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Discussion Starter #1
I've only had the JVC HM-DH30000U for a few days, and the DTheater tapes just arrived yesterday. But, I thought I'd post my early impressions and observations:

Setup is:

Toshiba 57HDX82
SA3100HD cable box
JVC HM-DH30000U
Panasonic RP62 DVD
Sony STR-DB1070 receiver

All inputs to the Toshiba are component. The cable/DVD are currently switched through the receiver. I'm hoping to abandon that and use the set's DVI input for the upcoming SA3250HD box. I prefer direct connects for video.


DTheater
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WOW! WOW!! WOW!!!

DVD is pretty fine on these new upconverting sets, but you do tend to notice artifacts on occasion when you expand a 720x480 image to 50-65 inches diagonal at 540p.

The cable HD is amazing, but complex images with lots of motion tend to expose the bitrate limits.

DTheater provides super stable, full resolution images with little to no artifacts and spectacular colour and sound. Even with extremely complex images and lots of motion.

I'd say the quality approximates 35mm film. Extremely fine detail. Close-ups of faces are amazing, since we are very good at detecting flaws in such displays. With DTheater it is like looking at someone on film. And even extremely complex images exhibit no apparent artifacts.

DTheater is as close to perfect as I can imagine my set is capable of generating. Way beyond the cable HD. It is the colour that is so startling. Subtle variations are visible and they are so vibrant.

I just shudder to think what Attack of the Clones would look like in DTheater. Certainly it would be a killer app for the format (software that sells the hardware). Time to start campaigning :)


DVHS
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The JVC deck is also a full featured digital recorder. And I played a little with that:


NTSC Tuner

The deck has a standard cable/antenna tuner which allows non-DTV sources to be displayed and/or recorded. A fascinating aspect is that although my Toshiba looks like it has a "better" comb-filter (almost no dot crawl) than the JVC deck, the Toshiba seems to generate a softer picture from NTSC sources than the JVC deck. Both are subjected to the same 540p upconvert.

I have three tuner sources. The TV, the 3100HD, and the JVC deck. All tuners have the same RF level input, since I split the incoming cable line rather than daisy chain. Yet, the difference with the JVC deck was quite noticeable. The cable box has a lousy comb-filter which makes watching analogue a lousy experience.

From a watchability point of view, the JVC deck seem to generate the best picture from analogue cable. It was great watching Monday Night Football on The Score (while the ABC analogue broadcast was absolutely atrocious, and the artifacts in the SDTV feed on HDABC were distracting).


MPEG-2 recording

For non-copy protected standard definition sources (480i) the deck also contains a high quality MPEG-2 encoder. It can record analogue cable using the built-in NTSC tuner, and it can record DTV through an S-Video connection from a cable or satellite box. Analogue inputs are converted to MPEG-2 and stored digitally for later playback through the unit's MPEG-2 decoder.

And, the unit can be setup to control a cable AND/or DBS box (reverse video commander). It can command, using the SUPPLIED IR emitter, the cable/sat box to tune the digital channels for timer programmed recordings (how neat is that?!).

This is the first time I've ever not been able to tell the difference between the recording and the original source. As a VCR DVHS is amazing.

Try to copy a DVD, and the deck detects copy protection and displays an error message and records nothing. I'm guessing it is seeing the Macrovision and blocking based on that.

I'm as anti-pirate as they come, having been a commercial software developer my entire adult life. So, the reason I'm trying at all is to further test the quality of the deck's MPEG-2 encoder. How close can it come to the original? I have a region free DVD drive and a high quality Radeon 8500 card to give it another try with.


Future things to try
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High-def recording

To record high definition sources, the HD MPEG-2 stream must be sent to the unit via the Firewire. No ATSC tuner is built in (cost and usefulness being factors). However, as mentioned above, once the cable/sat boxes have the IEEE output, the deck will be able to tune the cable/sat box and record the resulting digital stream for later playback.

So, now I'm waiting for the SA3250HD with IEEE and DVI. I can use a PC as a HD-PVR, so the SA8000HD would be an unnecessary expense.

The deck can record AND decode incoming MPEG-2 streams via the IEEE, so it would serve as the MPEG-2 decoder for a HD-PVR setup.


DV -> DTV

The deck also does DV to DTV conversion when you send a DV output through either Firewire terminal (one at the front and back). So, you can archive your DV recordings.


Computer uses

The unit has a Joint Level Interface Protocol (JLIP) terminal that allows the unit to be controlled by a personal computer. This allows sophisticated digital video editing software to control the deck.

Windows XP has DirectX plug-and-play firewire support for the DVHS decks. This will allow you to use the deck to archive data from an HTPC PVR, or to use the unit as a computer backup (50 GB capacity @ almost 4 MB per second is pretty good)[/b]
 

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dialog, thanks for the great review. I'm very envious :( and look forward to more reviews.
 

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Thanks for the review!

I guess HD Cable (pseudo HDTV) doesn't do justice to the full bandwidth of DVHS or the upcoming HD-DVD (if ever this comes out).
 

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Try to copy a DVD, and the deck detects copy protection and displays an error message and records nothing. I'm guessing it is seeing the Macrovision and blocking based on that.
If you want to try recording a DVD, Harry Potter is not copy protected...I rented the first Widescreen version and could copy it to my VCR..

Heres --> A link to the Harry, copy protection thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Raven_ said:
Thanks for the review!

I guess HD Cable (pseudo HDTV) doesn't do justice to the full bandwidth of DVHS or the upcoming HD-DVD (if ever this comes out).
They did a amazing job with broadcast HD considering the primary requirement: It must live within a 6 MHz band.

And these standards were such a long time coming, while technology kept rolling along. By the time broadcast HD had arrived 16VSB was possible, but the standard uses 8VSB. 16VSB apparently can handle the same 38.8 Mbps as the 256QAM that cable boxes are using.

So, if the standard was being set today, it may be that broadcast HD would be defined such that it could use up to 38.8 Mbps. Although I think that might be overkill for HD resolutions.
 

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dialog_gvf said:
I have three tuner sources. The TV, the 3100HD, and the JVC deck. All tuners have the same RF level input, since I split the incoming cable line rather than daisy chain.
Note that if you are splitting the cable 3 times before going to the 57HDX82, SA3100HD and JVC DVHS deck that they do not have the same RF level input. The signal coming into the 3 way splitter will typically lose -3.5db on the first device, the second and third devices will get -7.0dB loss.

dialog_gvf said:
So, now I'm waiting for the SA3250HD with IEEE and DVI. I can use a PC as a HD-PVR, so the SA8000HD would be an unnecessary expense.
I don't know if Rogers will enable the IEEE1394 ports on the back of the SA3250, SA8000 or SA8000HD when they come out as Mike Lee indicated on "Online with Rogers" they have no plans to enable the USB, Ethernet, etc ports on the current set top boxes because of concerns by the studios, etc.

Reportedly the Ethernet is used more for firmware upgrades/console access to the set top box rather than linking the box to a computer. The USB standard has no copy protection standard built in so they wouldn't enable that.

However since the IEEE1394 (Firewire/DTVLink) used by consumer electronics equipment uses HDCP copy protection maybe Rogers will enable the port for external use (Hard Drives, DVHS decks, TVs with Firewire, PCs) provided the content providers enable the bits to protect the media that shouldn't be distributed (the local news cast / TV show vs a feature movie).

I don't understand why people feel they need to have their computer in their living room driving their HD display, especially when not recommened by the manufacturer (DVI port). I could see this if I had firewire running between my computer and the HT room, but I don't particularily want a noisy/hot computer (eye sore) in my living room. Maybe that's just me, but I prefer to keep HT equipment in my living room and computer equipment in the computer room/den. Firewire will allow me to do that. :lol:
 

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Splitters

bolmsted said:
Note that if you are splitting the cable 3 times before going to the 57HDX82, SA3100HD and JVC DVHS deck that they do not have the same RF level input. The signal coming into the 3 way splitter will typically lose -3.5db on the first device, the second and third devices will get -7.0dB loss.
If neither of you has done so, check out the FAQ on cables, splitters... It's long, but well worth the read.
 

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That's where I got my information 57. Just look at a typical 3 way splitter and the output will say 3.5db, 7.0db and 7.0db. A two way will have 3.5db and 3.5db, and a 4 way will have 7.0db on on the outputs.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
bolmsted said:
dialog_gvf said:
I have three tuner sources. The TV, the 3100HD, and the JVC deck. All tuners have the same RF level input, since I split the incoming cable line rather than daisy chain.
Note that if you are splitting the cable 3 times before going to the 57HDX82, SA3100HD and JVC DVHS deck that they do not have the same RF level input. The signal coming into the 3 way splitter will typically lose -3.5db on the first device, the second and third devices will get -7.0dB loss.
Really? I'll check into that. The device claims an equal drop for all outputs. It's a one input to four output splitter (the fourth goes to a tuner in the computer :) )

Not that it matters that much. For the digital streams as a long as the S/N is not degraded too much, it is not a factor. And, as I said, if the JVC deck is the NTSC tuner of choice, then that is the only device that needs the maximum quality signal.

bolmsted said:
I don't know if Rogers will enable the IEEE1394 ports on the back of the SA3250, SA8000 or SA8000HD when they come out as Mike Lee indicated on "Online with Rogers" they have no plans to enable the USB, Ethernet, etc ports on the current set top boxes because of concerns by the studios, etc.

Reportedly the Ethernet is used more for firmware upgrades/console access to the set top box rather than linking the box to a computer. The USB standard has no copy protection standard built in so they wouldn't enable that.
That TWC comparison page says that both the DVI and IEEE will be OPTIONAL on the 3250HD. I hope it is MY option, not the Rogers. The JVC deck is HDCP compliant on the IEEE, but that doesn't mean that the output will be allowed since there is no guarantee about computers.

bolmsted said:
I don't understand why people feel they need to have their computer in their living room driving their HD display, especially when not recommened by the manufacturer (DVI port). I could see this if I had firewire running between my computer and the HT room, but I don't particularily want a noisy/hot computer (eye sore) in my living room. Maybe that's just me, but I prefer to keep HT equipment in my living room and computer equipment in the computer room/den. Firewire will allow me to do that. :lol:
I agree. My PC is in the den next to the TV room. It doesn't really matter where it is since I can run the cables from the room, and I have a radio remote (ATI Remote Wonder) for controlling the computer functions.

The reason I want to use the DVI is from the 3250HD so I can do direct inputs for three sources (DHVS, DVD, and 3250HD). On the Toshiba all three are usable.
 

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Excellent review Gary!

AFAIK, most splitters have equal output drops across all outputs. I don't think I've ever seen one that drops one output more than others?

The Firewire and DVI outputs will either physically be there or not, depending on how Rogers orders the units from SA.

16VSB would be far too fragile for over-the-air reception. It was designed for cable use, at the same time 8VSB, 4VSB and 2VSB were.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Raven_ said:
Thanks for the review!

I guess HD Cable (pseudo HDTV) doesn't do justice to the full bandwidth of DVHS or the upcoming HD-DVD (if ever this comes out).
If the full bitstream (19.4 Mbps) is being sent by the cable companies, then that is full broadcast spec (ATSC) HD for a 6 MHz band. It is real HDTV.

I had read that some US cable companies, with far tighter bandwidth limits than Rogers, are already doing rate-shaping to stuff three HD channels in one band.

The DTheater format isn't limitted by the delivery mechanism, so it can push the limits of tape and decoder capabilities to maximize the bitrate and quality. Like DVD versus DTV. Same basic technology, but DVD is at least double the bitrate of standard digital cable.

An important thing here is that even if you don't plan to purchase a DTheater deck, the format's very existance makes it far more difficult politically for a future HD-DVD format to be merely broadcast spec HD.

The bar has been raised, and the challenge presented. Meet or beat DTheater.

And that is mainly why I want DTheater to succeed. Not any overly odd love of tape over disc. I want to force the pushing of the envelope. We may get a 1920x1080p (or better) HD-DVD standard if DTheater puts enough competitive pressure on the next generation DVD developers.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
JohnnyG said:
Excellent review Gary!
Thanks.

JohnnyG said:
The Firewire and DVI outputs will either physically be there or not, depending on how Rogers orders the units from SA.
Are these boxes general production, or do the specify production runs for particular cable companies?

You could create a general motherboard design that could have the DVI and IEEE support installed or not. Or, you could have plug in modules that could add after-sales functionality.

The former leaves us at the mercy of the cable company. The latter allows the consumer to decide what they needed, and rent or purchase the add-ons.

I think Rogers will probably go with the IEEE option since it would allow a HD-PVR add-on. The DVI doesn't make much sense except for providing TV input options to the consumer, unless OTA/cable movies start being HDCP flagged.

JohnnyG said:
16VSB would be far too fragile for over-the-air reception. It was designed for cable use, at the same time 8VSB, 4VSB and 2VSB were.
So, is there any recent developments that would allow double bitrate OTA if adopted?

It's obviously an academic interest only. The standards are set, and they can't change without making current OTA HD obsolete. Not gonna happen.

Gary
 

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Gary, in past SA models at least, the option was either factory installed or it wasn't - it could not be retro-fitted. So, if the unit is not ordered from SA with a Firewire output, they will simply leave out the supporting electronics and connector from the motherboard. I believe the serial number also tells the 'system' that the unit is without these options, so even if you tried to be clever and soldered in the necessary parts, it still wouldn't work.

19.3Mb/s 8VSB is tough enough to deal with!
 

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dialog_gvf said:
The JVC deck is HDCP compliant on the IEEE, but that doesn't mean that the output will be allowed since there is no guarantee about computers.
Actually IEEE1394 is DTCP not HDCP.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
bolmsted said:
dialog_gvf said:
The JVC deck is HDCP compliant on the IEEE, but that doesn't mean that the output will be allowed since there is no guarantee about computers.
Actually IEEE1394 is DTCP not HDCP.
Right you are. I had the wrong acronym. :oops:

HDCP is on DVI. That is an encryption of the uncompressed digital stream. Completely different, but for a similar end.

The JVC deck accepts and respects content protection flags on the IEEE input.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
57 said:
Try to copy a DVD, and the deck detects copy protection and displays an error message and records nothing. I'm guessing it is seeing the Macrovision and blocking based on that.
If you want to try recording a DVD, Harry Potter is not copy protected...I rented the first Widescreen version and could copy it to my VCR..

Heres --> A link to the Harry, copy protection thread.
Interesting.

That was this past summer, and I believe you asked who would record a DVD? :D

I think that maybe the last few months with recordable DVD and DVHS coming more plentiful, the pirate potential has increased somewhat.
 

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If you want to get (record) your high-definition via cable or satellite, then you can probably forget about using the iLink connection for anything except connecting a DV camcorder.
I wonder what led him to make this remark... (second last paragraph)
 

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dialog_gvf said:
Interesting. That was this past summer, and I believe you asked who would record a DVD? I think that maybe the last few months with recordable DVD and DVHS coming more plentiful, the pirate potential has increased somewhat.
You are correct, I also said in the same post:

There probably aren't enough DVD recorders out there to worry about - yet...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
human said:
Thanks for the link.

Let me comment on a couple of points:

The downside of these marvelous tapes, however, is in the fact that they are still tapes
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think I have made it clear how silly I think that point of view is.

The marketers of DVD has slammed people left right and center with how old fashioned and lousy VHS is, and they've now brainwashed the people into thinking disc good, tape bad.

Many people wouldn't even be able to articulate why they don't like tape without bringing up video quality.

The industry's move toward DVI as the digital interface of choice does not make the future for 1394, and recording with the HM-DH30000U, look promising
BUZZ. Sorry, incorrect.

In fact, quite the opposite. DVI may be replaced by Firewire.

DVI is for carrying uncompressed data (HDCP encrypted or not) to a display device. There is no indication that anyone is planning to begin using DVI as a general digital transport mechanism.

There are those that feel that since the future HDTVs will contain a decoder, the cost reductions of eliminating decoders in external devices makes the use of Firewire very sensible.

HD-DVD, HD-PVR, and even DVHS would become simple MPEG-2 reader/recorders. And since they wouldn't have decoders or video subsystems they'd could be made a lot cheaper.

DVI elimates the need for a video subsystem, but not the decoder.
 
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