Canopus Spectra 5400 PE - Page 11

Visual Quality
The inbuilt Dual Filter mechanism and Super Signal Highway promises to offer unparalleled picture quality for any resolution. In order to perform the visual tests, I removed all external looped-back connections and connected the Spectra’s output straight into my monitor input.

What’s that raised platform for?  A Super Signal Highway to digitally guide all signals to the Video RAMDAC. Hmmm…Can I get one up to my monitor?

At my usual resolution of 1024 x 768 / 32bit with a refresh rate set at 75Hz, it looked as sharp (if not sharper) than my Diamond TNT2 card. I tried extremely hard to look for a significant difference, but couldn’t really pinpoint any obvious improvement over my Diamond card.

However, increasing the refresh rate to 85Hz (max that my monitor can take) did exhibit a slight improvement in clarity over my original TNT2 card. 

At resolutions of 1152 x 864 and above, my old Mitsubishi monitor just couldn’t cut it with its jaded 0.28 dot pitch. Hence, I couldn’t really test out the visual prowess of the card, without getting hold of a larger monitor or one with a smaller dpi. But from my limited testing, I can conclude that it does offer as good or perhaps, better picture quality than my V770 card. But I guess the Spectra’s visual advantage would only be applicable for those with 0.25dpi / 19” monitors and above.

Intervideo’s WinDVD
The only commercial software that the Spectra 5400PE comes with, is the WinDVD player by Intervideo. My past experience has given me access to sample several software DVD players (including Cinemaster, XingDVD and PowerDVD). In my opinion, WinDVD is probably the most balanced player and would be a welcome addition for anyone buying the card.

The bundled WinDVD player (version 1.2.4.5) does support multiple speakers (4 or 6 speakers – full Dolby Digital) decoding.  However, the only caveat is that the player supports a limited number of multi-speaker soundcards (so far I only know of the Fortemedia chipset– like the Magic Live 5.1 soundcard, that is supported).  My Creative SBLive!! isn’t supported and both the 4 / 6 speaker options have been grayed out.

Putting that aside, the software DVD playback is handled extremely well on my Sony 6X DVD-ROM drive. I even put in my “Zhang Hui Mei In Concert” DVD, whose MPEG-2 encoding is of a lower standard than that of Hollywood movies, to test its dexterity. It handled it perfectly. Even at the opening title sequence, where I would consistently get a glitch with other software players (ie. XingDVD, Cinemaster and PowerDVD), WinDVD managed to play it through without problems. Perhaps it points to a larger buffering mechanism that WinDVD inherently uses?

"Enough! Just give me your conclusion!"

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