Thursday, May 31, 2001

Pre Built Home Theater PC

For those of you that are interested in Home Theater PC's, you should check out: Theatris's HTPC offering. It provides a very capable unit that is expandable and a full blown Windows PC (Internet/Web browsing, e-mail, Games, Word Processing, etc) as well as a Progressive Scan DVD Player, Video Scaler and "TiVO" like time shifting/record/pause capabilities. HD capability is in the works, but you could concieveably throw in a Telemann HiPix DTV-200 ATSC Tuner card that offers HDTV viewing and recording capabilities.

There are many HTPC offerings out there, but this one provides the slickest package I have seen. It even looks like a solidly built Audio component. Don't know the price though, looks like the $3000.00 price point though.

Dave
38" Aconda Sighted...

Last week, Mark's Monday Memo listed a New York Retailer, Harvey's as having the 38" Aconda on sale for $5499.00.

Also, a friend of mine found a 38" Aconda on display at the Good Guys in Huntington Beach, CA. Listed at $5499.00. OUCH!! Looked really nice though. I'll try to stop by and check it out for myself. Looks like they're finally out there.

Dave
Blogger Server Problems Fixed

Seems like the Blogger servers are behaving again. I've been working alot lately, but I'll try to get some updated info soon. No updates from 6/2-6/10 as I'll be out for a bit. Thanks for bearing with me and stay tuned.

Dave

Sunday, May 27, 2001

Blogger Server Problems

Sorry folks, seems like Blogger's free hosting servers went down for a couple of days. Couldn't update the site much less even load it. Hopefully all is well. None the less, I really like blogger as it makes for really easy to update news postings. Not to mention it is FREE... :)

Dave

Monday, May 21, 2001

Firewire DTCP Specifications

For more information about the Firewire DTCP specifications and standards, go to the official DTCP Web Site, there are many documents available for download in .PDF format.

Additional Reading:

LA Times Article on DTCP.
Slashdot Article called "Digital TV Approaches" about the DTCP issue.

Dave
More thoughts on the Firewire/DTCP issue and the 38" Aconda

Tom Feldstein had a really interesting question: "I appreciate your insights, but does Sensory Science/Loewe have any plans to incorporate 5C/Firewire in to the 38[" Aconda]. It would make buying one a lot easier."

You know, I don't know. My understanding is that the Firewire ports are addressing 2 issues:

1) As a secure digital interface with the display device. But, as the information bandwidth of the Component video ports is VERY high, especially in HDTV resolutions (19 Mbits/sec and around 9 GB / hour w/ audio information), there should be little concern of piracy or digital copies via the Component outputs as this is very impractical and expensive. Transmitting this volume of information even over a broadband connection would take literally HOURS and is quite onerous.

2) More importantly, the Firewire interface w/ encryption (DTCP/5C) allows for copyrighted materials to be flagged as recordable, recordable w/ expiration date or maximal viewing instances, or unrecordable. And it allows these limitations to be enforced when a Firewire DTCP compliant recorder (ie. HDVCR/DVD Recorder/DV Video tape/PVR device) is hooked up to the Set Top Box. This is something the MPAA is VERY concerned about, especially since uncontrolled perfect digital copies could be a very big threat to their revenue streams (ie. ala Napster/MP3 type file swapping and piracy, but see point #1 above in regards to how impractical this would be).

The Aconda Chassis is expandable and concieveably, Loewe could release a Firewire interface at some point in the future when the standard is finalized. At this time, I am not aware that this capability is going to be present in the current 38" release. Then again, perhaps this is why it's release is being delayed from the original summer release date to the fall. Anyone have any other information in regards to the delayed release?

Dave

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Deadline for Broadcasters to convert to DTV transmission rapidly approaching

If you go by the current FCC deadlines, there are only 349 days left until all 1288 U.S. commercial TV stations have to switch over to HDTV/DTV transmissions. As of Friday, the National Association of Broadcasters counted only 192 stations operating in 64 markets broadcasting digitally, note that around 30 of those are non-commercial (ie. PBS which has been an aggressive early adopter in this realm compared to the sluggish commercial broadcasters). Only three stations were added in the last week. To make this deadline, more than three stations need to be switched over to digital broadcasting each DAY (including weekends) every day...

I don't think we'll make this deadline, and the FCC will probably issue extensions. Folks, this will be a long, drawn out transition. Welcome to the world of early adopters.

See the Current List of Digital Stations now transmitting.

Dave
The Firewire DTCP/5C Copy Protection Issue

Larry Stern wrote in concerned that the evolving Firewire copy protection scheme being adopted by almost all of the HDTV/STB manufacturers could make earlier HDTV capable sets like the Aconda Obsolete. I thought that all the other readers would be interested in this very vexing issue, I replied to him as follows:

I have also been following the ongoing 5C and DTCP copy protection standard that is being proposed for Firewire copy protection with great interest.

As an "Early Adopter" you always take the chance that what you buy will not be compatible with a yet evolving standard, however you have to weigh this against the enjoyment you would recieve now versus having to wait for the technology to solidify. I obviously chose to take a chance now, however if the HDTV's (almost all that are now currently available) are made obsolete by 5C/DTCP, there will be a huge ruckus in general. At this time, according to the CEA, over 1 million DTV products have been shipped to consumers, so this is a fairly large installed user base to upset.

Apparently, hold outs such as Thompson and Zenith have now jumped on to the DTCP (Digital Transmission Content Protection) bandwagon and this new standard will probably become a reality, though not for at least 1 year as this is roughly the product development cycle. I find this link: Mark's Monday Memo to be a very useful source of current DTV/HDTV tech news and issues.

One thing that won't change though is that existing STB (Set Top Boxes or HDTV decoders) will still continue to work with terrestrial signals. Their existing Analog outputs will continue to work for non-copyright protected transmissions as the 8-VSB standard is now pretty much set in stone except for some minor tweaking...

However, note I say non-copyrighted transmissions. Apparently most (though I don't know which ones do or don't) STB's incorporate a feature that if the Copy Protect flag is activated (at the transmitter end) the STB outputs only a 480i signal and not a 720p/1080i signal for that particular program. If there isn't that capability built in already, it could be concieveably added if the unit is a combo DirectTV/ATSC tuner unit via a Satellite transmitted Firmware update. I suppose you could get an older model STB like the DTC-100 (still regarded by many as having the BEST reception for OTA ATSC signals) and use it as a STB only, never hooking it up to the Satellite downlink and avoiding new updates forever...

I would be curious to see if the Loewe HDT-100 incorporates this copy protection/mandatory signal downsampling feature...if not, it could prove to be quite valueable. I suspect that many European versions of HDTV decoders (like the HDT-100) do not incorporate these features as they are not subject to the whims of the MPAA (the root of this copy protection movement).

One consolation is that the Aconda will continue to display DVD's and OTA NTSC/VCR programs very nicely while the whole HDTV world is still in flux. The new 38" Aconda will also accept a Progressive signal via its component inputs for component DVD players.

Dave

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Aconda head to head Comparison and PAL compatability.

Eujin Hong had a chance to see an Aconda side by side wiht a Princeton Graphics AFD 16:9 display and he has some interesting observations. Also note, the U.S. version of the Aconda DOES in fact retain its ability to display PAL signals (due to its European heritage). Eujin writes:

"I took a close look on saturday at the Aconda (the one that you have) and might have some answers for you. The store I went to, Goodwin's High End in Waltham, MA, had the Aconda and Princeton Graphics' 16:9 30-inch set side by side, playing The Mummy off the new DVD player by Classe Audio (I believe it's an interlaced player). They also had a Runco plasma screen on the wall, so I actually got a 3-way comparison -- talk about being spoiled to death in a viewing room! Anyway, I didn't pay that much attention to the Runco, as there just wasn't any comparison to the PG or Aconda. Incidentally, the PG had been ISF callibrated, while the Aconda wasn't. I asked Dan Chadwick, one of the owners of the store, if the Aconda supported PAL in this country. After checking around, he showed me a spec sheet that said that the Aconda DOES indeed support PAL on more than one input. If I remember correctly, all the inputs in the rear will support PAL except for the RGB."

[Which means you can go ahead and order that European DVD player for Multi-Region capability even if you're going to hook it up via the regular video inputs. I think the VGA/RGB input's signal should be completely compatible across European and U.S. standards as it does not have anything to do with PAL or NTSC, so a DVD player of any lineage with a VGA/RGB output would work anyways.]

"You must be wondering how the Aconda stacked up against the PG. Well, cosmetics wise, there is now comparison. The Aconda is simply beautiful (I'm definitely envious of you). Also, the line-doubler in the Aconda is quite fantastic. The PG set was displaying The Mummy via an ISCAN Pro and in certain instances, had a superior picture. Let me elaborate: as expected when running a signal through ISCAN, the image was a lot more "film-like" on the PG, but also softer. Colors on the PG, even though it had been ISF'd, looked a little muted. The Aconda seemed to give more "pop" to the images on its screen. That said, the PG had better phosphors, which became readily apparent when viewing the end credits on BLADE, which are red type against a black background. On the Aconda, the credits bled and bloomed a little more than on the PG. I still haven't seen an instance of a DVD player/monitor combo that has defeated this blooming/bleeding on the BLADE credits. On viewing the "Battle of Carthage" scene in Gladiator (chapter XVI, I believe), neither set displayed the "shimmer" on the chain mail worn by the gladiators. However, both sets showed "jaggies" when you look at the thin black lines along the edge of the arena. Again, I've yet to see a set that's manage to resolve this issue, so it could be an MPEG compression artifact that's inherent in the disc, BUT both sets definitely did a better job with it than anything else I've seen so far. The other notable thing is that the Aconda's SVM had not been disabled, so it's conceivable that the picture will get better. I'll go back to the store and have a look at the Aconda after it's been calibrated, but that probably won't be for some time."

Eujin

Monday, May 14, 2001

Reccomdendations for Accurate Video Settings

John Romano who sells Acondas at a high end retailer in New York reccomends:
"...set the color temp to medium for an accurate 6500 degree kelvin picture...also set sharpness to 1 for a less grainy picture and more filmlike dvd picture..."

The Medium color temperature takes some getting used to, as it will seem a bit Browner/darker at first . The Aconda comes with the default setting at High color temperature so you are probably used to this already. Many have told me that the Medium is really the more life like looking setting. This will vary on your own tastes of course...

Dave
Blogger Servers still acting up a bit.

Posts may lag a day or so as the Servers are coughing up what I'm trying to post. Hopefully the situation will improve soon. Please be patient.

Dave

Sunday, May 13, 2001

Any other good looking Games for the Aconda?

Just wondering if anyone else has found other games that look good on the Aconda.

-Apparently, the Sega Dreamcast Gaming Console has a VGA output port. With the Play Station 2 being so popular, the Dreamcast is available at REALLY low prices now and could promise to be a real bargain. I don't know if there are any games written for the 16:9 letterbox format, so everything will probably appear a bit squished.

-The Playstation 2 is reputed to have built in support for 4:3, Full (which is basically 16:9 anamorphic), and Wide Screen (16:9 letterboxed). You can select this in the setup of the system and then use the Display mode select on the Aconda to blow up the center image and fill the whole screen. Some games have enhanced Wide Screen support (ie. SSX and Star Wars Starfighter), I don't know if this is some sort of Anamorphic mode that compensates for the 16:9 geometry in the graphics so everything isn't squished looking. Does anyone out there have a PS 2 that can confirm this information?

-Grubbing around the AVS Forum posts, I found reports that the following PC games support custom defined resolutions, thus could look really good on the Letterboxed Aconda screen:

-4x4 Evolution (Edit the metal.ini in the game's system directory. Under the [Graphics] section look for:gamePIXX = 1376, gamePIXY = 768)
-Airfix Dogfighter
-Bang! Gunship
-Blade of Darkness (many custom resolutions including 1280x720 16 or 32 bit)
-Colin McRae Rally 2.0
-Death Track Racing
-Giants: Citizen Kabuko
-Heavy Metal FAKK
-MDK2
-Motorcross Madness
-EA NBA 2000
-Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed
-NFL Blitz
-Quake III Arena (856x480 widescreen native support)
-Re-Volt
-Rune
-Serious Sam
-Starship Troopers
-Star Trek Elite Force (uses the Quake III engine, 856x480 widescreen native support)
-EA Sports' SUPERBIKE 2001
-Tomb Raider 4 (offers 16:9 resolution in its setup window, but the game still seems to assume the screen is 4:3, so everything gets stretched horizontally, and Lara is even more voluptuous than normal : ).
-Tribes
-Undying (open the system.ini file in the games' "system" folder and change the values of >> FullscreenViewportx=??? (example:856), FullscreenViewporty=??? (example:480))
-Unreal Tournament

I haven't tried these personally, the resolution adjustments are according to AVS Forum posts. Let me know if and how these work out.

Dave
Minor Changes

I've changed the settings so that the posts are archived Monthly instead of weekly, that way you don't have to search through the archives quite so often. Posts from yesterday just went up today, Blogger's web servers were doing something funky yesterday, sorry about the delay.

Also, I'm running out of information to post too...seems like the tasty tidbits are coming in a bit slowly, so if you have any information that you think others would benefit from, please send it in. I appreciate all the e-mails and info people have been sending in as well as the various pointed questions. Don't be surprised if my response to your questions ends up here also, I need content!!!

Dave

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Displaying Custom Resolutions on your Aconda from your PC

The Aconda's 640x480 resolution is decent for games, but it is a bit of a chore to use the Aconda as a computer monitor for any real word processing, prolonged web browsing, etc. What we need is access to higher resolutions such as 1920x1080i or 1920x520p, however, these are not standard Windows resolutions...

What you need is Powerstrip 3 a very powerful Shareware program for controlling your PC's video card at very low levels. You will also need to have a good Video Card/3D Accelerator like the GeForce or Nvidia chipset based card.

You will also definitely need to check out this Guide to Displaying Custom Resolutions on HDTV posted AVS Forum. It goes into detail on using Powerstrip 3 and the various resolutions avaiable to you. I do not reccomend experimenting blindly on your own unless you really know what you are doing.

Be careful though, incompatible settings CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE your Aconda. Make sure you know what you are doing and double check all your settings before applying them. The Aconda Manual lists the Refresh Rate as: 60 Hz, and the Maximum Vertical Scan rates of 31.5 kHz (at 640x480 progressive scan VGA resolution) and 33.75 (for 1080i interlaced HDTV signals).

Make sure you have set these Maximum scan rates in the Powerstrip program and double check to make sure all settings are compatible with these Scan Rates/Refresh Rates, or your Aconda could become a very large and expensive door stop...

Dave
Make Quake II and Half Life look better on your Aconda

I don't know how many other people have their PC's hooked up to their Aconda for playing video games, but I find it to be an excellent use for the Aconda. In fact, you will have a hard time playing video games on a regular 4:3 format screen after trying it out on the Aconda in all of its Letterbox glory. I personally like PC games much better than dedicated game console offerings as the former are usually much more complex and involved with many add ons, providing richer game play and environments, and have large communities of dedicated fans adding enhancements to the games.

2 games that I've found to be really good on the Aconda are Quake II and Half Life. Even though the Aconda will only display 640x480 (if you have a Nvidia or GeForce or some other high end Video Card, you may be able to run at 1920x1080i or 1920x540p custom resolutions though I don't know personally if these games will support these native resolutions. See the post on using Powerstrip 3 for more details), the game really looks impressive on such a large screen. One benefit of the lower screen resolution is you will notice your frame rate will improve (as the CPU and graphics card is doing much less work) and the game will run smoother.

One problem is that the graphics are rendered for a 4:3 proportioned screen so everyone looks short and fat. You can change the aspect ratio of the Graphics Engine for Quake II based games (ie. Half Life, Opposing Force, etc) to look better on a 16:9 screen by doing the following:

1) Find the Quake2.exe or HL.exe icon (as listed in it's game directory or off of the Start Menu) and right click on it.
2) Highlight the "Properties" option.
3) Add the Command line parameter "-console" to the end of the Quake2.exe or HL.exe command listed in the Target field.
4) Click OK.

Now, when you fire up Quake or Half Life, the console commands (access to low level game variables and settings) will be active.

5) After starting the game, hit the "~" (tilde) key to enter the Console.
6) Type the following "fov 120" to change the Field of View from the default of 90 to 120 which better represents the 16:9 aspect ratio.
7) Hit the "~" (tilde) key again to resume the game.

Voila, you now have more normal looking opponents (not short and fat like you'd see when you watch a 4:3 program in 16:9 anamorphic mode) as well as a wider field of view of the playfield. All the better to frag your opponents with!! I can got this working with Quake 2, but Half Life/Opposing force doesn't respond to the FOV variable changes, I'll have to work on this. Enjoy.

Dave

Thursday, May 10, 2001

DVD Player Upgrades

I have been lamenting the fact that few Progressive Scan DVD Players are available that have a VGA output for use with the Aconda. I stumbled across this company Techtronics that provides modifications (or modification kits) that not only add a VGA port to a DVD player, but also these great features:

-Multi Region Software play capabilities, with region code select. Also works with RCE (newer system to dis-allow multi-region playback of DVD's) encoded DVD's.
-Disabling of Macrovision
-PAL and NTSC outputs
-Skips annoying FBI warning at the start of DVD playback

And many other cool features. They support many high end DVD models and will provide pre-modified units or you can send in your unit for modification. Apparently they are one of the better and first DVD Multi-Region specialists out there.

Much of this sounds a bit illegal (at least in the U.S.). Alas, these guys are based out of England, I don't know if they will do international orders.

Dave
-

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

More Info on the NSTC Standard Setting

It was pointed out to me that in addition to setting the Picture Temperature to Medium, the NTSC Setting also changes the Brightness, Contrast, Tint, etc. to factory defined (hopefully calibrated too) settings that match the NTSC Standards. The Aconda has very good color reproduction so I am sure it is capable of this. Also the Scan Velocity Modulation is turned OFF in this setting.

Apparent you make any contrast or brightness adjustments in NTSC Standard mode, it will automatically revert back to the standard mode too.

Personally, I like the NTSC Standard mode for viewing B+W movies, but find it a bit dark and muddy looking for color movies/programming. I prefer to use the settings I've arrived at using the Video Essentials DVD to set Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Tint, Color/Hue. Your own mileage may vary.

Dave
Indexed by HotBot

Just noticed that this site has been "crawled" and indexed by HotBot, cool. Love the fact that there are these autonomous Web-Bot's doing their own thing out there all by themselves. Wonder when they'll start learning on their own too?...

Dave

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Pre-Made Configuration files for Pronto, RTI T2 and Mx-100 Remotes

For those of you who use one of these really full featured (and expensive) Programable/Learning Remotes, you may find this link helpful:

Remote Central's File Archive

You may be able to cut and paste someone's configuration and re-use the relevant parts. Graham Wright's UK Pronto configuration file has the Loewe configured as the TV.

Personally, I went with a less fancy but still very functional Remote made by Sony, the RM-VL900. It does not have a LCD display, but it can learn remote codes not in it's pre-programmed database and all keys can be re-mapped to whatever you want. In addition, you can set Macros to certain keys to automate control of multiple components (ie. I have the DVD source select button programmed so that if you hold it down for 2 seconds, it switches my Aconda to the Component DVD input, switches my Denon Amp to DVD, and sets the DVD control mode on the Remote all in one step). Pretty good for just $60.00. You can even take two of these remotes and put them head to head and clone them to avoid having to re-program a second remote manually, nice touch.

Be aware that many pre-programmed "Universal Remotes" do NOT support Loewe or Sensory Science products so a Learning Remote is often necessary. The Loewe IR Commands were a bit finicky and required repeated attempts for my Sony Remote to correctly learn them, but in the end, it does work very well.

Dave
NTSC Standard Setting excellent for B+W Movies

If you've been looking around the Video Options Menu you have no doubt noticed the cryptic "NTSC Standard NO/YES" setting. What is this? If you turn it on with a color video source, everything ends looking a bit bown and off in color. Sort of like looking through a Sepia Tone Filter.

However, I just finished watching the excellent Criterion Collection DVD release of Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai". It looks amazing on the Aconda, like a projected B+W Movie except the whites looked way too blue. Switching the "NTSC Standard" setting to YES (NO is the default setting) corrected for this and now the movie looks right.

If you are a fan of classic B+W (or any B+W movies for that matter) this is an excellent feature and I encourage you to try it out. I don't know if this function was Loewe's intent, but it looks REALLY nice.

Dave
Back from New Orleans Jazz Fest

Sorry for the hiatus, but I'm back now. Boy the music was Fantastic. I don't think ANY home theater/HiFi System could ever replace the experience of live music in a small club. It's a great time folks if you ever want to check it out, though it is getting a bit overcrowded (160,000 in attendence on Saturday) and rooms book a year in advance and are WAAAY expensive for what you get.

Dave

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

HDTV Decoders Still Not Set in Stone?

I use to feel kinda lame that I paid so much for a HDTV without a built in ATSC tuner. However, with some of the recent advances in the transmission of HDTV Terrestrial signals, I'm kinda glad that my $$ went into a better picture tube/line doubler/build rather than a potentially obsolete (already!) ATSC tuner.

Consider the evolving E-VSB standard that is being tested by Zenith (For you new to the subject, Terrestial HDTV signals a.k.a. ATSC signals, conform to a standard called 8-VSB) offers better reception and immunity from multipath interference than the original 8-VSB standard, yet it will remain compatible with existing 8-VSB Recievers.

If you are really interested in the technical side of HDTV/DTV, I highly reccomend following Mark Schubin's Monday Memo, released weekly at: http://www.digitaltelevision.com/mondaymemo/mlist/
It can get pretty technical, but it is VERY up to date.

Dave
HDTV Station Listing

In case you're curious what stations are officially broadcasting HDTV across the U.S., here is the official listing from the FCC themselves:

Summary: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvsum.html
Fully Authorized Stations: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvonair.html
Stations operating under Temporary Authorization: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvstas.html
Top-10 market status: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvstat.html
Markets 11-30: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvstat11.html

HDPictures.com also lists them by their actual channel numbers:
http://www.hdpictures.com/stations.htm
http://www.hdpictures.com/stations2.htm

Dave
CEA DTV Guide

I stumbled across this on the Google Search Engine. It was released earlier this year and if you get past the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) propaganda and the scattered ads, it is a pretty comprehensive listing of the various HDTV offerings from the various manufacturers and their specs. What is also really nice is a pretty comprehensive listing of Stations broadcasting in HDTV at the end of the document. See: CEA Digital TV Guide

Dave
Sensory Science's New Video Processor

Home Theater Magazine's web site has a little blurb about Sensory Science's CL-2500 Video Processor. An integrated Line Doubler/Quadupler with what sounds like Reverse Telecine capabilities. It will support 480p, 720p, or 960p, in either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. With a 110MHz bandwidth, the 2500 will also pass through all video signals including.1080i (HDTV), without conversion or scaling. Check it out here and here in the official Sensory Science Press Release.

Wonder if it uses the same Line Doubler Chipset as the Aconda. Not that you really need one of these if you have an Aconda : )

Dave

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Is the Comment feature usefull?

Does anyone find the Comment feature usefull? I added it to see if it would make this site more interactive. It is unfortunately quite limited as there are no message counts or indicators as to how recently anyone has posted a comment/reply if at all. Also, the comments are not threaded. Oh well, still pretty good for free eh?

I'll keep it around awhile to see if it is usefull, if not, I can just nuke it.

Dave
Is using a Progressive Scan DVD Player with the Aconda worth the extra cost?

The Aconda's Internal Line Doubler incorporates a "Inverse Telecine" process that reverses the interlacing of film sources frames that are broadcast as video. This in association with the Aconda's Digital Line Interpolation are two of the better "line doubling" processes, but are more expensive and intensive to implement. Loewe apparently spared no expensive and used a pretty hot line doubler chipset in the Aconda.

In fact, there is a great article in this month's Home Theater Magazine that talks about how some "Progressive Scan" DVD players actually don't do a good job of performing a decent Reverse Telecine reconstruction of the interlaced data and end up producing significant video artifacts.

A while ago, I did some rudimentary testing using a friend's Mac Powerbook Laptop w/ DVD Player which theoretically puts out a better 480p signal than all but the highest end Progressive Scan DVD Players (that is if you believe all the info on the AVS Forum Home Theater PC forum). I don't know of any Progressive Scan DVD players that have VGA outputs other than possibly the Loewe DVD player (major $$$), do you?

In informal testing with The 5th Element as the test disk, I couldn't tell the difference. I recently got my Home Theater Essentials test DVD back from a friend who was borrowing it, and I'll try to do a more thorough side by side testing when I can borrow the Laptop again and post the results on the site. If any of you guys out there have done your own tests, please let me know, I'd love to put up your observations.

I'd have to agree with Mike Aiken (Sensory Science tech rep) who told me that the internal line doubler on the Aconda is VERY good and you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between an external 480p signal and the line doubled signal from the Aconda. I'll try to find out which chipset Loewe ended up using.

Considering that TRUE progressive scan DVD players are quite pricey, I think I'll save my money for now and wait for the next generation HDTV DVD players to come out and skip Progressive Scan 480p DVD players altogether.

Man this Aconda is SAVING me money.... heh :)

Dave
Aconda EPROM upgrade to v 2.0

Thanks to Michael Winestock for sharing the information about his recent self installed EPROM Aconda upgrade to v 2.0. Note, this isn't a simple upgrade, it involves opening up the back of the Aconda, removing the old EPROM and physically installing the new EPROM. Not for the squeamish or technically not savy, you could fry your Aconda or yourself (remember, TV's have LOTS of High Voltage Capacitors in them which can really be dangerous!!). Your alternative is to get Sensory Science/Loewe to send out a Tech for a Service Call (probably will cost you $$ as well if that is the case).
Go to the Service Menu section to see how to find out which EPROM version your Aconda is running.

Michael writes:

"...[The Eprom] v2.0 gives is the ability to directly access the video3 input through a discrete code [as opposed to cycling through all available sources through the Video Source Select function]. The first batch of Aconda TVs all come with v1.2 which will not allow direct access to video3 input." [Probably most usefull to Pronto and other programmable IR Controller owners]

"I would suggest contacting Stan Brown (sbrown@sensoryscience.com) at Sensory Science about the v2.0 EPROM. I installed v2.0 last night and it works great. If you don't care about direct access to video3 input then v2.0 update will not be worth installing."

"The hardest part for me was removing the back plastic cover from the TV. The back plastic cover is attached to the TV with pressure clips at the top of the TV. I always dislike removing and installing EPROMs because there is a possibility of bending or breaking pins off. Also, EPROMs are sensitive to static discharge [Consequently, careless installation can result in frying your Aconda's little brain quite easily]. In my case, I successively installed the new EPROM in about 15 minutes. If you don't feel comfortable doing the installation yourself I would suggest having a Loewe Tech come out and install the new EPROM for you."

[BTW, the Aconda defaults the Video 3 input label to Cable/Satellite as the source.]

Michael has also noticed the following about S-video/Composite Video input priority:

"Something worth noting is that the S-video/composite priority selection for the Aconda TV will depend on which signal (S-video or composite) is present when the input connection is configured. This means that if a composite signal is present when the input is configured then the composite signal takes presedence. If a S-video signal is present when the input is configured then the S-video signal takes presedence. I found this out last night when I was playing around configuring video2 input."

I think I will be staying with v 1.2 for now. Does anyone know of any other performance differences, changes to the function of the Aconda or anything else that is changed by going to EPROM v 2.0? I'll inquire and keep you all posted.

Dave