Category Archives: Television

List of TV Stations that May Not Be Allowed to Switch Early-on February 17

Don't let your TV go blank!

Don't let your TV go blank!

A few days ago I posted a list of TV stations that had applied to turn off their analog signals on February 17th. In some areas, all the major network affiliates requested early shut off. This could leave people who live in those areas and are not yet prepared–by subscribing to cable, satellite or with an antenna plus DTV or an antenna plus converter box– without any national news.

If these stations want to make the change on February 17th, they must certify that they will take extra steps to ensure that their viewers won’t be left in the dark. Here is the FCC document explaining what they steps a station must take.

Check out the updated list...TV stations that want to make the early switch that are in the cities that are highlighted in blue on my chart, may have to certify that they have reached out to their community. Also, they may have to continue to broadcast analog signals for another month regardless.

Here’s a great article with more detail and explanation from television broadcast dot com.

HAVE AN EXTRA COUPON? NEED A COUPON? Retrevo.com has set up an unofficial program to share extra $40 converter box coupons with those that need them (There’s a waiting list) So, if you have an extra…help someone out.

3D TV is a Reality

3D Chuck GlassesI attended CES 2009 in Las Vegas at the beginning of January and reported that 3D TV was everywhere. Today’s Superbowl commercials for “Monsters and Aliens” illustrated my point. We were at a Superbowl party where we had the 3D glasses to watch the Superbowl commercials for the Disney/Dreamworks film and for Sobe drinks. Sitting close to the Sony 60 inch DLP HDTV, wearing our paper 3D glasses, objects popped out of the TV and came at us. The picture of the 3D glasses floated in mid air and the paddle ball came straight at us. Papers floated into the room from the screen. Yes, this was real 3D on our TV. We hooted and hollered. Some of the people at the back of the room sitting high up on director’s chairs did not get the same affect, but we in the front were hooked in.

Tomorrow night, on NBC, “Chuck” will show in 3D, and I’ll be there to see how the effects appear with live-action TV. I will be researching the number of technologies of 3D TVs and reporting on them in the future. WATCH 3D “CHUCK” PREVIEW

Here’s another viewpoint and the videos.

Great info on HDMI

I was at a client’s house the other day working with the local Dish Satellite installer. He was using component cables and I asked him why. He said that he knew that HDMI cables were better but they were so expensive. I mentioned what I always hear…there’s inexpensive cables that people say don’t make a difference (I was being the devil’s advocate here because I’m aware of the differences). He said, “Those cables are junk. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve failed after a couple of months and I’ve had to go out and replace them. It costs me money. The only way to do it right is to get a cable that costs well over $30, and I can’t afford that so I’ll just hook it up with component cable…at least they’ll get HD.” This is a busy installer…there is a difference.
If you want to know details of this difference, Clint DeBoer wrote an amazing informative blog that is very complete and one of the most thorough pieces I’ve EVER seen on HDMI.

Why you should buy real Media Furniture

Dedicated audio video home theater furniture is definitely the way to go. Whether you are about to buy a TV stand, a media center shelving system or a media cabinet. I know this. But when a small, locally owned furniture store was having a blow-out sale, I saw a lovely mission style cabinet. Made of Oak and 1/3 the price. I had some friends help bring it in. Getting a heavy oak piece upstairs is a struggle, but that was the easy part!

I offer my day from hell below, but here’s the brief: Buy furniture built for AV home theater
1) The backs usually can be removed and replaced by sliding into place or with removable screws. 2) There are often built in cable management to hold the cables neatly and shelves with holes to run cables. 3) A good one will have a small light on the back that can be turned on to illuminate the connections on the backs of your components. 4) It will have an internal fan to keep components (particularly an AV receiver) running cooler by circulating air, thereby giving it a longer life. 5) The cabinets will give room to move the components around, and maybe even a larger area dedicated to a large center speaker.

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT The picture below is from Salamander Designs. Note that they can come with special accessories, like fans, removable backs, TV mounts, etc.

Home Theater Cabinet by Salamander Designs
Salamander design Media Cabinet back
The one I bought was deceiving. It came with a piece of speaker cover material that could replace one of the glass doors (so you could put the center channel speaker inside and hear it)…that seemed like they knew a little about what they were doing. And it seemed like the cabinets were 17 inches wide.

If you’re not convinced of the value of media furniture (it can run well over $1,000 or $2,000), read on…

First, there was only one set of holes in each of the cabinet sections. The holes were toward the top. And the shelves had no hole through them. So how was I to plug in the component below the shelf? My neighbors (and saviors) rescued me with a hole saw. We could drill another hole in the back. But then, one component is an AV receiver. All of the cables were not going to fit through one hole. He drilled 3 in that plywood back. And another component was a a/v power conditioner power center (it cleans up any noise on my audio and gives me more detail in my video), that has something like 12 outlets on the back. I needed some extra holes for that one too. It was plywood, and easy enough to drill a hole through.

Then came the real nightmare…I had measured a couple of times to be sure that the cabinets were more than 17 inches wide (the typical width of an AV component –from satellite boxes to DVD players to AV receivers). It was 18 inches.

So, I try to put in the AV receiver in the center. I have to tilt it because the lip for the door makes it narrower than 17 inches. And it won’t go down. It’s VERY heavy. It’s wedged. Let the obscenities fly! Turns out the center cabinet is just a tad narrower. I put it in one of the side cabinets and after maneuvering that back-breaking receiver, it CLUNKED down into place (can’t be good for it). When I tried with the power stabilizer (a 75 pound device) I was afraid that it would break my hand or foot when it dropped. The only hope…remove the plywood back.

Here’s where the problem comes in and my advice:Buy media furniture with easily removable backs! It will not only help you to hook things up, it’s also possible if you need to slide in a component from the back because the door in front is too narrow. Removing the plywood back was the biggest nightmare…It was stapled on! My neighbors, who again came to save me, counted 178 staples on just one cabinet section. It took chisels, a crow bar, wire cutters and a hammer to get that thing off!

Luckily the component slid right in from the back.

After much contortion, crawling, labeling, etc. My home theater looks nice. It could look just as nice with a cabinet by Salmander, Bell-O or BDI. But it would be a piece of furniture that was much better suited to the purpose.

Note–It took me a week to post this. Since then, I’ve had to make some additions and changes to my hookup. Oh how I long for removable backs. (It would save MY back from breaking!)

More on Why to Use Quality HDMI Cables

I keep harping on why to use quality HDMI cables. It’s because there is so much information on the web to the contrary and very little of it talks about real life experience. Working on consumer education with Monster Cable, and watching the testing, I am never disappointed at the verified quality of the cables. And quality is important to me. Again, if I’m spending money for better quality in a TV, I want it to perform at its best.
Cheap HDMI cable FailingHDMI cable failed one day!
So, the HDTV LCD in my bedroom didn’t have near the quality of the other HDTVs in my house (yes, I have a few…I need them for testing). Then one day I turned it on and there was this weird solarizing effect. I didn’t touch it and it just appeared one day. A friend of mine had pictures like these too and I wondered if they were real. Well, they are. The cable just failed. Now I had to crawl around and replace it, and luckily I had a Monster cable to hook up. Night and day difference. So, that’s what the HD picture is supposed to look like! Using the cheap cable, I hadn’t even noticed that the TV could look better. Test all you want, it’s how the cable performs over time in my home that counts! And this is the second time that I’ve had a cheap cable fail (the other was installed by the Satellite company and it stopped working completely after less than a year).

Monster HDMI –all betterMuch better with a Monster HDMI
Lately I’ve been thinking about cables like car tires. When I go to buy new tires, the salesperson goes on about radials and tread patterns and lots of stuff that I don’t care much about. It’s when I hear the word “performance” that I listen. I have a decent car and live in the mountains so I want good handling. I’m not going to buy the cheapest tires, I want ones that will last, be backed by a reputable manufacturer and allow my car to handle to the best of its ability. And I know I wouldn’t buy the cheapest tires if I were to have a high performance car. The difference between cables and tires is that the price difference on quality tires is several HUNDRED dollars. The price difference for quality cables is at most a hundred dollars, and more likely only $50.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to rip my system apart to replace a cable that has stopped working, or worse, not realize that the quality has diminished and just complain that my TV isn’t looking so good.

I’m going to get it right the first time. And Monster has the Cable For Life, HDMI cable where I know I’ll never have to spend another dime for an HDMI cable if I get new equipment. Learn more about HDMI at the Monster HDMI learning Center .

The Future of Plasma TV–Project Kuro– Video as Poetry

Project Kuro was my pick for the most awe-inspiring video innovation at this year’s CES. Pioneer came out with their new line of plasma TVs that were completely re-engineered this past year called “Kuro.” At CES 2008, they unveiled their future concept plasma in a screening room. (Showing off what their technology can do, sort of like a concept car.) It’s so flat (thinner than an iPhone) Project Kuro Side Viewthat it practically disappears when you try to take a picture from the side. Still it’s style is commonplace among the LCDs that were shown and it’s form is the least of its impressive traits.

Pioneer demo’d the new prototype called “Project Kuro” in a small black screening room. In pitch-black darkness, they pulled back the curtains, and showed scenes on 3 screens. One on the left wall, one on the right and another in front of us, but to the left. I thought it odd that it wasn’t centered in front of us. They showed us beautiful video of cinematographers and other filmmakers talking about the importance of picture quality. Then it faded out. A white ring on a black background appeared on the screens. Then I noticed that there was another twirling ring to the right of the front TV. But it was just a twisting, twirling ring. It seemed to float in space. As the two rings danced in front of me, the one on the TV to the left and the one in space, my brain made the connection… There was another TV to the right of the one we had been watching. You could hear everyone in the room GASP!

NO WAY! Wait a minute. This floating ring was the demonstration of the new Project Kuro TV. The black in the picture that surrounded the object disappeared into the darkness. The TV emitted NO LIGHT from the black pixels so only the colors appeared before our eyes, making the object appear to float in space. Next came a floating, velvet red rose, fish swimming in the blackness in front of me, and other flowers. Try as I might, though I couldn’t have been more than 8 feet from this TV, I could not see the bezel (frame) of the TV nor any of the black screen. And the Blu Ray Disc footage was just as stunning–3 dimensional.

This black was like velvet, smooth, seamless. Watching the Project Kuro, I got tears in my eyes–as I do when looking at any thing of beauty. Other reporters described the hair standing up on their neck. This was not just a good picture…it was poetry.

In case you wonder how this is possible…it is all about self-emitting plasma cells. That is, rather than a cell creating the color “black,” when the cell gets the information to be black, it lets out no light at all. And in total darkness, those black plasma cells slip into the background. “>Here are the best pictures I could find that illustrates the difference between the current Kuro and Project Kuro.

I can’t stop reliving the awe of the Project Kuro and can’t wait until it is available. Another thought strikes me however. I think of people who discuss using inexpensive HDMI cables to save money. When I get a TV like this, I can’t imagine trying to save $50 or so and risk not getting all of that amazing picture (after all the picture has to come from a source). And it’ll be good to pair it up with the best Blu-ray Disc player I’ll be able to find at the time!

Luckily as time passes, I am able to go back to watching my Panasonic Plasma and enjoying its beauty for now.

150 Inch Plasma – Now that’s bigger! News from CES Keynote

Just got out of the the CES 2008 keynote address where Panasonic chairman Toshishiro
Sakamo talked about their newest and future technologies. I was so awestruck by the 150 inch plasma flat panel that I had to upload a picture. Pansonic sold 3,000 103 inch TVs in 2007. More than anyone expected.

While this 150 inch plasma will begin as a commercial panel. With 2k by 4k resolution (that’s 2,000 by 4,000 pixels or 4 times the resolution of current high definition– this is a common digital cinema format). So basically, it’s a huge tv that looks beyone amazing. Mind blowing.
Check out the 150 inch plasma picture
Would you ever want this in your home…well, I’m sure there are those who will. True home cinema that is 11 feet wide. (or like nine 50 inch plasmas side-by-side). The technology that makes quality big screen plasmas available are only certain to trickle down to better technology in smaller screens.

Ah, the search for bigger is better. I’m pretty sure that it’s a bit too big for my 14 x 20 living room!

Will write later with more innovations from CES 2008. And on wednesday jan 10, I’ll write about the simple technologies I’m seeing. Lots of people call things simple but are they?