Category Archives: Audio/Video

Sony Blu-Ray BDP-CX7000ES 400 Disc Changer

So I’ve been waiting for this thing for awhile now, and it looks like Sony is finally going to be releasing it (even $400 cheaper than previously rumored). Yum, yum…

400 discs, serial control, Ethernet port for pulling meta data via Internet, etc… looks nice to me.

Press Release

SONY ORGANIZES YOUR ENTERTAINMENT COLLECTION

WITH NEW 400-DISC BLU-RAY DISC/DVD MEGACHANGER

Company Expands Blu-ray Disc Player Options with Three New Models
NEW YORK, July 23, 2009 – Looking to help consumers simplify and manage their living room entertainment experience, Sony today announced the new BDP-CX960 and the “Elevated Standard” (ES) BDP-CX7000ES 400-disc Blu-ray Discâ„¢ MegaChangers.

The company also announced the BDP-S1000ES single disc ES player expanding the Sony’s Blu-ray Disc line to 13 models offering a broad set of performance and features.

The Blu-ray Disc MegaChanger models store and play 400 Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and CDs, allowing consumers to relocate their disc library to a convenient, easy-to-access location.

They also feature the ability to download information from Gracenote’s MusicID® and VideoIDâ„¢ products to organize movies and music. When a disc is inserted into the device, Gracenote technology automatically downloads information across an existing Internet broadband service and saves title, director, some cast information, release year, and genre information for most titles, allowing users to easily navigate the library intuitively through the player’s xross media barâ„¢ menu system.

“Think about all those great movie and music discs in your collection,” said Chris Fawcett, vice president for Sony Electronics’ home audio and video business. “Wouldn’t it be great to instantly play those movies or CDs — definitely gives a new meaning to the notion of a movie marathon!”

BDP-CX7000ES and BDP-CX960

Leading the MegaChanger line up is the BDP-CX7000ES which outputs full HD 1080/60p and 24p True Cinemaâ„¢. Designed to integrate with third-party automation control systems, the model features an RS232 connection and IR-in and is built to high-quality ES standards.

It offers exceptional audio quality with 7.1 channel analog output and superior video incorporating Sony’s HD Reality Enhancer and Super Bit Mapping technologies. The HD Reality Enhancer technology continually analyzes the original source bit by bit, sharpening edges and reproducing detail, while reducing the effects of film grain. Super Bit Mapping delivers smoother color gradation realizing true 14-bit equivalent color tone from 8-bit sources.

The model also upscales standard definition DVDs to 1080p through Sony’s Precision Cinema HD Upscale technology when connected to a 1080p display via HDMI.

Precision Cinema HD Upscale uses advanced conversion and processing to detect image changes at the pixel level, rather than the level of whole scan lines. Additionally, separate algorithms are used to process the moving and still parts of an image, resulting in sharp backgrounds with moving objects that are free from motion artifacts.

Complementing the BDP-CX7000ES, is the new BDP-CX960. This 400-disc MegaChanger also delivers full HD 1080/60p and 24p True Cinema output and Precision Cinema HD Upscale technology.

Both the BDP-CX7000ES and BDP-CX960 feature an Ethernet port for connectivity to a local home broadband network to download metadata from Gracenote, software updates and to access BD-Liveâ„¢ content. There is also an external port for local storage so users can add their USB flash storage device to support BD-Live content.

The models support 7.1 channel Dolby® TrueHD and Dolby® Digital Plus, DTS®-HD High Resolution Audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding as well as bit-stream output via HDMI. It is compatible with an array of video formats, including BD-ROM/R/RE (BDMV and BDAV modes), DVD-+ Video/R/RW, CD/R/RW, and MP3/JPEG on BD/DVD/CD recordable media and supports x.v.Color™ (xvYCC) technology. The BDP-CX7000ES also supports Deep Color via HDMI (v1.3).

The BDP-CX7000ES is available this August for about $1,900, while the BDP-CX960 will be available this fall for about $800.
BDP-S1000ES

The single-disc BDP-S1000ES Blu-ray Disc player bolsters the ES line adding built-in Wi-Fi® (802.11N/G/B/A) capability for easy BD-Live access. The model offers full HD 1080/60p and 24p True Cinemaâ„¢ and upscales standard definition DVDs to 1080p through Sony’s Precision Cinema HD Upscale technology.

The model can easily connect to the Internet through an existing wireless home network to download and stream BD-Live content from select titles including additional scenes, short subjects, trailers, interactive games, and more. It also enables easy firmware updates to assist in keeping your player up-to-date with the latest Blu-ray Disc media and features.

While compatible with most wireless routers, the BDP-S1000ES also supports Wi-Fi Protected Setupâ„¢, for a quick and easy connection to enabled wireless routers. Additionally, the player is Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) ready, allowing it to connect to other DLNA compliant devices to watch digital photos on your TV.

The model also incorporates Sony’s HD Reality Enhancer, Super Bit Mapping, and Precision Drive HD technology.

It supports Deep Color video output and x.v.Color technology. The player is compatible with an array of video formats, including BD-ROM/R/RE (BDMV and BDAV modes), DVD-+ Video/R/RW, CD/R/RW, and MP3/JPEG on BD/DVD/CD recordable media.

The model also is compatible with advanced audio codecs including 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS -HD Master Audio, and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio decoding and bit-stream output, as well as analog 7.1 channel output.

The BDP-S1000ES is available this August for about $700.

Models et al

I gotta say, iMovie HD is really nice for hacking together quick videos with pretty decent quality. I threw together this video for a friend real quick for NVR Strings. Oh darn, I get to look at girls in bikinis while editing video. Sad day for me. :(

The original video I output was full 1920×1080 high def, but here’s the YouTube version…

Send Media To Your Xbox 360 From Your Mac With Connect360

I’m not much of a gamer, but I did buy an Xbox 360 last summer. Anyway, I finally found the best use for it… “beaming” your media from your Mac to it (music, photos and movies). The only annoying thing is all the music you buy from the iTunes Music Store doesn’t work since it’s DRMed with Apple’s Fairplay stuff. And since that’s the only place I get music anymore, none of the new stuff I have will work. Oh well… still cool none-the-less…

http://www.nullriver.com/index/products/connect360

AT&T U-Verse Is Going To Be Rad

I was talking to the SBC/AT&T guys that installed the Internet connectivity at the job site today and having fiber to the door is going to have some really cool advantages early next year (right now they just run phone and 6Mbps Internet across it). At that point the “standard” Internet connectivity on it should be 20Mbps down/3Mbps up. But they were also talking about the U-Verse television service which more or less streams television on demand. They were saying you could be watching a football game for example and you could control which camera angle you want to watch the game from. :)

That’s going to be pretty dope!

No Sound With Flash

Dude, this issue has been bugging me for months on my Mac… A couple apps would never play any sound (most notably Macromedia Flash). Anyway, I finally was able to find the solution, so hopefully someone searching Google will find this post useful.

Go to Applications -> Utilities -> Apple MIDI Setup

Check the Audio Output Format (somehow mine was set to 96000.0 Hz) and set it to 48000.0 Hz (or lower).

So to celebrate that I have Flash audio again, I’m glad to present you with a newly released Denny “Blazen” Hazen video (the funny thing about this video is it’s actually 100x better than his previous ones)…

Sony Qualia 006 (KDS-70CQ006) Discontinued

Sony discontinued their entire Qualia line of high-end products. Okay… no biggie, but maybe they should come out with something to replace the products that are now gone. For example the Qualia 006 (KDS-70CQ006) was a 70″ rear projection TV with SXRD technology and it was freaking AWESOME. No seriously… AWESOME!

Sony now has 50″ and a 60″ SXRD rear projection TVs with the same picture quality (and true 1920×1080 1080p resolution), but I still think they should come out with a 70″ replacement.

Oh well… I guess I’ll look at maybe getting the 60″ (KDS-R60XBR1) for my new HDTV…

Regents Court (No HDTV)

I really want to upgrade to a high definition TV, but get this…

I live in the middle of one of the most technologically advanced cities in the United States (like I can get a T1 on a fiber connection to my place for around $100 including local loop charges) and I have 6Mbit DSL for around $30/month. But guess what? I can’t get any sort of HDTV signal for any price (except HD over the air).

My apartment building (Regents Court in San Diego) has an exclusive deal with SBC Home Entertainment so all apartments are wired for DirecTV (without the need for a dish for each unit). That means you don’t even have the option to get cable. Okay… whatever DirecTV isn’t so bad. But the DirecTV signal used for this building is not high definition.

OMG Sweet!!! (not)

I’ll probably still get a high definition TV, pick up local stations over the air (does anyone know if HDTV over the air is digital or is it still an analog signal subject to degradation?), and maybe get an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 so I can actually watch something (a game in this case) in high def.

So dumb…

Playing Apple DRM Music Outside of iTunes/iPod?

Does anyone have a solution for playing music purchase at the Apple Music Store outside of iTunes or an iPod?

I’m going to be having a central audio distribution system in my house, but I just realized that music I purchase from the Apple Music Store isn’t going to work on anything outside of iTunes/iPod… Lame!

Makes me want to buy old school CDs and rip them instead of buy music electronically.

“True” Video iPod Coming

The rumors have started about Apple releasing a “true” video iPod at the end of March or beginning of April. If the rumors are correct, they will go from a 2.5″ screen (on current iPod’s) to a 3.5″ screen and do away with the click-wheel, and instead use an on-screen touch-panel interface.

Think Secret can confirm recent rumblings that Apple is nearing completion of a completely revamped video iPod that will shed the ubiquitous mechanical click wheel for a touch screen and will sport a 3.5-inch diagonal display.

http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0602videoipod.html

Canon VB-C50i/R

I need to get a good pan/tilt/zoom camera for the site of the house construction (to automatically make a time lapse of the house being built and also just to see what’s going on at any given time).

I’ve done a little research on it, and so far the Canon is the best one (for the job) I can come up with… It has good zoom capability (26x optical + 12x digital for a total of 312x zoom), it has a built-in server (no need to connect it to a computer), you can schedule it to take pictures (at a pre-set pan/tilt/zoom) for the time lapsing, has a night mode with an infrared illuminator to see in the dark, etc.

So go test drive it over here, and tell me what you think:

http://www.nuspectra.com/vbcam/large.aspx

Or if you know of anything better, please let me know…

Downloadable Conditional Access System (DCAS)

There has been a bunch of hoopla lately about CableCARDs finally coming to market this summer, so I decided to read about it a little more…

The CableCARD system basically lets you insert a PCMCIA card into your TV and then you don’t need a digital cable box to receive high definition signals. The CableCARDs are going to let things like digital video recorders work for high-def signals (TiVO, Windows Media Center, etc.) Anyway, after poking around the web on it, I realized that the whole CableCARD system is already obsolete and it hasn’t even been released yet. CableCARD 2.0 is going to follow about a a year later which will allow bi-directional data (you will have to wait for 2.0 for things like Pay Per View). But the really lame part is existing CableCARD TVs aren’t going to work with 2.0 CableCARDs (so you already need to buy a new TV… even if you have one that supports CableCARDs).

Then probably a year after CableCARD 2.0, cable companies are going to start switching to Downloadable Conditional Access Systems (DCAS). This will be much better than CableCARD (even 2.0) because it’s essentially a CableCARD that is downloaded automatically from your provider (no need to rent a CableCARD for each TV then).

I can’t imagine anyone reading this actually cares about any of this… but I don’t care. It’s more for my own archive purposes so I can look it up later, so piss off! :)

If you *do* actually care, here’s some reading for you…

http://arstechnica.com/guides/other/cablecard.ars

Apple’s “TiVo Killer”

Look, I’m psychic (again)… “Hopefully that’s Front Row 2.0…” Funny :)

Quote:
“Apple’s Mac mini will be reborn as the digital hub centerpiece it was originally conceived to be, Think Secret sources have disclosed. The new Mac mini project, code-named Kaleidoscope, will feature an Intel processor and include both Front Row 2.0 and TiVo-like DVR functionality.”

Read the whole article over here.

Download Movies

Speaking of downloading movies, I wish Apple would hurry up and deploy a full blown Apple Movie Store (they obviously have the ability to do video with the iPod Video and their ability to sell TV shows). If they sold DVDs you could download for $10, it would be the end of retail DVDs and DVD rentals (not unlike what the Apple Music Store did to CDs).

As it is, I never rent DVDs (I always buy) because I’m too lazy to make two trips to Blockbuster.

Quote:
On a conference call with analysts last week, Steve Jobs, who serves as chief executive for both Apple and Pixar, acknowledged that it still takes too long to download feature-length films over the Internet.

Too long to download? That’s the only holdup? Gay.

By my calculations, if they used their H.264 compression algorithm, it would take about 20 minutes to download a full length movie. That’s not too bad if you ask me.

The Google Car Stereo

Google wants to be the center of the information universe, so how long do you think it will be before they make a car stereo (which is much more than a standard car stereo of course)?

It can be done now if you want to hack it together, but it would be nice if it was an “all in one” setup. For example, you could take this car stereo (which is really a full blown computer). Add a USB Bluetooth adapter to it and you could use your cell phone as an Internet gateway wirelessly (you can still make/receive calls while using it as an Internet gateway). Higher speed cell phone Internet access in the coming months is only going to make this more attractive.

This would pretty much make all existing navigation systems outdated because map and navigation data would be fed in realtime (based on Google Maps/Earth), and it would be trivial for Google to add live traffic data to Google Maps (not sure why they haven’t already done it). That could also put the XM NavTraffic service out of business (at least heavily cut into it).

Google’s already doing a “mini” navigation system for people with GPS enabled cell phones with their Google Mobile application.

Besides all that stuff, you could stream Internet radio stations, pull up music via iTunes, access your iPod, or anything else a normal computer with Internet access could do.

If someone at Google reads this, and decides to make it their “20% free time project” (this would be my project if I worked at Google), I want one when you are done! heh

MP3 Ringtones

Why do people pay $2 or $3 for a cellphone ringtone of a song? I don’t get it because most cellphones these days lets you just use an MP3 as a ringtone. Get a freeware/shareware application that lets you cut a certain part of a ringtone (no point in having a 5 minute ringtone) as well as down-sample the bitrate to make it smaller, and viola! You can make your own ringtones with music you already own. Or if you don’t own it, you can buy it for $0.99 from the Apple music store (cheaper than a ringtone and you get the full MP3).

I’m a Mac user, so I use Amadeus II for the task.

My 30″ Monitor Is Here

Okay, this kind of sucks… I now have the most bad ass computer monitor you can get sitting in my office (a 30″ Apple Ciniema HD), but I have no computer I can actually USE it with. hahaha

I ordered a new computer specifically for the monitor (the monitor was a gift/bonus), but I’m not going to be getting the new computer for about 3 weeks. This sucks… I’m now a kid not being able to play with my new toy. :)

Here’s a picture of it (CD jewel case to show scale)…

Apple Media Center

The best thing about Windows is Windows Media Center, and it’s not as good as it could be (it lacks the ability to record HDTV). Apple really needs to come out with the TV recording solution I think, and it could be huge if they were to beat Microsoft to market with a HDTV recorder.

Hopefully {crossing fingers} that is the direction Apple is moving. Apple just came out with Front Row, which lets you control music, movies, pictures, etc. on your TV from a remote. But it lacks TV recording still.

Hopefully that’s Front Row 2.0…

Video iPod

After rumors have been swirling the last few weeks about Apple releasing an iPod that can do video, it’s official now. They have a 30GB and 60GB iPod with a slightly larger screen that is capable of doing video (realtime decoding of MPEG4 and H.264 with 260,000 colors). Pricing doesn’t change ($299 and $399). It’s also 31% thinner than the previous model it’s replacing.

It also comes in black like the Nano. I’m tempted to throw away my existing 60GB iPod Photo and get one of the black 60GB Video iPods…

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)

If you are buying an HDTV anytime soon, make sure it has at least one HDMI connector on it. It’s pretty much the new standard for connecting audio/video (and soon computers) together. It’s built upon the older DVI interface, but it adds digital content protection for the content owners (keep the studios happy) and also carries audio on the single cable (DVI does not). The lack of content protection on the current HDTV signals is the main reason there are no realistic options for HDTV DVRs yet (see previous entry).

Another nice thing is it’s backwardly compatible with DVI (also Type B HDMI is backwardly compatible with dual link DVI connections).

You can also get equipment to carry DVI/HDMI signals over fiber optic cable, so if your connected equipment is more than 25 feet or so apart, that is the way to go.

Now for my complaint (heh)… What would be really nice is if they just do away with the physical DVI/HDMI connector, and go straight to fiber optic and basically putting the DVI/HDMI <-> fiber optic equipment inside the TV, cable box (row whatever else you are connecting).

HDTV DVR

How come there isn’t any good options for a high definition digital video recorder? TiVo doesn’t have one, Windows Media Center can’t do it, etc. The only one I’ve run across (that didn’t end up being some home brew Linux setup) is the one built into some of Mitsubishi’s high-end TVs.

Weird.

iPod Nano

If nothing else, Apple really does come up with cool ideas. They came up with the iPod, and seem to come with with something completely new as far as iPods go just about the time the competitors are getting around to copying their previous idea.


Anyway, today Apple did away with the iPod Mini model, and replaced it with the iPod Nano. This thing is so cool and tiny I keep thinking it’s an April Fool’s joke or something. :) Compared to the Mini, it got a smaller (but higher resolution) color screen, support for photos, dropped the internal hard drive and went with 100% flash memory, the whole thing is barely bigger than the iPod Shuffle (which is cool too).

CES Show Brings New Car Audio Stuff

I was waiting for this year’s CES show to see what is available for a car stereo/navigation system for my new car.

It looks like there are some cool new things this year…

Realtime Traffic Map

Alpine and Pioneer have navigation systems that overlay realtime traffic data on your navigation map (data includes traffic speeds, accidents, etc.) and can automatically re-route you for the fastest path though it all. The traffic feeds come from satellite via XM Radio’s NavTraffic system. This is something I wanted, in fact I blogged about it a few months ago.

Alpine Finally Updates Navigation System

It’s finally touch screen compatible. As you can see here, their current navigation system requires a remote. Was totally stupid if you ask me.

Eclipse Updates Their Navigation System

I really like the form-factor of the Eclipse decks because it’s a double-DIN unit (the others are single DIN with a motorized monitor that pops out). It has a built-in 30GB hard drive with the navigation data taking 10GB of space. Which means you get 20GB to store your music. Unfortunately they don’t support XM radio, have an iPod interface or support the realtime traffic data.

Pioneer Gets iPod Adapter

Pioneer’s rumored iPod adapter arrived. Now Alpine and Pioneer both have one. It would be cool if they supported the ability to display cover art on the main deck.

Now, there are two things I want to know…

1. Why in the hell doesn’t Alpine or Pioneer come out with a double-DIN sized deck?

2. Why doesn’t anyone come out with a bluetooth phone control unit?

Pioneer iPod Adapter

It looks like Pioneer might be following Alpine’s lead and making an iPod adapter for their car stereos. I couldn’t find any info about it anywhere, but if you look close at the AVIC-N1 specs on Pioneer’s website, it has a little note saying it’s “iPod Adapter Ready”. Hmmm… interesting.

After-Market Car Audio Shortcomings

My perfect system would be this:

  • Double DIN touch-screen controller

  • Video out (to drive monitors in rear headrests)

  • Navigation system that can be controlled from the touch-screen
It doesn’t seem like a terribly tall order, but I don’t think I have any options. Some stuff is close, but nothing is “complete”.

Can’t someone combine all the good stuff into one system? :)

Alpine Touch Screen Compatible Navigation

I poked around a little bit, and found out Alpine has a touch-screen compatible navigation system after all (NVE-N099P), which is the one piece missing from the setup I want. The only problem is that it’s only available in Europe and comes with road maps of Europe. I can’t find any dimension specs for it, but from the picture, it looks like it has a much lower profile than the old units, which would be really nice.

While this does me no good, maybe it’s a sign that they will be bringing it to the US market soon.

Replacing Hummer 2 Stereo

The issues I have with the factory stereo in the 2005 H2 really bothers me enough that the the first thing I would do with the truck (assuming I get one) will be replace the factory stereo.

I did a little research, and so far, the best option I can find is an Alpine based system, but it has some “issues” of it’s own.


IVA-300 Deck

For starters, I like the IVA-D300 DVD receiver with 7″ monitor. In some ways, the IVA-D901 is a better one (it has higher resolution on the screen and has 2 independent video out options instead of just one), but it also has some things that are nicer (specifically the PulseTouch and DVD direct-touch features). If a Hummer 2 actually had room to mount an Xbox, the IVA-D901 might be a better option if you had 2 LCDs in the back (one person could watch a movie and one could play a video game independently).

The system has an input for a backup camera if you want (the monitor automatically switches to it when you put the vehicle in reverse). Might not be a bad idea with such a large truck. It also has a generic A/V input which you could use for an Xbox (if there was room) or to playback video on a camcorder or something.


KCA-420i iPod Interface

I don’t really care for CD changers in the car, because I’m too lazy to actually change the discs, so I just end up with 6 CDs that I listen to forever. The KCA-420i is a nifty Alpine module that is a true iPod bridge (you can control everything from the touch-screen). This is much better than the iPod <-> BMW bridge since you are limited because it simply tricks the factory stereo into thinking the iPod is a CD changer. The Alpine option actually lets you browse by Artist, playlist, genre, etc. just like the normal iPod interface. This isn’t out yet, but is supposed to be out next month.


Metra VT-GMOS-02 Bus Interface

An interface bus to hook up the Hummer 2 electronics to the after market system. This allows the door chime, ONSTAR and audible safety warnings to continue functioning. It also allows you to utilize the Bose amplified speaker system that is already in the vehicle.


PAC SWI-X Steering Wheel Interface

This nifty little interface allows you to retain the steering wheel functions for the stereo for an after market stereo. One nice thing is that since it really just turns the steering wheel controls into an infrared remote, you could reprogram any of the steering wheel buttons to do other things if you want.


Vizualogic Video Headrests

This makes it easy. The screens are built into the headrests (the factory headrests and simply replaced with ones to match). The only problem with this is black leather is new for 2005 in the Hummer, and Vizualogic doesn’t yet have a replacement for the black interior (that I could find at least). But I’m sure they will be coming out with it shortly.


NVE-N852A Navigation

Now this is where things go terribly wrong with this setup. The in-dash monitor has nice touch-screen controls, but the navigation system is not touch-screen compatible. That means you can see the navigation on the monitor, but you actually have to control the navigation from a separate hand-held remote. This part makes the navigation system useless in my opinion (the nav system came out before the touch-screen systems). I’m *hoping* Alpine updates their navigation offering and comes out with one that is touch-screen compatible (I can only assume they would). So for me, the whole system is on hold until that happens.

The other problem is trying to “hide” all this equipment within the Hummer somewhere. I looked under the seat of a Hummer 2 at the dealer, and it didn’t look like the equipment would fit under the seat. The above setup would have 3 boxes that would need to hide away (one each for the deck, navigation and iPod bridge). Maybe some will fit behind the dashboard or something.

2005 Hummer 2 Factory Stereo Options

Did a little research on the stereo options for the Hummer 2 today. New for 2005 is the option for a touch-screen navigation system. Sounds cool, but check this out…

  • If you get the navigation system, you can’t have the CD changer.
  • The DVD that holds the maps goes in the normal CD/DVD slot on the main stereo.
  • That means that if you want to actually *use* the navigation system, there is no option to listen to a CD. Now that just seems idiotic to me.