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Should I upgrade my DVD player?


Atomic Dog
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I'm finally getting ready to take the leap into the current generation of tv technology. On friday I'm headed to Costco to pick up a 50" 720p panasonic plasma.

 

The rest of my home theater is a bit outdated as well. My audio receiver has no HDMI capabilities, but I do plan on upgrading from my current s-video to component for the time being. (Next year hopefully I can upgrade the receiver and go the HDMI route) As far as gaming goes, I haven't yet even made the jump to the current generation of consoles. Still in the dark ages with my x-box and PS2. Plan to update those in the coming months too, though.

 

I'm wondering if it would make any sense to upgrade my DVD player at this time, or to hold out possibly another year for the HDMI capability and go straight to one of the HD DVD options? Right now I have a non-upscaling panasonic DVD player. I was considering picking up one of the reasonably priced OPPO players (probably the DV-980H), but I don't know if there would be any noticeable difference in picture quality over what I have now, considering I'm sticking with component for now.

 

Any thoughts?

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I would pick up a Toshiba A2 or A3. It will upscale to HDMI and will be just as good as the other upscaling options.

 

The only thing is it won't play non-region 1 discs. If this is a problem, then an Oppo would be a better bet.

 

Then you could rent HD DVD's and have no fear of it becoming a waste of money if HD DVD Fails.

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Hmm, that's a possibility that I hadn't considered.

 

Reading the specs for the A3 on Crutchfield's website I was unsure about these bits:

 

plays HD DVD high-definition discs (selectable 720p/1080i output available through HDMI output; 720p/1080i output also available via component video on discs lacking ICT copy-protection)

plays DVD-Video, DVD-R & DVD-RW

plays CD, audio CD-R & CD-RW

HDMI digital output (combines video and multichannel audio with HDCP copy protection)

HDMI version 1.2a

selectable 720p/1080i video upconversion for DVD (upconverted video available through HDMI output only)

 

So according to the bold bits above, I would not be able view HD-DVD discs via component if the disc has copy protection, no? Am I wrong to guess that most if not all HD-DVDs have copy protection?

 

Also, it looks like I couldn't upconvert either without using HDMI.

 

Every time I start thinking I have a handle on these things I go and get myself more confused...

 

edit: on further review, the oppo will not upconvert copy protected discs through component either. I'm starting to think my best bet would be to keep my old DVD player for now and upgrade when I get a new receiver.

 

yet another edit: I think I'm getting things mixed up in my head. I kept mentioning upscaling (which doesn't seem to be an option until I go to HDMI) but I was actually wondering about progressive scan. I don't think my current DVD player even has that option. So now my question becomes: Is there any benefit to upgrading to a progressive scan player at this point? I'm guessing a basic 480p player could be had pretty cheap these days.

 

Shit, I'm going into overload now...

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So according to the bold bits above, I would not be able view HD-DVD discs via component if the disc has copy protection, no? Am I wrong to guess that most if not all HD-DVDs have copy protection?

Negative. The ICT flag has, as of yet, not been implemented in any HD media released (its meant to cripple the component connections forcing it to display HD media at 480p max). There is little chance they will start to use the ICT flag with newer releases either. The ICT Flag was a "hot topic" early on in the HD format discussions but has pretty much become a non-issue today. You'll be able to view any and all HD DVD purchases using the component inputs at 1080i. If you want 1080p, however, you'll need to have a player capable of ouputting it first and foremost and more importantly you can only do so via HDMI.

 

Also, it looks like I couldn't upconvert either without using HDMI.

Correct. Upconversion can only be done via HDMI. Though your new 50' set should (hopefully) have HDMI inputs that can handle that without issue. You can continue to use the toslink/optical connections to provide audio to the receiver until you decide to upgrade.

 

So now my question becomes: Is there any benefit to upgrading to a progressive scan player at this point?

Put plainly, it makes little to no sense to buy a standard/progressive scan DVD player at the moment considering the price of the Toshiba HD players (they can be had for sub $199 pricing) and how good they are at upconverting and the ridiculous amount of free movies they are giving you. You'll also have the ability to enjoy HD content and as Shane mentioned, if HD DVD does end up losing the war and disappearing you'll have spent money on a great quality upconversion player that can handle your DVD colllection without issue. If you have a decent budget and are interested in BD you can also look into the 40GB PS3. At $399.99 it's a helluva top notch BD player, features some great quality upconversion in its own right for regular DVD content and is the most futureproof BD player out there.

 

I guess a more simple question: Does your new set have HDMI inputs? Any new purchase of a television TODAY truly needs HDMI inputs to have any level of futureproofing. I highly doubt your new plasma is lacking such an input (or inputs) so there should be no issue whatsoever in taking advantage of the upconversion capability of some of these players (and HD media:))

 

I'm guessing a basic 480p player could be had pretty cheap these days.

It can be had dirt cheap these days but then I have to ask you why you would spend good money on a quality HD set and settle for a "dirt cheap" source to play movies on? Mind you I ask that only because you can get a relatively "dirt cheap" HD player and you gain a great deal in the process.

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Thanks for the education on the copy protection thing. I'm completely out of the loop with anything remotely current in HT technology. Not being able to afford upgrades, it was like torturing myself to try and follow all the new stuff coming out. :D

 

The new set does have 2 HDMI ports. I'm not sure if I would be able to use HDMI right now, though. My receiver (Marantz SR-7200) will only accept one form of input (which is why I'm currently using s-video) component is the best I can do with the xbox/ps2, so everything has to be the same. I've never tried splitting up the audio and video signals, though. Maybe I'll test it out tonight. connect the DVD straight to the tv with component and run toslink to the receiver. If I can do that and run component/toslink through the receiver for the consoles I might be in business. Otherwise I just need to save my pennies just do it up right already.

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The new set does have 2 HDMI ports. I'm not sure if I would be able to use HDMI right now, though. My receiver (Marantz SR-7200) will only accept one form of input (which is why I'm currently using s-video) component is the best I can do with the xbox/ps2, so everything has to be the same

Again, what video inputs you use on the receiver should have absolutely not bearing on the set itself. If I understand correctly it sounds like you're doing video/audio switching through the receiver and you've become accustomed to this. For the time being, and to get the best out of your equipment it's time to let that go (for any new equipment that is) until you get a more recent reciever with HDMI switching/upconversion capabilities. More to the point...

 

I've never tried splitting up the audio and video signals

It's time to start:).

 

Here's your receiver:

 

[ATTACH]3429[/ATTACH]

 

The circled area is where your optical inputs/outputs sit. Just run a direct line from the back of the optical connections on the A2/A3 right into those suckers and you're all set for getting DDEX, DTS etc. 5.1/6.1 sound. From there you run a simple HDMI cable from the HDMI out of A2/A3 right into your TV set and you are go. The only difference is you now manually have to change the input of the television set instead of the receiver changing your video source for you. It's an extra step but if you've got a decent remote you can setup a simple macro to compensate. The remainder of your consoles can use the component connections and remaning optical connections for whatever you need them for. If you run out of connections you can invest in a cheap component/optical switching solution if you don't want to spend all kinds of money on a receiver at the moment. Very easy, very effective all the while solving the issue of whether or not to invest in an HD-A2 or not and gaining HD and upconversion in the process.

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What Romier says is absolutely true. It's what I do (at least until I get an HDMI-switching receiver sometime in the next couple months) and it works just fine. Besides, there's something to be said (although not much when dealing with HDMI and digital connections) about going straight into your display from the source.

 

I would kill two birds with one stone: Get a PS3 or 360 with HDDVD drive. Your next-gen console, your upconverting DVD player, fewer components, finito. As Romier said, you spent the cash on the hd-hungry display, don't skimp on the food. Okay, I said that, but that's what he meant. I'm just more eloquent. And handsome. Oh... and he sucks at Burnout. And his mom is dumb. And he's from Mexico. Other than that, he's a fine fellow.

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Okay, a quick experiment last night and I was able to split the signal from my DVD player to the TV and the audio to the receiver. I could have sworn that I tried that years ago and didn't get it to work. Guess I was mistaken.

 

The television in question (Panasonic TH50PC77U) has 2 HDMI ports, two component, and two S-video. So this means I can actually run everything through the tv and all audio to the receiver, rather than having the receiver handle the component cables. :rock It also means I can upgrade cables as money allows, rather than having to do everything at once as I would have to do with the current setup. I can also ditch the old Pelican component switcher finally. No more getting off my lazy ass to switch between the DVD player/X-box/PS2. :D

 

The wife is on board with upgrading the DVD player if it means a good picture on the new tv, so I may go out and try and find an A2 or A3 tomorrow along with the television.

 

Thanks for the responses all. I'm sure I would have figured this all out eventually, but it helps me a ton to bounce ideas off others. When I start talking electronics to my wife, her eyes just kinda glaze over and I get a "whatever, just make it work" response.

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:D

 

My wife is usually pretty good about the user-end of the HT. She has no interest in what's going on with the business end of things, though.

 

Actually, last night I mentioned that we would be able to use the HDMI ports and take advantage of a HD-DVD player, but that it might require the use of an extra remote to navigate things. Her response was something to the effect of "I don't care if it takes 10 remotes, or even one of those fancy harmony remotes you've been looking at, as long as the picture looks great on our new tv."

 

(emphasis added by me... This was after her jaw hit the floor when she saw the price tag on the Harmony 890 remote at Best Buy a couple weeks ago.

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I was in this kind of boat early 2007.

 

I really only upgraded to the Onkyo 605 mostly to solve my shortage of inputs and get the component video switcher out of the mix and simplify the setup. Avoiding the wife waking me up to ask how to get something working.

 

Definitely invest in either an A2 ($199 or so) or a PS3 at this point. I got the 20GB PS3 for $350 - $80 sale of PS2 = $270. Both do about the same job or better deinterlacing/scaling as the Oppo 970/980.

 

Panasonics have decent, but not fantastic, deinterlacing/scaling chips, so either the A2 or the PS3 should do a better job than that.

 

And get yourself a Harmony. If the 880 is too expensive (I didn't like the charging cradle frankly as I prefer rechargeable batteries), get a 650 or a 676 or something. They do the job very well too. I think I paid $75 for my Harmony 676.

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An update:

 

Went to Costco yesterday looking to pick up the panasonic only to find out that the price was $200 more than what it was last time I checked. I was pretty bummed as we had just enough $$ with us to pay the $1650 price they had it at before.

 

So we left there and headed to Sears hoping to find the same model at less than the $1850 price. Lo and behold they had them there with a $1699 price tag, and they had the Toshiba A3 for $199. Then we noticed a small tag on the wall that states if you purchase a 40" or larger tv with your sears card you can get $100 off any dvd player plus get 10% cash back on the tv.

 

I'm not a fan of credit cards at all, but I figured for that kind of discount I could fill out a bit of paperwork...

 

On top of that, when the guy rung up the tv, it came up at $1599 instead of $1699. So in the end we got the tv and the A3 plus tax for $10 cheaper than the Costco price tag pre-tax. And still have a $160 rebate coming through the mail. The A3 comes with copies of 300 and Bourne Ultimatum as well.

 

:slayer

 

Right now we have the SD satellite hooked up via s-video and the old DVD player hooked up via component. satellite is tolerable and I was surprised at how well Deadwood looked on DVD. Getting an HD-DVR installed in a couple weeks. Briefly fired up Halo 2 to make sure it was hooked up and it looked pretty darn good, too.

 

Oh, and component switching through the tv works like a charm, thanks for the tips! I just need to pick up a couple digital coax cables and I'll be able to ditch the pelican switcher altogether.

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Briefly fired up Halo 2 to make sure it was hooked up and it looked pretty darn good, too.

 

 

If you think Halo 2 looks darn good....what until you see Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4 on your new tv! WOW!

 

Congrats! Upscaling on the A3 is really good too! My A2 does a great job!

 

Welcome to the HD club! :tu

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