Thursday, February 11, 2010

HDTV Accessories

As with all technology upgrades, getting an HDTV involves getting new cables and, for me, a new Blu-ray player to take advantage of the higher resolution. Once TiVo announces their new products next month, I'll probably be upgrading to one of those as well. But that's another post.

First, the cables. Currently, everything I own is connected by the ancient S-video cables and RCA for audio. HDTV's latest cable is the HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) that does both audio and video. In stores like Fry's and Best Buy, these are hideously expensive. $10, $20, and $30 are common prices. HDTV's dirtiest little secret: They are screwing you on the prices. CNET.COM did testing and recommends buying cheap cables off the Internet. I had several bookmarked in my browser, but last week one of the blogs I follow had a link to a site that sold three cables for $7.50 with free shipping. I jumped on that offer and they arrived a few days ago.

As for Blu-ray, I did lots of research on Cnet and other sites. Most new Blu players meet the Blu-ray Profile 2.0 specs that require an Internet connection. Most players have an ethernet cable port, but many newer ones can used USB wi-fi dongles. Some even include the dongles have have wireless built-in. Since my cable modem and router are in another room and the front door is between the home theater and said room, I wanted a player that could do wi-fi. After going through the reviews and pricing them locally, I decided to get an LG BD390. It got great marks on Cnet and has wi-fi built-in. It also can stream Netflix, another feature I wanted. After looking at other stores, I went back to Fry's and to my intense happiness, they'd dropped the price by $20 since my first visit two days before. That brought the price within the same range as my second place choice, the Samsung BD-P3600, so I splurged and spent the extra few dollars on the LG. I connected it to my existing TV via a composite video jack and within a few minutes, I was watching Dirty Harry in Magnum Force streaming from Netflix. Setup was easy and the picture quality was excellent even with a lowly composite connection.

For DVR, at least for the short-term, I'll probably trade in our Cox SD DVR for a Cox HD DVR. Once I get the TiVo equivalent, I'll just ax the Cox one.

The new TV should be here on Monday. It arrived in Phoenix tonight, though. Wish I could get delivery tomorrow.

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