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Home electronics rant

Yeah, I'm on a roll today...

"And worse than that - consumer home entertainment systems. Shit. Looks like a damn electronics shop in my living room. Get a wireless stereo component and it doesn't have the same wireless protocol as the damn DVD so I hve to use wires anyway. And these horrid horrid speakers with their wires and ugly case designs."

I have two very simple complaints about home electronics (since I don't think the wire thing's going to get any better - I guess I've just bought into that):

1) When we all grew up, VCR's, due to their nature, had a "line in" and "line out." This meant you could connect your cable box to the VCR, and the VCR to the TV. Then when you played a tape, you saw the tape. When you stopped the tape, you saw TV.
The DVD folks, since DVD's don't generally record, have completely lost sight of this concept. Now dealing with a DVD means a) using coax between one component and the TV, and b) having to fiddle with TV/Video switches when watching DVD's. A massive step backwards in usability.

2) When is someone going to bite the freaking bullet and start putting serial numbers on the FRONT of the component? If you interact with the manufacturer/vendor at ALL, they want this number, and it's either on the back (engraved in metal) or, in some precious rare cases involving the heaviest component on the bottom of the stack, on the bottom. Get a $%#^%#^%$# clue, people!!!

I'm done. Back to work. :)

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

Plugging everthing in to the TV is a massive step fowards in Usability. Now instead of remember to put the TV on channel 3 and put switch the TV/VCR switch on the VCR, and set the Line Input on the VCR instead of Tuner to get to the DVD player all I have to do is:

Hit the Video Input button on the TV until it matches what I want.

The TV has audio (and video) outs, so whatever is on the screen goes to the stereo, so I don't also have to select an input on the stereo. That one button does everything.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

*Now instead of remembering

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

I was wondering about this just yesterday actually.  Is this "standard" now, to have the TV be the switchbox instead of the VCR?  As far as I know, back a decade or two ago the VCR was the "brain".

But too bad I still have a TV from 2 decades ago.  I want to share speakers between a TV (cable coax input ONLY), PS2 (RCA output), and computer (1/8" output).  And I can't figure out exactly what the best solution.  There doesn't seem to be a good way to split the audio out from the cable TV signal over coax.

Andy
Monday, January 19, 2004

There are one hundred and seventy three separate connectors on the back of my AMPLIFIER. I got this model because it cost $79 and had half as many connectors as the next fanciest model.

One hundred and seventy three separate connectors!!!!

Dennis Atkins
Monday, January 19, 2004

Andy, my TV has 4 or 5 inputs. One Coax/Line, 2 Line/S-Video, 1 Component Video, and maybe another one.

It also has a Video/Audio out.

The Audio out goes to my sound card on my computer, and I flip a switch on the sound card (pass through mode) to get the TV to the speakers. Flip the switch and I can play MP3's to my heart's desire.

The PS2 is plugged in to the Component Video, regular TV is plugged in to input 1 on the Coax line, the VCR is plugged into input 3 using RCA cables.

When I hit the VIDEO button a little menu appears.

1. Tuner
2. No Input
3. VCR
4. No Input
5. DVD

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

Whenever you run one component through another (especially VCRs) your signal gets degraded.  Now imagine running your coax though your settop box, your VCR, your DVD player, and so on...  by the time it gets to your TV it looks like crap.

The "brains" for most systems these days is the stereo receiver.  Generally all audio from your TV, VCR, Game system, etc all has to go to the stereo receiverfor sound.  Input switching (e.g. tape/radio/phono/CD) is an old concept, they've just needed to add TV/DVD/VCR to the mix.

An, of course, all TV's now have AUX inputs (mine has two -- one in the back and one in the front).  For people without a home theatre setup this is good enough for a DVD player or game system by itself.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, January 19, 2004

Oh, and most of these pieces come with little diagrams showing you what to plug in where.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

What if you need to connect a TiVO?  how does that fit in?  I heard there is a problem with the latency when you're playing video games if you connect it the wrong way.  You have to put the PS2 "after" the TiVO.

Andy
Monday, January 19, 2004

Yeah, I set one of those up for my parents.

Except the home theater thingy can't convert RCA-> component or vice versa. The DVD is component, the satellite box is RCA. So to switch from DVD to satellite, they have to switch the home theater (for audio) *and* the TV (to switch from component to RCA).

Idiotic.

[solution - I'm getting a new receiver from the satellite folkies that has component out]

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

Buy a TV, VCR, DVD player in one. Now you have 3 wires.

AC
Signal In
Audio Out

The Audio Out goes to your stereo/amplifier/etc. That has 1 wire for AC and 2 - 5 depending on how many speakers you have.

Run your speaker wires along the baseboard. If you're enough of an audio geek to want them to go to the exact right position in the room you're not worried about wires, or are willing to spend money covering them up somehow anyway.

Oh, and stop whining before I put the wire back on your remote control.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

I never figured out why SCART connectors never caught on outside Europe.  They're on pretty much all audio-visual gear everything over here.  It can carry everything from video in composite (in both directions) or RGB form (in one direction) to audio and data signals in both directions over one cable - it makes things a lot easier.  DVD players over here normally have at least two, so pass-thru isn't a problem and it even deals nicely with syncing channel layout, widescreen and power.

http://www.hippy.freeserve.co.uk/scart.htm

r1ch
Monday, January 19, 2004

Don't you guys have SCART connectors?

David Roper
Monday, January 19, 2004

Apparently not.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

Obviously rich and I are reading this at the same time.

P.S. A question I've been meaning to find the answer to for a long time. Apart from the regional coding that is meant to lock DVD data into a specific part of the world, does the actual DVD data 'know' anything about the intended TV signal, like PAL v SECAM, or is all this entirely handled by the player? 

David Roper
Monday, January 19, 2004

Is the difference between PAL and SECAM the refresh rate? I want to know why someone doesn't just make a TV that can handle a 24fps refresh rate.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

No, PAL and SECAM are both 50Hz interlaced, but use a different format for colour info

r1ch
Monday, January 19, 2004

...and again, most modern european TVs can use both 50 and 60Hz refresh rates.  Isn't that the case in North America?

r1ch
Monday, January 19, 2004

I want 24, or I guess 48 because that's what movies are - 24 frames per second, which prevents the need for creating fancy solutions - half interlaced frames, stuttered frames - when playing a movie on your TV.

Watch any fast motion sequence on your DVD player up close and you'll see what I mean. If Anything moving fast will get interlaced, or if you have progressive scan, every 3rd frame or so is repeated.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

If the data is digital it must be somewhere else it's converted to analog.

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 19, 2004

Ah - I get what you're saying now - sorry.

r1ch
Monday, January 19, 2004

My DVD player can read PAL encoded disks and recode them for NTSC for playback on my TV.  My last DVD player, couldn't do that -- but it was cheap.

I don't see any point having TV's that can do any format; it's not that common.  Ultimately, the better solution is to just have one format in the first place.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, January 19, 2004

I'm only interested in having a TV that does 2 things well.

Broadcast video, Movies.

Since video is 60hz and movies are 24fps I want a TV that does both. It's not terribly noticeable, but the occasional glitch in converting from 24fps to 30fps does detract from the overall experience.

I guess 50hz for european video compatability would be a nice to have if you were already going as far as making it 24fps compatible.

Renecoding like you're talking about is like taking an mp3 and turning it into an ogg or another compressed audio format.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

You guys are out of your element here.  Take it to a home theatre newbie form, and do your homework.  All of these questions can easily be answered with a simple google search.

As far as Home Theatre goes, you get what you pay for in usability.  Get a good remote or home automation system to handle your usability problems.  Your standard consumer devices (sony, pioneer, panasonic, etc.) leave much to be desired.  They are appealing to people on loads of features (that no one ever uses, i.e. 47 discrete sound fields) and not for sound/video quality or usability.

Elephant
Monday, January 19, 2004

Hey, I take offense, I'm not out of my element here. I know more about audio that most home theater geeks.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

rich - we'll have NTSC/PAL DVD players over here whenever the citizens of Prague kick Hollywood out and start making their own movies. [grin]

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

Err, Philo, India uses PAL and Bollywood makes a load more movies than Hollywood.

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 19, 2004

Well fair enough.

To solve your tv problems go get a good 3:2 pull down processor.  Faroudja chips are often at the heart of some of the better pull down processors.  Also, a very good video scaler (for the money) can be found at AV Toolbox.  http://www.avtoolbox.com/avt-3800.htm This performs 3:2 pulldown as well as video conversions between off types to work w/ either a pc monitor or your hdtv.  For a better one you'd have to spend roughly 3x as much, which unless you're using a very high res projector, would largely not be worth it.

Elephant
Monday, January 19, 2004

http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/HarmonyRemote.html
Anyone used this device?

j b
Monday, January 19, 2004

No, but I've got a Phillips Pronto which is similar.  http://www.pronto.philips.com/

Not the big one though, unfortunately. 

r1ch
Monday, January 19, 2004

Stephen - not that anyone in America watches.

However, Prague is becoming "Hollywood East." Blade 2, XXX, League of Extraordinary Gentlement, and a few other recent big movies* were all shot in Prague. I can actually recognize some of the streets in the movies now. :)

Now don't get defensive - I am NOT judging the value of Indian movies (certainly not compared to LXG - ugh); only that the US market would drive NTSC/PAL in the US, and the US doesn't seem to care for movies made in India (even Fire barely survived a few weeks in the theaters)

Philo

*Complete listing:
http://www.imdb.com/List?endings=on&&locations=Prague,%20Czech%20Republic&&heading=18;with+locations+including;Prague,%20Czech%20Republic

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

How cluttered are your desktops? Why suddenly the focus on how poorly designed all your hardware is. What happened, exhausted the Linux v. Microsoft v. Apple UI wars?

Yes, in the future there will be radio transmitters & receivers built in to the floor and walls at six foot intervals. Put a device anywhere near any of these and it will have instant 2 way communication with every other device in the house using a secure, enrypted digital data stream.

They'll also supply power to these devices. Net effect... No wires anywhere ever. Future generations will wonder what wires were. We'll lament the passing of wires and grumble about people not having to understand signal routing anymore because everything just "works" now.

DVD players will have vacuum sealed containers with popcorn and silent popcorn makers with disposable bowls that collapse so you don't have to even put a new bowl under it to catch the popcorn.

Get hungry during a movie? Just push a botton on your remote control (also known as your couch, pillow, wall, chair lamp, belt buckle, or wristwatch, they all interop perfectly).

Though, Philo XXXVI will complain about forcing your watch to download the DVD remote software every time you use the DVD rather than the watch having the software built in, and The Artist Formerly Known as § will argue that open source watches are ultimately more effective than the propriety MicroUniverse ©®TM watches (with a black home memory device), while Bella tells us that we're all stupid for not making a fortune during the nanobot bubble.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

Prague is a great location, the relative lack of fires and wars means it still looks like the 1800's.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

"Though, Philo XXXVI will complain about ...."

A bitching sailor is a happy sailor. :)

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

"Philo XXXVI will complain about forcing your watch to download the DVD remote software every time you use the DVD rather than the watch having the software built in,"

quite reasonably too, that seems like a gross waste of bandwith to me.
and it would allow them toforce new programs down your gullet without so much as a by-your-leave.

Let make a preemptive strike :)  Ill start a website pressing for best standards for dvd watch behavior...

FullNameRequired
Monday, January 19, 2004

The cabling issue doesn't really matter to me since my television has enough inputs to support the VCR and DVD player.  The thing that really annoys me though is my stupid DVD player that won't let me fast forward through the previews, intros, FBI warning in both English and French, and any other crap that some idiot movie studio exec designated as unskippable.  Newsflash to Sony:  the consumer is the one who pays for your DVD player, not the movie studio, and your players should allow the consumer to do what they want to do, which is to fast forward through all the bullshit and watch the movie they paid to rent or buy.  When this player eventually dies, my next one will NOT be a Sony.

Matt
Monday, January 19, 2004

Well, they pretty much all work that way - in fact, it may be part of the "DVD Logo" spec (anyone? anyone?)

However, I'll echo the "don't buy Sony" part - they've apparently given up on anything resembling "quality." I've got a dead five-disc DVD player that's going off to the CEO of Sony here real soon. (And yes, that's the answer to all my corporate complaints. The larger and heavier the box, the better)

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 19, 2004

Reminds me of when people found out where the "king of spam" lives and signed him up for literally hundreds of catalogs, they had to bring a truck to his property to deliver them all.

Philo, you should build a website around this with addresses of all the CEO's. Too bad the customer pays the shipping. I'd love to see someone do this to the CEO of Ford one day.... "Will you sign for these 2 dozen Expeditions?"

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 19, 2004

"Newsflash to Sony:  the consumer is the one who pays for your DVD player, not the movie studio"

Errr...  Sony is a movie studio!  Sony is the worst for this sort of thing -- everything has to be protected, locked down, and above all else proprietary to them!  As someone else once said, Sony can't even bring themselves to call their firewire ports "firewire" (they call it "iLink").

In order to get a DVD technology license, players *must* make unskippable parts unskippable. 

In some sense, this is a preview of what's to come with media technology.  It'll only get worse.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, January 19, 2004

"In order to get a DVD technology license, players *must* make unskippable parts unskippable."

I think there must be some room for interpretation on this issue because I have heard that there are differences in the extent to which the various manufacturers conform to the rule.  It is my understanding (I could be wrong) that there are some players out there that, although they won't let you bypass this stuff completely by pressing the track skip button, will at least allow you to fast forward through it.

Matt
Monday, January 19, 2004

Do as I did - hack the firmware to allow you to skip the previews. In most firmwares, it's a simple one-byte change to skip the function disabling check.

There are a large  number of sites that have the disassemblers you'll need, and all the manufacturers have firmware updates available for download on their sites, so you don't even have to go to the trouble of getting the dump in the first place.

You can alse get rid of the stupid region-locks so you can watch all the japanese anime you want on the same machine you watch your baywatch reruns on.

Dennis Atkins
Monday, January 19, 2004

Kill your TV, and your problem goes with it.

Regarding Sony, never buy your electronics from a recordings peddler.

veal
Monday, January 19, 2004

http://www.theonion.com/onion3604/doesnt_own_television.html

(Thanks to whomever it was who posted it earlier.  <g>)

Robert Jacobson
Monday, January 19, 2004

Many of your more exotic DVD players don't care about regions or unskipable parts.  I believe the first Rotel DVD player that came out (RDV1080?) was like this although it suffered from being really expensive while made up of all JVC parts.

Elephant
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

You really ought to watch a couple of Bollywood movies Philo, you'll never complain about the infantile junk American studios turn out again. The only films worse than Bollywood films are Tamil ones.

There must be a couple of million Indians in the States though? Boolywood is already making films targetted at the diasopora.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

MarkTAW

http://www.avsforum.com

This forum has a lot of information regarding the newest and the best (and the most imaginable expensive) AV systems.

I spent a couple of weeks on this forum before deciding that spending 500$ on a low end Denon DVD player is not for me. A Faroudja based system might help you, though, if you notice movie artifacts and such.

coresi
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Thanks. I spend my time in rec.audio.pro and sometimes browse audioreview.com.

I'm not ready to buy a new DVD player though. Progressive scan is a step up from what I have, but still doesn't solve the inherent differences between the two formats.

It looks like Sony is addressing this by trying to introduce a 24fps HDTV standard ( http://216.130.185.103/artman/uploads/pdf/HDTVPRODUCTION.PDF ).

If you want a thorough description of what I'm talking about, with illustrations, visit http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_7_4/dvd-benchmark-part-5-progressive-10-2000.html .

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

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