Monday, January 14, 2008

HDMI Player for Non-HDMI DVDs

I bought dirt cheap Ferguson D780 HX DVD player which has HDMI output. The quality improvement on my new TV over the standard Scart connection is notable. My previous DVD player was 5 times bigger, not to mention 10 times more expensive...


However, I was appaled that some of my DVDs exhibited god-awful interlacing which made the movies unwatchable. After some digging, I discovered that the latest official firmware is "B7_1.1" but there is also the newer "B8_1.1" version which is "unofficial and may have problems with HDMI". Guess what? My player had "B8_1.1" installed. I think it's not very wise to factory-install firmware which "may have problems with HDMI" into player whose much-touted feature is HDMI output.


Anyway, after I downgraded to the older firmware, the picture is great. Note: When updating firmware, you don't have to burn it to CD, you can also upgrade from USB Flash disk, as long as the volume is named "FERGUSON".


Other than that, this player is excellent value for money, offering region-free playback and ability to skip those awful DVD warnings and intros. It can also play DivX movies from USB-connected devices (and correctly display Czech subtitles in separate file) but I couldn't persuade it to recognize my external USB harddisk. USB Flash disk worked but there was some unfortunate stuttering with higher bitrates - the USB is probably quite slow because the playback was OK when I burned the same AVI file on DVD disk. Also be warned that you cannot play high-definition AVI files, it just says "invalid resolution"...


For now, I am perfectly happy with my ability to watch standard DVDs. Althought the High-Def war might now be over (I guess I'm happy Sony has won because I hate Microsoft even more than Sony), I am in no rush to buy any high-def player. There are still many movies which I loved in my youth and which I can now rediscover. Watching Who Framed Rogger Rabbit or Excalibur is quite a different experience today than it was 20 years ago.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You think Sony has already won?

Fuxoft said...

As far as the high-def format war is concerned, yes, I do.

Richard said...

Yes, they have won. The amount of BD video discs sold is twice bigger than HD-DVD discs. And Microsoft is thinking about external BD drive for XBox 360...

myself said...

many players have capacity limitation on USB devices (i saw 2GB) so you can try some smaller hdd ;)

mj said...

IMHO it has USB v1.1 - slow. I was considering buying something like this first, but all of them has so many limitations (USB on FAT, filesize limit, slow USB, DIVX but not XVID etc.). Then i decided to buy TVIX M-4000P. I have to rip DVDs first, but quality is ok and having DVD jukebox is really nice :)
btw-Their new model has h264+mkv support
--mj

John said...

I believe the twice-as-much figure is flawed as quite probably Sony "forgot" to substract the BR titles they bundled with PS3s. No, the war is not over yet.

Kub said...

HDD must be FAT32 and EXTERNAL POWERED to work with this player.