Your Daily Phil

Archive for March, 2008

Xbox 360 HD DVD player and 7-10 DVDs gets you $45

Posted by lozenp on March 21, 2008

Best Buy added the HD DVD player to their trade in site today, and here’s what you get for the Xbox 360 add on and 7-10 HD DVDs included, with all items in excellent condition and all original cables/manuals: $45.

Turn that 360 add on into a Toshiba HD-A3, it only adds $15 to get you $60. If you bought the Onkyo HD805, you can get $169 back. Toshiba XA2: $189. The XA2 by itself will net you $165, so it’s seems that Best Buy isn’t putting much stock in the movies you’ll be adding to your trade in. Combo players are on the list as well, with a LG BH-200 by itself bringing in $285 and the Samsung BD-UP5000$255, although judging from the reviews, some people might want to send that one packing anyhow.

Considering Best Buy is giving my $50 just for buying my Xbox add on there, I think I’ll keep my eight movies and the player and call it good.

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Posted in Best Buy, Blu Ray, Format War, HD DVD, Xbox 360 | 1 Comment »

$50 from Best Buy for HD DVD players

Posted by lozenp on March 19, 2008

hdac_head2.gifWow, now this is what I call customer service. Best Buy, usually a favorite punching bag for techies, is doing its customers right by announcing a program to give a $50 gift card to anyone who bought an HD DVD player before Feb. 23, 2008, and yes the Xbox 360 add-on is included. But unlike other trade-in programs like those from Circuit City (which tripled it’s 30-day return policy to 90 days on HD DVD players) and Canda’s Future Shop ($100 toward a combo player from LG or Samsung), you get to keep your HD DVD player. Let me say that again because it bears repeating, Best Buy is giving you a $50 gift card, and allowing you to keep your player.

Here’s how the program works, according to Best Buy.com:  “Most qualifying customers will automatically receive their complimentary gift card by mail in the coming weeks. If you qualify and haven’t received yours by May 1, 2008, please call us at 1-888-BEST-BUY to verify your eligibility (have your receipt handy, if possible).” That means if you bought with a credit card or are a member of Reward Zone and used your card when you purchased, likely Best Buy already knows and you’ll be getting your gift card right around the time the stimulus package checks come from the government.

So while you likely paid $200 or more for your player, it’s not a full refund, but you can’t complain about getting $50 and being able to keep your equipment.

Also announced is that starting March 21, Best Buy will be adding HD DVD players and media to it’s BestBuyTradein.com site, allowing you to instantly see what your player and movies would be worth in trade for Best Buy gift cards. So it’s possible you could get your $50 gift card, and then unload the player and DVDs you have on the trade in site for even more gift cards.

Players eligible for the $50 gift card:

  • Toshiba HD DVD player models:
    HD-A1, HD-A2, HD-A20, HD-XA2, HD-A3, HD-A30, HD-A35
  • Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD player accessory model 9Z5-00013

Offer excludes HD DVD-equipped computers and laptops, and so-called “dual-format” or “universal” high-definition disc player models designed to play both Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD media.

Posted in Best Buy, Format War, HD DVD, Xbox 360 | Leave a Comment »

The iPhone gets cheaper, somewhat

Posted by lozenp on March 18, 2008

After seeing this post on Engadget about AT&T selling refurbished iPhones for $249, I was a bit miffed about spending $349 last week on the Apple Store for a refurbished iPhone. Not one to take these types of things lying down, I promptly called Apple.

After the mandated “we can’t match prices” and “I find it hard to believe it’s that cheap” with a helping of “I’m not really sure the quality of the ones AT&T are selling is as high as ours” from the phone rep, I did get him to throw me a small bone: a free case from the store.

Since I was already shopping for one, I figured this was better than nothing. I promptly choose the $50 one he recommended, should be here in a couple weeks. And now I get to keep the Best Buy Reward Zone certificates I had earmarked for the case. Woo hoo!

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High Def DVDs make up more than 21 percent of Amazon top 23

Posted by lozenp on March 17, 2008

Sorry for the sentence masquerading as a headline, but I wanted to make sure my point got across. Right now on the Amazon.com DVD bestseller list, high def media makes up 21 percent of the top 23 titles listed, and three of those titles are in the top 10.

I Am Legend (which amazingly sits at No. 1), No Country for Old Men (No. 8) and Enchanted (No. 9), all on Blu-Ray, make up 30 percent of the top 10 DVDs being sold at Amazon right now. Granted, all three are getting deep discounts, Legend is nearly half off list at $18.95, but read below that and it means that there’s enough players out there now that this type of thing can happen.

We’ve seen this in the past on rare occurances (Planet Earth on HD DVD was the first one I can remember), but this is the most representation I can remember seeing on the top 25. The I Am Legend combo HD/DVD comes in at 21 and the Remastered Fifth Element on Blu Ray is 23.

Posted in Amazon, Blu Ray, HD DVD, Home Theater | Leave a Comment »

Touch no more, iPhone it is

Posted by lozenp on March 17, 2008

My 30-day trial period has ended, a bit earlier than the 30 days even. After living with the iPod Touch for 16 days, I turned it in and went up to the iPhone. Several things led to my decision:

  1. The more I used the Touch (a great product in it’s own right, mind you. The best iPod available), the more I realized I would ultimately miss the features the iPhone had that the Touch didn’t, namely the external speaker (making random YouTube watching much easier without having to always dig out headphones) and the camera. Honestly the phone aspect of it was very low on my priority list. It’s nice to have one device, but certainly not a the most important item. I think had the Touch sported the two options above, I might have kept it.
  2. While surfing the Apple store online one day (because come on, who doesn’t surf the Apply Store?), I came across a refurbished iPhone for only $349. That made the switch a bit more palatable knowing I only had to cough up an extra 50 bucks.
  3. And here’s the biggie, I stumbled on a out for my Verizon contract. Thanks to a little help from The Consumerist Web site, I discovered that there’s an out in the Verizon contract. Basically, there’s a part of the contract that states Verizon can make changes to the contracts or rates at any time, but that if those changes have a “material adverse affect” on you, you can cancel the contract without an early termination fee. Text message rates went from 10 to 15 cents last year, and from 15 to 20 cents this year. That change falls under the clause, so I called. For right now, they allowed me to get out of one line (my wife’s) with no fee since she had more text message usage than I did. However, once I get my final bill I’ll be calling again to get the other fee cancelled. Even if they ultimately deny it, once you figure that I got the iPhone for 50 bucks off, I will only have to pay $50 to get out of Verizon.

So there it is. Again, the Touch is a great product, wireless works well, everything you would expect (and on sale for $15 off at Best Buy.com right now). But for me, I knew I would want the iPhone when my Verizon contract was scheduled to come up in January, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to swing (nor need) and Touch and the iPhone, so when all the above things came together at once, my decision was made.

Unlike my buddy Rich, who found to his horror that service levels were very poor for him when he got his iPhone, I’ve had no troubles thus far. My friend Jesse (also an iPhone owner) said it best yesterday. While watching the Pistons dismantle the Hornets on ABC in glorious HD, an iPhone ad came on. We were in the midst of zooming past it on the DVR when he stopped, backed it up, and played the ad. After a second he said outloud “Doesn’t it feel different to watch these commercials now?” Indeed it does.

Posted in Apple, General Stuff, HDTV, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Random weekend thoughts

Posted by lozenp on March 7, 2008

I’m one week into my iPod Touch trial. So far so good. I do enjoy the technology, no doubt. The question I have to answer for myself is do I want to keep it and forgo an iPhone in a year when my Verizon contract comes up, or take it back and hold out until Jan. 9, 2009. I’ve gone back and forth many times. I’m not up for buying an iPhone and jailbreaking it to use as an iPod so that’s not an option. Suggestions? Let me know.

Watched Pan’s Labyrinth on HD DVD yesterday while sick. Good movie, great HD DVD. Sound was amazing, especially in the scenes in the caverns and enclosed spaces. Great spatial representation. I’ll try to post a more extensive review over the weekend if my cold continues to regress. Also checked out Blade Runner but I was on several cold medications and pretty much dead-tired so I need to give that another viewing. Managed to pick up 300 and Bourne Identity for 10 bucks apiece at Hollywood video over the weekend, bringing my collection of soon-to-be-collectors item HD DVDs to eight.

My home theater PC is shaping up a little at a time. So far I’ve got it into my entertainment center, hooked up to my Samsung 50-inch DLP via VGA with a wireless keyboard/mouse combo. I ended up cancelling and restarting my Netflix under a different name to get full access to my four PCs again (I’ll be much more careful this time). We’ve enjoyed watching Heroes and 30 Rock from Netflix, video quality is suprisingly good, if a bit soft.

Still having trouble with HD content, be it from sites like KoldKast TV, Miro or via OTA broadcast. It’s the same issue with all content, very jumpy. I have a 512MB NVIDIA 7600 card so I don’t think it’s the graphics card. The only other thing I could think is I need more than the 1.5 MB RAM I have or that the 2.8 GHZ P4 I’m running is just too old to take it (the machine is probably 4 years old). Meanwhile my other PCs are torn apart while I “borrow” pieces to see if I can get this one running, since it’s the only machine with Windows Media Center in it. My next step is to take one of my bigger machines that have more RAM and put the TV tuner card in and just see if I can get HD content working in those. If so, I might just order a copy of Vista Home premium to get the Media Center feel.

If you’ve had experience with HD on PCs and have a suggestion, drop me a comment.

Posted in Apple, computers, HD DVD, HDTV, Home Theater, HTPC, IPTV, TV | 2 Comments »