Archives For HDTV

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  December 29, 2006

A periodic roundup of relevant news…

  • Pay for TiVo Series3 or settle for cable company DVR: Mossberg, WSJ
  • XBox up on downloads: Variety
  • HD-DVD AACS probably not cracked: Chris Lanier
  • Hands on with the Venice Project: GigaOm
  • Transfer DirecTV TiVo Lifetime service to Series3 (for $200): Weaknees

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I realize that even among the people that celebrate Christmas, few celebrate it the way my family does. We have a particular gene in our DNA that leads to obscene levels of spending on Christmas presents. Yes, you could view it as rampant commercialism, but we prefer to think of it as extreme generosity.

Below is Part 1 of a list of gadgets that made it under our tree and the current status of each one:

Wheee… The Wii!

Verdict – Thumbs Up

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A family friend kindly stood in line till 3 AM so my parents could provide my brother with a Nintendo Wii for Christmas. It didn’t get set up till the 26th, but it has since provided non-stop entertainment. (Too bad we don’t have a Roomba…) I’ll limit my comments to saying how much I like the feature that lets you create an avatar in your own image for Wii Sports. Here’s a thankfully-not-true-to-life rendering of my brother’s girlfriend:

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Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick

Survived the Set-Up

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I’ll admit, the set-up for the Pro Stick took a very long time. This was a Woot daily special and I think they were giving away old ones because the device needed several software updates. Nonetheless, the Pro Stick is awesome. I don’t have an HDTV, but I can now get free, over-the-air HD on my laptop. Plus DVR functionality. Way cool. Look for a full product review in a future post.

iRecord

Still in the Box

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The iRecord was a present for my husband. Think we’re into video this year? The idea here is that the iRecord will transfer video from your set-top to a portable device, like a Neuros. According to iRecord’s site, the gadget is the “world’s first H.264/AVC recorder for iPod & PSP.” I’ll let you know how it works when we get it back home.

Stay tuned for Part 2… highlighting the Dash, Squeezebox, eStarling digital photo frame, and DigiMemo.

Toshiba’s SED TV Derailed

Dave Zatz —  December 22, 2006
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Wanna guess what Mari and I won’t be seeing at CES next month? Toshiba’s new SED TV. SED (surface-conduction electron-emitter display) TVs are hyped as LCD/Plasma replacements — similar cost and form factor, but with CRT picture quality. Unfortunately Toshiba’s partner in this technology, Canon, is involved in a licensing dispute with Nano-Proprietary. (Is their name a giveaway, or what?) So we’ll all wait while the lawyers and accountants get paid sort it out. According to CNET:

“The reason is neither a technical nor business issue, but we are not allowed to disclose details due to confidentiality obligation,” the note read. “Toshiba further believes that the issue will be resolved soon, and then we will be able to come back to the U.S. for a 55-inch SED demo.”

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While I often live on the bleeding edge of technology, there are occasions when I’m content to wait. As a casual gamer, I didn’t pick up the Xbox 360 last year and I waited to try all three next gen systems before making a purchase. Now that I’ve some experience with the various consoles, I decided on the 360. Many factors led to this choice including price, online offerings, controller comfort, and visual quality (Wii doesn’t make the cut). Sony’s integration of a Blu-ray drive into the PS3 is compelling, but the downloadable high definition movies makes it nearly a wash and Microsoft beats them in the other areas… Not to mention I could actually find an Xbox and for significantly less cash.

So now let me tell you how I’m (theoretically) getting the 360 for half price… Micro Center is running an in-store deal to promote their Gaming Department. Buy an Xbox (Core or Premium) by December 5 and get a $100 rebate by mail. That brings the Premium unit down from $399 to $299. But wait… there’s more! If you get their credit card (and potentially lower your credit score in the process) and make a $399 purchase you’ll receive 13,000 points redeemable for $100 check. For a twenty dollar rebate I wouldn’t bother jumping through these hoops, but $200 makes it worthwhile… assuming it works.

I’m still between projectors, so the 360 will live with the TiVo Series3 and Slingbox Pro attached to a 30″ Panasonic HDTV. My classic Xbox and Moviebeam are headed to ebay (to join my former Gamecube and PS2). I’ve enjoyed playing the online demos of Rainbox Six and Modern Warfare the last two nights, and I’ve loaded up on Points to make my first purchase once Superman Returns HD arrives. If you’re interested in kicking my butt online, my gamertag is Zatz and I look suspiciously like the creepy Burger King.

UPDATE: Turns out Micro Center has extended the $100 rebate dealio through 12/31! That should give you enough time to get to one of their 19 locations.

Dave’s Holiday Shopping Agenda

Dave Zatz —  November 23, 2006
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It’s that time of year again! No, not the season of giving… Rather, it’s the season of trampling your neighbors to get the best deal for yourself at the Walmarts of the world.

I’ve put together a small list of what I want, where to get it, and at what cost. The odds of my succeeding are very low due to massive competition and the fact that I’ll be driving across several states to two different locations over the next four days. My top priority, based on need and attainability, is the LCD.

xbox.jpg11/23
Xbox 360 @ $100
66% savings
Amazon.com

11/24
42″ Vizio Plasma HDTV @ $1000
17% savings (off already great price)
Costco

samsung.jpg19″ Samsung LCD @ $130
48% Off
Best Buy

APC UPS 350VA @ $20
50% savings
CompUSA

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Nintendo Wii @ $250
Full Price
Nintendo Store, NYC

Xbox Video Marketplace Is Live

Dave Zatz —  November 22, 2006
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The switch was flipped this AM now allowing television and movies downloads via the Xbox 360. I admit this is extremely appealing to me for feature-length HD films, as I don’t use a cable box (as in no VOD) and I haven’t yet invested in a next gen high-def DVD player. Kevin, over at jkOnTheRun, counted 48 movies — mostly SD, many older selections. Hmmm… (And where’s the hard drive upgrade?)

Engadget writes: The biggest mystery at this point was price, which turns out to be $2 for SD TV shows, $3 for HD, while movie rentals will run you $3 for SD and $6 for HD. This is all converted from the various, confusing MS Points involved in each purchase (80 Points = $1).

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  November 18, 2006

A periodic roundup of relevant news…

  • HD-DVD and Blu-ray are dead on arrival: Slate
  • Video overview of TiVo’s new broadband features: CrunchGear
  • CBS show streaming paying dividends: Broadcasting & Cable
  • ReplayTV PC Edition finally launches: PVRWire