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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

I love my new widescreen HDTV

I spent a bit of time over the holiday weekend fiddling around with my new widescreen HDTV — it’s this one, if you’re really interested — and now I’m officially in high-def heaven.

See, I’ve got supergenerous readers. David C. sent me a box of cables good for hooking up HD goodies, and my friend Gail, of A Million Things That Bug Me, actually gave me, free for nuthin’, an upconverting Sony DVD player. (Gail’s a step or two beyond me in the tech-toys upgrading game, so she’s got stuff sitting around waiting to be hand-me-downed, just like I’ve now got stuff I’ll be hand-me-downing to another friend.)

So big, big thank-yous to David and Gail.
Ooo, and I bought me an HDMI cable.

And last night I watched some of Children of Men in upconverted 1080p, and it was a glorious thing. *sigh*

I expect to ascend to higher levels of HD heaven when I finally trade in my regular ol’ DVR/cable box for the high-def version — I’m holding off doing that while I plow through all those Monday-night Enterprises I TiVoed, as well as some of the other stuff that’s still sitting on the hard drive. I decided to hang on to the non-HD box for a while yet because the non-HD image on the new TV isn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. The image is pretty fuzzy if I sit up close to the TV, but back across the room, where I sit at the laptop, it’s pretty decent.

Oh, and I also stopped into the funky Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and picked up some little doodads that will let me connect the iBook to the TV — more HD heaven — so I can watch all those episodes of Torchwood and the second season of David Tennant’s Doctor Who I’ve downloaded without having to burn DVDs.

Oops! Did I say “downloaded”? No, no, I didn’t. I wouldn’t do such a thing…

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  • I’m just so impressed you can stand to watch David Tennant and his overacting eyebrows. I watched, and largely enjoyed, the Christopher Eccleston episodes, but I can’t take Tennant’s rampant facial tics.

    And HD-TVs really do make a difference, even to the normal TV picture. I’m not sold on the whole Blue-Ray/HD-DVD thing yet, but I’ll ponder whichever one eventually wins out.

  • MaryAnn, don’t forget that several sci-fi series are aired in HD on a couple of the HD channels, namely:

    Universal HD: Battlestar Galactica, Stargate: Atlantis, Firefly

    HDNet: Enterprise

    Also, HDNet Movies shows some pretty good movies in HD, including stuff like Blade Runner. It’s definitely worth upgrading to an HD DVR from your cable company.

    If you already had an Xbox 360, getting the HD-DVD add-on for it ($199) would be a no-brainer. I’ve got about 15 or so movies on HD-DVD now (including the Matrix series last week, Children of Men last month, and Lost in Translation tomorrow… awesome Tokyo HD scenes!). Since it sounds like you don’t, it’s probably best to hold off until later this year when combo HD-DVD/Blu-ray players become more affordable.

  • MaryAnn

    I adore David Tennant, eyebrows and all.

    I’ll have to wait and see what HD channels I get from my cable company — it doesn’t have the best channel selection, so I’m not holding my breath.

    And no, I don’t have an Xbox. I don’t have time to play games… :-(

  • Phil Urich

    Last I heard the Xbox360 HD-DVD player was still the cheapest on the market; of course it’s meant, as mentioned above, to be used with its gaming console, but plug it in to a computer and you’re set. (It’s also the tool many are using to crack AACS, in case ya hadn’t heard).

    Hmm, but I don’t know if there are any drivers for OSes other than Windows (which has prevented me from purchasing it myself), so it might not work for ya . . . but if someone’s figured it out by now, that iBook could be a gateway for “legal” content too! (I add the quotes because I don’t really buy into the illegality of downloads that cannot actually be purchased).

    But hey, welcome to the world of High Definition! Techy-geek that I am I’ve been watching TV on computer monitors for years, but I do still appreciate the difference it makes ;)

    As for Tennant, it’s always the really toothy grin that stands out for me, but hey, it’s all endearing. Unless one is taking Doctor Who seriously, and really why on earth would one do that?

  • MaryAnn

    I like to keep my computer mostly for working, not playing DVDs. I can’t work and watch DVDs at the same time if the computer is playing the DVDs…

  • David C

    Even though I do own an XBox 360, I have no intention of getting a high-def DVD player (and the requisite investment in actual high-def DVDs) until it’s clear which format will win and which will become a Betamax-like corpse. The difference between DVD and the high-def formats is significant, but not so compelling as to make me an early adopter.

    My cable company doesn’t carry *any* of the networks Clayj cites, but HBO-HD is great, and the Discovery and National Geographic HD channels are packed with “Use this to show off HDTV to your friends!” programming.

  • Initially, I too was hesitant to dip my toes into the pool of HD movies-on-disc until the Format War came to an end… but two things made me change my mind.

    The Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on is less than $200, so the investment in the player is minimal. And combo players, which handle both HD-DVD and Blu-ray, are available now. So, I’m OK with buying movies on HD-DVD now, since I will be buying a combo player at some point and I’ll still be able to play my HD-DVDs. (Yes, the purist in me would prefer to have a library of discs all in one format… and that format will probably eventually be Blu-ray given their studio support. But I can live with a mix as long as I can play them all.)

    Yes, HBO HD and Showtime HD are great, as is DiscoveryHD. If you’re into sports, the two ESPNs in HD are pretty cool. And of course it’s nice to get all of the traditional networks in HD. I also get MOJO (formerly known as INHD), which has some cool stuff. The only channel I don’t get right now that I really want (and TimeWarner stupidly doesn’t offer it here) is Cinemax HD.

  • MaryAnn

    The Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on is less than $200, so the investment in the player is minimal.

    Yeah, if you’ve already got an Xbox. I don’t.

    And, you know, obvious appearances aside, I am still a girl. I could buy a really cool pair of shoes with 200 bucks. :->

    I’m stunned by how gorgeous the image is via the upconverting DVD player with an HDMI cable. (What a HUGE difference between the HDMI and component cables. Huge. Worlds of difference. It’s aMAZing.) So I think I can manage until the format war finishes.

    Of course, we may all be in bread lines next year, with power only two hours a day, and then where will an HDMI cable get me? :->

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