think they were seeing the plasma at it's best. But it ain't so: for whatever reason, mine looks "objectively" even better. ( ? ? ? ?)
 

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Did the dealer have the Runco scalar actually generating the same resolution as display - and was it pixel matched (adjusted clock/phase) VGA multiscan - or was it DVI connected?


If not - quite possibly the picture is getting doubly scaled - once in the scaler and once in the display. What does the Avia resolution patterns look like - do they have really bad Moire patterns? Maybe a single pixel in the source is being spread to two or more pixels on the display because they are not quite in sync.


Since it is a 480p display the analog Svideo may simply be pixel mapped better, video is a well know fixed scan rate unlike multiscanned computer signals (VGA) that is more difficult to perfectly sync up.


Also does the DVD do 480i or 480p on component, is the player or display better/worse at deinterlacing? Does the display have older Faroudja chips - which internally process as Svideo - downconverting the component signal!


Also Runco thinks deinterlacing is best leaving the hard combed edges - if the cost of eliminating them (Faroudja) is a filmlike (smeary...) look. Combine that thinking with a badly pixel mapped display - and it can look horrible.


I have a self calibrated Runco Vx1 DLP that is properly pixel matched and dialed in for D6500 with maximum contrast - you cannot tell if it is an analog VGA or DVI connection. I borrowed the NECLT100 it is based on from work - and even though Runco does nothing to the NEC electronics - the NEC picture was horrible out of the box. I think most Runco dealers make the mistake of assuming since is just digital - plug in the cables and you are done! The difference was one display was plug and play but not perfectly calibrated - the better picture had nothing to do with the brand. I could probably make the NEC LT100 look just as good given time to work on it.


My bet is the dealer just plugged in the video connectors and walked away - but everyone knows a Porsche needs time in the garage before you take it out on the race track!

Maybe they should let you calibrate it - you are surely familiar with the controls since it is the same OEM as your display!
 

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Hi Rich,


First of all, welcome!!!


A few things:

1. I strongly suspect that a good scaler hooked up to an RGBHV port on your plasma will give you better performance than your SVideo setup.


2. Most plasmas (and displays, now that I think about it) have a very weak SVideo input. I've seen this countless times. As one expert once told me "They take a reference design for an SVideo input stage and copy it from one product to another without actually checking if it's any good!".


I've recently witnessed a fantastic demo using a Sharp 10000 DLP FP. The image was great, but then we switched to SVideo :( There was smearing, Y/C issues, a very soft picture, etc.


However, a very well designed SVideo input stage (as witnessed by the early Faroudja processors which transcoded everything to Svideo before processing it) can have a very good image.


I suppose the Panasonic engineers simply produced a better SVideo input than component.


3. Regarding Runco. I think their units are overestimated. At CES, quite a few different products from them (and companies they own now) were shown. I was a bit impressed with some, but definitely unimpressed with most of the products. We also saw a plasma by them inside a retractable picture frame. I was more impressed with the picture frame than with the plasma...


Runco is a projector manufacturer. Their scalers are OK-ish, but nothing to write home about. I also think their projectors are nothing to write home about either. I was never thoroughly impressed with any of their products, I'm afraid.


So, it's not just you...
 

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I have used a Runco PFP-7 with a WD4 UK spec plasma. It's image was VASTLY superior to the S-VIDEO input direct to the device. I think that something is wrong somewhere.


Gordon
 

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Gordon,


Do you think there may be some kind of flaw in that plasma's component input?


Rich,


How did you have the scaler connected to the unit?


Have you run the zone plate tests (e.g., from AVIA) on the plasma in both Component and SVideo? What were the results?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by oferlaor
Hi Rich,



3. Regarding Runco. I think their units are overestimated. At CES, quite a few different products from them (and companies they own now) were shown. I was a bit impressed with some, but definitely unimpressed with most of the products. We also saw a plasma by them inside a retractable picture frame. I was more impressed with the picture frame than with the plasma...


Runco is a projector manufacturer. Their scalers are OK-ish, but nothing to write home about. I also think their projectors are nothing to write home about either. I was never thoroughly impressed with any of their products, I'm afraid.


So, it's not just you...
This is completely unfair, and thrown in at the end to justify the comments that precede it regarding s-video vs. component inputs which are dead right, as we all know.


Runco is a GREAT projector manufacturer/re-manufacturer with well-known top notch customer service. Their products are expensive (though even that is changing) but often lead the field to the benefit of all of us in this hobby. I was at CES 2003 too, and no presentation topped Runco's demo of the new 5000Ci with its custom scaler that did constant height/variable width screen applications -- a holy grail for many of us. The Wm Phelps Faroudja D-ILA presentation was slightly preferred by SOME observers, and I liked it as much, but there's no question that Runco had one of the best set ups ever.


Enough with the gratuitous Runco bashing. And not just because they're a huge sponsor here. It's simply incorrect.
 

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PF,


1. "This is completely unfair".


What's unfair about it?


2. ".. to justify the comments that precede it regarding SVideo vs component..."


-- I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say. In all the setups I've had SVideo was either the same or inferior to component. However, Rich has been testing this issue thoroughly with his plasma. I'm not sure I can explain the difference in the results between what he's getting and what i'm getting (on a different plasma).


3. Regarding Runco. The only impressive thing in their demo was the AVS dinner presentation with that huge projector and the custom scaler. All the other demonstrations (inside the AVS dinner or otherwise) were simply nothing to write home about. They were nice, but nothing more.


4. Regarding the custom scaler, I sat there with 3 buddies and we all jumped at the same time when they were showing AOTC sequences with artifacts out to wazzoo. This was during the presentation (not when they were showing all the bikini clad girls in 1080i).


Still, it was a cool presentation (particularly at that size) and the custom height/width/keystone changing was nice.


However, I recently visited a friend's house that has a scaler+SDI panasonic DVD player + Sharp 10,000 + firehawk. The setup was smaller than the Runco setup (which was huge) but the image was much more intense and I would have prefered that image to the Runco at about 10% of the price...


5. The Faroudja DILA was the best DILA presentation in the show (BTW, all the rest of their demos were so-so too...).


I don't usually bash Runco. Runco makes scalers because they're a nice accessory to his projectors. Runco doesn't really try to sell his scalers with any other projector BECAUSE it's an accessory, not a self contained product that he would want to sell on its own.


His scalers are OK. However, from what I've seen they are definitely not in the same class as the Faroudja NRS, for example.


BTW, there is not much Runco bashing going on in this forum!
 

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I don't what demo you saw at CES, but the one I saw was the mansion Great Room fight sequence from "Tomb Raider - Lara Croft." There were no artifacts that I saw and it was absolutely sensational. Easily the best OVERALL digital video presentation I've ever seen. It looked like 9 inch CRT, not digital.


And anyway, who cares about anything else shown at the Runco booth or the Faroudja booth. It's CES, after all, not a shootout. It's about glad-handing, for the most part; meeting-and-greeting the troops, if you will. Only the best presentation where Runco and Faroudja made their best effort is really relevant. And boy, were those two best-effort demos set up by Runco and Faroudja/Wm Phelps good!


As for Runco's scalers, of course they're packaged and optimized for Runco products. That by itself doesn't mean that the product has less worth simply because Runco isn't a pure scaler manufacturer. What manufacturer wouldn't try to vertically integrate a product they're selling with a logical companion product? Vidikron did it (with Faroudja and other re-badged scalers). And now Faroudja does it by selling projectors. Interestingly, not so long ago, Runco worked with Faroudja on scalers that were supplied with Runco projectors.


In any event, I know of no scaler that is perfect (maybe a Teranex), and neither is the NRS. There are those here who prefer the NRS, and those that prefer the PFP. Put me in the former camp because of DCDi, but I certainly wouldn't be unhappy with a Runco scaler in combination with my plasma or projector if most of my viewing was film based.


Nowadays, most scalers do a very, very good job de-interlacing and scaling DVDs. Only those most picky among us here find anything to complain about frankly, and certainly not your average home theater enthusiast. Let's keep our perspective. The scaler wars are now mostly about price and features, not picture quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the very informative, helpful replies everyone! It's very interesting stuff.


Krog,


I plan to check with the Store about how the Runco scaler is set-up in their room to make sure they are implementing it correctly.


I wasn't looking to turn this into a discussion about my using the S-Video signal (thanks for your thoughts on this Ofer), but since it does seem odd, here are a few tidbits about it:


1. I never noticed the S-Video signal was particularly good before trying out a "high-end" Nordost S-Video cable for laughs. It was then that the S-video signal seemed to make that leap beyond the quality of my component signal. The Nordost does *seem* to produce a cleaner signal than my previous S-Vid cable, but being a cable skeptic at heart I wouldn't bet my mom's life on it in a blind test.


2. The S-Video signal is cleaner on both DVD and digital cable-box signals. So perhaps Ofer is correct that the Panny might simply have a particularly good S-Video input.


3. To maintain this quality the source component must also do a good job from it's S-Video output. The technical reports I've read say my Panny RP-91 DVD playler has a particularly good interlaced signal. I took home the much coveted Panny RP-82 DVD player, which has the same video DAC as my RP-91, but a better de-interlacing chip. However, I didn't keep it because it's S-Video signal was slightly smeary compared to the pin-sharp RP-91 S-Video signal. The RP-91 S-Video signal also looked cleaner than the RP-82 component signal. I tentatively presume the RP-91 has some better parts or engineering somewhere in it's S-Video chain than the RP-82.


4. There is an unequivocal lowering of color and overall video "noise" using the S-Video input....from the already impressive low noise levels of the component input. My S-Video input produces the lowest-noise, the most solid colors and image I've seen from any plasma anywhere (I'd throw in that I've yet to see a CRT....Loewe's included...that looks as solid with DVD images). Why? I don't have the technical background to make a good guess.


To get an idea of what I'm talking about, you can click on the plasma screen shots gallery below my name. Those are movies playing on my plasma, taken with my digital camera. Normally it's cheating to take a picture of a plasma on one count: the photo freezes the movement of dithering or video noise, so one is not aware of those artifacts in the screen-shot, which looks smoother than the real plasma. However, the S-Video connection on my Panny really does produce images that look virtually as smooth, noise-free and solid as those picture...which is what really freaks me out about it. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's certainly better than I've ever seen from another plasma..including the Runco and others I've seen running off expensive scalers.


Go figure...


Thanks.
 

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pf:Ofer is talking about the Runco dem at the AVS party. I was beside him when the Star Wars clip was played and we all went "wow" when the nasty chorma bug fault of the Meridian DVD player leapt in to view. Not nice. I saw a second prototype of the new scaler and it didn't exhibit this artifact......I wonder which one they will go with.....Also I am sorry you have don't seem to have ever seen a good 9" crt dem......


I saw the demo in the hall of the cl710 and the VX unit. It was not my favourite single chip DLP dem at the show. That goes to DWIN. It was good though. I love the 2.35:1 screen idea. Very cool. Sam and his staff certainly know how to drive change in this industry.


The PFP scalers are excellent on NTSC film source material. In fact they are probably my favourite scaler for such material. They are ropey with video and just poor with PAL film source stuff. Nothing for you to worry about though I guess.


The S-video inputs on Panny's in UK were notorious for having a nasty chroma delay that required a firmware fix to correct. Not sure if that was the case in USA.


I do not doubt Mr Harkness sees what he sees. However there are ALOT of adjustments on the PFP controller. As such it gives great scope for misadventure


Gordon
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Gordon,


Good point. Who knows how these guys had the scaler set? I don't.

Although the image didn't look out of whack in any obvious way, perhaps further fine tuning could have been done.


Rich H.
 

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Gordon,


I have checked this now with many different HT devices. Most Svideo inputs on projectors and plasmas are AWFUL. In most cases, I see smearing and Y/C delays, etc. This occurs for NTSC material, but when fed PAL sources, the issue becomes MUCH MUCH worse!


I believe Rich's system must have been fixed in that respect (and I believe all new Panasonics are now tweaked to minimize Y/C delay for SVideo instead of composite inputs).


PF:


Vidikron is now owned by Runco. So, basically, Runco is the only company that I'm aware of that's a projector company making scalers... Faroudja licenses projectors and plasmas from other companies and bundles with its scalers. The scaler is the core business.


Regarding price wars vs. quality. I can't quite agree. It's true that we've not seen a significant improvement in PQ from most scaling/chip manufacturers. However, Terranex's only claim to fame is an improvement on PQ from SDTV sources, and it looks like they're doing good! Two new scalers are coming out that are going to improve HDTV scaling! !!! is coming out with a new scaler that's only SDTV oriented (i.e., only PQ improvement over their previous generation scaler). So, I think scaler manufacturers ARE improving. The major improvement that Runco offers in its scalers is a smart handling of keystone/pincushion in software. While that's a VERY nice feature, it is meaningless to me (a plasma fan).
 

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I have a RUNCO 5801"c" Rear projection television with their VHD controler/ scaler (that i think is a rebadged Faroudja) and the picture quality is better than ANY RPTV CRT out today. Yes my TV ahs been ISF'd but let me tell you I am totally convinced about RUNCO being quality products. I had MAJOR problems with my unit when i first received it and Sam Runco personally called me regarding the problems and sent a technician out from california to essentially rebuild my TV. I have a friend who has a Toshiba RPTV (essentially the same unit as the Runco) and he has a Digital Leeza running SDI DVD and his picture comes close but even he will acknowledge how my set is superior. I have the HD LEEZA on order and cannot wait to partner it up with my Runco. FWIW , Helfy
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Fraser
pf:..Also I am sorry you have don't seem to have ever seen a good 9" crt demo...


I saw the demo in the hall of the cl710 and the VX unit. It was not my favourite single chip DLP demo at the show. That goes to DWIN. Gordon
Gordon,


I mean really, give me a break. How do you know what 9-inch CRTs I've seen? Not that it matters, but I've spent hours watching the ultimate systems: Phelps calibrated G90s at various shows displaying 1080P HDTV (and I will see another shortly in a private home), and I traveled to Alan Gouger's place in Rochester just to see Chris Stephens tweaked, Teranex-ed 9-inch NEC 10PG. And I've owned 9-inchers myself. My digital frame of reference is pretty good, too -- I just sold a Marantz VP-12S2. Say what you will, but I'm a serious video enthusiast and I'm confident that I've seen what looks good -- and that Runco demo was superb.


As for the comparison to the Dwin, whose CRT products I've owned, and against whom I have absolutely nothing, it was not even remotely close. Nor should it have been -- the giant custom lens in the Runco VX5000Ci by itself probably cost more than the Dwin in its entirety.


You must not have been sitting in a good spot during the Runco demo because the fact is that the Dwin simply wasn't nearly as sharp, the image was quite, quite flat (in stark contrast to the terrific three dimensionality of the surprising VX5000Ci), the color accuracy was off (flesh tones were an obvious problem), and it had a touch of green fog. But don't just take my word for it; do a search and you'll find that many fellow AVS'ers were disappointed with the Dwin image at CES and chalked it up to prototype teething problems, as they should.


I'll grant you this, though: You're dead right about that S-video input. There's something wrong with that plasma set up, or there's a bug of some sort on the component input of the plasma, or the component output of the DVD player.



Ofer LaOr,


There's not much there that you've said with which I'd truly disagree, and I'm a big plasma fan, too. But I would add this: We've been hearing about these value-priced scalers that will take 1080i, de-interlace it, and scale it to 1080P for quite some time now. But so far, only Faroudja has managed the trick which is why they sell a surprising number of the DVP5000s even at the $26K asking price.
 

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Gordon,


Just so you know, any time you put forth an opinion that differs from PF's you will be accused severe incompetence if not some sort of mental deficiency. PF believes that only his opinions are based on valid rational judgements---and that all others are completely worthless and are, in fact, a true disservice to anyone else reading them.


You are only allowed to evaluate a projector on the criteria he chooses, and you're not allowed to be bothered by any artifacts or deficiencies that don't bother him.


I'm sorry I didn't catch this sooner and warn you.
 

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pf: You see what you see I see what I see. We disagree. I've never seen a fixed pixel device that is the equal of a well set up 9"crt.....I did not see any of the artifacts you mention in the DWIN booth. The VX..whatever is poor in PAL land anyay and is, due to the inferior processing of the pfp controller, not a contender in my country. The new PFP controller should change that though.


p.s. What has the price of a lens got to do with anything?


Michael: Thanks for that


Gordon
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Fraser
pf: You see what you see I see what I see. We disagree...


Gordon
Had you left it at that I would not have had a problem. BUT what you wrote was that I must not have had any experience viewing well set up 9-inch CRTs. So, it wasn't about simply disagreeing, after all, but impugning my judgment.


But I will admit this to you: I don't like can't-we-all-just-get-along "mediocritists." I think we succumb to the silly middle far too often. I think you're dead wrong in your observations regarding BOTH the Dwin and the VX5000Ci and that AVS'ers considering these two units should know that if my comments are to be helpful. Don't get me wrong; I respect your RIGHT to disagree. But I feel very strongly about this hobby and I'm not going to be a hypocrite and say that I give equal weight to your opinion when it is flat out incorrect (in my judgment).



Quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Fraser
p.s. What has the price of a lens got to do with anything?


Gordon


Well, frankly, that's a pretty surprising question coming from you. Optics are crucial in projectors just as they are in cameras. That's why Marantz, Sharp, Dwin, Runco, etc., all tout the extra expense and effort put into high quality lenses. Its precisely why some lenses on CRT projectors are more highly thought of than others.


But you should know that if your in this hobby, or in your case, if this seems to be your profession.
 
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