DVDO iScan Duo Review
DVDO’s iScan Duo video processor is now over a year and a half old, and is still performing at the top of its class when it comes to video processing. It achieves this by offering a plethora of inputs, outputs, and functionality at a very reasonable price. Early versions of the Duo did not include the full CMS (Color Management System) that now comes standard with all units shipped. Earlier versions are upgradeable via firmware available from DVDO. These later firmware versions also fixed gamma and grayscale adjustments, which were non-linear, and they expanded the functionality to xyY values (as opposed to RGB only). The Y function allows end users to adjust gamma across the board.
The front of the unit looks very simplistic with an LED screen, a power button and navigation buttons. The back of the unit is where the iScan Duo shines. Here is the rundown on all of the available inputs and outputs.
- 8 HDMI 1.3 inputs
- 3 Composite inputs
- 1 S-Video input
- 2 Component inputs
- 1 VGA input
- 8 HDMI 1.3 inputs
- 2 Analog Audio inputs
- 1 Coax Digital Audio input
- 3 Optical Digital Audio inputs
The iScan Duo has two HDMI video outputs capable of outputting:
- YCbCr 4:2:2
- YCbCr 4:4:4
- 1 HDMI 1.3 audio only output
- 1 Coaxial Digital audio output
- 1 Optical Digital audio output
- 2 12-volt trigger ports
- 1 RS232 Serial Connection – interactive connection
- 1 Power Supply input
- 1 Mini USB Port – for software updates
- IR Remote input and output jacks
The iScan Duo is loaded with features including:
- 10-bit Precision Deinterlacing™ of 480i/576i/1080i
- 10 bit Precision Video Scaling™ up to 1080p
- PReP™, Progressive ReProcessing of 480p/576p/1080p
- Mosquito Noise Reduction
- Fine Detail Enhancement
- Edge Enhancement
- Precision A/V LipSync™
- Progressive Cadence Detection™ of 480p/576p/720p/1080p
- Rightrate™ High Performance Frame Rate Conversion
The iScan Duo accomplishes all of this using their proprietary video processing chip – the ABT2010.
[PIE]The ABT2010 is Anchor Bay's second-generation video processing chip ideally suited for deinterlacing and format conversion applications in digital displays, DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray player/recorders, and AV receivers. The chip features all of the processing power of Anchor Bay's Video Reference Series™ (VRST) technologies, including Anchor Bay's proprietary Precision Deinterlacing™ that provides five-field motion adaptive and edge adaptive processing for an artifact-free viewing experience; 10-bit Precision Video Scaling II™ that can independently scale an image horizontally and vertically to achieve outstanding picture quality for today's high-definition video displays; MPEG noise reduction; picture enhancement; and Progressive Re-Processing (PReP®) technology, a breakthrough processing method that reverts the progressive video signal output from source equipment to its original interlaced format, and then converts the interlaced signal to progressive format using Precision Deinterlacing. The ABT2010 supports HDMI 1.3 with 12-bit output resolutions.[/PIE]
Looking at the list of features and capabilities for the iScan Duo can be a bit intimidating. Therefore it was quite surprising to find a user interface that was both simple and functional. Selecting the Menu button on the remote brings up the user interface on your display with 8 separate choices. On the top and bottom of your display are black bars – kind of like letterbox bars. The top contains the DVDO logo and which menu you’re looking at. The bottom has a brief description of the selection you have highlighted at the moment. Let’s look closer at the available selections and sub-selections.
The top most selection is labeled ‘Input Select’. This is where you would select which of the fifteen available video inputs you wish to use.
The next selection is labeled ‘Output Select’. Continuing the simplicity of the first selection, this option has only the two HDMI outputs as available options. Obviously you would select the port that is output to your display.
The third menu selection is ‘Input Aspect Ratio’. Available options include Auto AR, Picture, Active, Stretch, Shift, Zoom, Panorama, and then Presets.
Fourth is ‘Input Adjust’. This item contains controls for the various inputs including PReP, Deinterlacer, Game Mode, Color Space, etc.
The fifth menu option is ‘Picture Controls’. The menu here is similar to most displays on the market today – Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, Hue, etc. in addition to the Mosquito Noise Reduction and Edge Enhancement.
Next on the menu system is ‘Output Setup’. This is the menu which I spent the most time with. It is where you will find Test Patterns, Video Format, Underscan, 1:1 Frame Rate, Frame Lock, Aspect Ratio, Color Space, Colorimetry, Video Level, Chromaticity, Deep Color, CMS (this is where you’ll find all of the video calibration controls), HDCP Mode, Border Level, Mask Level, and finally Audio Output.
One up from the bottom on the main menu sits ‘Configuration’. In this menu you can change the LED brightness on the front of the unit, update the firmware, set priority to one of the inputs, and various other housekeeping type things.
Lastly, we have ‘Information’. You can scroll through several screens which will tell give you all the information about how the Duo is setup at the moment. Not bad at all for double checking your settings at a glance.
Now that we have covered the basics of the iScan Duo, it is time to move on to performance.
- xRite i1Pro Spectrophotometer
- Chroma 5 Pro Colorimeter
- ChromaPure Professional calibration software
- Sony KDL-52EX700 LED/LCD display
- BenQ W5000 projector
- HQV Blu-ray Benchmark 2.0 Blu-ray
Video calibration is a major facet of a video processor. And the iScan Duo is no slouch. As I stated earlier, previous firmware versions were a bit incomplete when it came to calibration. But as of the current firmware (2.30 build 79), it is fully functional. You can now adjust grayscale from 0-100 (via RGB or CIE xyY) and there is a full CMS for the primary and secondary colors (CIE xyY). The iScan Duo is accessible via the RS232 port with Spectracal’s CalMAN package. This function will allow you to adjust settings and calibrate your display without the remote. I tested this out briefly but the incremental changes made seemed to be a bit steep and the outcome that the software tended to settle on seemed worse than a couple of the trial readings it had taken earlier. So I decided to stick with ChromaPure Pro and the manual method for this review. Keep in mind that Display Calibrations is planning an upgrade to ChromaPure that will add the Interactive features for the Duo and also Lumagen’s Radiance.
Calibration with a video processor starts out with the display itself. The display should have brightness, contrast, color, tint, backlighting, grayscale, gamma, gamut, etc. all adjusted as close as possible before starting with the video processor. The processor is for dialing it in the rest of the way. The pre-calibration measurements you will see are from the Standard mode on the Sony LED/LCD and Cinema mode on the BenQ projector.
Let’s start off by taking a look at the BenQ projector.
About the only thing I could really complain about was that I couldn’t get green to sit in its proper place on the chromaticity chart. This has always been a limitation of my BenQ W5000. And I guess even a video processor cannot fix it 100%. The key thing is that it is much better than what I can achieve with the projector alone. Delta error goes from an average of 7.0 to .5 on grayscale and from 4.6 to .5 on chromaticity.
[MOUSE]A Delta Error (dE) less than 3 is considered imperceptible to the naked eye.[/MOUSE]
Now let’s take a look at how the iScan Duo does with an LED/LCD. This is my Sony KDL-52EX700.
Grayscale Delta error (dE) goes from an average of 13.5 to .7. Gamma goes from being out of control to well under control at 2.3 across the board. The chromaticity diagram shows all primary and secondary colors moving to their proper location. Delta error for the chromaticity shows an average of 8.7 pre-calibration to an average of .3 post calibration.
Testing the deinterlacing and video scaling with HQV video benchmark showed similar results to calibration – the Duo passed these tests. The only thing that I could not discern a difference with was the Mosquito Noise Reduction. I could see no noticeable difference with this on or off when playing the artifact sequences.
The DVDO iScan Duo does video calibration a huge service in that displays that lack either a full or even a decent CMS can achieve great results. DVDO does this at a very reasonable price – MSRP $1299. But you can find it for sale just south of $1000 at various online outlets. Not only do you get an excellent calibration device, you get a calibration device that comes with a lot of extra features. The extra features aside, a device which can help get your display from the overblown colors/image on the left, to the proper image on the right, is worthy of our praise.
For discussion of this processor or review... see the review in our Video Processors forum... DVDO iScan Duo Video Processor Review