Saturday, February 13, 2010

Visio SV472XVT Review.

We lost almost all our stuff with hurricane Ike,, and its taken some time to replace our livingroom/familyroom TV. We decided we wanted an LED/LCD TV. These sets promise to longer lasting with contrast comparable to the Plasma sets. We wanted big, and we wanted network capable.

We decided on the Visio SV472XVT Its 47 inch size was a trade off for us between availability and budget. and getting all the features we wanted. It turns out that the 47 inch size is plenty big enough for the room it is in These flat screens always seem smaller in the stores than they do at home. The Visio had Internet apps that included Netflix. They also claimed to have Facebook and Pandora apps.

When the set was initially turned on we were taken through a setup wizard. The process was easy and while it took a while for the set to scan and find all the channels on our cable system it was done all automatically.

We set the TV against a wall directly opposed to the our large glass double doors. We haven't replaced the blinds yet on it so there is a lot daylight shinning directly on the the TV. The TV holds up pretty well under all that reflective glare although noticible it is still quite watchable. The sound typically on Visio sets is quite good right out the box, this box is no exception, however,like most HDTVs this one will benefit with the addition of an external home theater sound system.

The picture on this thing is incredible. Blackest blacks bright and ever so sharp. The set does an very good job of standard 480sd analog stations too. We don't have a blue-ray for this yet, but Broadcast quality HD is oustanding and where the Visio really shines.
the "N" wireless Netflix streams in flawlessly even though the set is pretty far away from our router. We were disappointed though that Pandora wasn't included in the apps selection.

This set has it all, Network capable, zoned LED backlighting and Great picture, and Visio value.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Catching the Wave

I got an invite to google wave, was pretty excited about it, You can only tell so much about a program by reading about it. I swallowed my pride and begged an invite. I think I swore off Beta testing years ago, in fact I swore off them several times. The beauty of Wave though is that none of it has to reside on my my computer.

I played with it and discovered the mapping function. It didn't really work to well on my machine Ubunto Jaunty 9.04 . with Firefox 3.0 Oh well Google wave is intended for use in browsers using HTML 5.0 whatever that is. It was pretty clear that I needed to upgrade my Firefox. I have been getting impatient with my current build any way. I like the snapyness of the newer Firefox and really missed the sticky notes feature that OpenOffice 3.1 has. Only problem is that I had never tried t0 upgrade Ubuntu before. Yes, The Karmic Koala is also in Beta. Well the upgrade went flawlessly and I was now able to start playing with Google Wave.

The Wave has come a long way since the unveiling in May. The demo consisted of a few crashes in the sand box. While it sometimes moves a little slow I haven't seen any lockups or crashes. I still haven't run it through all its paces, and I am not sure if the upload/download documents works yet there is a lot of potential here. This might be considered a social site for grownups. We can chat on line, but all the time we are creating a document. It takes the strength of on line chatting, social web sites and email and combines it all into one. It works just as well in real time as email like off line communications and like email every wave is a document.

Wave still needs a little polishing and a lot more users, it doesn't become practical until it gets universal availability. While Google seems to be claiming that Wave is the beginning of the end for email may be overstated it very well could change the way we communicate.
Those with wave access go ahead and look me up. I'm Liberty on google wave also

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Netflix Notes

We lost most of our videos, ans DVDs in Hurricane Ike. Before we moved back home, Michelle was  looking for bargains to replace our lost goods, She did find a $25.00 DVD player at Walgreens. The Coby DVD 224, We figured it would do the job. We figure we will be getting a blue ray and a nice TV for the living room at set some point. We moved back home in June, got basic cable and of course Hi speed internet. We are watching our money pretty close these days, rebuilding/ refitting our house and the market crashes have really cut deeply into our disposable income. So we didn't get all the extra movie channels we were used to getting.

Our niece Vanessa and her hubby tobe came to visit last month and she presented me a gift. A quart sized ziplock with cables small wall wart and an electronic box called a Roku. She told me how nice Netflix is and we really need to get it. I was apreciative of the gift, but I didn't really understand what this kewl little box was.

I have heard about Netflix, and everyone who subscribes really seems to like it. The price is reasonable enough, less than $10 a month for movie rentals. Delivery is next day and we don't even have to front a stamp. Cheaper than Showtime or HBO. I started looking at this Roku thing a little closer.

Its a rather  unimpressive looking box. it is about the size of 4 of 5 CD cases stacked on top of each other. No buttons or switches. The only indicator is a small LED that flickers when the unit seems to be doing something. The back has assorted connections 5V @ 1.5 amps very lower power. Optical audio out. Component, and Composite video. HDMI and Ethernet I began to wonder what is behind this little box. I've seen garage door openers more complicated looking than this remote.

We signed up for NetFlix it was a fairly easy process and our 1st month is free. I selected some movies to instant view and a list for them to send DVDs as we viewed them. It all went pretty smoothly.

I then went to setup and configure the Ruku. My television has a free HDMI port, so it was just a single connection real easy. Powered it up. We configured it for my wireless WEP connection.  My TV resolution and It was ready to go.  Wow I already 278 films and series already loaded into the queue.But none of my own. We had Vanessa's old list! It was pretty simple to unsubscribe and resubscribe to our Netfix account.  We now can watch watch movies.  It all works by picking out what we to watch from the Netflix site from our PC it gets queued to our Netflix box and ready to select from a list. This is supposed to be just the extra service thrown in by Netflix to supplement their DVD service. 

We got our DVD the next day, and we set up the player, the very inexpensive Coby DVD-224. By comparison the DVD player was a lot more complex looking. It had 4 buttons and a drawer in the front, but the little  remote has 40 buttons, The Roku only has 9. While the DVD doesn't have either an RF output Jack or HDMI The Progressive scan output over the componant outputs provides a beautiful image over out HD TV.   The remote is a little confusing, but once the movie is started all is good.  and for $25.00  how can we go wrong.

All in all we are thrilled with Netflix, and it is a bargain for what we get. I am enjoying old TV series like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Kolchak, The Night Stalker as well as all more movies than we will ever have time to to watch. Every couple of days we get a new new hard copy of a DVD to watch. I think this Netflix thing with Roku is a keeper.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

A Drop Box in the Clouds

Sharing our stuff is sometimes one of he more difficult of the things we do. Email works well for small amounts of stuff, some times the stuff we want to share is simply with ourselves but across several computers. My address book needs to be in common with 2 home computers and 2 work computers. A fileserver, network drive, or even a Plug Computer work well under the same roof. A Drop Box works well whether one wants to publish their files out for public consumption, to share only with computers under ones own control, or to share files only with collaberators. There areother methods for syncing and sharing files but DropBox seems to have got it right. It performs 3 functions of sharing, publishing and syncing files between computers, it does so seamlessly. All that is required is to drop the files in a folder. within the folder There are folders for photos folders, for privacy and folders for sharing. Intuitive and simple. Best of all a 2 gig box is free.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Less is More

There seems to be a trend going on, folks are looking out close at their computing costs. We all understand that high speed and huge screens have their place in modern laptops. But do we all really need it. What are our real computing requirements? For most of us its surfing the web, running an email client and typing a document or maybe running a spreadsheet. We just don't need a $2000.00 machine running a Microsoft's latest excuse for an operating system, at a couple hundred dollars a machine. There is a great convergence, of economic recession, user sophistication on recognizing their needs. Newer cooler processors such as the atom, and the maturity of Linux in such distrobutions such as Ubunto, and the realization that programs such as Thunderbird and really do work as claimed.

Microsoft presented us with Vista an OS that that was writen to protect content providers rather than give the consumer something that was actually better than what they were used. The icing on the cake was when users discovered that so many of their old programs refused to run any more. Many users decided to continue using the less power hungry XP or bail out of the Microsoft borg and check out Linux systems. Ubunto provided a plethora of commonly needed apps, all in an easy to install CD and its all free.

The demand for large screens and higher speeds in portable laptops has taken away their portablility they have goten heavier and hotter. The traveller started finding them unwieldy and heavy. Today netbooks can provide what most folks really need. Net access and the abilty to run office software. Most net books run either XP or some flavor of Linux. and can be bought for under $400.oo This blog entry is being typed one an Acer Aspire One . It has a 9 inch screen 1 gig of RAM, 120 gig hard drive, and runs at 1.8 GHz . It is no power house, but it is suitable foor the job.

A New York Times article describes the market as such:

Meanwhile, more experimental but lower-cost technologies like netbooks, Internet-based software services (called cloud computing) and virtualization, which lets companies run more software on each physical server, are on the rise.

Penny-pinching shoppers like Mr. Title could have the most immediate effect on the tech industry, particularly if more people consider canceling their cable subscriptions to watch video online, or drop their landline telephones to depend on their cellphones or on Internet calling services like Skype.

Many consumers appear ready to abandon the costly desktop computer altogether. Analysts expect PC sales to fall in 2009 for just the second time in the last two decades, with desktops falling even faster than they did in 2007 or 2008.

The only bright spot in the PC industry is netbooks. Analysts at the Gartner research company said shipments rose to 4.4 million devices in the third quarter of 2008, from 500,000 units in the first quarter of last year. Analysts say sales could double this year despite a deep worldwide recession.

One of the criticisms of the little netbooks is that they don't have a lot of peripherals. My little machine does have a camera, 1 extended SDHC port, one multi card port (Mem stick SD XD, Flash ) but there is no CD DVD reader writer. At first the limitation might sem overwelming, but reality is that all the apps one really needs can be downloaded off the net. Music and movies ripped off the DVDs and store it on either SD drives or flash drives I find coppying to 8 gig SD media or or to flash drives is easier and faster and best of all reusable. They even fit into a pocket or on a keychain. Yeah I still use my desktop, and I will buy them again, I will be looking closely atLinux and will be looking closer at price than performance

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grand Torino

I got to see it last week, Clint at 78 years young is still the toughest man in Hollywood. Gre movie about being a man raised and lived from a time not so long ago.