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A First Look – LG DVI Capable DVD player
Model DV7832NXC

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Here is a first look at this new player that hit the market place about two to three months ago.  It is LG’s (Lucky Goldstar) first effort at a quality DVI capable “higher” end DVD unit.

I will skip some of the features of the unit and just get down to main observations both good and bad about this unit.  The Canadian store price for the unit is $300 which makes it about $200 less than the Samsung DVI unit and about comparable to a Bravo D-1 DVI player if it is imported to Canada

LG is aiming high here with a DVD player that has DCDi processing and 1080i and 720P scaling via DVI and surprise, surprise … via component video as well.

Opening observations:

  • Tested Displays … Hitachi 57” HDTV WX20b series RPTV; Panasonic PT-AE300 LCD FPTV; BenQ 8700 DLP FPTV, Toshiba 65” RPTV 65H80, Toshiba 34” CRT.
  • Unit performance compared to Panasonic RP91 DVD player via component, RP82 DVD player via component and SDI, RP56 DVD player via component, Bravo D-1 DVD via DVI.
  • The component output does not output 480i.  It only sends out 480P/720P/1080I signals.  This would make sense that anyone buying this player would have an HD capable TV and is looking for the DVI signal.  If you want 480i, use the S-video or composite video output from the unit.  If you want 480i via component, go buy a $100 LG unit instead.
  • Conversion from 480P to 720P to 1080i can only be done from the front panel and with the player in “stop” mode. 
  • No Chroma Bug.
  • And now some bad news, the 720P scaling ability of this unit is considered to be poor to mediocre in my book.  Lots of artefacts on the test patterns that I used.  Essentially the TVL 200 resolution chart from AVIA.  1080i scaling is the optimal mode for this player.  One of the cleanest I have seen.
  • Now some even worse news … the DVI output from this DVD player is … quite simply … not very good.  From the first moment I looked at it at a client’s home on his Hitachi, I commented that the 1080 image looked wrong.  This was verified rather quickly when I put up the grayscale ramp pattern from the DVE disc.  The horror was verified.  Essentially, everything from 80% white to 100% white looks like 100% white.  The entire upper spectrum is white crushed.  No amount of decreasing the contrast on the TV could recover the missing white boxes.  Bad very bad.  This was verified on the Hitachi, Panasonic LCD and BenQ DLP units.  The testing here ended for DVI.  There was no point in continuing.
  • So does this write off the player entirely?  Well, not exactly.  There is a silver lining here and it led us to some most unexpected results.  Hot off the disappointing DVI performance, we took a look at the 1080i performance via the component outputs.  This player outputs 1080i via component on all DVD’s … not just my test discs.  There is no “active” copy protection that prevents the playback of regular DVD’s.  1080i from this unit here is actually very good.  Very good indeed.  It was clearly better than the RP91 on 480p and then marginally better than the RP82 with SDI processing through a HTPC to 1080i ($1500 in added equipment costs to do this scaling).
  • On the DVD resolution patterns, there was much less moiré than the conventional players.  Amazing at how stable the 1080i scaling was via component.
  • Next up, we looked at it versus the Bravo D-1 scaling to 720P via DVI.  The Bravo D-1 is a $200 US DVI capable player with one of the best scaling images out there for 720P.  The drawback of the player is that it is buggy and the build quality smells of “cheap” plastic.  So the comparison was now between the 1080i Component output from the LG with the Bravo’s DVI 720 signal.  Looking at the 720 P image on the TVL 200 pattern, it was fairly solid as expected.  Then the surprise as we flipped to the component input and looked at the 1080i signal from the LG.  Aside from a minor difference in overscan, the 1080i image was just as solid as the 720P DVI image and it showed slightly less moiré patterns than the Bravo D-1.  The LG 1080i was better by a hair, but for all intents and purposes, the performance was identical.  This slight difference could never be seen on a real film.
  • So where does this lead us?  For the moment, we were shocked to see that a 1080i analog signal could marginally outperform a 720P digital signal.  At worst, the performance was the same and this was on the BenQ 8700 DLP projector where the Bravo had every advantage.  Digital output to a digital projector …
  • Our preliminary conclusion from this testing is that there is no difference in quality between the DVI output and a component video output.  Just having DVI is no assurance that the image will be better.  Quite the contrary, what appears to be most important is the scaling capability of the DVD player and how well it turns a 480i DVD signal to 1080i or 720P.  The difference between DVI and component is negligible for the moment.
  • I’m happy enough with this LG unit to now be using it as my primary player in my system.  It has unseated the RP91 that has held that spot for the longest time.  The Bravo could not win because of the buggy software that translated into annoying playback issues like dropping frames and image stutter.
  • Most annoying thing about the LG is that its remote control is clumsy and the button layout can easily confuse the user resulting in unintended playback delays.
  • As a bonus, the LG player is the first one I have seen to come packaged with an S-video cable, a component video cable and a DVI cable. 

I’m going back to watching my LG via 1080i and component now.  It isn’t a perfect unit, but it shines where it needs to and in that unexpected area too.  The results of this test should be great news for all those with HD sets that do not have DVI inputs.  You can get top notch DVD performance without the need to upgrade the TV and it is every bit as good as those with DVI inputs on their TV’s.

Best Regards

Firmware Upgrade:

There are two firmware upgrades available provided by Michael TLV:

  • Fix for the White Crush problem
  • Allows upconversion of commercial DVD’s (?) to 720p and 1080i via the unit’s component video outputs

Click here to learn more about them.

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