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What's the big deal about Toshiba?s up-scaling DVD player?

by minimalist / August 19, 2008 7:06 AM PDT

We already have ?1080p up-scaling? available on 60 dollar Sony DVD players. And like all upscaling players they look fine but, contrary to marketing hype, they do not make your DVD?s look anything like HD media. I can take a 1 megapixel image and up-res it to 10 megapixels in Photoshop. But all it does is trade out jagged edges for fuzzy ones. It looks a bit better but a ?10 megapixel? image it is not.

And none of this answers why do you need an ?up-scaling DVD player? in the first place? If you already have a decent HDTV most of them have better internal circuitry than any of these bargain players so just use your old DVD player and let the TV do the up-scaling.

I understand Blu-ray players are still more than most people want to spend. But as far as I can tell Toshiba promising the impossible here. All the fancy algorithms in the word can?t put back information that no longer there. I doubt anybody here would believe that the latest circuitry could make a 64 kbps mp3 sound like a 256 kbps version. Once its gone its gone.

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in a 10 megapizel photo...
by mementh / August 19, 2008 9:54 AM PDT

in a 10 megapizel photo, you can remove 90% of the data and the human eye can't tell the diffrence..

thats why they can scale up to a bigger picture with just a bit of work and still make it look great...

very FEW people can see the diffrence between HD and DVD/digital unless its compressed to heck

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A Google thumbnail can never be made a 10MP image again
by minimalist / August 19, 2008 11:42 AM PDT

Once the resolution is gone its gone.

If you are looking at this stuff on an iPhone screen or a 15" laptop screen than sure compressed lower resolution video looks fine. But get it on a 42" HDTV with good black levels and you will see the limitations of the source even with the best upconversion out there.

A DVD only has 480 lines of vertical information. No fancy algorithms can change that. The best the circuitry can do is to take a guess at what is missing and try to fill in the missing pixels. But its still a guess and the end result always looks "soft" and fuzzy compared to a real HD signal that has never been down-sampled and compressed to begin with.

Up-conversion is just a minor tweak of an already pretty good picture but its not a Panacea. granted, DVD's do look pretty good on an HDTV. Some might say they even look "good enough". But thinking you are going ever make it look anything like a true HD image is a joke.

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But...
by Nicholas Buenk / August 19, 2008 1:00 PM PDT

A HD video is not like that at all, infact the human eye is capable of seeing more detail than what's in a HD video. HD is only 2 megapixel.
And I agree with this thread completely. This upconverting thing reminds me of those 3D spatial effects they do with stereo, but everyone knows they are no replacement at all for 5.1.

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(NT) HDTV's do that? huh...I didn't realize that...
by shawnlin / August 19, 2008 11:13 AM PDT
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Most do.
by minimalist / August 19, 2008 11:55 AM PDT

And unless its a really cheap or really old set its probably going to have better quality circuitry than the majority of upscaling DVD players (The expensive Oppo players might be an exception).

Much of the time you will get a better picture running your DVD signal through component (red green and blue) to your HDTV and letting it do the upscaling for you.

The upscaling dvd player is similar to the 100 dollar HDMI cable: largely unnecessary.

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Instead of criticizing the concept...
by Slikkster / August 20, 2008 6:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Most do.

Why not wait for actual reviews (by reputable review sites) of the Toshiba to see if it does, in fact, bring anything new to the upscaling universe? Surely you're not saying all upscalers are the same. If Toshiba's managed to build a better mousetrap at a lower price point, good on them.

Engadget already seems to think it's got some truth in marketing behind it, but it hasn't been laid out in a true review form.

Note that it's certainly not in Sony's best interests to build the best upscaler out there.

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Um, not quite...
by Slikkster / August 20, 2008 8:06 PM PDT

Looks like you missed Engadget's follow up article:

http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/08/19/eyes-on-toshibas-new-xd-e500-upconverting-dvd-player/

And now, here's the first actual hands-on review from a hobbyist who runs an HD Yahoo Groups forum (he's named Bill Cortner). You will see he has an absolutely positive review of this machine, while admitting it's no Blu-Ray Killer in the process. But he says it totally blows away any upconverter he's seen, including the Oppo. His comments:


"Well my Toshiba SuperUpConverter, re-named "XDE" came in yesterday [Fedex Next-Day], and needless to say, I wasted no time getting into some very extensive evaluations.

HARDWARE USED:
Sony KDL-46XBR5, 1080P, 120hz, 24fps, HD Display
Monster Cable 1000HD, 1-meter 10.2 Gbps HDMI cables
Onkyo DV-HD805 HD DVD + UpConverting DVD player [Silicon Optix]
Oppo DV-981HD UpConverting DVD player {Faroudja DCDi]
Toshiba HD-A35 HD DVD + UpConverting DVD player [Anchor Bay]
Toshiba XD-E500 Upconverting DVD player [Cel processor]

WIRING:
All devices were wired with identical HDMi cables,and the signal path was direct-to-monitor [no switchers]

SOFTWARE:
Identical/twin-copies of the following HD DVD/SD DVD Combi discs...
American Gangster
Bourne Ultimatum
Hot Fuzz
Smokin' Aces

TESTING:
Identical discs were placed in competing players, cued up to the exact same frame, and then started simultaneously. Switching between opponents could be conducted at will, and I frequently chapter-backed to watch a key element, color, edge, texture, color, or pan/tilt/motion sequence over and over again [ad nauseum].

I did not conduct these tests by myself. I dragged my poor brother into this mind-bending, eye-marathon, and he graciously sat there making his own observations, with the intention being, that a 2nd opinion would be rendered/posted for the group's consideration. Special thanks also to Bruce [my brother] for providing the 2nd identical/twin combi-discs that were needed to conduct fair SD DVD to SD DVD as well as HD DVD to SD DVD
hardware performance evaluations.

FRAMING THE RESULTS:
I gave some thought to how I would go about putting into words precisely what was revealed during this marathon session. In the end, I decided that a 1-10 scale would be used. Additionally, I'm going to frame the scale by defining what a "1" and what a "10" represents, in a way that you can relate to.

1= VHS Tape
3= DVD at 480P, not Upconverted
10= HD DVD or Blu-ray at full 1080P on a full 1080P display

RESULTS:
Oppo DV-981HD UpConverting DVD to 1080P = 5
Toshiba HD-A30 UpConvert DVD to 1080P = 5
Onkyo DV-HD805 UpConvert DVD to 1080P [Reon Edge OFF] = 5.5
Onkyo DV-HD805 UpConvert DVD to 1080P [Reon Edge ON] = 6
Toshiba HD-E500 UpConvert DVD to 1080P = 8 [XDE ON]
Toshiba HD-E500 UpConvert DVD to 1080P = 7.8 [XDE + CONTRAST ON]
Toshiba HD-E500 UpConvert DVD to 1080P = 8.2 [XDE + COLOR MAPPING ON]
Onkyo DV-HD805 HD DVD at 1080P = 9.7 [Reon Edge OFF]
Onkyo DV-HD805 HD DVD at 1080P = 10 [Reon Edge ON]

VERBS, ADVERBS, ADJECTIVES AND WHATNOT:
This industry is so ripe with exaggerated claims, creative interpretation of the numbers, and outright lies, that I'm almost afraid to put into words what the preceding numerical test results [clearly] reveal/indicate. Almost afraid, not... afraid. [subtle but important difference, as with the numerical ratings].

Let's do this ****-backwards [reviewers always make you read a lot of verbs, adverbs and whatnot before they generally say anything even remotely useful, or God-forbid, controversial... Stated simply, this Toshiba SuperUpConverter, which was renamed "XDE" absolutely eats/annihilates the Silicon Optix HQV Reon, and words can not even describe what it does to [formerly] world-class/award-winning UpConverters like the Oppo DV-981HD and the ABT-equipped 3rd generation Toshiba HD DVD players.

Look, unlike the big review sites... I have absolutely no axe to grind here. This isn't my business, it's my hobby, and I own...

(2) Oppo DV-981HD
(2) Toshiba HD-A35
(4) Onkyo DV-HD805

So it's not like I'm doing what human beings do... Trying to justify their prior decisions/investments and convince themselves/others that whatever they own is the right thing to own... I honestly don't give a crap...
As I said the other day, let the chips fall where they may.

Back to the SuperUpConverter...

How good is it? OMG! This DVD player is a revelation! It greatly increases detail, but does not increase noise/artifacts. It was astonishing, and a little sad to watch this $149 player produce a picture that mas MUCH more detailed AND much cleaner than the Silicon Optix equipped Onkyo DV-HD805. Normally when you increase "sharpness", you increase "noise" But there isn't the slightest hint of that happening with XDE. Yet it's not only the detail/sharpness that leaps ahead of any other UpConverter, it's everything! The color for example looks like you washed tobacco/nicotine off your screen when going from the Oppo DV-981HD, Toshiba HD-A35 or Onkyo DV-HD805 to the SuperUpConverter. That's the thing... True high-definition video isn't just sharper, it's also got much better/more crisp color. But the Toshiba XD-E500 gives you BOTH the sharpness you expect from high-definition AND that crisp/vivid color!

What about side-effects, artifacts or problems? Frankly, I got eye-strain trying to find something, anything that the SuperUpConverter was getting "wrong" that the Silicon Optix HQV Reon was getting "right" The verdict? Nada. Whatever artifacts were visible on the XDE device were also
present and visible on the other conventional UpConverters.

I know- I know- The $64,000 question...
Is the SuperUpConverter a "Blu-ray killer"? Well, since I don't own a Blu-ray player, I can't really say. However, my opinion, based on evaluations of Blu-ray vs HD DVD [using a PS3 and a Toshiba HD-A35 on a 46" Sony XBR5 a few months ago] have left me with the very strong opinion that, assuming the same
transfer/encode/film... There is no visual difference between
Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD. Therefore, extrapolating on that previous
test... I am going to say that, NO, THE TOSHIBA XDE/SuperUpConverter
IS NOT a BLU-RAY [or HD DVD] KILLER.

That being said... The Toshiba XD-E500 at all times looked like TRUE HIGH DEFINITION in terms of sharpness and color. It literally blew me away, and it is without a doubt the very best UpConverter I have ever seen. This player's radical new approach of analyzing 9 frames of video in real time is a quantum leap forward in upscaling mechanics that deserves some kind of major tech/achievement award. I want to repeat something to make sure you caught it... The Toshiba XD-E500 at all times looked like TRUE HIGH DEFINITION in terms of sharpness and color.

The bottom-line?
If you own even 149 DVDs? You would have to be crazy not to invest a paltry $149 in a device that will in fact, raise them to a level of performance that would convince anyone that they were watching true HD video.
What else can I say other than don't wait for DVD 2.0 which any marketing major will tell you is exactly one year away, and won't produce a picture any better than this! It will just have HDi menu's IF the Blu-ray gravy-train
riding studios decide to support it... A very big if guys!

------------end of comments--------------------

I'd have to say that this is pretty positive stuff. I'm looking forward to the actual testing site reviews. But I think the time has come to stop poo-pooing this box without actually seeing what it can do.

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