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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is my understanding that an HTPC with a software DVD player can be made to give a better picture quality than a standalone progressive scan DVD player. I have been playing around with my test setup (meaning I haven't decided on a final motherboard/cpu combination yet) and cannot achieve this yet.


My test platform is a Dell Dimension 4100 P3 933MHz running Windows XP Professional with the latest service packs installed.


For video:

Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9700 Pro Ultimate

ATI DVI-to-Component Video dongle (the purple one)

PowerDVD 4.0 (OEM version that came bundled with the video card)

DVDIdle set for Macrovision removal

Catalyst 3.7

Powerstrip 3.45

Toshiba 65H80 RPTV


For Audio:

M-Audio Audiophile 2496


I have Powerstrip set resolution to 1776x1080i for PowerDVD, and DVDIdle enabled. The DVDs I've tried seem to give a fuzzier picture than my standalone DVD player (Toshiba SD-6200? Progressive Scan). I've tried Saving Private Ryan, The One, Shanghai Knights, and A Bug's Life movie DVDs as well as an Angel Season 2 DVD.


Am I doing something wrong, or is there a better software DVD player out there that gives better results? Several of the threads suggest that TheaterTek with the ffdshow filters produce the "best" results possible without going to the megabuck hardware solutions.
 

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TheaterTek? I've heard a lot of good things about them. check out their site or search here in the forums!
 

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Instead of using the dongle, you may want to pick up a transcoder for testing purposes. You will still need powerstrip of course.


As for software dvd playback, typically it shouldnt be worse than your stb. That is what leads me to believe maybe its that dongle. I have heard many ppl curse that device, and others who love it. You may be able to find one locally at a Best Buy (they did carry the rca brand at one point) and if it makes no difference you can always return it.


If you are curious about ffdshow, grab the demo of Zoom Player Pro and use ffdshow with it and your current powerdvd filters as there is not a demo of TheaterTek. That will save you some money


-pd
 

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I have tried about 6 or 7 other programs, but the only one I have found todate that will play all DVD's and also pass both DD & DTS via SPDIF correctly is POWERDVD 5, I have not tried TheaterTek though so I can't comment on that program.


Regarding the resolution have you tried 1280x720, this is what I am using and I find the image on my 60" screen is about 10-15% better than my Panasonic RP82 progressive scan DVD player.


Good luck


Spearmint
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As for testing using a transcoder - I don't really want to spend $150 or so dollars to test a setup I'm not going to end up using. Plus a lot of the comments I've read suggest that for the limited number of resolutions it supports (the main shortcoming), the dongle gives better PQ results than the transcoder.


I'll take a look at the Zoom Player Pro demo/ffdshow. Thanks. BTW, will the 933MHz P3 have enough horsepower to support the extra programs running?


As for the 1280x720, I'd love to, but my television only supports 480i/p and 1080i inputs.
 

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To really get the benefit of the S/W players you need to use ffdshow and your PIII won't cut it.


You'll need at least 2.0G of P4 to do anything reasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tried Zoomplayer (both standard and pro) this evening, but both refuse to recognize that I have a DVD in the drive. I can open individual files from the DVD and they will play okay, but when I just press the play button, I get the "No Media Loaded" message.


An odd thing was that when I played a DVD file that I opened using Zoomplayer, it looked okay on the computer monitor, but I got a black display on the television, except for the mouse cursor which was still displayed.
 

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Press F10 to toggle zoom to "DVD" mode. Sounds like you're in Media mode.

Quote:
To really get the benefit of the S/W players you need to use ffdshow and your PIII won't cut it.
Purely subjective. Many of us feel that ffdshow has no positive effect on picture quality. Different, yes. Better, not necessarily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I saw that I was in "Media Mode" but didn't see how to change it - I'll give the toggle a try after I reinstall....


As for processors, which of the AMD CPUs would be sufficient?
 

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I use the ATi HDTV adapter with TheaterTek on a Radeon 9500 pro @ 1920x1080i, and the PQ exceeds that of my Panasonic RP-91 for film based material, mainly due to the ability to run at higher vertical resolutions, which helps smooth out jaggies on diagonal/ curved lines. There is nothing wrong with the adapter as long as you realize its limitations. I also use ffdshow and it really helps sharpen the image when used correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Reinstalled ZoomPlayer and tried switching modes, but the F10 toggle just launches Mozilla and goes to the ZP website....
 

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I had the 65H80 for a couple years and did lot's on experimentation. Your set can be calibrated for both 480P and 1080i and will store settings per signal. Make sure that you calibrate it with a 1080i source if that's your preferred output. I found that convergence & geometry can vary dramatically between input signal types.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I was not aware that there would be different calibrations for different input signals. Would I need to recalibrate every time I switched inputs, or is there some way to store the convergence settings for each input?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Jesse S
Many of us feel that ffdshow has no positive effect on picture quality. Different, yes. Better, not necessarily.
Wow! I'm surprised to see someone posting this... I came to that conclusion a long time ago but never posted it for fear of starting a flame war. I will say however that I do find ffdshow useful in 'cleaning' up films of poor quality transfers or where the original film was of poor picture quality (especially many of the older black/whites).



And Doubly, try 'right clicking' in ZoomPlayer and then selecting 'DVD mode'.
 
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