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Component switches?

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    Vili Maunula

    Since many/all of you seem to know much more about hifi technology than I do, I thought that I could ask your help with something.

    My problem, summed up briefly, is how best (read: “within reasonable price”) connect at least three devices with YPbPr component video outputs to my TV that has only one YPbPr input, while also splitting the sound from those three devices in a way that will allow me to decide whether I want it to come out of my TV or the stereo system?

    And now, the longer explanation follows:

    I have recently ordered a cable that will allow me to connect my old Xbox (which I use as a media centre with the help of XBMC) to my TV by using a component connection rather than the normal scart cable. I am hoping that this, combined with the possibility to increase the image resolution to HDTV quality, will result in a slightly better picture quality.

    I have also made up my mind to purchase an Xbox 360 in the near future, for I have an urgent and somewhat irrational need to play Mass Effect.

    And then, I have my DVD player, which I currently have plugged into the component inputs in my TV.

    So, all these three should somehow share that one component input that my TV has. The TV, by the way, doesn’t have HDMI inputs. It’s a 5-year-old “HDTV Ready” (1080i) Samsung rear-projection TV.

    To complicate the issue a little bit more, I would also like to have the sound brought into my stereo system in a way that would allow me to choose whether I want to have the sound from the TV or the stereos. This mainly because I like to use my XBMC to stream online radio such as last.fm.

    Now, I’ve spent quite some hours in the past few days looking online for a solution to this, and I think that the name of the solution should be “component switch” or “component selector”. Am I right?

    Because of the number of devices, it should be at least a 3×1 switch (I can always split the sound after the switch), although a 4×1 or larger wouldn’t hurt (who knows, maybe I will one day get an irrational need to play Super Paper Mario?).

    The problem is that I have not been able to find a switch with good reviews that would cost me less than 80 euros with postage. I really wouldn’t like to spend more than that, but would still like to have good quality video in an easy to use setup. It may be impossible, of course, and something’s got to give. But do any of you know any switches that you could recommend?

    Or, is there some other solution to my problem, save for manually changing the cables every time I want to switch from one device to another?

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    Jeremy

    YPbPr is more commonly referred to component, so if your searching for YPbPr your results will be small.

    Certainly there are good and poor quality switches,mostly regarding the buttons or it’s automatic input selection and sometimes audio inputs. Internally they are very simple, and if cables are kept short, the impedance lost of the signal is so small that quality difference wouldn’t matter, so buy whatever is the cheapest.

    At least here in the states, the dollar equal to 80 euros is not quite enough to find what your looking for, as the more HD imputs the more the cost grows quickly. Just beware that when they say 4 inputs, rarely are all those inputs component-it is very misleading. Typically if is less then $100 (approx $63 euros), it really doesnt have enough component inputs.

    If you cant come across anything, then just buy a 4 or 5 input phono/RCA/composite switch (same thing, different countries give that connection different names, the one with yellow-video and red and white for audio).

    Since it isn’t HD is doenst carry the HD price, but in reality is basically the same thing.

    Although a composite switch has one video and two audio, a decent one with gold connectors will be not cause a problem if you feed the 3 component feeds into it. The signal voltage is no higher then typical audio voltage and if the cables are kept short as possible, running though a switch will not cause a problem. If you go this route, it actually may be a advantage to go cheap, as the higher end ones might alter the audio signal to prevent signal noise. There is a slight risk in going this route, but I’m not aware that happening often.

    Of course you would buy one that had as many selectors as you needed, and to save more cost, you want one that has to selected manual via button, rather then automatic.

    If you have a voltmeter you could even verify the impedance, to ensure everything id good, but I doubt it wouldnt be.

    If you go the composite route, you would have no choice but to buy another of the same switch and you could do much the same with the audio.

    Your going to have to press 2 buttons, and may not be the most impressive thing, but it will work and it can be done for much less then 80 euros.

    Hopefully I understood what your saying, and I made sense, let me know if there is something I’m missing. Stuff like this is a lot easier if one can be there to see other ideas or problems–so feel free to fly there ๐Ÿ˜†

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the info, Jeremy! I’ll have to think about this, as I really wouldn’t like to spend any more on this than I have to. Especially since I have this strange feeling that the next major piece of electronics to break in this house is the TV, and if that breaks then I’ll get to redesign the whole setup again.

    I might actually end up just getting one of those really cheap switches like this one, and see what happens. If the quality degrades too much, I can just ditch it as it’s not like the box costs too much. And many are saying that it does the job without any noticeable loss in quality all the way up to 1080i. Although there are those who disagree.

    The composite trick is something I read elsewhere as well, and I might give it a try. Will think about it as well.

    But maybe, before doing anything at all, I’ll first do some tests once I get all the devices with component cables and see whether the component picture actually looks any better than with scart cables.

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    Vili Maunula

    Putting my German, Dutch and French skills into use, I did a new round of searches, and it seems that the Hama YUV-Selector AV-760 might actually do the trick.

    It has got fairly good reviews, with the most technical of them basically saying that while the measuring equipment they use to measure signal loss indicates that there is more signal loss than in top quality boxes, the reviewers couldn’t actually see that loss on a big screen TV. How it performs with my TV is of course another question altogether, but considering the price and the fact that I have nothing particular against Hama, I might get it.

    If anyone knows why I shouldn’t get this particular box, speak now or forever hold your peace.

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    Jeremy

    Looks to be the perfekt solution.

    scart is equal to the US and Japan’s S(uper)-Video, so you should see a increase going to component. Typically better color depth, and proper illumination-granted your TV is calibrated properly. If not, then much can be lost in component, if you still using scart presets.

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    Vili Maunula

    I never knew scart was a completely European piece of equipment! I grew up with it being the standard way to connect AV equipment, so I just assumed that it was used everywhere.

    I could certainly see the difference with my DVD player when I switched to component cables four or five years ago. That’s why I would like to update also my media centre to use a component connection.

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    Jeremy

    Yeah, the Europe standards are have always been different, and typically far worse picture quailty wise then the standards US and Japan share. You guys have some strange connections, that to me dont really make much sense in any regards. Actually the way that resolution and colors are handle there, makes even less sense.

    I dont know why Europe doesnt adopt the entire standards of US and Japan, the difference is quiet clear. Luckily they are now starting to see the light, with the newer breed of connections.

    With component you should be looking good, but your TV broadcast quality is still are rather lacking ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Vili Maunula

    Phase One is now completed, as I received the component cables for my old XBMC Xbox. The difference in picture quality is not only noticeable, it is actually quite shocking. I wasn’t really expecting this much improvement.

    Having said that, part of the change in quality may be due to my switching to NTSC ouput. Especially the colours improved considerably when I made the switch.

    And I’m still running the XBMC only as 480p. I think the PAL signal is 576p, unless I’m mistaken. Yet, the 480p NTSC is much better both in sharpness and colour. My reasoning, which is probably faulty, goes: as 576 is more than 480, 576 should be better.

    Too bad that for some reason I cannot get the 1080i NTSC signal to work — the system pretty much hangs when I do that. And my TV doesn’t support 720p/i either.

    I’m now waiting for the component switch to arrive. The new component cables are really tight and need a lot of force to push in, and I don’t want to be continually plugging them in and removing them as I’m afraid I might break the TV inputs.

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    Jeremy

    NTSC has a lower resolution but it doesnt lose edge definition during playback like PAL does. So it NTSC is always clearer and sharper, despite a purely technical disadvantage to PAL.

    I am sure the 1080i problem comes to Hertz problem. Since 480 P-being progressive, the issue doesnt come into factor. With 1080i being interlaced the two frames when set to NTSC is 60hz spaced. You likely, as with all of Europe to my knowledge, have a TV set for 50hz, so to match your electric current supply. What is happening is the framing sequence is off, causing various problems.

    The bigger areas of Japan is 60hz, but some areas are 50hz, and they still use NTSC. I dont know how they get around this problem, or if they even do, giving that the smaller areas of Japan are few and properly dont have people that are big into TV technology.

    The only solution is to see if the Xbox can do PAL 1080i, or get a TV with 720p input.

    On my field monitor I use for editing, when I give it a 60hz input when it is set at 50hz, it goes crazy, and vice versa. The input and electric pulses must match.

    When do you plan to get a Xbox 360, here in the states they have drop price again. Mass Effect is good, but Elder Scrolls Oblivion is even better.

    Then you got Sid Myers Civilization that just came up and getting great reviews, it’s even beloved by people normally not into those types of games. I havent got it, but I properly will soon. I think it may be online play only, unless you dig computer AI.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the technical info, Jeremy. I didn’t consider the 50/60Hz issue, but you are right. Unfortunately, the Xbox resolution can apparently only be changed with NTSC, so PAL 1080i is out of the question.

    But I’m really happy with the current picture, so I don’t mind it all that much. It will be interesting to see whether the Xbox 360 will be able to output a 1080i that my TV can handle. I’m hoping that it will.

    Microsoft’s US price drop apparently won’t be carried over to Europe, and neither will the 60gb version be sold here. In any case, I’m planning on getting the Elite, as it is not all that much more expensive, and comes with 120gb.

    Funnily enough, only just a year ago I had no interest in gaming, and buying a game console seemed to me like a total waste of money. Getting the old Xbox (“just for playing DVDs”) and trying out some games such as the first Knights of the Old Republic really changed that.

    Now, I am really excited to get my hands on the Xbox 360 and games such as Sid Meier’s Civilization (been a fan of the series since the first one), Oblivion (but only after I finish Morrowind), FIFA 08, Mass Effect (really looking forward to immersing myself in that story), Forza 2, Brรผtal Legend (I think I’ve never looked forward to a game as much as this one, hopefully it’ll be out soon), Beyond Good & Evil 2 (really loved the first one, which I finished only a few weeks ago), Gears of War II (the first one was the first 1st person shooter that I enjoyed, so here’s hoping that the second one has an equally good co-op). I’m sure there are others as well.

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    Jeremy

    Morrowind, is among my favorite games ever. Oblivion is really good, but they lost the magical feeling of Morrowind. Mass Effect, is a must play, but I was disappointed in it. Forza 2 being a big car guy, I got the force feedback steering wheel, and a had racing seat, control holder made. The game is insanely frustratingly realistic, so it can be a bit boring, and very hard.

    I would still suggest GTA IV for the story alone, it’s really good, although I think flawed in one important area. I still consider the best game for the newest generation of game platforms.

    I would get the cheapest 360 you can get, there really is no need for a huge HD, for this console unless you plan to mod it. Which I dont suggest, unlike the original xbox.

    I have no clue how high resolution is handled on the European Xbox 360s- never seen one.

    Think I will get Meier’s game soon.

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    Vili Maunula

    I’ve got the original Forza for the Xbox, and I really love the fact that I can’t handle a Mini, let alone any of the super cars!

    As far as I can see, hard drive space will become increasingly important with Xbox 360s. This fall alone should see the introduction of the possibility for one to copy one’s games on the hard drive for faster running, as well as the launch of user generated games on Xbox Live. With Microsoft constantly adding downloadable content and stressing that they want to explore digital content distribution further, I wouldn’t buy anything with less than 60gb of hard drive space now.

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    Jeremy

    Maybe your right, I got the original 20gig, and still have over 13gigs left. I dont see how I could fill it, but I know developers are starting to take more advantage of the HardDrive.

    I’ve been playing Civilization, is has been simplified a lot for a more casual player. At times I wish there was more into it, mostly with the talking of nations, but if being simple makes it rather fun, opposed to frustrating. Certainly not easy, I’ve lost quite a few times, I tend to be really aggressive. Nothing like struggling in the beginning, becoming a huge empire, getting greedy and watch your towns crumble in defeat of pointless wars, and money problems that fund them.–That’s the American way โ—

    I’m starting to play more economically and culturally with some of the other nations, that’s still rather fun, but I love tanks and planes blowing up stuff. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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