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I’ve Moved

Posted by lozenp on January 29, 2009

Thanks for visiting, please update your bookmark to http://www.livinghighdef.com. Also, please be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed on the new site. Thanks for coming by, and hope to see you at the new site.

http://www.livinghighdef.com

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Looking for some help

Posted by lozenp on January 26, 2009

I’m not sure if anyone still reads this since I haven’t updated it in many months, but if there is anyone out there, I’m looking for some help.

I’m planning on buying a domain name and moving my blog to a hosted WordPress environment. I’ve started building it already, take a look if you want. The blog will be all about HD stuff, TVs, Blu-ray, web, etc. Anything related to High Def video and tech stuff.

Anyhow, I need help with a domain name. Take a look at the poll below and vote.

If you have a better idea, leave it in the comments. Thanks.

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Another article at EH.com

Posted by lozenp on August 15, 2008

Hey all,

I’ve got another new post over at Electronic House.com, this one talking about the problems facing everyone’s favorite Swiss-Army cable – HDMI.

Check it out.

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Netflix finally comes to the 360

Posted by lozenp on July 15, 2008

Thanks Engadget

Credit: Engadget

After months of speculation, the much-rumored Netflix/Microsoft partnership has come to fruition. In it’s E3 press conference yesterday Microsoft announced that with the Fall Dashboard Update, Netflix streaming would come to Xbox Live Gold Members who have Netflix accounts. And to top it all off, it’s at no additional charge.

Here’s the specifics:

  • At launch, SD streaming only. A Microsoft rep told Engadget that it stands to reason that when Netflix starts streaming HD content, the Xbox would do so as well.
  • It looks like the interface will be the same as the Roku player and you will need to add films to your streaming cue from the browser and then head over to the Xbox and select them from there. This makes surfing Netflix for films a bit cumbersome since you’ll have to have a laptop with you, but spending a little bit of time before-hand setting up your streaming cue can make this very palatable.
  • There’s a shared viewing service available that will allow you to watch a Netflix selection with others via Xbox Live. This is much like the community viewing option that came with the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix HD DVD. The other person will need to be a Netflix and Xbox Live Gold subscriber.
  • The Xbox will have full access to the more than 10,000 titles currently available.

This is definately a big win for the consumer, and come fall my Netflix membership will be worth so much more than it is now. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop, and would not be surprised at all if Netflix started to shift its subscription strategy as it adds more features. We’ve already heard Netflix say that it’s likely Blu-Ray memberships will get a price-jump. I wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see an additional charge to set up your account for extender streaming or for HD streaming. For now, I’m just going to sit back and wait for the update in the Fall.

Microsoft also announced that the Fall Update (no release date yet) would completely redesign the dashboard. Gone (at least from the main page, they will still live on somewhere else in the dashboard) will be the blades we’ve all grown accustomed to. In their place will be a new interface that emphasizes community, and yes, we’ll all get our own avatars now.

Engadget

Credit: Engadget

Honestly, I’m not crazy about it (see the gallery at Engadget). If I wanted a Wii, I’d get one, this seems a bit too much like jumping on a bandwagon. Sony has it’s “Home” interface and the Wii has it’s Mii avatars. The Xbox has made it’s mark being different from the other consoles, focusing on a complete entertainment package. I don’t see the need for this new look.

That being said, there’s some other dashboard updates that are pretty cool, among them:

  • Play games right from the hard drive. This isn’t really helpful to 20GB owners likemyself, but if you have a game you play all the time, it still might be of use. This allows you to dump the disc (although it still needs to be in to prove you own the game) and play right from the hard drive. No spinning disc and faster game loads are promised.
  • Dashboard parties, allowing you and up to seven other people to interact, chat, IM and more right from the dashboard. Currrently when my friends in Cleveland and my friends in Detroit want to watch a game featuring teams from the two cities and talk about it, we have to load up Halo and let a game just sit. Not anymore. Right from the dashboard we’ll be able to make fun of how bad the Lions are, or how the Cleveland area will never win a title again. Ever. Good times.

With the exception of the new look, I’d say A+ for all the updates announced yesterday. This is by far the biggest dashboard update the Xbox has seen will almost make it like a new console. Let’s see if Microsoft can learn from Apple’s iPhone disaster and make sure the servers are ready to go when this update hits.

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The NASA Missions – When We Left Earth mini-review

Posted by lozenp on June 16, 2008

Space has been somewhat of an ignored topic in the last decade or so, and when it has gotten attention, it’s been due to terrible catastrophe’s such as the space shuttle explosions. The idea of rocketing out of Earth’s atmosphere just isn’t as sexy as it once was. Hoepfully the Discovery Channel’s new documentary will remind us all how amazing it was and still is today that we are able to send people into orbit.

The NASA Missions: When We Left Earth is a six-hour series airing now on the Discovery Channel and Discovery Channel HD (not HD Theater, mind you) that explores the space program from beginning to end and so far it’s amazing. Many people are comparing it to the Planet Earth series that HD Theater ran last year, and while I think that’s a bit unfair, at least visually, because Planet Earth was shot entirely in HD and The NASA Missions was forced to clean up 40-year old footage, it’s a fair comparison due to the scope and size of the project.

That’s not to say the people at Discovery didn’t do their job with the footage. I have never seen archival footage cleaned up and presented in HD with this amount of detail. I dare say some of the shots look better than modern HD-shot programs. There are many shots from the Gemini missions that are simply spectacular, and these are in some cases from more than 40 years ago.

In watching the first two hours I’ve already learned things I never knew before, and I’ve seen footage that I didn’t know existed of the first spacewalk and the first missions around the moon. The interviews with the NASA crews are insightful and informative while at the same time whimsical and conversational. You can tell these people have immense pride in their role in history, but at the same time they have a certain humbleness that is so often missing in today’s world.

The sound isn’t amazing, but that’s to be expected with a show that is 50 percent interviews. However, when the rockets fire, you know it, and the dialogue is presented in a clean and well-balanced way. If there’s any complaint, it would be that the mix is a bit bass-heavy in the most dramatic scenes, but that would be nit-picking.

So far I’ve made it through the Gemini missions, whose goal started with simply getting into space and evolved into walking in space and finally orbiting the earth. Apollo is up next, featuring the moon landings. The show airs on Sunday nights at 9, with two new hours each week. It’s in reruns during the week, as well in one-hour segments.

My Take

How it looks – 9
How it sounds – 7
Content – 9

OVERALL – 9

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TBS Responds… sort of

Posted by lozenp on June 6, 2008

I wrote recently about a new TBS method of annoying viewers with pop-up ads by having Bill Engvall walk onto the lower portion of the screen, and pause a rerun of Family Guy to promoting his show, he even bragged about how he could stop TV whenever he wanted, before returning us to Family Guy.

It was shameful, and annoying and intrusive so I fired an email off to TBS. Here’s how they responded, or in this case, didn’t respond:

FROM TBS

Thank you for your comments. I have passed your remarks along to the appropriate person for their consideration. TBS appreciates the feedback we get from our viewers. Thanks again for sharing your opinions and ideas with us.

Best,
TBS Web Staff

MY ORIGINAL EMAIL

Ticket Information:
Ticket #:    5448-4817474
Date Created:    6/4/2008 1:37 PM EDT
Subject:
Details:     Please, for the love of all that is good, don’t move forward with the concept of “stars of TBS shows pause your show to promote theirs” idea.

I was watching Family Guy last night and Bill Engvall paused the show! No, no, no, no, no. The pop ups are bad enough, but I live with them. The stretch-o-vision on your HD feed is bad enough, but I live with it. This has gone too far. I don’t need other people pausing the show I’m watching. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s not a technological marvel. It’s intrusive, plain and simple.

Please, give us a break on this one. Abandon that program.

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Band of Brothers gets Blu later this year?

Posted by lozenp on April 1, 2008

bandI was going to just update my “HD Wish List No. 1” with this info, but it’s such big news (to me, at least) that it demands it’s own entry.

According to a Home Media Magazine interview with Sofia Chang, SVP of marketing for HBO Video, the network has plans for a “Band of Brothers” Blu-Ray release “later this year.” The comments came during an interview about the DVD release for the current HBO series “John Adams”.

Band of Brothers is No. 6 on the all-time TV on DVD sales list, and No. 4 on the TV Series Set on DVD list.

The question now is, how do I get my wife (see comments on my Wish List entry) to allow me to buy “Band of Brothers” again?

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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.

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Microsoft GDC keynote ends, no Netflix announcement

Posted by lozenp on February 20, 2008

Despite the rumors, my hunches were (unfortunately) correct that Microsoft was not ready to announce a Netflix partnership on the 360.

The Game Developer’s conference keynote featuring Chris Satchell of Microsoft just completed and no mention of Netflix was made. Some cool announcements including community games on the 360, games on the Zune and Gears of War 2 in November came out, but that’s about it.

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A big thud

Posted by lozenp on January 8, 2008

Well, I must say I’m disappointed. Outside of a fairly entertaining video about Bill Gates’ last day on the job, the Microsoft presser at CES Sunday night was pretty uneventful.

My buddy Jesse (of the “my 360 is dead story from the previous post) and I took a break from Guitar Hero III and FIFA 08 to watch on my laptop, anxiously awaiting the big announcement of a new 360 bundle. Instead we got a demo of the Internet (did you know you can send invitations to people on the Internet? And they can accept the invites, ON THE INTERNET! Amazing!)

Ok, that may be overgeneralizing a bit, but outside of some studio announcements for Xbox Live Marketplace (Disney/ABC) and some recaps of sales numbers, it was a pretty big letdown. Maybe something will still happen, as this was a pre-conference event, but I’m not holding my breath.

One thing that did get my interest a bit was the announcement that British Telecom would be using the 360 as a set top box in England this year. With Microsoft providing the software for AT&Ts U-Verse television offering, it seems like that could be a realistic next step here in the U.S.

Other than that, nothing too interesting (and the guys over at Ars Technica seemed to agree with me, see the second to last paragraph.) But don’t take my word for it, watch for yourself if you want to.

More on CES coming later this week.

Posted in computers, HDTV, TV, Uncategorized, Xbox 360 | Leave a Comment »