So, how good is the picture from DVI?

Marantz DV8400 DVD player Here are my thoughts on the improvements provided by a DVI interface from DVD, compared to component video from the same DVD player. I’ve lifted these from my forthcoming review of the Marantz DV8400 DVD player which will appear in the Australian Best Buys, due out any day now. Please buy it anyway since I contributed 24 other reviews to this one, and this is only an excerpt of the Marantz review.

On static images, particularly test patterns, the difference [between DVI and component video] was extraordinary. There was a marked increase in picture stability from the DVI output compared to the component video, with reduced noise in dark grey areas. When a colour bar test pattern came up, DVI was ever so much sharper than component video. This difference was really obvious. There was also a tendency for a slightly green cast over some shades of grey with component video that was largely eliminated with DVI.

So how does it work on regular movies? During normal action we were not expecting a huge amount of difference. And, indeed, for the most part, the difference was indeed not huge. But it was significant. The main difference was a slightly sharper focus on the projected material. This was more obvious when switching from DVI back to component video as the image noticably softened.

But on some problematic scenes there was an obvious improvement. For example, in Chapter 14 of [the PAL Region 2/4 version of] Gigi, the uppity servant shaving Maurice Chevalier has closely spaced, fine horizontal stripes on his waistcoat. This normally produces a nasty moire pattern, as indeed it did from this player’s component video outputs. But with DVI this also was eliminated.

The quality of the internal de-interlacer in the Marantz DVD player wasn’t quite up to the quality of the Faroudja DCDi electronics in the ScreenPlay [5700 projector with which the testing was conducted], so the conversion to progressive scan occasionally caused minor image degradation. For example, in Title 19 of Video Essentials, the NTSC encoding switches frequently between film and video sourced material and at points has (intentionally) incorrect flags. This resulted in jagged edges on some fast-moving diagonals which weren’t there on an analogue interlaced image sent to the projector. Likewise for the terrible Roadshow Mad Max [see here for more on this] in which all the interlaced fields constituting the frames have been inadvertently placed out of sync. Most of the time the progressive scan converter for the DVI output corrects this invisibly, but some odd colours catch it out, such as the pink sign above the roadhouse near the start of the movie.

This weekend it will be against the performance described in this last paragraph against which I will be checking the Samsung DVD player, mentioned below, with its Faroudja DCDi electronics.

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