[Taken from a post I made over at www.avsforum.com]
Received my new Pioneer 79avi universal player yesterday. This is one beefy beast. In fact, it walked in from the curb and took over my couch! ;)
My Iscan HD+ video scaler is still en route back from service at DVDO, so I hooked the Pioneer up via HDMI-DVI dongle to my Mits WS65613 (CRT) using 1080i, with it set to "Direct".
This is such a huge improvement over my Zenith DVB318, it's not even funny.
I purchased a bunch of music DVDs during DDD's last 20% off sale, and deliberately waited for the new player to watch. I'm watching Blackmore's Night - Castles & Dreams, and it looks and sounds incredible! Just a hair short of HD quality IMO.
Star Wars Episode III looked stunning! The vibrant colors and smoothness was amazing. No *bleeping* macroblocking!!
If 480i over HDMI to the HD+ is better than 1080i direct (as people claim), I'll be in hawg heaven!
I haven't had a chance to do any multichannel audio listening yet, although I have a nice library of SACD, DVD-A, and DTS audio CDs. I am only using the 5.1 analog connections to my receiver (Denon AVR-3803), and the Pioneer seems to do a better job of DTS and DD decoding than the Denon did.
The only disappointing aspect is that it doesn't do any PAL/NTSC conversion. I have a number of PAL music DVDs I was hoping I could play (newest Within Temptation Silent Force Tour DVD in particular), but no dice. Looks like I'll have to keep my DVB318 in the setup for PAL and other-region DVDs.
You'd think at this price point Pioneer could include PAL-to-NTSC conversion. :(
[Aside for the Club Polk folks - The Blackmore's Night DVD is way cool! Amazing audio and video quality!]