Remember when I mentioned how poor the Sony PS2 DVD output looked, compared to my Sony carousel DVD player? Using the same TV and connector, etc?
Well, I stumbled across this article which pretty much proves what I said:
"We need to say up front that the PS2 is a game console first and foremost. Its performance as a DVD player does not even match DVD players costing $100 less. So, if you are looking primarily for a DVD player, you can do better. If you want a game console that can double as a DVD player for the sake of convenience, then the PS2 might be what you are looking for. We are not reviewing this as a game machine here, only a DVD player."
I concur. I have already described the PS2 DVD output as "poor". Get a real DVD player, folks.
By Mark Asher on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 04:25 pm:
Why? Why should I get a real DVD player? How will my life be enhanced? Explain how the difference in the DVD output will make me want to run amid the wild clover singing praises and glory be to a "real" DVD experience?
And no, I don't remember when you mentioned anything about PS2 DVD output. Should I have?
By Anonymous on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 04:41 pm:
Mark -- why are you actually ASKING wumpus to expand on something?!?!? oh vey ...
By kazz on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 09:54 pm:
"Mark -- why are you actually ASKING wumpus to expand on something?!?!? oh vey ... "
Listen to him, Mark. The man is wise...
Seriously, though, I have been very happy with my DVD player. It gives outstanding sound through my stereo (much better than tape), the picture is of crystalline clarity, and you can rapidly select a particular scene if you wish, rather than just fast-forwarding all over desperately hoping to find it. For that matter, never having to rewind a tape has an appeal all it's own.
Some of the DVD special features are pretty cool, too. Last, like Charles Ardai said: "Never bet against newer, sexier technology." One of these days tapes are going to go the way of the LP, I think.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 10:14 pm:
Some people buy the PS2 expecting a decent DVD player "for free". I suppose it depends how low your standards are.
The PS2 was the second worst player in the linked roundup of roughly 16 DVD players, and one of only two considered "unacceptable" by the parameters they listed. Of course, even a crappy DVD player is still better than VHS. In this case, just not a heck of a lot better. Caveat emptor.
That's all. I never promised you a rose garden.
By Mark Asher on Wednesday, August 22, 2001 - 11:47 pm:
People who buy a PS2 actually get a DVD player. The article you cited even says that. I guess it depends on how snooty your standards are if you want to try to argue that the PS2's DVD capability is so bad as to not constitute it being a DVD player.
Then again, I'm just a guy with a VCR who might rent a movie once every month or two. Movies that are letterboxed irritate me more often than not. I'm just as happy drinking a Budweiser as I am an import. And when I'm in the locker room at the Y I'm not worried about who has the biggest or smallest dick.
By Erik on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 01:14 pm:
One thing I've noticed about the PS2 dvd player is that the volume is incredibly low. When playing a dvd, I have to turn my tv up to twice the volume I use when watching cable or using the VCR. It's weird because the sound when playing a game is fine.
By BobM on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 03:04 pm:
There's a sound level setting for the DVD, I believe. You should be able to find it on the pop-up menu. If I were any where near my PS2, I'd give you more details.
Of course, maybe you already know this and it didn't help. Or maybe I'm completely wrong and there is no such thing.
By Jeff Atwood (Wumpus) on Saturday, August 25, 2001 - 11:56 pm:
"Then again, I'm just a guy with a VCR who might rent a movie once every month or two. Movies that are letterboxed irritate me more often than not. I'm just as happy drinking a Budweiser as I am an import. And when I'm in the locker room at the Y I'm not worried about who has the biggest or smallest dick."
Dude, relax. All I'm saying is, caveat emptor. It's a poor DVD player by both subjective and objective metrics. Whether that matters or not to you, is for you to decide. But it is a fact..
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 02:06 am:
The article is actually pretty good. It's a nice, thorough, scientific examination of DVD output quality. I'd love to see the same thing repeated with the Xbox, since the DVD quality is supposedly far superior, and I certainly don't have the equipment to test it in an objective manner.
Whether or not the quality of the PS2's DVD output matters to you is personal taste, I guess. If you're the kind of person who has a nice TV and bothers to do stuff like calibrate it (Video Essentials is a great DVD, btw), you probably care enough to spend $199 on a stand-alone DVD player of superior quality. If you watch a DVD only once or twice a month on a crappy 27" generic brand TV with the color levels out of whack, and it's just no big deal to you, then fine.
But having the information, particularly so well examined, is useful I think.
By Mark Asher on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 03:21 pm:
The problem with the article (and criticisms of the PS2 as a DVD player) is that it doesn't quantify the difference in any way that's easy to understand from a viewer's perspective. So the bars on this chart for the PS2 are a bit smaller than the bars for a dedicated DVD player? What does that mean to me when I sit down to watch a DVD? How is my experience enhanced? Describe that and maybe I'll see why you'd want to lay down another $200 for a DVD player instead of spending that money on DVD movies or PS2 games.
I don't doubt that the PS2 is an inferior DVD player. In fact, I don't even know why Wumpus resurrected a dead thread other than to say, "See, I was right!" It's like VHS though -- there were cheap players and expensive players, but the difference in quality always seemed small to me. It's like the difference between expensive laundry detergent and the cheap stuff. "Oh yeah, I see that the good stuff gets my whites a little whiter. Too bad I don't care."
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 09:48 pm:
I dunno, I think that paragraph in the beginning that says "The video output is below par for a DVD player..." etc etc pretty well sums it up. I mean, maybe they put the conclusion up where the intro belongs, but still.
>In fact, I don't even know why Wumpus resurrected a dead thread other than to say, "See, I was right!"
Give the man a prize!
>there were cheap players and expensive players, but the difference in quality always seemed small to me.
Personally, I notice the difference in quality quite readily. And I *DO* care. So like, the rest of the world is not Mark Asher and stuff. Relax. Wumpus was just pointing out a pretty useful resource with some MEASURED representation of the PS2's DVD quality. Maybe he did it to say "I told you so" but that doesn't make the article less useful to someone, like me, who cares about their video quality.
By Mark Asher on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 11:14 pm:
"The video output is below par for a DVD player..."
Ok, what's average output and what's below par output? I don't have a DVD player, so I have no idea what this means. If I had them running side by side, what would be different? This is the kind of information that I'd find useful that the article didn't give me. What good are stacks of numbers without some concrete examples?
You said you notice the difference in quality, but what is it you notice? And would that difference entice you to spend $200 to upgrade from the PS2 DVD output to something better?
Test results without context are meaningless, but perhaps the article wasn't even aimed at potential DVD purchasers but at hardcore DVD fans who just want to know.
By John on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 04:31 am:
Mark, the difference between VHS and DVD is astounding, even on your average TV set. To know that the PS2's DVD output is lousy is important for someone who is taking that aspect of the machine into consideration. For some buyers, the fact that you get a DVD player "for free" along with the games is a big plus, but it's not so great if it turns out it sucks, now is it?
If you're a very casual movie watcher, you might not ever notice the difference. But when the PS2 is rated "sub-par" or "not acceptable", then that's the sort of difference that would be readily noticeable to the average person in a side-by-side comparison.
Admittedly, we're not talking about how to cure cancer here. But if you want to watch a DVD, why not make it the best experience it can be?
By Mark Asher on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 12:54 pm:
I'm not trying to defend the PS2. I'm just asking for someone to explain the difference in quality between a PS2 and a better DVD player in terms that I can understand. No one seems either able or willing to do so.
Yes, I read the article and looked at the graphs. But the data is meaningless to me because I have no way of putting the numbers into any kind of context.
Example. A review of two video cards says one gets 25 FPS more than the other. Because I understand how FPS has an impact on performance, I can understand the difference if one is 25 FPS and the other's 50, or if one's 80 FPS and the other's 105. In the latter, I might go with the lesser card if there's a price difference because 80 FPS is more than acceptable. In the former example I'd want the better card.
I have some kind of context for the video card data. I don't have that context for the DVD data.
Again, all I'm asking is for someone to tell me what the difference would be if I were to watch the PS2 and a better DVD player running side by side. I'm just curious. I'm not even trying to make a point.
By Dave Long on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 01:21 pm:
That's because at some point you took the time to learn what FPS stood for and how the higher number equates to a better performance measurement. You researched the same technical details to discover this that you could research in a similar way to understand the information at the link provided by wumpus.
I have some kind of context for the video card data. I don't have that context for the DVD data.
Sheesh, you guys should lay off Mark. There's nothing wrong with not being a videophile. Mark's simply pointing out he's an Everyman in the middle of America who doesn't understand, or therefore care about, DVD fidelity.
News flash: most people are like Mark. Sony understands that the people who buy a PS2 to also watch DVDs are most likely going to be the same way.
Until I got a DVD player, I couldn't have cared less about things like transfers, how black blacks were, and sound separation. I've since learned better, but only from seeing and hearing the difference. I can't abide videotapes, washed out color, and inconsistent sound. But I didn't get that way by forcing myself to care about and research esoterica like DVD output quality.
By Tim Elhajj on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 01:46 pm:
I was curious so I looked at wumpus' link. The article is part of a larger feature. If you were really interested, they have an introduction to the feature that gives the type information you're looking for, Mark. I'm only mildly interested so I didn't bother to actually read it all myself.
By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 04:33 pm:
Personally I am with Mark. The PS2s DVD output looks 10x better than my VCR so if some other DVD players looks 15x better it doesn't really matter to me. I am sure someday I will probably grab a standalone DVD player but for now the PS2 works fine and costs me nothing extra.
By Mark Asher on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 04:36 pm:
Tim, I looked at the rest of that stuff, but it's still gobbledy-gook to me. This was probably the single most helpful sentence in the PS2 section, though:
"Now with that said, even a poor DVD player blows away VHS and laserdisc."
I just wish someone could explain to me in plain terms what the noticeable viewing difference is between a poor DVD player and a good one?
Don't any of you have a PS2 and a dedicated DVD player? If your neighbor asked you what the difference was in the DVD output of the two, how would you describe it? That's all I want to know. I'm just curious at this point because I may get a PS2 eventually and I'm wondering how poor the DVD performance will be?
By mlatin on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 06:50 pm:
from the sounds of it, you really aren't gonna give a damn about the quality of the DVD output of a PS2.....so long as it can play back the DVD's to begin with. :)
- mike - sure, you have dvd's, but watch them in pan&scan?? ARGH! -
By Mark Asher on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 07:02 pm:
I probably won't, since our TV set is about 8 years old, doesn't support stereo sound, and is only 25 inches in diameter.
Mainly, I was just curious about the difference in quality. Apparently that's a question that can't be answered without charts and graphs.
By Mike Latinovich (Mike) on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 07:13 pm:
i dunno.... i like the dvd output of some commercial windows-based software dvd players (PowerDVD as the example) than that of the PS2.
if i had a decent tv setup that didn't suck, i'm sure i'd get a standalone deck just because i don't want to have to mess with a stupid video game controller or a mouse to watch a damn DVD in such a setting- where it would be likely that there wouldn't be a computer in that room, or a video game controller anywhere near where i'd be sitting to watch the tv.
- mike - navigating dvd playback via game controllers sucks -
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, August 29, 2001 - 12:41 am:
I'm kinda like Mark. I have a DVD player, and I love it, but more for the ease of use than the quality. (Although, while watching the VHS of The Phantom Menace the other day, even my wife said "You know, I think we DO need to get this on DVD!" in reference to the quality of the picture.) I got my DVD player for Christmas, and, otherwise, might not have gotten one for quite some time.
And I don't think that Mark is being obtuse. He's just asking for one simple answer in simple terms, and no one has given that yet. I've never watched a DVD on a PS2, and it's doubtful that my untrained eye would have noticed the difference anyway.
Somebody, please, tell us WHY I'm wrong.
By Tracy Baker on Wednesday, August 29, 2001 - 10:21 am:
>Apparently that's a question that can't be answered without charts and graphs.
Unfortunately, it's a question that can't be answered by your current AV equipment. If you had a new TV, with a large horizontal resolution and modern inputs, the quality difference between DVD and VHS would be immediately obvious and require no explanation. It's like the difference between the low-bandwidth movies you find on the Web and the high-bandwidth ones. The bigger movies are clearer, with much better color and sound.
The biggest difference between DVDs and VHS tapes is the extra detail a good DVD transfer affords. You'll notice things in movies that you never saw before--the grain of the fabric on a suit, bumpy textures on walls, etc. If you've ever played a first-person shooter with bump mapping enabled vs. playing that game without it, that's the kind of difference in quality you can expect from a good DVD movie.
Good players have excellent in-player letterboxing abilities (when needed), output at higher resolutions than cheapo boxes, use better AV inputs and outputs, and deliver solid images with no color bleeding, shimmering, or other artifacts beyond those hard-coded into the DVD being played. Bad players use software decoding or have poor hardware decoders that make the image look grainy and introduce image artifacts during fades or quick image transitions. These are extremely annoying, to say the least, and I'd rather watch a mediocre VHS tape with a consistent image than a DVD occasionally being rendered as a shambling mass of oversized pixels (as the PS2 sometimes does).
But with your aging mono TV, it's likely the PS2 will look and sound nearly as good as a standalone player of any quality. The colors and detail my player can extract from a disc became noticeably better when I got a new TV with better resolution and inputs than my older 27-inch TV. I didn't have to look for quality differences either. It was self-evident, and even my techophobe wife was stunned by the difference.
Mark's right. If you don't have the equipment to view the extra detail the DVD format offers (and don't care to buy any), there's really no compelling reason to dump extra money into a standalone player when a PS2 will serve just as well.
By Gabriel Marsh on Thursday, August 30, 2001 - 02:01 am:
A bit late on this, but still perhaps a bit of help. A bad dvd player has problems with the way it does colors. Thats what the charts and graphs mean. A bad dvd player will show white blotches on a scene that is supposed to be black, it's noticeable to anyone. Faces will perhaps not be quite the right color, you might notice a greenish tinge. Some dvds will outright not play on them. Image artificats, that were mentioned above, are outlines left after an object has left the screen. Bleed over, to give an easy example, is a shadow on a face that shouldn't be there. There is probably a black background next to the face. Whether or not this matters to you or not is purely a personal opinion.
By Mark Asher on Thursday, August 30, 2001 - 02:08 am:
Thanks Gabriel. You put it in terms that mean something to me.
By Chris on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 11:29 pm:
I've got a question for all you DVD people, what difference does an S Video cable make, and is it noticable to the untrained eye?
By Mike Latinovich (Mike) on Saturday, September 1, 2001 - 10:08 am:
is this just a troll? :)
- mike - or perhaps a drudge? -
By Ngoc-Huong Nguyen on Saturday, September 8, 2001 - 01:43 pm:
The PS2 Remote was just released. It comes with a new DVD file that replaces the one on PS2's model 300001 with no R. It fixes the really low volume that erik was complaining about. Minus - and its a big one - is that the IR sensor has no pass thru, so to use it you can only use one controller unless your playing a multi-tap game. argh