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Darbee Visual Presence - Darblet Model DVP 5000 - Review

Video Processing With A Difference

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

DVP-5000 Darblet
darbeevision.com
Although today's HDTVs and video projectors provide very good image quality, there is always room for improvement. This has created a market for numerous video processing chips and technologies that enhance image quality by removing artifacts, reducing video noise, smooth out motion response, and upscaling lower resolution source signals to near-HD quality.

On the other hand, there is sometimes a point were video processing can actually end up being too much of a good thing as the processors can create their own imperfections in the image that can become noticeable.

However, in the continuing quest to provide an even better video processing solution, a new product that takes a different approach to video processing has entered the scene, which is creating as much excitement as the first video upscaling DVD players. The product in question is the Darbee Visual Presence Darblet DVP-5000 (which I will refer to simply as the Darblet).

Product Description

To put it simply, the Darblet is a very compact video processing "box" that you place between an HDMI source (such as a Blu-ray Disc player, upscaling DVD player, cable/satellite box, or home theater receiver) and your TV or video projector.

The basic features of the Darblet include:

Video Processing: Darbee Visual Presence Technology

Viewing Modes: Hi Def, Gaming, Full Pop, Demo

Resolution Capability: Up 1080p/60(1920x1080 pixels) (1920x1200 for PC signals)

HDMI Compatibility: Up to version 1.4 - includes both 2D and 3D signals.

Connections: 1 HDMI-in, 1 HDMI-out (HDMI-to-DVI-HDCP compatible via adapter cable or connector)

Additional Features: 3v IR Remote Control Extender input, LED status indicators, Onscreen Menu.

Remote Control: Wireless IR credit card size remote provided.

Power Adapter: 5 VDC (volts DC) at 1 Amp.

Operating Temperature: 32 to 140 degrees F, 0 to 25 degrees C.

Dimension (LxWxH): 3.1 x 2.5 x 0.6 in (8 x 6.5 x 1.5 cm).

Weight: 4.2 oz (.12kg)

Additional Components Used to Conduct Review

Photo of Darbee Visual Presence Darblet Model DVP 5000 - In Operation

Darbee Visual Presence - Darblet Model DVP 5000 - In Operation

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used as additional signal source feed to the Darblet.

TVs: Vizio e420i LED/LCD TV (on review loan) and Westinghouse LVM-37w3 LCD Monitor (both have 1080p native screen display resolution).

High Speed HDMI Cables used included: Accell and Atlona brands.

HDMI-to-DVI adapter cable from Radio Shack.

Blu-ray Disc Content Used For This Review

Blu-ray Discs: Battleship, Ben Hur, Brave (2D version), Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Rise of the Guardians (2D version), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Additional Sources: HD cable TV programming and streaming content from Netflix.

Setup

Setting up the Darblet is quite simple. First, plug your HDMI source to the input and then connect the HDMI output to your TV or video projector. Then, just connect the power adapter. If the power adapter is working, you will see a small red light on it glow.

On the Darblet, if it is receiving power, its red LED status indicator will light up, and a green LED will starting blinking steadily. When you turn your signal source on, a blue LED will light up and stay on until the source is turned off or disconnected.

Now, just turn on you TV or video projector and switch to the input that the Darblet's output signal is connected to.

Using the Darblet

The Darblet does not work by upscaling resolution (whatever resolution comes in is the same resolution that goes out), reducing background video noise, eliminating edge artifacts, or smoothing motion response, everything original or processed in the signal chain before it reaches the Darblet is retained, whether good or ill.

However, what the Darblet does is add depth information in the image via a clever use of real-time contrast, brightness, and sharpness manipulation (referred to as luminous modulation) - which restores the missing "3D" information that the brain is trying to see within the 2D image. The result is that the image "pops" with improved texture, depth, and contrast range, giving it a more real-world look, without having to resort to true stereoscopic viewing to get a similar effect.

However, don't get me wrong, the effect is not as intense as watching something in true 3D, but does look more realistic than traditional 2D image viewing. In fact, the Darblet is compatible with both 2D and 3D signal sources. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on its performance with 3D source material as I did not have access to a 3D TV or Video Projector in time for this review - stay tuned for a possible update.

The Darblet is adjustable to your own personal taste and when you first set it up - the thing to do is spend an afternoon, or evening, and just check out samples of different content sources and determine what works best for each type of source and for you generally. As you are checking out the Darblet's settings, take advantage of the Darblet's real-time split screen comparison feature. You will find that it almost looks like haze or mist has been removed from the original image.

For this review, I used a lot of Blu-ray content and found that whatever movie, whether live-action or animated, benefited from the use of the Darblet.

The Darblet also worked very well for HD cable and broadcast TV, as well as some online content from sources such as Netflix.

The Darblet picture mode I found most useful was Hi Def, set at about 75% to 100% depending on the source. Although, at first the 100% setting was a lot of fun, as you can definitely see a change in how the image looks, I found that the 75% setting was the most practical for most Blu-ray Disc sources, as it provided just enough increased depth and contrast that was pleasing over a long period of time.

On other hand, I found that the Full Pop mode looked too coarse for me - especially as you go from 75% to 100%.

In addition, the Darblet can't correct what might already be wrong with poor content sources, or already poorly processed video. For example, analog cable and lower resolution streaming content already containing edge and noise artifacts can be magnified by the Darblet, since it enhances everything in the image. In those cases, a very minimal use (below 50%) using the Hi Def mode is more appropriate, per your preference.

Final Take

Photo of Darbee Visual Presence Darblet Model DVP 5000 - Remote Control

Darbee Visual Presence - Darblet Model DVP 5000 - Remote Control

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
I didn't know exactly what to expect from the Darblet, even though I did get a taste of its capabilities at the 2013 CES, but having used it for a couple of months myself, I must say that once you get the hang of its settings, it definitely adds to the TV or video projector viewing experience.

Pros

1. The Darblet is small and can fit anywhere you have a little extra space.

2. The Darblet provides flexible setting options that enable you tailor the results to your viewing preferences.

3. Credit-Card size remote and onscreen menu provided. Remote Commands are also in the Harmony library for those that use compatible Harmony Universal remotes, and are also available via Darbee Visual Presence.

4. Before and After real-time split-screen comparison feature allows you to see the effect of the Darblet as you make setting changes.

Cons

1. Only one HDMI input - However, if you connect your sources through a switcher or home theater receiver, just plug the HDMI output of the switcher or home theater receiver to the HDMI input on the Darblet.

2. Control buttons on unit are small.

3. There is no power on/off function. Although you can turn the effects of the Darblet on and off, the only power to power off the unit entirely is to uplug the AC adapter.

One additional comment that is not necessarily a "Con", but more of a suggestion: It would be great if the Darblet provided the user with the ability to input some pre-set effect percentages for each mode (say three or four) for different content sources. This would make using the Darblet even more practical and convenient.

Taking the pros and cons of the Darblet, as well as my experience using it, I will definitely say that the Darblet is one of those gadgets that you don't think you need, but once you use it, you can't let it go. No matter how good the video processing is in your TV, Blu-ray Disc Player, or other devices, the Darblet can still improve your viewing experience.

The Darblet can be a very useful addition to a home theater viewing experience - It would be great to see this technology incorporated into TVs, Video projectors, Blu-ray Disc players, and home theater receivers providing consumers with an additional way of fine tuning their viwing experience, instead of having to plug in an extra box (although the box is small).

For an additional look and perspective on the Darblet, including some photo examples of the effects of its processing capabilities, also check out my Supplementary Photo Profile.

Darbee Visual Presence Website

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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