Friday, June 22, 2007

HQV Video Quality "Test" disks

Evaluate your Video System

HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) DVD, HD DVD and Blu Ray video quality evaluation test disks by Silicon Optix can help you determine just how good of a job your equipment is really doing getting the video encoded on the disks onto your display.

You can use them to do a basic evaluation of your system as a whole or run it multiple times with different settings on the various components to see what gives the best results for your system as a whole. For example changing which device does the de-interlacing - your DVD player or your display, or trying a 720p and 1080i setting from a source to a display and comparing results. The results can be surprising and counter intuitive, and even go against the usually prescribed preferences. They aren't as cheap as you may like, but using the same disks that many review sites use for part of a displays evaluation can give you a lot of insight into reviews as well as point to where the weaknesses of your setup reside.
We do want to be clear that these disks do not offer test patterns or much in the way of help in calibration. They are solely for evaluation.

Silicon Optix is not without bias, since they do make some very nice video processing chipsets used by a lot of manufacturers and they do include many tests that are designed to highlight the benefits of these products, but they are still undoubtedly among a shortlist of disks that are great to have for troubleshooting and evaluating video processing of a complete video system. Highly recommended.

Where to buy:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

HDMI/HDCP to VGA/RGB Conversion

HDMI/HDCP to VGA/RGB Conversion

We get constant questions about how to convert HDMI to VGA or Component video. Really constant. Everyday. There are so-called "HDCP strippers" available out there in cyberspace and we hesitate to tell customers about them because of the potential legal issues of doing so. Nobody wants to be sued by HDMI or Digital Content Protection, LLC. On the other hand, information is freely available about these solutions on the net, and we felt a need to give our visitors "the scoop". We'll give you some links later to sites dealing with the legality of these devices. They are strictly available in Europe or elsewhere overseas and are not considered "legal" to sell in the USA.
We tested out one of the new HD Fury converters from which we, er, found laying in the street somewhere....

Connecting the HDFury to your average DVI or HDMI DVD player to an LCD monitor, or LCD TV through a VGA port results in an image shifted to the left a bit. You can adjust the monitor for this in most cases so it is not such a big deal. Using an LCD monitor as a TV is not really so awesome as they have pretty crappy contrast ratio, etc. Besides, spending this much money to use an LCD monitor as an HDTV monitor is silly, with all of the HDCP enabled LCD monitors coming out with goodprices and better performance. So, using this as a Playstation 3 to VGA LCD monitor display converter does not really seem like a smart investment.
Connecting the HDFury from a PS3 to a Plasma with VGA 1080p compatible input? It works. And isn't that cool?! We are not sure which Plasmas and LCD's can take 1080p over VGA input, but those that can are likely to be able to get 1080p over VGA with nice results. Of course you could also do it over HDMI in most cases so whats so great about that? Well, some people do have displays that will take 1080p over VGA but nor DVI or HDMI. We are not saying it is worth it, just saying that it can work. Not that the image wasn't "smokin", just that for 1080p vs sources to 1080p displays, the difference between a 1080p or 1080i connection is pretty much usually about 99% hype. This could be a highly variable thing among different displays, since some will down convert 1080i to 540p, and other variations on this kind of thing. New displays that are 1080p native usually will accept a 1080p input. Those that only can accept Component video will still need a transcoder, too, so we are talking about $150 for the HDMI to RGB (VGA) and then more for the RGB to Component video (Y-Pr-Pb) converter. For those who just have to know that their 1080p player is pumping out 1080p to their display, well, there are a couple of other things to consider before dropping your money over in Europe.
This thing caused our expensive Sencore video signal generator to shutoff every time we connected it. Scary. This was with short cables and with or without power to the generator. We stopped trying to connect it, which is a shame since we were looking to see if there were overscan problems, noise or other possible video artifacts introduced. This could be a sign of something that could mean reduced lifespan of your connected devices. or not.

So, generally this is a device for big front CRT projector owners, nothing more and nothing less. Sure there may be some special cases, but most people who want a HDMI to analog HD converter are barking up the wrong tree. If you have a big, expensive CRT projector and need to get an HDMI signal into it, this may be worthwhile. Only people with these projectors will really be able to evaluate the picture quality they are going to get, in any case, since most available digital projectors can't do what those projectors can with an analog signal.
What about those old HDTV's with RGB inputs? What about those early adopters with HDTV'swith Component video inputs? Yes, you can do it, but doesn't it feel like your getting screwed a second time? Why bother? You can still get HD in Component video, right? OK, so those with the early early RGB sets, might think about using this. Not a bad idea, right? Well, maybe so, maybe so... on you, baby.

Legal issues:
Will the FBI come and break down your door?
Well, probably not - unless you are doing something wrong, like sharing. It is hard, legally, to say anything about the legal aspects of this, so we won't. We will just give you some links to check this out for yourself.
HD Fury Legality link Strange that this is not a URL actually on the site?

Quote from HDFury site:
" we cannot see how these devices can pass the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)"

Buyer Beware. It is not impossible that these devices will be rendered inoperable in the future by an update coming from a HD DVD or Blu ray disk. This is something you also need to think about.
Anyone with any more info or corrections is encouraged to comment.