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Product Review - Videon Central Omega One Video Processor - December, 2001

Stacey L. Spears

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Specifications:

Scan Rate: 480i/576i to 480p/576p

Inputs: 4 Composite, 2 S-Video and 2 YPbPr

Outputs: YPbPr and RGBHV via RCA or DB15

MSRP: $1,499 USA

 

Videon Central, Inc., 2171 Sandy Drive, State College, PA 16803; Telephone (814) 235-1111; Fax (814) 235-1118; Web http://www.videon-central.com; E-Mail info@videon-central.com.

Introduction

The omega one is a stand alone video processor (deinterlacer) by Videon Central. It takes 480i in and will output 480p (or 576i to 576p). Videon Central might be a new name to you, but they are not a new company by any stretch of the imagination. Videon has been involved in a number of projects, which include building DVD player kits for several manufacturers.

That's what I need . . . more stuff . . .

The Omega One is a deinterlacer and a video switcher in one. It has 4 composite, 2 S-Video, and 2 component video inputs. It can output in either component or RGB.

Each input has its own video memory. You can set color, tint, brightness, contrast, sharpness, and YC delay. Tint is not available on the YPbPr inputs, which is to be expected from a well designed product. There are also some video processing adjustments available on each input. You can turn film mode (3-2 pulldown detection) deinterlacing on and off. Why would you do this? Well, you might encounter something that just looks lousy and combs all over the place like "The Simpsons" box set on DVD, so turning it off is a good thing. You can turn on and off a diagonal processing circuit for video mode deinterlacing. Think of it as anti-aliasing for video mode. You can also turn on and off cross-color suppression. But, be warned, if you turn color suppression on for certain DVDs, you will introduce flicker on saturated colors. A good example of this can be seen on the Tinkertoy box lid in chapter 4 of Toy Story.

The menu system on the Omega One is a little tricky to navigate. It will take you a bit to get used to the way it operates, but then it works ok. Once you have everything set up the way you like, you may never have to use the menus again. It does have a small wafer-like remote that lets you select the input you want to watch.

The unit it self is very short in height, about 1 Rack Unit high. It has a small 2-line LCD display on the front that tells you what is going on. The unit display can only be dimmed from the remote control. The front panel has four buttons used for up, down, left, and right arranged in a diamond pattern with the enter button in the middle. It also has a button to turn the unit on and off.

I have had the Omega One in my possession for some time. I was lucky enough to beta test the unit and in fact the review unit is a pre-production one. I have given feedback, and they have listened. Specific features were added based on comments from me and others. It is great when a company takes the time to implement suggestions from the outside. They were very quick at adding features, but the downside was when I wanted to test a new feature, they had to send a new unit, and they wanted the old one back.

The Omega One does not offer any type of aspect ratio control for those with TVs that lock into full mode when receiving a 480p signal.

Rather than duplicate explanations of the tests performed, you can go to the Explanatory Benchmark Articles and get the information there. In particular, Part 5, recently updated, will explain progressive scan. If you have not done so, we suggest you read the original Progressive Scan DVD Shootout or the 2nd annual progressive scan shootout.

In the table below, a green checkmark indicates that the Omega One passed the test, and a red X indicates that it failed the test. If it technically failed a test, but it didnít comb or show obvious distracting artifacts, this is indicated by a yellow circle in the box. I used the yellow circle very sparingly based on what I learned from the progressive scan shootout.

In a few cases, there is a number in parentheses after the mark, which tells the number of frames (at 30 per second) it took for the Omega One to recover from glitches and return to film mode.

Product WF1 WMM WC1 WC2 VZP BL GQM GQT MT A13 BC SS A
Omega One (10) (7)

You can see from the tests that the Omega One does a great job. In fact, if your DVD player has the chroma bug, the Omega One will most likely hide it by using a spatial filter on the chroma channel. If you turn on the cross-color suppressor, you may actually see a bit more of the chroma bug because it changes the filter type somewhat.

Another feature that the Omega One has is called the Automatic Input Selection. You use the automatic input by selecting "AIS" in the menu just like any other input, thus selecting the automatic prioritized inputs. This is no different and no harder than selecting any other input and just as quick to select or de-select than any other input.

You select the priority of the automatic selection by going into "setup" and then "input" and then "AIS order", and you get (by default) 8 numbers, consecutively numbered 1 through 8, and then you change the numbers to set up the priority you want. Thus, if you wanted the selection priority to be first the first of the component inputs (input one), then the first of the composite inputs (input 3), and lastly the first of the S-Video inputs (input 7), you simply leave the first of the 8 numbers as "1", you then change the second number from "2" to "3", and then change the third number from "3" to "7". If that is all the inputs you have into the Omega One, you just ignore the last 5 numbers.

The AIS works flawlessly, with the single exception that when I go into fast scan mode mode on a VCR connected to the S-Video input, the AIS loses sync, and, instead of showing the fast scan of the screen, the AIS blanks the screen and starts going into input search mode until I stop fast scanning. If I have the S-Video 1 input selected, it, of course, does not go into input searching mode, and it clearly shows the fast forward Scan. Again, since switching from S-Video 1 to AIS (and back again) is just as quick as changing any other input, I just select S-Video 1 as the input if I am going to fast scan a VCR (like when I am watching a tape of broadcast TV and want to be able to fast scan commercials).

I also tried feeding the Omega One a PAL DVD signal, and it had no problems locking on and outputting 576p. There is one thing I really need to mention, and that there is only one set of video memories per input. When using PAL, you will probably have to change the video settings because it is a different video standard than NTSC and the levels may be different.

When looking at Avia, the 6.75 MHz pattern is soft. The Omega One does offer a sharpness control, but this appears to only affect the middle section of the frequency response. This roll-off can probably be contributed to the video decoder they chose to implement or it may be the choice of reconstruction filters after the video DACs. Either way, this is similar to roll-off on the iScan Pro.

Speaking of the iScan Pro, this is probably its biggest competitor. The iScan is around $500 cheaper, but it does not offer as many inputs, memories, or adjustments as the Omega One.

Conclusion

I think the Omega One is a first rate product, and I plan to purchase the review sample. It offers lots of inputs for video switching and lots of user controls to tweak each input (and by tweak I mean you can set up each source so the basic controls like color, tint, etc. are all properly set). It has first rate deinterlacing. It dealt with bad edits like "The Big Lebowski" as if there were no bad edits at all. Video deinterlacing of sporting events with its anti aliasing looked amazing. I have not seen video mode deinterlacing this clean since the Faroudja DVP3000. The Omega One is highly recommended.

 

- Stacey L. Spears -

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© Copyright 2001 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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