Sunday, November 05, 2006


Advice Bleg

(for those who don't know, "bleg" = blog + beg)

I need some new home theater equipment. Let me stipulate first that I am not a gearhead when it comes to this stuff, so for example I have no particular bias towards having a separate component for everything versus an all-in-one system, etc. Anyway, I currently have the following stuff: 27" flat-tube HDTV (broken), 20" flat-tube SDTV (works), $35 dvd player (works but has issues), Sony 5-disc 5.1/DTS surround system (dvd video output is effed, everything else works fine, too old to play mp3/wma) What I want is to get back to where I'm able to watch movies without skipping, in surround sound. I also want music in my bedroom. At some point I want an HD monitor too, but that will be step 2. As I see it, my options are:

1.) New dvd player, new 5.1 receiver and two new front speakers, moving the old all-in-one and its front speakers to the bedroom. This will involve adapting the +/- speaker wire connection from the (unpowered) subwoofer to an RCA plug for the new receiver. Is that easy?

2.) New dvd player, use the all-in-one system as a receiver and buy a bookshelf stereo for the bedroom. I was doing the livingroom part of this setup for awhile with the cheap dvd player and it worked (aside from the cheap player sucking)

3.) New all-in-one system, and move the old all-in-one to the bedroom.

Anyone have any thoughts? I believe option 2.) is the only one that's significantly cheaper, since it involves minimal new equipment. I may take that route since I'm thinking of getting a plasma tv. 1.) and 3.) are probably in the same total price range, assuming I get a decent-quality system. I don't think I'm going to invest in a completely new set of speakers, so I wouldn't be getting a high-end receiver either as the high-end ones today are all 6.1 or 7.1.

I have no idea about this stuff, but I'll forward your post to my brothers. There is a small chance that they will respond...

Or you could ask the guys at Circuit City. At least before I left for Germany they seemed to have a clue.
Here's my four cents...

Standalone players will always, always, always, always, ALWAYS break. And you, and me, and the majority of other people will always, always, always, ALWAYS have a computer til the day they die. A computer has become a required part of living.

Just learn to do these things with your computer, and you don't have to worry about constantly purchasing the latest corporate-mandated standard for content distribution, and screens.

New TV technology is still a bunch of crappy implementations of emerging technologies that are overpriced and have not settled much. Anyone who has an HDTV today, for example, wont be able to view HD-DVDs, as many players will require a Hollywood-mandated HDMI output, which has DRM built into the cable.

As such, pretty much 100% of HDTV-owners are screwed for HD-DVD. It will be downsampled. They wont notice, and will claim "this is the great hd-dvd", when in reality it is not even full quality.

An ATI card with good TV out is $30. There are HDTV-out solutions available from ATI as well, which would look much better than what I do with an s-video cable.

Now, a computer brings its own set of problems, but typically once you learn to deal with a problem once, it goes away forever. Unlike broken player problems, scratched disc problems, etc, which never ever ever go away and are always a potential issue.

Yea, in theory windows could crash or I could have a critical hardware failure while watching a movie. That is true for a dvd player too,but dvd players have messed up movie experiences for more than computers have -- and I've spent easily 50 times as much watching stuff on my computer, as on a standalone player.

Stuff works. I can play anything I want any time. 5.1 sound. Xvid encodes take up much less space -- meeting-my-standards for a dvd is 2.1G instead of the standard 8G. I can play all my music. I have an FM transmitter card in my computer so I can tune into the central music with any cheap yardsale FM receiver.

BTW - Speakerwire <-> RCA conversions are kludgy & should be avoided, but they work and there's nothing to really know. Hell, you can cut the plug off your Christmas Lights and put them into the speaker terminals of your receiver. But if watts(rcvr) > watts(lights), turning up the volume on a loud song can blow them out :D

But anyway, I'd say for me, compared to most others, I put in far less effort for what I am getting out of things........ I still put in more effort than most people, but I do a lot more of this stuff than most people - my collection is huge.
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