Ways to View/Listen to Media at Home

For the past year, I’ve been playing around with different methods of playing video, pictures and music in the living room.  I’ve got a Samsung LCD TV and home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) setup.  The DVD player/amplifier of the HTIB allows me to connect other devices to it, so I originally got my video game machines and a 2nd DVD player (purchased in MCS to play “deebeedees”) hooked up to it.

The Samsung DVD Player can play DivX/XviD files, so it can read these files via a burned DVD or through a USB thumbdrive.  This became my main method of watching shows, though it did have some quirks.  For some reason, if you pause a video and leave it paused for more than 2 minutes (my estimate), the video would stop.  You’d then have to restart the video from the beginning and fast forward to the part you left off.  This became quite annoying after a while.

The MCS DVD player also can play DivX/Xvid files, and also had the option to use either a DVD or a USB thumbdrive.  However, the interface was quite clunky — it would arrange files by alphabetical order, and can only support a few characters, which meant it would abbreviate long file names.

A few months ago, Microsoft and Sony updated the firmware of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 respectively, so now both boxes can play DivX/XviD files, again either through a burned DVD or thumbdrive, but now with the added option of network streaming!

Yes, this means you can really geek out and setup your PC/laptop as a media server, and you can stream video, pictures, and music using your home network. The main advantage of this is that you don’t have to wait for your computer to finish burning a DVD or copying files to a thumbdrive.  The disadvantage is you’ll have to leave your computer on for the duration you’re viewing/listening to your media.

I’ve had decent performance from my home network, which basically consists of a Wifi-G router.  However, every now and then I experience lag while streaming — I’m not sure if it’s because of signal interference, or if it’s time to upgrade to a Wifi-N network.  🙂

So what’s the point to all of this?  It’s a pretty cool time to geek out if you’re a computer geek or home theater geek; the problem still remains though that these viewing options are still over the head of your casual consumer.  Bottom line, if your mom doesn’t know how to use any of these viewing options, then the technology (and user friendliness) still has a way to go.  But I think it won’t be too long before we’ll get mass acceptance of this technology, and then we’ll really have some fun!  🙂

What a Difference a Year Makes

Just a quick post.  It’s been over a year since I last posted, and there have been significant changes in the HDTV market that it’s worth mentioning here.

Here are the most interesting tidbits:

  • 32-inch LCD screens are almost the same price as the US.  (Average price is PhP30,000 = $800; though if you factor in shipping and taxes, it comes out the same, I think)
  • Blu-ray won.  Though Blu-ray content is still not available in your average music/video store.  And those fake ones from your suking tiangge don’t count.
  • If you do want Blu-ray, the PS3 is still the cheapest Blu-ray player around.  The problem is, you still have to deal with region coding for your movie content.
  • 1080p upscaling DVD players are available, average price PhP5,500.  And you can choose either branded players (like Philips and the like), or the China-made players (like Next Base).
  • HDMI cables are available at CDR King for about PhP300 for 2 meters.  (On a side note, I don’t know how CDR King gets such cheap prices!)

So keep these things in mind when buying stuff for your home theater system.  That’s assuming that you still have disposable income for luxuries because of the oil crisis, of course.  🙂

Hong Kong Musings

Shopping in HKOn a recent trip to Hong Kong, I went about my usual agenda — namely, eating and gadget shopping. 🙂

One of my regular stops in Hong Kong is the Golden Computer Centre in the Sham Shui Po area. For the uninitiated, this is one of the meccas for anyone who is into computers, gadgets, cameras, and video games. It can be a daunting place for first-time shoppers, because not only does the place feel like a larger, more-cramped Greenhills/MCS, but you’re never certain the shopkeeper you talk to can speak English!

It helps a lot if you’re an experienced technology shopper, and you’ve done your homework. You can recognize the different gadgets strewn about, despite the Chinese-only descriptions. You’ll find deals that will save you hundreds or thousands of pesos, or gadgets that are very hard to find in the Philippine market. Continue reading “Hong Kong Musings”

Change is Good

The next year is sure to have a ton of changes for me, both personally and professionally.  So it seems only apt that Yuloland goes through some changes, too!  Check back to see the changes I’ll make.  🙂