Early Samsung Blu-ray Players Ship with Chip Mistake

rockaway1836

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There seems to be a problem with that link I posted. So here's the text.


News Search . EXCLUSIVE: Early Samsung Blu-ray Players Ship with Chip Mistake
July 19th, 2006 — By editor
A noise-reduction chip mars Samsung’s Blu-ray player’s premiere for early adopters. On picture quality: “This was not dazzling.”

by Scott Wilkinson, The Perfect Vision

July 18 - I’ve been reviewing some Blu-ray titles sent from Sony on Samsung’s BD-P1000, but, like many of the early adopters out there, I’ve been less than impressed.

Sony arranged to have some titles sent to me for the review, and as I went through them, I was surprised at how soft they looked compared with the best HD DVDs I’ve seen. The images simply didn’t “pop;” there was no “wow” factor as there was with HD DVD. I was left with the same impression watching them on a Samsung HL-S5687W 56-inch 1080p DLP RPTV and a Samsung SP-H710AE 720p DLP front projector.

What was going on here? I’ve seen a dozen dazzling Blu-ray demos over the past two years: This was not dazzling. “The Fifth Element,” “Terminator 2,” “House of Flying Daggers,” “Memento,” “Lord of War,” “Crash,” “UltraViolet;” all looked not much better than upconverted DVD. Not only that, “The Fifth Element” had obvious scratches and dirt from using a substandard print in the mastering process.

Don Eklund, executive vice president of advanced technologies at Sony Pictures, noticed that the player’s image did not match the quality of the master tapes from which the Blu-ray titles were encoded. He contacted Samsung, whose engineers determined that the noise-reduction circuit in the player’s Genesis scaler chip was enabled, causing the picture to soften significantly.

According to Jim Sanduski, senior vice president of marketing for Samsung’s Audio and Video Products Group, “Samsung is currently working to revise the default settings on the noise-reduction circuit in the Genesis scaler chip to sharpen the picture. All future Samsung BD-P1000 production will have this revision and we are working to develop a firmware update for existing product.”

An easy fix, but still…

To see the difference for myself, I went to Sony Pictures, where Eklund had set up and calibrated three identical displays (the Samsung LN-S4095D 40-inch 1080p LCD flat panel) driven by an unmodified BD-P1000, a modified player (with the noise reduction turned off), and the master tape from which the Blu-ray disc being played had been encoded.

We looked at two titles, “Memento” and “50 First Dates,” and sure enough, the modified player looked much closer to the master tape and far better than the unmodified player. Disabling the Genesis chip’s noise reduction improved sharpness significantly and reduced the occasional temporal artifacts that were sometimes evident in dark, solid backgrounds on the unmodified player. Also, it allowed the film grain - an intentional form of noise - to become more evident.

To get some sense of the difference between HD DVD and Blu-ray, video guru Joe Kane brought his Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player over to Grayscale Studio, The Perfect Vision’s new video lab. We connected it and the Samsung BD-P1000 to a Gefen HDMI switcher whose output was sent to a Samsung SP-H710AE 720p DLP projector (review in Issue 70 of TPV) firing onto a Stewart GrayHawk RS screen. Granted, it’s not a 1080p display, but its characteristics are well know to both of us, so we could easily see any difference between the two players, which were set to output 1080i. (The Toshiba’s 720p output is poor, so we let the projector do the deinterlacing and scaling.)

We started with HD DVDs, including clips from “Blazing Saddles”, “Apollo 13?, and “Phantom of the Opera”. All were spectacular, sharp as a razor with detail to spare. Then we switched over to Blu-ray, playing clips from “The Fifth Element” and “Terminator 2.” Aside from “The Fifth Element”’s obvious dirt and scratches, both titles looked decidedly soft compared to the HD DVDs. The THX logo on “T2? looked sharper than the movie, which had some significant edge-enhancement as well.

Give Samsung’s player another shot

Unfortunately, I cannot yet draw any definitive conclusions about the Samsung BD-P1000’s video performance. I was able to spend only an hour with a player in which the Genesis noise reduction was disabled, and it did look markedly better than a stock player on the same model of display. But I’ll need to spend more time with one on my own to know for sure how much improvement that modification represents.

It’s not that the images from the original player looked bad; to an untrained eye without direct comparison, they would probably look pretty good. Still, when I showed some clips to a friend without a trained eye, he said, “So, what exactly is high-definition about this?” That just about says it all.

I believe that Blu-ray has the potential to look every bit as good as HD DVD, perhaps even a little better for a number of technical reasons. And it’s not uncommon to encounter some bumps in the launch of any new format. Once Samsung fixes the noise-reduction problem, I have every confidence that Blu-ray will look fabulous.
 
jgantert

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rockaway1836 said:
Check out those comments at the end of the article...

"If this is true…

Why do Blu-ray titles look so soft on my VAIO? I see little difference between Blu-ray on the Samsung and my VAIO. Both produce a significantly softer picture than my HD-DVD player on available titles.

Comment by Ken F July 19th, 2006 @ 5:51 am "

Too bad Samsung hasn't released any firmware updates. Even my RCA HD-DVD is at 1.4. :) How long was it for Toshiba to release 1.1 after the product launched?

-John
 
rockaway1836

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jgantert said:
Check out those comments at the end of the article...

"If this is true…

Why do Blu-ray titles look so soft on my VAIO? I see little difference between Blu-ray on the Samsung and my VAIO. Both produce a significantly softer picture than my HD-DVD player on available titles.

Comment by Ken F July 19th, 2006 @ 5:51 am "

Too bad Samsung hasn't released any firmware updates. Even my RCA HD-DVD is at 1.4. :) How long was it for Toshiba to release 1.1 after the product launched?

-John
I think it came to market with 1.1. The upgrade to 1.2 was on or about June 6. Hey I'm format neutral on this . I ordered and should have had my HD-A1 yesterday. But Sears screwed up and it won't be here until tomorrow. But they did knock off $30 for my trouble. As I have posted here before I had and returned the Sammy. I'm just passing along what I think is useful info.
 
teamerickson

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jgantert said:
Too bad Samsung hasn't released any firmware updates. Even my RCA HD-DVD is at 1.4. :) How long was it for Toshiba to release 1.1 after the product launched?

-John
1.2 was about 5 weeks
 
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Ilya

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I was surprised at how soft they looked compared with the best HD DVDs I’ve seen.
...
According to Jim Sanduski, senior vice president of marketing for Samsung’s Audio and Video Products Group, “Samsung is currently working to revise the default settings on the noise-reduction circuit in the Genesis scaler chip to sharpen the picture.
When I watched Blu-ray titles, in addition to softness of the picture (compared to HD DVD) I noticed a lot of compression artifacts which to me were even more annoying than softness: washed-out colors, unnatural skin-tones, dull, flat-looking picture, color-banding, loss of detail on moving objects and very noticeable mosquito noise. In comparison, most HD DVD titles don't have these artifacts, or at least they are much less noticeable. I suspect that some of them are caused not by the player, but are due to the fact that current Blu-ray titles use less advanced compression (MPEG-2 vs. VC-1) on a smaller disc (25GB vs. 30GB) and as a result have to use much heavier compression.

I would be interested to know if the author observed compression artifacts with the modified player?
 
Ilya

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Moved to a separate thread and corrected the link.
 
rockaway1836

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Ilya said:
Moved to a separate thread and corrected the link.

Thanks Ilya, I think something changed that's why the original link didn't work. In the original (yesterday) the author mentioned that the Sammy would have to be returned to be fixed. In this morning's version he talks about a firmware upgrade. I guess time will tell if this is truly legit.
 
vurbano

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Sounds like damage control. I wonder if any of it is true. :rolleyes:

And if it is true it just goes to show how little QC/QA is being done at samsung. No one bothered to look at the picture before they went to market?
 
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Still sounds horrific

vurbano said:
Ah so this addresses softness. What about the horrendous artifacting?

And on top of that...no analog 5.1 DTS etc...what a glorious start. They must have learned from microsoft...never buy 1st generation anything!

If these clowns do not get it right soon...bye bye formats!
 
vurbano

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gizzer777 said:
And on top of that...no analog 5.1 DTS etc...what a glorious start. They must have learned from microsoft...never buy 1st generation anything!

If these clowns do not get it right soon...bye bye formats!

You would think Sony would have a player by now? This is their format isnt it? A player that actually worked?
 
Acerone

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Samsung Blu-ray firmware update

If you shelled out over $1,000 for Samsung's BD-P1000 Blu-ray player only to discover that the picture quality wasn't as impressive as you'd expected, fear not: it looks like a faulty-but-fixable chip may be responsible for the sub-par video. After noticing a "softness" in each of the titles he viewed with the P1000 -- especially compared to the performance of Toshiba's HD-A1 HD DVD player -- Perfect Vision editor Scott Wilkinson initiated a chain of events that has culminated with Samsung VP Jim Sanduski confirming that there is indeed a hardware problem with the initial rollout. Apparently, the machines have been leaving the factory with the Genesis scaler chip's noise-reduction circuit enabled, and after comparing a repaired unit to one out of the box, Wilkinson agrees that the fix does indeed result in a sharper picture. Future P1000's will be shipping with noise-reduction disabled, and luckily for current owners, Samsung will be releasing a firmware update that you can download, burn to disc, and pop into your player. So the lesson we've learned here is: early-adopters beware, because even though this problem has a relatively easy solution, next time you may not be so lucky.
 
vurbano

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The PQ will still be inferior with mpeg2 and the limited space after all of that uncompressed audio on 25Gb Disks. I wonder if this will eliminate the artifacts.
 
JoeSp

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Vurbano, I don't believe that this fix will eliminate artifacts that are a result of using MPEG2 and bad copies for Blu-Ray conversion. However, the PQ should greatly improve. If Sony can get off of their collective buts and get the dual layer disc working and/or use a better compression technology then Blu-Ray just might dazzle.

As I have said many times before, you can not use a Samsung DVD player for quality comparisons. This just proves that the company just does not make quality DVD players.

I also believe that the problems with the dual layer disc is why Sony does not have its player on the market yet. They should have waited till 2007 to release this. They are pushing too hard and they are going to lose market share over this.
 
vurbano

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JoeSp said:
If Sony can get off of their collective buts and get the dual layer disc working and/or use a better compression technology then Blu-Ray just might dazzle.
At that point you have essentially HD DVD. Maybe a little more disk space that is not needed and an extra 500 dollar cost and more expensive disks. Why reinvent a MORE expensive wheel? :rolleyes:
 

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