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441 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 22781 8-Jun-2008 01:52
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Got my Topfield TF6000ES PVR Thursday. ($849 from Freeviewshop)

Have it set up with a single 90cm dish on Motek dish motor. Have both tuners looped

First impressions.

This is a nice looking piece of kit, not quite full rack width, but a damn sight better looking bit of kit than your average set top box.
It has a Scart In/out, Svideo, Composite, HDMI, Optical digital audio, inputs and loop outputs for the 2 LNBs. The Scart is configurable for RGB, or YUV. The Scart In is for auxiliary signals to your TV, you cannot record from it. It also has USB, RS232 and wired Ethernet connections.

This is a complex bit of kit to configure, it came with D1 channels pre-configured, but not optimally IMHO (see Advice below). You shouldn’t have any problem if you’ve setup a satellite receiver before.

The remote has 40 odd buttons, but the basic functions are reasonably intuitive. If you want one of these, download and read the user manual while you are waiting for your toy to be delivered. Expect to sit in front of it and just play for a couple of (late!) evenings.


The TF6000PVR ES does everything that I expected based on the descriptions I have read on the Topfield website. I haven’t owned a PVR before, so wasn’t quite sure just how flexible it would be.
 

You can record one channel and time shift another channel simultaneously.
You can record two programs at the same time, and view a third, but cannot timeshift the third channel.
You can chase play either of the two recording programs.  IE start playback or timeshifting within the recordings before they have finished.
I’m not sure how many timer events it can store, I’m using 37 so far, and have entered up to 51 and it was still accepting more.  

The upscaled image on HDMI looks pretty good on my 40” V series Bravia at 720P. Subjectively there seems to be less blockyness and pixilation than I used to have with my Strong 4658 using component. I’m not sure if this was the Strong, or the scaler in the Bravia. See below for one minor picture quality gripe.

The signal quality reading is higher than I had on my Strong. My Strong was about 85% on D1, & D2, The Topfield says 99%. I have a 90cm dish on about 50m of RG6. I have downloaded the Firmware updater and “Vega” channel editing software. I used both with no problems.

I have also setup a Dynamic DNS name for my home PC and tried accessing the PVR Webserver from work. Works well, but file transfer of the very large files is slow. The Webserver is not secure and does not require a password so I guess if a hacker got your IP or Domain name they could upload or download stuff from your PVR, and add or delete timers. As the PVR supports little application programs (Taps), they could conceivably install some malicious code???. I havn’t tried the FTP server. This is password protected, but not secure.

The main gripes I have (and ther’e pretty minor really) are:


The EPG is pretty clunky. You can load an alternate EPG using Taps, but I havn't investigated any of those yet.
The Timer reservations do not seem to show up properly in the EPG. They show up when first setup, but not subsequently.
The extended program information seems to be displayed twice in the detailed program information display, this is minor but annoying.

The Timer events are listed by channel number & channel name, not by program name, so it is hard at a glance to see what programs you have scheduled. You have to edit each entry to tell this. The recording names however use the program name.

Occasionally I see what I can best describe as "jaggies" on fast moving high contrast parts of an image. This only happens occasionally, I noticed it on horizontally scrolling white "ticker" text on a C4 music program, and the moving white numbers on the “Daily Keno” This happens on the HDMI output, not SVHS. I don't have a SCART lead, so havn't tried 720P component video yet. I can’t say I’ve noticed it during normal programming, but it was damn annoying on C4.

Some of the buttons on the remote don't seem to do what ther’e supposed to. The Aspect ratio, Video Format, and Skip back 20 second buttons don't do anything.  

Overall I’m pleased with my new toy, and If I can cure the niggly “jaggy” problem I will be very happy indeed.
 

Advice


One piece of advice if you get one: After you have set it up, use the "Vega" PC application to edit the services for each tuner, and 
set TV1, 2, Maori, 6, 7, & Sports Extra to always using tuner 1 and TV3, C4, Stratos, Cue, Parliament, & Te Reo always use tuner 2. This seems to be the optimum way of getting the most flexibility out of the EPG initiated recordings. If you copy these services to both tuners the EPG chooses which tuner to use, and this can end up creating avoidable scheduling conflicts, or tying up both tuners on the same transponder making the other channels unavailable for viewing until one of the recordings finishes. I’m not sure how well I’ve explained this, just take my advice here.

I hope this is helpfull to prospective buyers.

Regards
 

Allen.

P.S. I've had this reboot on me twice now, the first time while I was configuring it, which I forgave, but last night after I posted this, it rebooted just as it was starting a scheduled recording. I had the "Program information display" or "recorded services" list up at the time, I'm not sure which. I'll try and repeat this and report the bug if I can repeat it.

PPS. 15/6/08 I have posted a new reply to this topic that expands on the "Jaggie" problem mentioned above and includes screenshots.





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Welcome my Son, Welcome to the machine...
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Yamaha z7, Boston VR2 (LR), Boston VRC (C), Energy RCR (SL & SR), Boston HD5 (SBL & R)   Velodyn SPL1200 ultra. Phillips CD650, Sony DVP S735D, TViX M6500A, Oppo BDP83, Panasonic PT-AE700, 120" Fixed screen.

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Hawkes Bay
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  Reply # 136359 8-Jun-2008 08:51
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Great stuff! Thanks.




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  Reply # 136736 9-Jun-2008 18:33
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Thanks for the review AllenG.

I ended up getting the latest TONE mag to read the review.

How does the upscaling look?

Also can you tell me where does it d/l the EPG from?


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 136753 9-Jun-2008 18:59
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mailmarshall:Also can you tell me where does it d/l the EPG from?

The EPG is in the broadcast EIT data




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  Reply # 137496 11-Jun-2008 21:47
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Hi, Mailmarshall.

I thought I posted a reply to your questions, but the post isn't here, so I'll post again.

The Upscaling looks ok, probably better then the standard definition out of my Strong 4658. It's not quite as good as I was expecting, and there is the minor problem with jaggies that I noted in my original post. I have sent a sample recording to Topfield-New Zealand that they are going to look at and hopefully find a solution for.

I would post a couple of images, but I'll have to figure out how..


Also, as mentalinc has said, the EPG is broadcast as part of the DVB-S signal.

Regards Allen.


mailmarshall:

How does the upscaling look?

Also can you tell me where does it d/l the EPG from?






---------------------------------------------------------
Welcome my Son, Welcome to the machine...
---------------------------------------------------------

Yamaha z7, Boston VR2 (LR), Boston VRC (C), Energy RCR (SL & SR), Boston HD5 (SBL & R)   Velodyn SPL1200 ultra. Phillips CD650, Sony DVP S735D, TViX M6500A, Oppo BDP83, Panasonic PT-AE700, 120" Fixed screen.



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 138146 15-Jun-2008 11:53
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Hi Guys.

I have been doing some more investigation into the problem I mentioned in my original post about "Jaggies" on fast moving high contrast parts of the image on the HDMI output.

The more I watch, the more I see a similar problem with thin black lines on fast moving parts of the image.  This is not obvious when viewing from a distance, but is degrading the picture. It looks to me like two fields on an interlaced image that are out of sync.

I have been out and bought a Scart to component lead today. The jaggies are significantly reduced on Component. There is still a small shimmer, but this is a 100% improvement on the HDMI. I still see some of the symptoms described above with what looks like fields out of sync, but they aren't as bad as on HDMI. Unfortunately, the Component output is SD, not upscaled.

I have taken some screen shots by freezing the screen on my Bravia. The first set of images is of a horizontal scrolling "Ticker" on a C4 music program. They show the "Jaggie" problem present during normal playback, and absent while the PVR is paused. The focus not that good on the closeup shots, but you should still get the idea.

Closeup of HDMI "Jaggies" during Normal Playback

HDMI Jaggies at normal Playback speed


Same Clip while the PVR was paused (Jaggies not there)

HDMI jaggies while paused


The next set of images show a full screen graphic that was moving quite fast from Right to Left revealing the program behind in a Promo for "Ugly Betty". again, my apologies for the focus on the closeups. I think you will still get the idea.

The first two pics are HDMI playing at normal speed. Note the double image with what looks like two fields out of sync resulting in a double image (every second scanline shifted by several inches)

The second two pics are HDMI with the PVR paused on a frame very close to the first. the fields look to be in sync while paused.

The last pic is from Component video playing at normal speed, "The double image" isn't there, but dark horozontal lines still appear in places on the white text.


HDMI Interlacing problem during Normal Playback (Note Double image where every second scanline appears to be from the previous frame)


HDMI

Closeup of RHS of same image.

HDMI PVR paused


Same Clip on HDMI while the PVR was paused. (interlace problem not evident while paused)


HDMI Closeup normal playback

Closeup of above image




Closeup of frame from the same clip using Component video. (Note Double Image symptom not visable, but still some dark horizontal lines on white text.)



The fact that the problem appears during full speed playback, and not still frame tells me that the problem is with playback or output circuitry, not the source, or the recording.

Please note that these problems are noticable only occasionally during fast motion, scene changes, scrolling text etc. I'm pretty fussy, and the functionality of this device still outway these problems. In the mean time I am using the Component output which shows less problems than the HDMI.

I have provided a recording sample and these images to Topfield NZ, and will post any progress after they have had time to respond.

Allen.





---------------------------------------------------------
Welcome my Son, Welcome to the machine...
---------------------------------------------------------

Yamaha z7, Boston VR2 (LR), Boston VRC (C), Energy RCR (SL & SR), Boston HD5 (SBL & R)   Velodyn SPL1200 ultra. Phillips CD650, Sony DVP S735D, TViX M6500A, Oppo BDP83, Panasonic PT-AE700, 120" Fixed screen.

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  Reply # 138218 15-Jun-2008 17:53
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Those are all standard deinterlacing issues.

Blame the broadcasters for sticking with 576i instead of going progressive when they had the oppertunity. You will prob be better off outputting 576i and leaving it to the tv to deinterlace and scale so that you dont have 2 conversions going on.

The c4 one happens often because the music video is film mode but the ticker is not. Unavoidable really unless you want to lock it into video mode and substantially lose quality in the part of the image you should be watching.

The other one will be happening because the video immediatly prior to that is film mode and then the tv2 graphics are interlaced, takes a few fields for any deinterlacer to kick over to the other mode normally.

The one in the tv will possibly be better because it will delay the image a few fields to know whats coming up to change at the right time. That is why you get lipsync issues on most digital panels.




Richard rich.ms



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 138263 15-Jun-2008 22:43
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Thanks for the comments Richms.


The SD Broadcast is all in 576I, what do you mean by Film mode and Video mode in respect to the transmitted fields? I am also noticing the interlacing problem on fast moving high contrast areas of normal programming where there are no on screen graphics involved, so your explaination doesn't really explain that.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that if a PC based SD DVB-S solution can deal properly with Deinterlacing, then a $850 purpose built device should be able to.

I'm just a bit dissappointed that I havn't noticed any of these problems with my previous Strong reciever doing Component. I was expecting a better picture with the upscaler, Progressive and HDMI in the Topfield than what the TV was doing.

I appreciate your comment

P.S. I'm a Kiwi, even though the forum is showing an Aussie flag!

Regards,

Allen.





---------------------------------------------------------
Welcome my Son, Welcome to the machine...
---------------------------------------------------------

Yamaha z7, Boston VR2 (LR), Boston VRC (C), Energy RCR (SL & SR), Boston HD5 (SBL & R)   Velodyn SPL1200 ultra. Phillips CD650, Sony DVP S735D, TViX M6500A, Oppo BDP83, Panasonic PT-AE700, 120" Fixed screen.

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  Reply # 138265 15-Jun-2008 23:08
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Yes, you were expecting a better picture because thats what the marketing has lead you to believe.

You will almost always get a better picture with the scaler in your display, since its taking it to the final resolution, not up to an inbetween one which it will then be scaled from again.

Film mode is where the souce has 2 fields which deinterlace to one frame with no movement between them. The deinterlacer has to just get the right odd and even lines, put them together and you have a frame, repeat that frame for the next one, then start again.

On 60Hz stuff you have a 3:2 ratio, but same applies, less frames then fields, but they are at full resolution.

When something comes from a video camera, there is movment between the fields, so if you put them straight together you get what you see on the C4 ticker.

A good deinterlacer can identify areas of high and low movement and apply the right mode to each. A crap one cant. You are seeing the results of a crap one. Really its just stupid that we have still got interlacing happening when the shift to digital was the ideal time to kick it to the gutter where it belongs.

PC based ones are better, but still have all those issues at some stage. Most just lock into video mode which lowers your vertical resolution but will never give artifacts of the combing type, just flickering things when they transmit too much detail for a 60 year old video format to handle.





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  Reply # 138274 16-Jun-2008 07:05
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Just to re echo richms's comments dont use the Strong to upscale simply get it to pass 576i out as 576i not 720p or whatever, leave the deinterlacing to your TV it will most likely do a superiour job, and will also mean that only one scaling happens, ie scaling from the natively broadcast 576 to your displays native resoltuion, rather than 576i to 720p(or 1080i) to your displays final res.

Upscaling DVD players and DVB devices are pretty much gimick devices in my view, by YMMV.

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  Reply # 138305 16-Jun-2008 10:22
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I hear what you're saying Allen.  They pass this Topfield off as the solution to there not being a HD PVR available but from what you're showing here the deinterlacer is less than perfect shall we say.  I think the focus should be on the PVR abilities, the network connection, the hdmi connectivity etc.  (I'm picking you can't connect via hdmi without the unit upscaling?)

I guess you try all available outputs and use the one that gives the best results.  It's a good point the others are making.  Each upscale represents some more potential for losses and really the display unit is probably the best equipped to take any source and convert to it's own native resolution.  One could argue that the general upscaling of freeview HD to 720 is another intermediate step, but then I'd expect that freeview gear can do a much better job of this than my cheap tv!


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Reply # 138409 16-Jun-2008 16:03
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I would now like to throw my 2 cents in and defend the PVR. (I have one you see and I like to think I got my moneys worth)

What you have to watch, and I am making assumptions on your TV specs AllenG, is the actual pixel resolution of your TV. The output of the PVR is actual 720p(1280 X 720) or 1080i(1920 X 1080) and there is a fair chance your TV is not actually that resolution. A TV that is accepts 720p will pretty much always accept 1080i but if the screen resolution is for example what the lower models of the Sony Bravia is (1366X768) the TV still has to process the image again after receiving it. And as we all know the more you process an image the worse it gets, and we get all the problems nicely detailed by the other guys. With the PVR you may find, as I do that I get a better final result with the output set to 720p if the above mentioned resolution is your screen size or set the PVR output to 576i and let your TV upscale it then it is processed only once.
To say the PVR's abilty to upscale is gimicky is not true as I have seen it on an actual 720 resolution TV and an actual 1080 resolution one and the result is very very good. And on the 1080 TV it actually did a better job of the TV's own upscaling technology which is not easy since they make it for the screen.

More often than not the problem comes from the TV not being true 16:9.
But hey if the TV can upscale it well, let it do it and you can still have the great features of the PVR.


A processed picture n omatter how good will still never be as good as a true HD one so bring on the HD content and we will all be happy.

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  Reply # 138468 16-Jun-2008 17:29
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Just thought I would add that you can clearly see the difference in resolution in the non jaggy text in the C4 images - the PVR is freezing a field not a frame when you have paused it.




Richard rich.ms



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  Reply # 138504 16-Jun-2008 18:40
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Thankyou all for your comment.

I have tried this PVR on both my 40" V Series Bravia (Native Res 1366x768), and Panasonic PT-AE700 projector (Native res 1280x720). I tried all HDMI resolutions (576P, 720P, & 1080i). I have now settled on component output at 576i and have minimised the de-interlacing issue as much as I can. The HDMI doesn't have the option to output 576i (not sure if the HDMI spec supports this?)

The PVR functions are pretty good, and I am still happy I bought it. I am having some problems with FTP to the device, but these may be my PC configuration, or the limitation of a single FTP connection on the PVR. Filezilla requires two FTP sessions.

Thankyou again for your comments.

I have recieved some comment from Topfield NZ regarding the De-interlacing, and with their permission will post it here.

Regards,

Allen.





---------------------------------------------------------
Welcome my Son, Welcome to the machine...
---------------------------------------------------------

Yamaha z7, Boston VR2 (LR), Boston VRC (C), Energy RCR (SL & SR), Boston HD5 (SBL & R)   Velodyn SPL1200 ultra. Phillips CD650, Sony DVP S735D, TViX M6500A, Oppo BDP83, Panasonic PT-AE700, 120" Fixed screen.



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 139257 19-Jun-2008 21:07
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Topfield NZ have posted some comment on De-interlacing on their forum

scroll to the second post.
http://www.topfield-newzealand.co.nz/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1933

Regards

Allen.





---------------------------------------------------------
Welcome my Son, Welcome to the machine...
---------------------------------------------------------

Yamaha z7, Boston VR2 (LR), Boston VRC (C), Energy RCR (SL & SR), Boston HD5 (SBL & R)   Velodyn SPL1200 ultra. Phillips CD650, Sony DVP S735D, TViX M6500A, Oppo BDP83, Panasonic PT-AE700, 120" Fixed screen.

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