Friday, April 9, 2010

HDTV Experience So Far

I'm having surprisingly little buyer's remorse over my HDTV purchases after nearly two months.

The Sony HDTV works awesome for a lower-end model. I lucked-out in it having a matte screen finish given that there are windows on the opposite side of the room that can be bright during the say. The picture quality is fantastic and you really notice the extra details in full HDTV shows. Even when I use my old SD TiVo as a source or watch SD channels, it doesn't look too horrible. Even Tara, who is not really impressed with all my toys, admitted that she can see the difference and does like it.

The LG Blu-ray was discontinued literally within a week of my buying it. Luckily it's replacement in the LG lineup only offers a few new things and I don't care about them. I actually like the BDP390's front panel design better. The new BDP570's whole front panel has to be down if you have a USB drive plugged in. My BDP390 has a slot cut-out in the front panel that you just need to remove a small plastic plug to insert the USB drive. Speaking of which, I've downloaded AVI files to the drive and once you plug it in, the Blu-ray player automatically discovers the movies on there and you can play them. A very nice feature. The picture quality is excellent, no matter what source you are using. The built-in wireless N adapter easily streams Netflix programming in high-def. It's a great player all around.

I still only have a Cox Cable HD DVR. I still can't quite afford the new TiVo boxes yet. Picture quality is quite good. I had to install a signal amplifier in order to be able to plug more than just the DVR. This house has horrible cable signal strength. Luckily the amp does the job really well. I lose the On-Demand features as the amp isn't bi-directional, but it's an acceptable trade-off.

The el cheapo HDMI cables continue to do a fine job. I don't see any issues with the signal at all when using them. The Sony TV can actually shut down the DVR when you switch picture sources away from the HDMI port the DVR uses. Quite cool.

I've even plugged my laptop into the TV with a VGA cable to watch Hulu content. Even that was very good. One of these days I hope to either get a laptop with an HDMI port or just build a little Home Theater PC (HTPC) to watch Internet content on it. That's a little ways off, though.

All in all, the HDTV upgrade of the home theater went smoothly and I'm quite satisfied. It's not an end-all be-all, balls-to-the-wall home theater setup, but it looks and sounds great and that's really all I care about.

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