So two days ago, I received my new Panasonic DMREZ27K DVD recorder. I originally intended for it to be my gift to my family. (Actually Panasonic DIRECT just stamped the UPS label on the factory box and sent it as is. It also got to my house before I got home.) Now that everyone at home knows, I decided to set it up with the current home entertainment system. I got it set up, but I didn’t have enough time to test the record functions. I was able to run a few anime DVDs to test the play functions quickly and I thought “ooo… perdy…”.
DVD upconversion is the process taking a DVD and converting the video source to a HD format (720p/1080i/1080p) during playback. DVD upconversion is a feature of my new DVD recorder. My current setup to take advantage of this feature is the DVD recorder attached to my Panasonic 56” PT-56LCX70 1080i LIFI television through HDMI set to “Auto” (I will probably set it to “1080i” since most of the DVDs I watch especially anime don’t really need the progressive frame rate speed that is more necessary for video games). My old comparison setup was the same television with xbox 360 attached by HDMI set to “720p”. To my knowledge, xbox 360 does not attempt any upconversion even attached using HDMI.
I was initially skeptical about DVD upconversion simply because the DVD source video is the limit to the video display quality. I quickly played through ADV’s DVD previews for Kanon 2006 and 5cm per second and the first episode of Mushishi using my new DVD recorder. At first, I didn’t notice anything different. But when I focused away from line sharpness, I noticed a considerable difference in color quality. The new DVD recorder has better contrast and overall color depth than the xbox 360. Scenes with plenty of bright colors were shown more fuller. I didn’t notice it too much with the black levels (a limitation of the television’s contrast ratio?). During the quick DVD test overall, scenes were displayed with more vibrant colors than before.
So is it worth it? For most anime fans, probably not. First, you need the right equipment and setup to really take advantage of this. I already spent about $2k to upgrade the entertainment center to be HD capable. The second thing to think about is that not all upconversion players produce same result. My Panasonic DVD recorder looks to do a fine job at it. Lastly, only anime watchers who are really into visual quality will truly benefit. But if you have the money (or in my case, available credit to go further into more debt) and want high visual quality in your anime viewing experience, DVD upconversion is a solid solution until more anime come out in Blu-ray or HD DVD.