A Samsung DVD-HD938 DVD player turned up today (with confusing model numbers, it seems to be variously known as DVD-HD938, DVD-HD937 and DVD-HD935). This is significant in two ways. Apparently the price is going to be quite low (I believe that it’ll be under $AUS1,000, but will advise when the official price comes through) and it features a DVI output. The actual socket is a DVI-I but apparently the thing is wired to support just DVI-D (see here for what these mean). Which is fine. No, which is flippin’ amazing! I’ve been using the $AUS3,000 Marantz DV8400 recently for DVI. The Denon DVD-A11 costs $AUS4,000.
Okay, I haven’t wired this one up yet, but already I’m excited. Shortly I’ll be placing here some remarks on the actual effect of a DVI connection compared with component video, but one important point about it is that performance depends very much on the quality of the deinterlacing electronics in the DVD player.
And here’s the reason for the excitement: notice the left-most logo on the photo herewith? Yep, Faroudja DCDi. Samsung hasn’t skimped here.
Less exciting is the scaler built in. This can output native 480p or 576p as appropriate. Or it can be set to scale these to 720p or 1080i. But why would you want to do this? Okay, 720p would be okay if you have a DLP projector based on the Mustang HD2 DMD chip (native resolution 1,280 by 720 pixels). But nearly every other display will have to scale the incoming signal to match its own physical resolution. In other words, there will be two sets of scalings, one in the DVD player and one in the projector or display. This can only degrade the image.
Of course I’ll check this out to see if my theorising is correct. On reflection, though, the 720p mode could useful because Samsung also sent down one of its new LCD RPTVs, the SP-46L5H (a 46 inch widescreen model). This uses 1,280 by 720 pixel panels and features a DVI input. Consequently it ought to match the 720p output mode rather well. Interestingly, this appears to use Samsung’s own scaling and de-interlacing circuitry rather than Faroudja’s, so I ought to be able to compare the quality of the two.
UPDATE (Friday, 5 December 2003, 4:59 pm): Samsung’s PR firm tells me that this DVD player will be available in Australia in February 2004, and the recommended retail price will be a very attractive $AUS599.
UPDATE 2 (Friday, 5 December 2003, 5:01 pm): Vincent from Perth writes to suggest that I might have been a bit harsh on the whole scaling, then re-scaling thing. Could be. He points out that his Epson projector uses 1,280 by 720 LCD panels and so could take excellent advantage of the 720p mode. He further points out that many projectors have a ‘through’ mode which could also be suitable. And he’s quite right. I’d kind of forgotten about the through mode because with analogue connections, most ‘through’ modes on projectors assume a 4:3 aspect ratio, whereas I usually want 16:9. (An exception has been the various Sony home theatre projectors which have through-wide and through-normal modes).
The ‘through’ mode, by the way, eliminates the vertical scaler. Each input line is simply translated into an output line from the projector. The horizontal scaler is still used, normally, because an analogue signal can be any width. However if fed a 1,280 by 720 digital signal (which is what 720p is) than there should be no horizontal scaling either.