Will Bueché

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Home theatre shootout

Posted in Personal by Will on Sunday, April 17th, 2005 ~ 5pm

Did you know there are about 22 things the chip in a DVD player can do in order to deliver a perfect “progressive scan” picture? This may not have mattered much when everyone had small tvs. But now that you’re watching your DVDs on larger screens – sometimes even projected onto walls – it matters.

And wouldn’t it be neat if there was a website where someone actually tested each DVD player that comes to market for every one of those 22 things on a Pass or Fail basis? With no fancy talk, just simple hardware tests that reveal in no uncertain terms whether the chips in the player are outputting something excellent or something that will mean you’ve wasted your money?

I’ve found a website which knows exactly what it is doing when it checks nearly every new model of DVD player for how they handle: Layer Change; Responsiveness; Chroma, 3-2 Film Flags; Chroma, 2-2 Film Flags; Chroma, 4:2:0 ICP; Video Levels; Blacker-than-Black; YC Delay; Image Cropping; Sync Subtitle to Frames; 3-2 Cadence, Film Flags; 3-2 Cadence, Alt. Flags; 3-2 Cadence, Video Flags; 3-2 Cadence, Mixed Flags; 2-2 Cadence, Film Flags; Film Mode High Detail; Bad Edit; Video to Film Transition; Recovery Time; Incorrect Progressive Flags; Motion Adaptive; and Chroma, 3-2 Alt. Flags.

The website is
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/cgi-bin/shootout.cgi

They’ve also got the best explanation of progressive scan I’ve ever seen:
hometheaterhifi.com/volume_7_4/dvd-benchmark-part-5-progressive-10-2000.html

Bookmark their “shootout” page. These are the invaluable details that you won’t find anywhere else, the details that let you pick the creme of the crop. They’re about to publish a large April update which will rate several new players which will be arriving in stores later this month, including the new Pioneer DV-588A-S (not yet in stores) which I am expecting will pass a majority of the tests.

So how’d I come across this site?

I’d bought a name brand replacement for my DVD player recently, figuring every DVD player looks the same. DVDs are digital after all, right? Bits. Ones and zeros. How could they look any different from one player to the next? Particularly since I was using the component output, I figures all componant outputs were inherently fantastic. Well I bought a name brand player, and yet my picture looked like crap!

Turns out that when you’re in progressive scan mode, many decisions made by the player come into play. Some make excellent decisions, some make bad decisions, and some just skip outside to catch a smoke and hope no one will notice.

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