29 posts • joined Wednesday 11th November 2009 13:55 GMT
its all a uishambles as far as I'm concerned
hidden in the dark and cobwebbed corners are a few nice facilities - like the iplayer on Sony BD 360 & up, which (as long as the action doesn't get to frantic) can nearly equal broadcast HD.
You didn't even mention the iplayer UI (which only intrepid ui explorers can usually find on much kit as you say), usually a nasty, clunky, lag ridden horror. The sony one is really clever 'cos it searches for matches from the first letter of the programme name, so you'd better look it up on a PC first and make sure you type it in ExactLY RIGHT. then it gives you a list where the key info (like which episode of the program) has disappeared off the right hand side of the little box, and you can't scroll over, so you have to select each one in turn, wait for it to load, then after trying a couple, try and reverse engineer the sort order to predict where the one you actually want will be.
The only 1/2 sane UI on any of my AV kit is the old humax Foxsat HDR box with modded firmware that means I can access it from web broswer.
If DNLA hadn't ended up designing a camephant, it might be the answer, or even Myth TV.
well reviews that actually inform would be nice
I find most of your reviews are lightweight wallpaper, there is little in them I can't find out from the manufacturer's brochure and couple of amazon buyers reviews typically. After reading them I often just feel frustrated that it didn't actually tell me what I needed to know.
For example, video streaming in stb's tv's and many other boxes (built in iplayer / 4OD etc). The quality of the stream these products use varies widely, some (like Sony BD players) stream (when available) use what looks pretty similar to the HD stream you can get on a PC / web browser - often nearly as good as live HD (if there's not too much action going on), others (like my Humax foxsat HDR) the "HD" stream is worse than broadcast SD, and the SD stream is frankly painful on anything larger than a 15" screen from the other side of the room. So tell us what we really get. And while on integrated iPlayers, the UI when trying to search varies from piss poor to diabolically dire.
Oh yes,! and while your there, how much bandwidth the various functions use would be nice to know for those of on wetstringband internet connections.
I'm with N13L5 on the need for proper info on displays - viewing angles, display technology, colour gamut etc. And yes displays in general do need more resolution - 1080P on a 15" laptop is good, on a 24" screen it's jut a pita. I still have a
VisionMaster 400 upstairs (15" diagonal) that I used to run at 1600, but it's not very portable!
If I had a couple more days I could give another hundred example - but you get the general idea.
Very important to know the stance / affiliations etc. of the reviewer, I can definitely do without the fanboy reviews as well (well maybe if they are particularly amusing I might let is pass - maybe Verity Stob should do more?)
Alternatively do a short sharp informed review and link to other detailed reviews for the gory detail.
As they (mostly) are, they're as much use as my paper's "50 best....." reviews, well less use actually - I can't light the fire with them.
More info on menus searching etc. would be good
This is a pretty lightweight review - is the navigation any good, and how about seaching in particular?
I have a foxsat HDR PV and while it works reasonably well the search faciility is dire (like wading through treacle) - although most stbs seem to be pretty awful at this.
and the iPlayer video quality is way below the quality I get from a PC or on a Sony BD360.
and since I live in a broadband backwater, iPlayer HD streaming is marginal at best, so it would be really nice to be able to record iPlayer 5OD etc. so I can then watch it without all the pauses.
A longer view than programmers then...
5,200 years to the apocalypse - presumably regarded by the ruling elite to be far enough away to be Somebody Else's Problem. Compare with programmers in the 1970's whose long term view extended to - oooh - nearly 30 years. Not that we're any better now with the unix 'regeneration' cycle due to arrive in 27 years (assuming there are any 32 bit systems left by then????)
front projection - it's the only way to go
80" screen from a 1080p projector viewed from about 10ft. Yes, Blu ray is clearly better than broadcast HD, even dvd often looks better than bbc hd, but it does depend on the content quality of both sources.
iPlayer HD works pretty well too - usually a bit better than broadcast sd as long as there's not too much fast movement, but only through sony blu-ray player. iPlayer through our humax freesat box is unwatchable.
PC quality is good, but the blu-ray player is slightly better - mostly because it pans more smoothly.
The cheapo channels (never watch em anyway) are pretty dire. Of course you do need a darkish room for good viewing, but with bright, high quality 1080p projectors available for around £1,000 I really don't see the point of big screens.
I have a Z80 based pc from around 1980
My company's home computer club designed and built a z80 based home 'pc' as a kit of parts. It had max of 48k ram and ran crystal basic. a couple of brave souls got cp/m running on it. It's still downstairs and it worked when I last switched it on about 8 years ago. It generates a composite sync output from character mapped RAM, and needs an ICL 7500 series keyboard - not sure that's still there though!
I tracked the motherboard, debugged the design and wrote the bios. 2kbytes? or maybe 4k? can't remember which.
Suspect many of the caps will have died by now though, so could be exciting to switch it on!
.... but is it any good?
I've got a humax foxsat HDR which has had iplayer for some time, but it a pretty dire iPlayer impementation. The interface is incerdibly slow and clunky and the picture quality - even for "HD" mode is like a bad youtube video - unwatchable on a big screen. Unless this box's iPlayer is as good as a decent PC or the Sony BDP 370s it will be as much use as a tinfoil hat.
I agree the Yamaha is a great machine
I bought a yamaha 767 shortly after they come out in August,mianly 'cos I wanted the matrix HDMI switching (which is still relatively uncommon a this sort of price) as I have a projector and a 24" LCD for viewing depending on the programme and the number of folks watching, and having a separate HDMI switch was definitely getting a poor WAF rating.
I'm surprised you also didn't mention the zone 2 facility which some of these amps have. I've found it very useful to run zone 2 to speakers in the next room and be able to listen to the radio via an STB.
The only awkward thing is that on the Yamaha zone 2 only accepts analogue inputs, so I've had to connect up the STB and blu-ray player with ornery phono cables as well as HDMI cables.
I have had a slight issue with the HDMI switch playing silly buggers - when I have both outputs running it is saying something rude to the STB, which then won't output 1080i. Strangely enough the blu-ray player is quite happy. This is supposed to be fixed with a firmare upgrade, but I've not been able to load it as yet. (HDMI is such a huge PITA - consumer benefits, zero, consumer pays extra costs for every box that uses it).
Puzzled by Gideon's comment above - I use a humax freesat HDR and a mythtv PC for freeview as inputs and both work fine on everything I've watched. I suspect the STB must be converting to DD5.1 as this is what the receiver 'sees' on HD broadcasts with surround sound.
OMG Yet Another Set Top Box
to add to the teetering pile already there.
I can play nearly anything through a PC - including non DRM HD TV via freesat, but the WAF is very low.
Just bought a Sony Blu ray player and it has iPlayer, 5OD as well as a DLNA player built in so I can play all my music and DRM free recorded TV shows from my NAS. This has achieved a significantly higher WAF The last thing I want is a content provider tithed box with Yet Another Remote Control. The offspring of a player like this and a satellite PVR would nearly be the one box to rule them all.
when it is good it is very very good and when it is bad it is horrid
well can be at least. Just took the grandkids to see ToyStory3 in 3D, and on the whole it was pretty impressive. It was certainly a lot better than many of the trailers that preceded it, which looked more like bits of the scene (actors, background etc. had been cut out and pasted back in with a 3D offset, but were still flat themselves. Although there were a few times even in TS3 when my brain 'lost registration' and just showed me 2 misalined images of part of the scene.
Are they winding up the 3D offset too far sometimes? Or is there a 'correct' distance from the screen, so that if you are much closer or further than this, it's actually not quite right?
What did you expect?
When you get a freebie in the cornflake packet, it is generally cheap and nasty. This jokeup software is a freebie as far as MS are concerned. Is anyone going to stop buying Windows because the builtin backup is a joke? No, I thought not....
Of course the fact that the previous conrflake packet gift was actually quite good was completely accidental and judged by management to be a serious mistake and MUST NOT BE REPEATED.
Time to buy an expensive and painful 3rd party backup solution then?
What on earth (or in cyberspace) is a conroy connector
other than a googlewhack that is - the sole result is this elreg article)
Openoffice works just fine with M$ office documents.....
in my experience, as long as they are saved in office '97 format it all works a treat (in both directions), although I have had problems with documents saved in joke xml (.docx) files. Seems the xml doesn't conform to any known standard......
The only time I run windoze nowadays is to run my big Nikon Scanner and old Canon printer.
Woooo Meta Geek alert!
(takes one to know one)
and what about the batteries?
Do they still use those really naff NiCd non-standard batteries? I used 1 for about a year on my HCPC, but when the second set of batteries died, I gave up and went for a mini keyboard with a built in mouse pad. wireless keyboard with mouse pad cost (much) less than a single replacement battery and uses AAA cells which last for ages
-Paris, 'cos she knows what to do when the batteries run out
'ang on I have an idea
all new bills should be limited to the size of a tweet.
Oh! all right then, 2. The main bill and a separate appendix.
After all if you can't say it in 158 characters, its not worth saying is it?
OK, where's my coat.....
erm, no, not really a good count
With it being so easy to set up an apt-cache virtual machine (takes less than 1 hour), I suspect many people will be caching, I know I am at home, with 1 server, 2 desktops, 1 laptop and a couple of VM's all running ubuntu.
Argh! lose BBC4?
With programmes like horizon now spending 20 minutes of poncy fluffy mood shots, and 6 minutes repeating themselves ad nauseam, leaving 4 minutes for actual content - oh and the credits of course, I find most of the shows worth watching are BBC4 these days, like the excellent Virtual Revolution. Quite a few seem to be OU based / assisted.
If BBC4 goes (and they choose not to move content to BBC2) then I think I just fetch my coat.
and what about the applications?
Quite a few vendors still lock licences to hardware, resulting in VMs that need special extra care and attention whenever the virtualisation software is upgraded, or DR procedures are invoked. Not insurmountable, but another 'special case' that can easily be overlooked during normal operations (not to mention DR!)
branded player, but what about the protocols?
I have no problem with branded players requiring certification, but this should not mean that the protocols are 'private' or the content encrypted in such a way that only certified products can access the service.
Digital technology is making a disaster area out of media services.
My blu ray player won't play SACD for example, so in the future I'm likely to need:
blue ray player (plays DVD's as well, possibly CD's)
SACD player (prolly CD's as well but not blue ray)
Digital satellite PVR
Digital terrestrial PVR
some other box to access iPlayer
This is a ridiculous mess, when at the moment I can, in 1 PC, have access to:
Blu-ray (although a slightly messy process to date)
digital satellite (including HD)
digital terrestrial (hopefully with HD when some T2 cards become available
iPlayer (albeit at pretty rubbish resolution / quality even in H(ahaha)D
youtube and any other internet based services I care to use.
All unencumbered by DRM and based on linux.
bleeding edge bandages
H264 doesn't need expensive hardware - It's working very nicely on my laptop right now from freesat using GPU based decoding on the nvidia 9300m GS chipset under linux. Works even better on my linux desktop with an nvidia GT220 video card.
I believe this decoding in the GPU also runs under windoze for those who still feel it necessary to support the Gates foundation with every PC purchase.
Now all I need is a twin tuner DVB T2 card that I can run under linux to get away from the single tuner per card that come with current DVB S2 cards.
Still not quite as high a WAF rating as a humax freesat PVR box, but getting close......
and at the smaller end - how about graphics storage on a wire spring?
Lovely, the lengths we had to go to - reminds me of the original 7181 displays - text only and 2,000 characters on the screen.
The 2000 characters were stored on a spiral steel wire in the side of the case which was twisted at one end to represent the bits of each character, and took exactly the screen refresh time for the wiggles to get to the other end and be read out.
Of course if you slapped the side of the case, the whole display went bananas :)
The medium and the message - they're not the same thing
Nice article, but I think it would have helped to go just 1 step further.
a digital TV picture arrives on your screen thanks to 2 very independent components.
The way the picture (and sound) is encoded into bits - MPEG2, MPEG4 / H264 - is the the message.
All HD piccies are using MPEG4 as it is very much more efficient than MPEG2. The same standard is used for freesat HD as will be used by freeview HD (and is also used by most other HD transmissions - maybe even all). PCs already handle MPEG4 quite happily, as do such things as a Freesat HD boxes. Indeed many nice things are happening in the PC space, such as Nvidia building MPEG4 / H264 decoding into the drivers for their newer cards (even for linux...)
The second part is the medium - how the digital bitstream is delivered to your display.
This can be carried over a satellite signal or a terrestrial TV signal. Today freesat uses the S1 standard, and it delivers SD and HD pictures. There is an S2 standard, and some equipment supports it, but freesat will not be using it for some time yet. S2 can carry more bits in the same space as S1, but as satellite transmissions are not yet feeling the bandwidth pinch, they do not have a big incentive to change. I'm happily receiving BBC HD transmissions onto a linux based PC, as they are not encrypted or DRM protected in any way.
Freeview today uses T1 only and is all SD, but in a few days will start using (on 1 multiplex only) T2 to carry more bits and deliver HD channels.
The main reason that there is no kit around as yet, is that the BBC wants to DRM the HD broadcasts, but could not just encrypt the data stream (as that is against the BBC charter), so they proposed to Ofcom that they should encrypt the EPG info as a slight of hand way of (apparently) not breaking the charter, while still locking up the broadcasts.
This required that reception equipment be modified to handle the EPG encryption, so until it was known to be in or out, none of the manufacturers could actually start manufacturing kit, getting it certified, getting it into production, and eventually into the shops. As this only got kicked into touch by Ofcom a couple of weeks ago, no kit has yet started through this process.
Of course this whole certification / approval thing is a bit weird anyway - it never used to happen in analogue days, and is really just the BBC, on behalf of ( itself and ) the big media companies trying to control the whole channel (as the media indistry did with DVD encryption).
Finally we get to the picture, and the BBC - in an effort to jam a quart into a pint pot - have screwed down the bit rate on HD (on freesat HD and also the same thing to be on freeview HD), so that their picture quality appears to be significantly poorer than the other HD channels from sky and virgin - not that they will admit to this of course, they believed the manufacturers of their shiny new MPEG 4 encoders when they were told you could get HD pictures at 2 1/2 bits per second.
ho hum, where's my tin hat
which sort of HD was that then?
Shame you couldn't check out some other HD channels as word on the street has it that BBC freesat HD is well below the HD standard you get with sky or virgin - more akin to DVD quality rather than blue ray quality. I would have thought a set of this size should easily show up the difference.
dual discs in a laptop
My acer 6930 has a space for a second hdd under a cover at the front, unfortunately some retard in the styling department got carried away and the plastic cover won't fit once you put a disc inside. I have seen piccies of an acer with a different bit of bulgy plastic there, but I don't know what the model is though.
"now boots in under a minute", ;) glad I've moved all my machines to Ubuntu over the last few months, even with database services and other stuff they boot faster than that on old whirly whirly discs.
hmm Maybe NTFS and NTSC are related???? Never Twice F***ing Same
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