On May 13 and 14, 2000, Secrets hosted its first DVD player Benchmark Event
(Shootout I) in Redmond, Washington, where we tested numerous DVD players as
to their video, audio, functional, and usability qualities. Audio Precision
and Tektronix instrumentation were employed to gather extremely accurate
data. The information you will see here is much more extensive than you will
ever find in any other A/V magazine, on or off the web.
Results of all
our Benchmark Tests are located
HERE, but be sure to read the rest of this article.
DVD is the highest
quality consumer video format we have ever had. At the same time, it is also
one of the most complex and sometimes confusing formats. Because of this
complexity, we get e-mails asking us all kinds of questions. It's because of
these questions that we are very nitpicky in our Benchmark standards.
We will mention
Toshiba over and over again as we complain, so we need to qualify that right
now. Toshiba has been at the forefront of DVD technology, as they had the
first players on the scene. They were the first with component video
outputs, and they were the first with progressive DVD players. We are very
thankful for their strong commitment, but their marketing department has
also done a lot to confuse the consumer. More on this later.
So what is our DVD
Benchmark? We are going to tell you just how good or bad the audio and video
quality of each player is, based on objective measurements. We will also do
our best to explain how each measurement relates to the audio and video
quality. We are going to report on how each player handles the various
features of DVD, including seamless branching, multiple angles, parental
control, and much more.
we will say that with the exception of two DVD players, they all looked pretty
good in Benchmark I. They are all an improvement over VHS, DSS, and even laserdisc, which
was the top dog for a long time. The players we looked at range from a mere
$179 up to $14,500.
We have a series
of six Benchmark articles that describe the technology we tested and the types of tests we performed. Part 1 discusses the video
quality of the DVD players. Part 2 covers the audio side of the DVD players.
Part 3 covers the functionality of the DVD players. Part 4 illustrates the
usability study that was conducted on the DVD players. Part 5 deals with
progressive DVD players. And finally, Part 6 covers DVD Audio and MLP. You can refer back to Parts 1 through 6 to see exactly what the
test results mean. A list of the players we have tested is shown at the bottom of
- Stacey Spears -
people made it happen:
Stacey is our Video Editor (and video guru). He organized the whole
Head of Ovation Software, Author of Avia, www.ovationsw.com, Guy manned
the Tektronix scopes and deserves the most thanks, because if it were not
for him, we would still be making the video measurements. Guy also took the
time to answer any technical questions we had during the tests.
Andrew is Technical Director of the Microsoft WHQL DVD Test Annex. He
gave up a weekend to offer his expert technical experience with not only
testing the VM700T but also walking us through the WHQL DVD. He also
dissected the Toshiba and Panasonic progressive DVD players. Andrew is also
the person responsible for our having the use of an Audio Precision System
John E. Johnson,
JJ is Editor-in-Chief: Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity.
Colin is our Digital Audio Editor. He ate two BBQ sandwiches! He also
spent about 50 hours behind the Audio Precision measuring those DVD players
so I guess he deserved that second sandwich.
As a Contributing Writer Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity, Evan
has several years experience as a usability engineer. He orchestrated the
entire DVD usability study and also put together the on-line survey that we
Although Brian did not attend Benchmark I, he did contribute with
all of the excellent graphics and animation work. He also wrote a nice essay
on the 3-2 frame rate conversion process in Part 5.
Don is a contributing writer for Secrets and is responsible for the Part
5 re-write to explain how progressive DVD works. He also documented all of
the tests we performed on the various progressive DVD players. Don's brother
took the chroma upsampling error photos in Part 5. Don also helped out with
John did the brunt of the work on the part 6. John also helped out with
Kris helped the 3rd time out with running our deinterlacing tests.
Paul is Administrator of the Home Theater Spot,
www.hometheaterspot.com. He was
kind enough to bring over his Panasonic H1000 progressive DVD player for us
to critique. Paul also videotaped the entire event with his digital
camcorder, hopefully to put a video of our testing activities on his
Author of DVD Demystified and DVD FAQ,
www.dvddemystified.com, Jim was
only able to come by on Saturday. Along with Andrew and Paul, Jim took an
in-depth look at the progressive players. If there was something that we did
not fully understand about DVD, he was always happy to answer the question.
President of Joe Kane Productions, and designer of Video Essentials,
helped out with video measurement questions. He also suggested many of the
DVD titles that we used to test the players functionality.
Keith is the author of Video Demystified,
Keith continually answered every video specific question that we had. He
also provided the component color bar numbers of the various CAV formats.
President of Better Cables LLC,
www.bettercables.com, Brad provided all of the Canare video cables and
75-ohm terminators for the Benchmarks.
Bill Bean and
Bill and Al are VM700T gurus for Tektronix. They also helped out with
various CAV and VM700T questions. Bill also arranged the loaner 1735HD with
the local Tektronix rep.
So, we had plenty
of people and plenty of players, and all the heavy duty testing equipment we
needed. The results will be posted in sections, with links below that will
go live as we publish the various parts. If you have any questions about the
description of terms or techniques, please send us an e-mail, and we will
clarify them in updates. Enjoy!
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