Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Amazing World of High-Definition Television

I've seen the High-Definition displays in the stores and to be honest, I thought the HD television channels looked great, but not awesome--at least not awesome like the examples shown in high-definition DVD format.

I was always worried that maybe spending extra money on an HD PVR to watch just a few shows in HD wouldn't be worth it. We already have a PVR that's been great for us. I didn't think we needed a duplicate.

That changed. I am now converted. I am a true believer....

I bought a Motorola 3416 HD PVR (160 gig) on the weekend and installed it on our 37" LG LCD TV. Connected through HDMI, the picture is really, really good on the standard definition channels. That was the biggest surprise. Reading on the forums, a lot of people complained about how bad SD shows were. I found the opposite. The regular channels are actually improved and sharper looking with the new Motorola.

And the high-definition channels? Just amazing. It looks so real that it seems "unreal." I found an NFL game playing in HD and it looked so realistic that I felt like I could have reached into the screen and picked up one of the players on the field with my two fingers!

So getting the HD PVR is definitely worth it. It also comes with 2 tuners so you can record two programs at the same time. I can't wait to see what it looks like on the 52" screen when it arrives.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nothing is more lonely than empty space

We had a problem with our brand new 52" Sony KDL-52W3000 LCD TV yesterday and it was a doozy: the picture just died. There was no video displayed from any of the inputs: TV (cable), Video1 (STB), or Component (DVD). Sound came in no problem and the menu showed up fine, but the screen was all black.

I did a factory reset and the initial setup, but the problem was catastrophic....

Actually the only way that I could get a live picture was to turn on "Picture & Picture" and watch it on one side of the screen.

In the picture above, the live image is the large one behind the frozen, garbled image. When the P&P size was increased or decreased past the mid-size point, it would freeze and show the corrupted image. The only way to get rid of it was to turn the TV off and on again. At least, the P&P screen was still bigger than our old CRT TV.

It not all bad news, though. I went into Best Buy last night to arrange an exchange and had it scheduled for this Thursday. After I got home I checked FutureShop.ca for their 19-hour "After Hours" online-only sale. They had the same Sony KDL-52W3000 on sale for $2699--the same price that I paid a few weeks ago--plus they were giving away a free Sony BDPS300 Blu-Ray Disc player. That player on it's own costs over $450. Needless to say, I bought it right away because I know that these time-limited online sales offer some pretty good deals that can't be had in store.

This morning I went back to Best Buy I told them I changed my mind about the exchange and returned our old Sony KDL-52W3000. The only thing I didn't get refunded was the $50 delivery charge, but that's OK because I'm getting so much more value with the high definition Blu-Ray player. And that's not the end: there's a promotion right now where you can get 5 free Blu-Ray movies with a purchase of a Blu-Ray player. Since the average price of a Blu-Ray movie is $25-30, that's another significant savings. I'll definitely be submitting my receipt for that deal.

And wait--for fear of sounding like a late-night infomercial--Future Shop also has a Buy 1 Get 1 free offer on select Blu-Ray movies. I went in today to pick-up a couple of movies so that I'd be able to test the player as soon as it arrives.

So, with all the extra "free" stuff, maybe the TV dying wasn't so bad after all.... Now I just have to wait for delivery of the new TV and Blu-Ray player.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Size is Important

A couple of weeks ago we retired our old cathode ray tube television, a 27" Sony KV-2781R that was built over 21 years ago in May 1986. It was still running strong (much better than our old Panasonic) but because this year was my big "four-oh", my wife decided to mark the occasion with a new flat-panel TV....

I went through a very thorough decision process choosing a new TV. I already have a 37" LCD in the bedroom and was looking for a 50"+ for our living room. I was sure that I wanted a plasma, until I did more thinking about what my actual needs were.

Reasons why I wanted Plasma first:
- deep black levels
- vibrant colours
- wide viewing angle
- cheaper than flat panel LCD

Reasons why I changed my mind about Plasma:
- 50" was too small, 58" was too big--nothing in between
- potential reflections on screen (lots of lights in our great room/kitchen)
- going to connect Wii: possible burn-in risk (minimal, but don't want risk)
- not as bright as LCD (lots of windows in the room)

Reasons why I finally chose flat-panel LCD:
- larger screen sizes available
- brighter screen than Plasma--good for daylight viewing
- less reflections on screen
- viewing angle very good
- many 1080p models available
- no burn-in risk for Wii
- sale price cheaper than 1080p plasma

I ended up buying a 52" Sony Bravia KDL-52W3000 that I'm very happy with.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Remembrance Day 2007: And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

I made this video today for Remembrance Day next week. For those of you who don't know, "Waltzing Matilda" is a famous Australian folk song and a “Matilda” was the name given to the pack that Australian farm workers carried on their backs. To "Waltz Matilda" meant to travel the bush with the pack on your back.

The song “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle is about 50,000 Australian soldiers who fought against Turkish troops and died in the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I.

The pictures are of Australian soldiers from Gallipoli and of Canadian troops, past and present.

Friday, November 02, 2007

VW R32: Vandalized

A little over a week ago my R was vandalized. Needless to say, I was and am still not happy. The pictures are self-explanatory.

There's more below the fold.

No need to spell it out, though. The point was made when the vandal(s) carved the R in the first place, unless it's proof of literacy.

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