- Written by Ofer Laor
- Published on 05 August 2008
Output resolutions are still fairly fixed and although 99% of the users will likely find their needs (most products produced now use a standard 1080P resolution, thank goodness…), I had found it impossible to define an XGA at 50 Hz resolution, useful for driving one of my displays at native resolution. Each output can have a list of output configurations, which can later be assigned per memory or per signal type.
That means that I can assign the processor to upscale 480p to 1080p, but leave 720P untouched, for example. This type of configuration is a boon for integrators, but can be intimidating to simple end users. As Lumagen mostly targets the integrator and prosumer markets, I do believe that it will be easy to learn & use by those markets.
Each input can be calibrated in endless ways, including aspect ratio, cropping, NLS properties, contrast, brightness, etc.
As the combinations of features are virtually endless, I will pick a few interesting ones and focus on them.
Take NLS for example. For those of us forced to watch some 4:3 content on their 16:9 HDTV, if the display does not support this capability or supports it badly, you are forced to either wear fisheye glasses to correct this disturbing artifact or simply suffer in silence. Speaking for myself, I get seasick by badly implemented NLS algorithms – however, I am often forced to use them as plasmas, my weapons of choice, tend to produce burn-in effects if 4:3 content is played out endlessly on them. Lumagen lets me create my own tolerable NLS algorithm by simply letting me determine the area that will get the NLS treatment, decide how much cropping, scaling and deformation I will have. Nothing else compares to this type of flexibility.
My favorite features of the Radiance XD are the contrast stretching capabilities which basically replace the equivalent algorithms often found in many displays. These work virtually the same, but can completely replace those on your display or complement them. The end result is a more defined image with virtually no added artifacts.
The mosquito noise reduction is less prominent than those found in dedicated MNR/BAR eliminating products (e.g., the long missed Algolith mosquito products). However, Lumagen has a killer one-two punch combination by combining the VXP’s mosquito reduction algorithm with their own scaling algorithm, which not only eliminates ringing, but also reduces mosquito noise. This is good news for anyone with an LCD display who has been suffering these artifacts in silence…
Overall, the menu structure can be confusing, but again – it is not intended for end users or consumers, but more for professionals, experts and integrators. The built-in help system really does work wonders here and most users will actually use a dedicated control system (e.g., AMX, Crestron) or smart macro driven remotes with the unit (e.g., Pronto, Harmony, Nuvo). Virtually every aspect can be controlled and routed as needed, which I particularly like.
When the unit was originally designed, hardware support for HDMI 1.3 was still not there, and so the company is planning to offer both upgrades to a stronger HDMI 1.3 unit, or allow replacement of boards in the future, to bring everything to date.
So, how does the Radiance XD fare in Picture Quality tests? I found the image quality to be superb. The most amazing effect comes from SD content that needs to be upscaled to large high resolution displays. Watching even high bitrate DVDs can be a pain on some of the latest generation displays due to the needed upscaling, which often leaves you with an artifact ridden soft image.
The latest generation of Pioneer Elite Kuro plasmas, for example, are killer displays but suffer from combing with tough contents. The Radiance virtually does away combing and improves the overall sharpness of the image drastically.
On HD content, I do not see many issues today with deinterlacing (at least not with 3:2 content), but with 2:2 content or bit-starved content, the focus starts shifting more and more towards block and mosquito noise removal.
Another strong capability that Lumagen had been a pioneer of is the ability to fix display calibration issues by using the processor. Whereas most displays offer one or two correction points across the entire IRE, the Radiance XD can correct problems even in small windows where the color temperature calibration is off. This has been a unique capability in previous Lumagen products and still remains rare, existing in only 1 or 2 products outside the Lumagen product range. Test patterns have been dramatically improved since the previous generations of Lumagen products. One test pattern I was missing was a judder test pattern.
The feature I would hope to see with the HDMI 1.3 version of the Lumagen Radiance is the addition of HDMI CEC support for switching inputs which could allow transparent integration with displays supporting this new capability.
The Radiance XD is priced quite high for many users, compared with some other processors in the same feature range. I would have also liked to have seen a simpler menu system option and direct SDI/HD-SDI support. Some users may not like to upgrade their HT equipment as often, so should only upgrade after major changes have been made.
If I include all the calibration and processing capabilities, the Lumagen Radiance delivers the best picture quality I have seen so far in an outboard video processor. It is extremely flexible and versatile and is continually being upgraded, bringing new capabilities that weren’t always thought of when the unit was first dreamed up – true to the historical legacy of Lumagen.