Monday, August 27, 2001

Q. What do the various Loewe Digital TV's look like?
A.
OK, I put together a little gallery of Loewe TV's and some basic specs, they sure are pretty. Only the Aconda 30" and 38", the Calida and the Planus are available in the U.S.A. The rest are available in Europe, Australia, England, etc.


38" Aconda 9383S

38" 108 degree 16:9 Picture Tube, Q2400 chassis, full HDTV Monitor 1080i/960i, Progressive scan capable Component Inputs 480p/540p, user-selectable 3:2 pull-down/Reverse Telecine, Invar mask, Dual Tuner, Audio: 2 x 12 watts, 4 ohms, Power Consumption: 185 watts, Standby Mode: 1 watt

Dimensions (W x H x D): 41" x 30.2" x 24.94"
Weight: 210 lbs

Colors: Piano Black (ACO 9383 PB), Stratos Metallic (ACO 9383 S)

Specifications
Product Manual

(Aconda with optional glass stand)

30"/81 cm Loewe Aconda 9381ZW


16:9 Widescreen 81cm Real Flat Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Full Picture in Picture, Picture Freeze Teletext, Stereo, VGA Input Option, RGB & Component Video, Q2400 8bit Chassis, 2 x 40 Watts Stereo, Teletext

Colors: Piano Black, Stratos (Silver), Red, Blue (not shown)

MSRP
USA = $3599
Australia = $ 5400
Russia = $3400 (converted to USD) w/ Stand, w/o VGA port

Loewe Credo 7681ZP

16:9 Widescreen 81cm Super Flatline Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q2400 8bit chassis, Full Picture-in-Picture, Picture Freeze, VGA Input Option, Built-in Dolby Digital Decoder, PCS Plus Menu System, RGB & Component Video, Teletext, 2 x 40 Watts Stereo
Loewe Xelos 5381ZW

16:9 Widescreen 81cm Super Flatline Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q2400 8bit chassis, Picture Freeze, PCS Plus Menu System, RGB & Component Video, Dolby Digital Upgrade, Option, 2 x 40watts Stereo System, Teletext, VGA Input Option


(Planus with optional Stand with integrated Subwoofer)
Loewe Planus 4781ZP

16:9 Widescreen 81cm Super Flatline Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q2400 8bit chassis, Picture Freeze, PCS Plus Menu System, RGB & Component Video, Dolby Digital Upgrade, Option, 2 x 40watts Stereo, Teletext
Loewe Arcada 8772ZP

4:3 Screen 72cm Super Flatline Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q2400 8bit chassis, Full Picture-in-Picture, Picture Freeze, VGA Input Option, Dolby Digital Upgrade Option, PCS Plus Menu System, RGB & Component Video, Teletext, 2 x 40 Watts Stereo
Loewe Arcada 8784ZP

4:3 Screen 84cm Blackline S Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q2400 8bit chassis, Full Picture-in-Picture, Picture Freeze, VGA Input Option, Dolby Digital Upgrade Option, PCS Plus Menu System, RGB & Component Video, Teletext, 3 x Scart Input, 2 x 40 Watts Stereo
Loewe Cantus 3870ZW

16:9 Widescreen 70cm Super Flatline Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q4140 8bit chassis, Picture Freeze, PCS Menu System, 2 x 25 Watts Stereo, Teletext
Loewe Calida 5784ZP

4:3 Screen 84cm Blackline S Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q4140 8bit chassis, Full Picture-in-Picture, Picture Freeze, PCS Menu System, Teletext, 2 x 25 Watts Stereo, 2 x Scart Input
Loewe Calida 5772ZP

4:3 Screen 72cm Super Flatline Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q2400 8bit chassis, Full Picture-in-Picture, Picture Freeze, PCS Menu System, 2 x Scart Input, Teletext, 2 x 25 Watts Stereo
Loewe Profil 3472ZP

4:3 Screen 72cm Super Flatline Tube, 100hz Digital Technology, Q2400 8bit chassis, Full Picture-in-Picture, Picture Freeze, PCS Menu System, 2 x Scart Inputs, Teletext, 2 x 25 Watts Stereo System



Q. What are the prices and specifications of these other Loewe Models?
A.
I don't know beyond what is listed above. I live in the U.S. and don't have access to most of the other models listed above. I'm afraid I have no personal experience with any of the models other than the Aconda. If anyone knows the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) and specs for your country, please feel free to e-mail me with the details and I'll try to put up the information for all.
Q. What are the Specifications on the Aconda?
A.
The Aconda Specifications on the European Aconda models are available in .pdf format. There isn't a great deal of difference between the EU and American versions as both have built in NTSC/PAL compatability.

Q. Does the Aconda have a built in Line Doubler?
A.
Yes, the Aconda has a very advanced Line Doubler that upsamples/upgrades all of it's interlaced analog video inputs (480i) up to a Progressive Scan video image (480p). The Line Doubler uses Digital Line Interpolation with 3:2 Reverse Telecine detection for film sources (24 fps) to reduce motion artifacts and "judder".

Q. Does the Aconda have progressive scan Inputs?
A.
One (1) via the VGA port on US models and EU models fitted with a VGA port. This is the only way to bypass the Aconda's internal line doubler.

Q. Are there Component (Pr/Pb/Py) inputs on the Aconda?
A.
Yes, there is one set. They are assigned to the "Component - DVD" label if you activate them when setting up the Aconda inputs. They are swiched in conjunction with the "Input 1" Audio Jacks (LR RCA) and Video inputs (S-Video/RCA Video).

Q. Are the Component Inputs on the Aconda Progressive Scan?
A.
No, not on the 30" Aconda. They are interlaced (480i) ONLY, the Aconda's internal Line Doubler will work the signal over into a 480p signal. A progressive scan DVD player or any other progressive scan video source will need to be hooked up via the VGA port which also bypasses the Internal Line Doubler. Loewe makes a Transcoder which converts a component signal to VGA caled the DVT-100 which would allow you to run an additional component input into the VGA connector. The DVT-100 lists for $150.00 and is available through your Loewe/Sensory Science Dealers. There are also other transcoders made by other manufacturers available on the market all are around this price range. Note that using a video transcoder will invariably add a little additional video noise to a signal.

The soon to be released (we hope...) 38" Aconda is reported to have Progressive and Interlaced capable Component Video Inputs.

Q. What does all this HDTV terminology mean? What is Progressive scanning and 480p, 1080i, etc?
A.
I'm spouting off about HDTV issues and it occurs to me (after recieving several e-mails with some basic but important questions) that not everyone may be up to speed on the issues, technical issues and lingo. So I found these two really well written and illustrated articles introducing HDTV at GadgetSquad.com:
Part 1 - Guide to HDTV 101
Part 2 - Guide to HDTV 102

Q. Can I hook up my Aconda to my computer?
A.
The EU Acondas do come in several different versions: with/without a VGA port, with/without TeleText capability. The US has only one version: with a VGA port. If your computer's video card can output VGA (640x480p) then you can use the Aconda as a computer (albeit a bit of a low resolution and slightly squashed looking) display.

Q. Can the Aconda support other computer resolutions? How do I display resolutions higher than VGA (640x480p) on my Aconda?
A.
The Aconda's 640x480 resolution is decent for games, but it is a bit of a chore to use the Aconda as a computer monitor for any real word processing, prolonged web browsing, etc. What we need is access to higher resolutions such as 1920x1080i or 1920x520p, however, these are not standard Windows resolutions...

What you need is Powerstrip 3 a very powerful Shareware program for controlling your PC's video card at very low levels. You will also need to have a good Video Card/3D Accelerator like the GeForce or Nvidia chipset based card.

You will also definitely need to check out this Guide to Displaying Custom Resolutions on HDTV posted AVS Forum. It goes into detail on using Powerstrip 3 and the various resolutions avaiable to you. I do not reccomend experimenting blindly on your own unless you really know what you are doing.

Be careful though, incompatible settings CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE your Aconda. Make sure you know what you are doing and double check all your settings before applying them. The Aconda Manual lists the Refresh Rate as: 60 Hz, and the Maximum Vertical Scan rates of 31.5 kHz (at 640x480 progressive scan VGA resolution) and 33.75 (for 1080i interlaced HDTV signals).

Make sure you have set these Maximum scan rates in the Powerstrip program and double check to make sure all settings are compatible with these Scan Rates/Refresh Rates, or your Aconda could become a very large and expensive door stop...

Q. How do I get more VGA/480p/1080i inputs for the Aconda?
A.
With products like the IN3262-2 way VGA Signal Amplifier you can split your VGA output into 2 VGA signals at HDTV bandwidth and send either signal up to 100 feet to a remote display. Hmmmm...now I can hook up my Computer to my normal monitor in the den AND the Aconda in the Living Room. Maybe my Home Theater PC can live in another room so I don't have to buy 2 PC's....and the fan noise is far away too!

They also make a product that accepts 2 VGA inputs and switches between the 2 signals that will help alleviate running out of Progressive Scan inputs, check out: Inline, Inc. - IN3562R 2-Input VGA Switcher.

Also, check out:
DA1907SX Ditto-Amp: 1-in 2-out VGA Distribution Amplifier
DA1916SX: 2-in 1-out VGA Auto Switcher with Loop Output

Look around both sites as they have all sorts of really cool video switching products available,

Q. What is the "NTSC Standard" setting on the Aconda all about?
A.
If you turn it on with a color video source, everything initially ends looking a bit bown and off in color (especially if your Aconda came from the factory with the Color temperature set to "High" like mine did). Sort of like looking through a Sepia Tone Filter.

However, I just finished watching the excellent Criterion Collection DVD release of Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai". It looks amazing on the Aconda, like a projected B+W Movie except the whites looked way too blue. Switching the "NTSC Standard" setting to YES (NO is the default setting) corrected for this and now the movie looks right.

If you are a fan of classic B+W (or any B+W movies for that matter) this is an excellent feature and I encourage you to try it out. I don't know if this function was Loewe's intent, but it looks REALLY nice.

It was also pointed out to me that in addition to setting the Picture Temperature to Medium, the NTSC Setting also changes the Brightness, Contrast, Tint, etc. to factory defined (hopefully calibrated too) settings that match the NTSC Standards. The Aconda has very good color reproduction so I am sure it is capable of this. Also the Scan Velocity Modulation is turned OFF in this setting.

Apparent if you make any contrast or brightness adjustments in NTSC Standard mode, it will automatically revert back to the standard mode next time you select this.

Personally, I like the NTSC Standard mode for viewing B+W movies, but find it a bit dark and muddy looking for color movies/programming. I prefer to use the settings I've arrived at using the Video Essentials DVD to set Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Tint, Color/Hue. Your own mileage may vary.

Q. Can the Aconda's ROM/EPROM be upgraded?
A.
Thanks to Michael Winestock for sharing the information about his recent self installed EPROM Aconda upgrade to v 2.0. Note, this isn't a simple upgrade, it involves opening up the back of the Aconda, removing the old EPROM and physically installing the new EPROM. Not for the squeamish or technically not savy, you could fry your Aconda or yourself (remember, TV's have LOTS of High Voltage Capacitors in them which can really be dangerous!!). Your alternative is to get Sensory Science/Loewe to send out a Tech for a Service Call (probably will cost you $$ as well if that is the case).
Go to the Service Menu section to see how to find out which EPROM version your Aconda is running.

Michael writes:

"...[The Eprom] v2.0 gives is the ability to directly access the video3 input through a discrete code [as opposed to cycling through all available sources through the Video Source Select function]. The first batch of Aconda TVs all come with v1.2 which will not allow direct access to video3 input." [Probably most usefull to Pronto and other programmable IR Controller owners]

"I would suggest contacting Stan Brown (sbrown@sensoryscience.com) at Sensory Science about the v2.0 EPROM. I installed v2.0 last night and it works great. If you don't care about direct access to video3 input then v2.0 update will not be worth installing."

"The hardest part for me was removing the back plastic cover from the TV. The back plastic cover is attached to the TV with pressure clips at the top of the TV. I always dislike removing and installing EPROMs because there is a possibility of bending or breaking pins off. Also, EPROMs are sensitive to static discharge [Consequently, careless installation can result in frying your Aconda's little brain quite easily]. In my case, I successively installed the new EPROM in about 15 minutes. If you don't feel comfortable doing the installation yourself I would suggest having a Loewe Tech come out and install the new EPROM for you."

[BTW, the Aconda defaults the Video 3 input label to Cable/Satellite as the source.]

Michael has also noticed the following about S-video/Composite Video input priority:

"Something worth noting is that the S-video/composite priority selection for the Aconda TV will depend on which signal (S-video or composite) is present when the input connection is configured. This means that if a composite signal is present when the input is configured then the composite signal takes presedence. If a S-video signal is present when the input is configured then the S-video signal takes presedence. I found this out last night when I was playing around configuring video2 input."

Q. Where can I get a listing of Stations broadcasting in HDTV?
A.
Here is the official listing from the FCC themselves:

Summary: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvsum.html
Fully Authorized Stations: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvonair.html
Stations operating under Temporary Authorization: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvstas.html
Top-10 market status: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvstat.html
Markets 11-30: http://www.fcc.gov/mmb/vsd/files/dtvstat11.html

HDPictures.com also lists them by their actual channel numbers:
http://www.hdpictures.com/stations.htm
http://www.hdpictures.com/stations2.htm

Q. What are the issues with HDTV and copy protection as related to the Aconda?
A.
No one really knows what the future will hold. The fear is that early adopters and 1st and 2nd generation HDTV's sets (like the Aconda) will be left out in the cold by the evolving copy protection schemes: 5C/DTCP/DMCP.

As an "Early Adopter" you always take the chance that what you buy will not be compatible with a yet evolving standard, however you have to weigh this against the enjoyment you would recieve now versus having to wait for the technology to solidify. I obviously chose to take a chance now, however if the HDTV's (almost all that are now currently available) are made obsolete by 5C/DTCP, there will be a huge ruckus in general. At this time, according to the CEA, over 1 million DTV products have been shipped to consumers, so this is a fairly large installed user base to upset.

Apparently, hold outs such as Thompson and Zenith have now jumped on to the DTCP (Digital Transmission Content Protection) bandwagon and this new standard will probably become a reality, though not for at least 1 year as this is roughly the product development cycle. I find this link: Mark's Monday Memo to be a very useful source of current DTV/HDTV tech news and issues.

One thing that won't change though is that existing STB (Set Top Boxes or HDTV decoders) will still continue to work with terrestrial signals. Their existing Analog outputs will continue to work for non-copyright protected transmissions as the 8-VSB standard is now pretty much set in stone except for some minor tweaking...

However, note I say non-copyrighted transmissions. Apparently most (though I don't know which ones do or don't) STB's incorporate a feature that if the Copy Protect flag is activated (at the transmitter end) the STB outputs only a 480i signal and not a 720p/1080i signal for that particular program. If there isn't that capability built in already, it could be concieveably added if the unit is a combo DirectTV/ATSC tuner unit via a Satellite transmitted Firmware update. I suppose you could get an older model STB like the DTC-100 (still regarded by many as having the BEST reception for OTA ATSC signals) and use it as a STB only, never hooking it up to the Satellite downlink and avoiding new updates forever...

I would be curious to see if the Loewe HDT-100 incorporates this copy protection/mandatory signal downsampling feature...if not, it could prove to be quite valueable. I suspect that many European versions of HDTV decoders (like the HDT-100) do not incorporate these features as they are not subject to the whims of the MPAA (the root of this copy protection movement).

One consolation is that the Aconda will continue to display DVD's and OTA NTSC/VCR programs very nicely while the whole HDTV world is still in flux. The new 38" Aconda will also accept a Progressive signal via its component inputs for component DVD players.

For more information about the Firewire DTCP specifications and standards, go to the official DTCP Web Site, there are many documents available for download in .PDF format.

Additional Reading:

LA Times Article on DTCP.
Slashdot Article called "Digital TV Approaches" about the DTCP issue.