Archive for December, 2008

I actually did it, I canceled cable TV

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I can’t believe I actually did it, but I canceled cable (FiOS TV actually), but not for the reasons you think. I have to say it feels weird and I fill a little disconnected, which is very odd since I really didn’t watch it much. But there is something comforting about knowing there are 100 HD channels at my service if I get bored. But then again, that comfort isn’t worth $60 a month.

As for the why, no it isn’t because I’m going to get my content from the internet. Because unlike college kids, the nicest display I own isn’t on my laptop and once you are accustomed to HD, it’s hard to go back.

I canceled because I realized that without Football, all I watch is broadcast TV and movies. So I can get all the OTA HD I want for free on my Vista Media Center with an antenna, and all the HD movies I can watch for $21/mo from Netflix.

Now that’s not to say I’m never going to watch Netflix watch instantly on my new LG BD300, or that I won’t download anything else via other means. But after selling my two CableCARD tuners (thanks Robert) and not paying $60 a month to Verizon for the next eight months, the $880 I saved was more than enough to pick up a new Pioneer VSX-91TXH AV Receiver which features both TrueHD and DTS-HD decoding.

So today is the first day of my life without cable TV — and counting.

For Sale: two ATI Digital Cable Tuners (CableCARD)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

When I realized how much money I was wasting on pay TV, I decided to cancel FiOS after football season and go all OTA and Blu-ray via Netflix. And although I plan to add it back when football season comes around again, because technology changes so fast I’m going to go ahead and sell the tuners now and just buy ’em again when needed — assuming something better doesn’t come out by then.

So I have two like-new ATI Digital Cable Tuners that I’d like $200 for, each. I was just going to put them on eBay but figured someone I know might want them and prefer to buy them from someone they know. I have all the original accessories and box which I will of course include. It goes without saying that these will only work with an OEM Digital Cable Ready PC, but if you want to figure out how to hack the firmware, I’ll let you try the product key that came with my XPS 420 (not for sale).

UPDATE, I sold both of these already.

I forgot about bad DVDs look

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

What is it about Christmas that makes you want to watch the same movie over and over again? Whatever it is, it hit the wife and I over the weekend and we watched one of our Christmas favorites, The Family Man.

The thing is that it has been so long since I watched one of the 100 DVDs I own, that I forgot how bad they look. I truly found it distracting how dull the colors were and how bad the contrast was. I tried to ignore it, but my obsessive compulsive nature just couldn’t let it go.

The funny thing is that when I think back over two and half years when I reviewed the first HD DVD player, I don’t remember being that impressed. In fact I said, “my biggest fear is that some people won’t be able to tell the difference.”

It really is funny how once you get accustomed to a certain level of quality, how difficult it can be to go back to what used to be the reference.

I don’t believe a word that DirecTV says

Friday, December 12th, 2008

If there is one thing I’ve learned about DirecTV over the past three years of blogging is that the PR department has no problem “stretching” the truth in an attempt to improve the image of its company — big surprise, I know. This was never more true then during the DirecTV press conference at CES 2007 where the “100 HD channel” announcement was born. We all know now that this promise was never realized during 2007 and that in some ways it can be argued that it isn’t even true today.

Then there was the entire “HD Lite” fiasco where we at Engdaget got our friend Rômulo Pontual on the record as saying DirecTV had the best quality HD — this was pre-MPEG4 mind you — and that anyone who said different wasn’t actually judging the quality with their own eyes, ha!

So with this in mind it should be no surprise that I don’t believe the recent official suspension announcement about the unofficial HDPC-20 project (also attributed to Romulu). I’m not saying that DirecTV never suspended the project, I’m just saying that it was probably suspended for a half a day while the developers went home early for Thanksgiving. I mean if it was really canceled then why not say canceled? Why say it was suspended with no window of how long. This really just continues the trend of the lack of communication between DirecTV and its customers when it comes to this project.

I predict that there is no real suspension at all, and that in fact the HDPC-20 will be released right along side Windows 7 during 2009, an that the only reason for this “official” communication is to reduce the expectations of the community after the recent eHome labs tour debacle. I believe this is nothing more than damage control from that incident, and a very poor attempt at that.