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Thread: Blu-ray and More

  1. #1
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    Default Blu-ray and More

    I was into my local RadioShack back in late December, 2008 to get a battery. They were out but called the downtown Concord RS and they had it in stock. So I went there. This store is across the street from Frys. So they have serious competition. Because of that they had a much greater selection of LCD TVs along with Blu-ray disc players. Two of the TVs had a very good picture, the 3rd had an incredibly great picture. I asked the girl there what was driving that picture, a Blu-ray disc player.

    I went home and looked at several 37" high-def LCD TVs and Blu-ray disc players. Decided on Samsung for both. Its player will also play DVDs in progressive scan and listen to CDs with highest quality audio. And the Samsung LCD TV is an all in one, rotating and tilting stand, surround sound speakers built into the frame, a 2 x 10W (RMS) amplifier built in, HDMI ports for both audio and video and more. Neither unit comes with the HDMI cables but the cable carries both the audio and video and therefore simplifies and eliminates the need for a tangled mess of wires. HDMI cables can get very expensive.

    Did some research online and there are mixed feelings about whether expensive HDMI cables are really any better than cheap ones. One of the advocates for cheap claimed to be an electronics engineer. Most of the advocates for expensive were like me, consumers who know little but had gone to the Monster website, the gold standard, for their explanation. To simplify, they say think of the cable as a pipe, bigger and better construction are better. Monster carries various grades of HDMI cables too, further confusing the issue for me, how big a pipe did I want?

    Went back to RS looking for a better price for what I wanted from the store manager, a bundle price offer even lower than the sale prices for both units they were offering. He said he would have to contact the store owner. I said do it. Eventually he returned from the back office and offered another 12% discount from even the sale prices for all that I wanted including several other items. Done.

    Now the really hard part, finding a piece of furniture that will hold the TV, glass doors with shelves inside for the Blu-ray disc player, storage places for the disc boxes, the right color, and so forth. Sent the wife to Sears to look. She found a TechCraft 48" wide Black Flat Panel Credenza that she liked very much. Took me back to the store to see the salesman and she and I were able to get 10% off of the listed price. Seems that these days nearly everyone will negotiate.

    Online, Amazon carries Monster cables in the various grades. I decided on 2 meter length and the very best quality since one of their marketplace venders carries that cable new at half the Monster list price. The cables arrived in 4 days. To protect the equipment I purchased a Tripp Lite ISOBAR6ULTRA Isobar Ultra Surge Protector/Suppressor 6 outlets 6ft Cord 2350 Joules from Amazon as well as an APC ProtectNet standalone surge protector for coax cable lines (CATV/DSS). The cable entering the house can be wired directly to the APC ProtectNet to surge protect everything attached to the datalines throughout the house.

    A couple more items: I added a RS Cable TV line from the wall to the Samsung LCD TV. Your cable TV provider can also provide that.

    Lastly, from what I can find out, your cable TV provider has optional Hi-Def and standard-Def cable boxes available. The Hi-Def version with Hi-Def channels should have an HDMI output port to connect to the HDMI input port of my Samsung LCD TV. Right now I have 2 CRT TVs connected to Standard-Def Cable boxes which do not have HDMI output ports. I am soon changing both cable TV and internet to another provider anyway. That about covers it. I invite questions, criticisms, comments. Am a newbie for sure at this and want to learn more. k

  2. #2
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    That looks like a real nice setup k. I rarely watch TV myself. The cost of subscription TV is not worth the quality of the programming offered IMHO, and I only get 2 channels over the air here. Both show infomercials in Spanish. LOL

    Don't get me started on Monster cable. It's very overpriced, and their practice of suing anybody who uses the word monster in their business name makes 'em a legal bully IMHO. Of course it's not as bad as those guys that pimp $50 per ft "audiophile" cables, and little stands to keep it off the floor.

  3. #3
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    Nice....sounds great.

    my thoughts:

    The only difference I've noticed in HDMI quality in cables is the shielding. The more expensive cables seem to fend off RF and other interference better, which is usefull at my work. IMO, the size, conductivity and overall quality of the wire itself for HDMI is less important than other cables which usually carry analog signals, because HDMI is a stream of digital information that only needs to arrive at the TV "intact" and not interferred with, to then be decoded by the TV. Analog signals can be changed by the cable that transmits them, but once converted to a digital stream, the only cable requirement is that the data stream not get broken. An exception to this I should mention is Toslink type digital optical cables, since low quality cables of this type can make your life hell. So to me, it seems that cheaper HDMI cables could be used in most home installations, although if you know that the setup won't be changed for a few years, cables with gold connections will be more reliable and might cost a little more.

    Another thing to think of if someone is considering to view Blu-Ray at it's maximum quality, is to get a TV capable of 1080p, which is the progressive scan version of the 1920x1080 (third tier) HD standard. Most HDTV channels are 720p or 1080i, but Blu-Ray supports full 1080p and I was totally shocked when I first saw it. Fry's had a 60" plasma playing Pirates of the Caribbean in 1080p about two years ago and I remember just standing there like an idiot, stunned. IMO, all the flat panel TVs have one drawback, and that is that regular standard definition TV channels look terrible on them. A friend of mine has a 60" Samsung LCD and I crap on myself during Blu-Ray movies, but then an SD cable channel is turned on and there is aliasing all over the picture because it's being upconverted. More and more HDTV channels are coming out all the time, so it's not such a big deal.

  4. #4
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    Nice stuff Kaye.

    Glad you cracked this door open. What the hell is going on with TV these days? Analog looks like crap on modern TVs.....as despaxas rightly pointed out. What gives?

    Oh, and what's with the 16 x 9/10 TVs and 4 x 3 broadcasts? I still have an older CRT TV cause I can't stand the stretched view of the world that most people don't seem to mind. Sure, you can do letter box (or what ever it's called), but then you shink your TV by a large percentage. Wiill broadcast ratios ever match TV ratios again?



    ......No I have not been keeping up.
    Last edited by unclemac; 02-09-2009 at 01:08 PM.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  5. #5
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    Default Looks nice Kaye

    My 18/20 year old 27" Sony finally died the first part of January. I am not a big TV fan myself. But being home most of the time I find myself watching more of it. We have very little competition around here so it's tough to negotiate a deal. We get Walmart (HA), Radio Shacks, Best Buys and a few local venders (usually higher priced).

    I was looking at the 32", 37" and 40"ers. Then was shown as 42" LG that was 120 hertz rather than 60 hertz. It looked really nice (next to the 60 hertz) so I bought it - last one off the shelf. I got it for $300 lower than the last listed sale price. Probably a lousy year old worn out display model.

    It was a semi impulse buy with less research than I usually put into a purchase like this. The thing has more in and out puts than I could ever imagine using. So far it seems nice. I'd like to start using some of it's capabilities more.

  6. #6
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    Samsung (along with Sharp, Sony and LG) all have a stellar reputation

    I went with LG 42" LCD and the LG SuperBlu (BluRay and HD-DVD) I have been buying HDDVD movies amazingly cheap these days I am very happy with my decisions there.

    One thing I did learn is that the eye popping picture usually doesn't look quite so good at home. This is because these TV's come preset to look good in a bright noisy showroom... they are set to look better than the one next to it which is set to look better than the one next to it and so on... This usually results in colors bleeding into other colors when you are in a relatively dark room. Sometimes you get static in the blacks... a good calibration in home will take care of this if you have any issues like these. Calibrations are kind of expensive (100 - 300$) If you know how you can do it yourself. I am poor and don't know how so I went to the AVS forums and found a calibration setting for my TV, at my preferred lighting. Plugged in those numbers and it looks great. I had to access the technicians menus to do it.. again avs forums told me how to do that

    I am definitely in the 'cheap cable' camp. Monoprice is my cable supplier. If the cable has the spec rating for what you need there is no reason IMHO to pay a lot. In this case the spec you need is HDMI version 1.3a catagory 2. But to each his own on that one..

    I have noticed that movies with desert shots look outstanding even compared to other HD scenes. Sahara, Stargate, some scenes in Firefly etc...

    Standard DVD up-conversion to 1080p works surprisingly well. This is very much dependent on the software upconverter in the player. As I said though Samsung has a great rep and you will likely be thrilled.
    Damien,

  7. #7
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    I think clarity is a major plus. VHS was a major movie rental standard before DVD but there was also the S-VHS which was superior to VHS but never went on rentals, I guess. I have seen BluRay movies playing in store with amazing detail and quality but I still prefer the look in the theaters where its a bit soft and at times grainy like film should be. Until more movies are shot digitally than film, then Ill get a TV that will play them. I guess we had over 50 plus years of Standard Definition which we will always watch the way it was meant to be seen.
    I do weddings professionally, DVCAM and DV looks very sharp already and we need to soften those close up shots already. Imagine HD where you can probably see the brides facial hair in detail. And those people who will see their major facial wrinkles in HD. I guess , I'm just saying that HD also are for actors and people who can afford major cosmetic upgrades. With HD cosmetic surgery will boom.
    Well, since digital tv is here, I guess we have not much choice but to upgrade somehow now or in the near future, so get the best cable, get an HD camcorder, shoot your home videos, remember to shoot your parents and wife close up too and let us know which standard is good.

  8. #8
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    Been busy being day care for the dog. He is very demanding.

    despaxas, my 37" Samsung LCD is 720p. To get 37" 1080p would have been another $500 to $600 without the builtin speakers. Just too much and still get the other stuff and the credenza.

    Unclemac, yes the stretched version on my CRT TVs, even the Sony XBR 36" sucks.

    rwm, that bewildering array of inputs and outputs on my CRTs is going to send me to nut city. On the new Samsung all I have to know is where the HDMI ouput ports are and where the cable TV input is.

    Nice setup and link Damien. I purchased a couple of test setup discs, one for HD DVD and DVD, one for Blu-ray. Have not run them yet. I don't think the RS folks in the store know how to calibrate but Frys probably does. Anyway, I have a 3 year in home warranty for the LCD and a 2 year carry in warranty for the Blu-ray disc player.

    Disc2, one of my Blu-ray disc purchases was Cast Away with Tom Hanks. Amazing clarity and the credits at the end in small text stunningly clear and readable in contrast to small text on my big Sony CRT. k

  9. #9
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    I meant to also add this to my previous post:
    I still invite questions, criticisms, comments. Can only learn more from what you have to say. Anything? k

  10. #10
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    I have not so much as googled it yet, but is there even a proposed standard to broadcast in 16 x 9? Anybody know when?

    Further confused by the fact that the local cable company (Charter) claims we are ready for digital, even though we have no cable boxes on the basic service. Coax straight into analog TVs. Are they smoking crack? Or am I that out of touch? What does it all mean???? AHHHHHHH!
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  11. #11
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    If you have a cable/satellite then you have nothing to worry about


    It's only those who receive over the air broadcasts through an antenna that need to be concerned with this digital conversion

    Satellite is all digital anyway but cable isn't. The trouble is cable can remain analog as long as they want and still charge you through the nose. Since they are not 'over the air' they are not required to change to digital
    Damien,

  12. #12
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    Default Sounds silly but... Remote control was a big factor

    Maybe the bigger reason I bought the LG was I can work the remote easily without problems. When you have no use of fingers and limited hand use those damn little button remotes just piss me off.

    I love this LG remote. So I am thinking about an LG DVD player. I've never owned a DVD except my computers.

  13. #13
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    Two years ago we received a gift, a remote control close to the size of a laptop. Great, we wont loose a remote that size. Now, its missing. Cheers

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclemac View Post
    I have not so much as googled it yet, but is there even a proposed standard to broadcast in 16 x 9? Anybody know when?
    As far as broadcast TV is concerned, standard definition is always displayed at a 4x3 aspect. Some specific shows may be shown in letterbox format on some channels, but the black bars at the top and bottom are added by the TV station to maintain a 4x3 aspect. (This does not apply to standard definition DVDs, since they deal with aspect ratios and letterbox differently)

    The HDTV standard is all 16x9, although I've seen a couple HDTV channels that have added black bars on the sides (called curtains) to maintain the original 4x3 aspect of a program. Sometimes instead of black bars, there will be some graphic displayed on the sides. I'm surprised it's not being sold as ad space or something during 4x3 programs.

    I seem to remember an over-the-air HDTV channel that transmitted a 960x720 image instead of the standard 1280x720, but I think that's rare.

  15. #15
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    Unc and Damien, I have no idea. Several local SFO channels have been announcing a test at a certain time. You tune to that station on every TV you have a few minutes ahead, and then when the test begins, you run around and see whether you passed the test. The screen either says you passed or failed.

    Those tests in my area caused an article in my local paper, wish I had saved it. Some local Comcast cable customers failed and, if I recall correctly, Comcast wants them to upgrade to set top boxes, at additional rental cost naturally. Some very unhappy folks. Nothing on the Comcast website, just call ins to them. I'm sure they thought it would not get out.

    rwm, LG makes a Blu-ray disc player that also reads DVD discs. Go here
    http://us.lge.com/products/model/det...o__BD300.jhtml
    and if you download the Specifications pdf file it shows the remote for that unit. You can get it for less than what LG wants. You also need an HDMI cable to connect between your player and screen. It will carry both the audio and video at best quality.

    Disc2, My wife is capable of losing any remote or stacking stuff on top of it and running the batteries down to zilch. k

  16. #16
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    Smile Thanks Kaye

    I suppose I might as well go all the way meaning going or getting the Blue-ray than just a HD-DVD player. I have not searched at all yet. My TV remote has DVD functions. I wonder if it would control a Blue-ray player.

  17. #17
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    Hi Randy, I think any programable remote control will work but not all the functions and better if you have the same brand. I have a JVC vcr and it worked with the JVC dvd player except menus. I read in some articles that the HD-DVD loss in the battle with the Blu-Ray format.

  18. #18
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    I bought a Logitech Harmony remote. It runs everything I have including the little portable electric heater I have. It runs everything with full and complete functionality. It can even run my iMac in that iTunes presentation mode whatever that's called. I have it running Yamaha, LG, Toshiba, Apple and Lasko products. It has a small screen and you can label the button names. When you set it up you set up an action not a device so when I press the button marked 'Watch Blu-Ray' the remote turns on the Yamaha receiver, the LG TV and the LG BluRay player, it then makes sure the correct settings are set on all devices.. i.e. the receiver is on the correct channel to the DVD player and the TV is set to HDMI.

    Very nice and I highly recommend them but they are a bit pricey... the top o'the line runs about 300$ I bought the low end Harmony 550 on ebay (new in box) for 60$ it runs about 90$ in the store.
    Damien,

  19. #19
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    Default Disc2, Thanks

    I am holding off on a purchase for now. The offer is much appreciated. Actually I have a very large programable remote my neighbor/friend gave me for Xmas. It is huge about 1/2 well 1/3 the size of my keyboard. I have yet to use it.

  20. #20
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    Randy, The other way around with remote is that if you use a pda or similar device. You download a remote named Novii Remote and you'll always have your personal remote with you. It works very well for me. Let your kids and wife wonder whose changing the channels while you use your cellphone. Cool software.

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