Archive for April, 2007

Review of the Samsung LN-T5265F TFT-LCD Television.

April 30, 2007

Samsung LNT5265F 52-inch 1080p LCD HDTV

Holy freakin’ God, this television rocks! I cannot tell you. If God has a television, this is what he watches. It is bright and gorgeous. It’s completely riveting. I am probably going to die sooner than I should because I’m buying a bean bag chair and I’m going to plant myself in front of the television and watch movies and play games for the rest of my life.

It has 3 HDMI inputs and 2 component inputs. It also does s-video and cable and the rest of the lower res stuff. The money is in the HDMI, computer and component inputs. Right now, I’m using a component input for my cable box and I’m running my Xbox 360 through the PC input. It is with this setup that I’m able to get 1080p output and watch movies in 1080p on the Xbox HD DVD drive.

The brightness of this TV is amazing. It’s sitting in a room facing 4 5 ½ foot windows. The television is bright enough to watch in full daylight. Strangely enough, there is less glare than the CRT television this TV replaces. Also the viewing angles are incredible. I had originally planned on getting a Mitsubishi DLP. The viewing angle on a DLP is nothing like this. You can watch this TV from essentially the same viewing angles as you would with a conventional television.

On my set up, I use the optical audio output to send audio to an Onkyo surround sound system. Honestly, the first time I plugged in this television it brought a tear to my eye. Gaming is in a class by itself. The 360 does not disappoint. I can’t imagine going back to my PS2 after this. In fact, if there is one weakness, I did try running my PS2 on it and it looked terrible. My cable box upconverts so normal channels look ok.

I looked at every LCD Best Buy had to offer in picking this TV. The contenders were from Sharp and Sony. Still, the Samsung stood above them all and I obviously couldn’t be happier. As I’ve said before, it’s reawakened my interest in movies and games. I’m a lucky man indeed.

Gaming Weekend Part II.

April 29, 2007

I finished the remaining three games I rented on Friday.  I did take a little domestic heat for spending so much time playing games this weekend, despite it being scheduled activity.  Ah well.  I’m finished now.

Here’s my thoughts on the remaining games.

Kameo.  I am pleasantly surprised by this game.  I had seen it on display at CompUSA last year and messed around with it then, but I didn’t really focus on it.  In comparison to the other six games, it holds up well with terrific graphics and stimulating game play.  Along with Gun, I’m putting Kameo on my “buy” list.

The Battle for Middle Earth II.  This is my type of game, right?  It’s an RTS.  Having played 90% of the RTS games out there, I should be doing backflips for this one, except I’m not.  It’s not the game’s fault though.  It’s the platform’s fault.  Don’t get me wrong, I am rapidly becoming a 360 fanboy, it’s just that consoles are not the greatest platforms for RTS games.  These games need a mouse.  It’s that simple.  That being said, if I had a manual to look at the controls for this, I might enjoy it more.  I’m not giving up on this one yet.  It may make it to the buy list because the graphics are good and the units are cool looking.  I need more time with the game.  You can’t fault the LotR universe, it makes for an engrossing subplot.

Finally, Enchanted Arms kind of surprised me.  While I am an Anime fan, I’m no expert.  That being said, I know a bishonen game when I see one.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my thing.  When the first 30 minutes of the game is silly dialog, you’re going to lose me.  Apparently, if you can get past the first 45 minutes of the game, the rest of it is supposed to be good.  I can’t make it that far.  This is one of those RPGs that has the turn based combat that some people enjoy.  I think in the right environment, it’s ok, but I could care less about this story.  I think this game is supposed to be a Final Fantasy clone.  Meh, it’s not for me.

So that’s it.  I have to say that the Xbox 360 combined with my new HD TV has reinvigorated both my desire to play video games and my desire to watch movies.  It’s great stuff.  Next, I’m going to see how well it streams video off a computer.  More on that later…

Gaming Weekend Part I.

April 28, 2007

For the first time in many, many months, I’m carving out some big blocks of time to play video games.  Yesterday (Friday) I rented the following games for my Xbox 360:

Dead Rising
The Battle for Middle Earth II
Enchanted Arms

I have the games until Wednesday.  My plan is to blog about them and other gaming I do this weekend.

Last night, I played Crackdown, Dead Rising and Gun.  My impression of these games comes from a different place than a lot of gamers.  First, I’m old.  Second, historically, I’ve been an RTS gamer, not a FPS gamer.  Also, the place where I rented the games didn’t give me any manuals.

So Crackdown, despite being a runaway hit, didn’t do anything for me the first time playing it.  I got into the car and drove over some people.  I couldn’t really figure out what was going on in the game.  I think I need to read some on line material on this one  before I judge it completely, but it didn’t thrill me.

Dead Rising looked great as I started playing.  The graphics are very good.  Yet, once I got into the shopping mall and the old lady opened the doors to get her dog, I was toast.  Many game reviewers billed this game as something funny like Sean of the Dead.  I didn’t really get that vibe.  Also, I can’t stand time limit games.  I’m trying to escape from reality.  My life is a time limit game.  So even though I clearly wasn’t getting the full experience out of this game, it left enough of a bad taste in my mouth to leave it be.

My thoughts on Gun are probably going to elicit some eye rolling.  I liked it the most of these three games.  Sure, there are better shooters, but the story has me hooked.  I’m going to play this one all the way through.  Look, one of my favorite games is Resident Evil 4.  It’s because of the story.  Gun has that sort of feel (although RE4 is superior).  I know, you’re saying:  “he likes Gun more than Crackdown?  What a moron!”  I’m not giving up on Crackdown yet.  I’m going to go back to it.  It’s just that I was able to jump into Gun and start playing it.  That didn’t happen with Crackdown.

This morning is family time and no gaming will be happening.  I might get some time this afternoon and tonight we’re going to a friend’s house.  They have a Wii, so I’m hoping we can play Wii Sports as I haven’t done that yet.

More tomorrow.

Beerfest in 1080p.

April 22, 2007

When you are experiencing a 1080p movie for the first time, if you are a true movie aficionado, you should spend the time to pick out a perfect movie for this virgin moment.  Not being a true movie buff, I chose Beerfest.  Actually, I was dying to watch a full movie and my HD choices were Casablanca (which I want to watch with friends), King Kong (which I’ve seen) and Beerfest (which I had not seen).

I liked Beerfest well enough, although it was a bit long.  It’s just that in terms of showcasing 1080p goodness, it’s really like using expensive car wax on a beater.  You just aren’t going to get the same bang for your buck as you would for say, Lord of the Rings.  But LoR isn’t out in HD DVD yet, and, as I’ve said, my choices were limited.

Now, of course, when people ask me:  “What was the first movie you saw in 1080p?”  My answer is forever:  “Beerfest.”  I can always hope that they ask instead what my first HD movie was.  Happily, that was The Enforcer with Clint Eastwood.  Amazingly, I saw this in a hotel room on a 720p TV while on vacation.  It looked terrific and really hooked me on HD.  That experience is what drove me to my current level of home theater dedication.  The Enforcer is a terrific Dirty Harry movie.  Beerfest really doesn’t compare well to it, mostly because of the genre difference.

Actually, I can’t complain too much about Beerfest because it was funny and I recommend it for what it is.  I think I need to wait until The Matrix comes out on HD DVD to really experience 1080p.

Xbox 360 will do 1080p through its VGA adapter.

April 21, 2007

Xbox 360 will do 1080p through its VGA adapter.

Originally uploaded by Thaed 3.

This picture shows that with the Xbox 360 VGA cable, and the latest upgrade from Microsoft that you can indeed get 1080p on an HDTV. After I set this up today, I watched a little bit of King Kong in 1080p. The detail is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The best my cable box can do is 1080i and the movie on the Xbox HD DVD player is far, far superior. I am going to be watching as many HD DVD movies as I can over the next few months. The new with the Xbox set-up has reawakened my interest in watching television again.

Extra cables to make Hi Def TV work.

April 15, 2007

Time was that normal television was enough.  I’ve watched television my whole life and the tube hasn’t changed much.  Now I’m spending every free dollar to migrate to HDTV.  It’s crazy how complicated it is.  There are so many different ways to get signal to the television.  My plan has been to use an Xbox 360 with Xbox Live and the HD DVD drive in addition to the cable company’s box to get content into the TV.  It turns out that, right now anyway, the Xbox needs a VGA cable to send 1080p signal to the TV and not all TVs do well with this.  It looks like mine will.  We’ll see.  The cable company provides component cables but also will accept HDMI.  For neatness sake, I’m opting to buy the HDMI cable.

Not only did I have to do intense research just to pick out the right TV, but I had to dig deep into reviews on my planned set up just to get the most out of it.  As it is, the cable box won’t do any better than 1080i.  I have been on an irrational quest for 1080p.  We’ll see if I can tell the difference.  Also, we’ll see if these exotic cables are really better than the component cables I already have.  At worst, I’ve spent an extra $50.

Had I gone the PS3 route, much of this heartache would be unnecessary.  I can add the PS3 later if I want.

Of course, the TV won’t be here right away.  I have nothing else to do except be patient.  Books help.  Arguably, if I just stuck with books, I’d be better off and I wouldn’t need to spend money on silly television paraphernalia.

Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD replaces one of my TiVos.

April 14, 2007

I have been a TiVo freak. I modded both my TiVos and actively participated in all things TiVo related for years. I stopped just short of getting a TiVo tattoo. Yesterday, I picked up a new DVR from Cox Cable and now I’m canceling service on one of my TiVo Series 2s.

It’s not TiVo’s fault. It’s my fault for being so cheap. I have a new TV coming (look for a future review on that) and I need the new cable box for the new TV. An HD TiVo is $799.00. The 8300HD is a rental from Cox. Both units require a monthly fee, but I get the 8300HD essentially for free and the service fee is less than the TiVo’s. Both units are 1080i.

I like a lot of hours on my DVR. The current Series 2 that’s taking the bullet has twin 200 GB hard drives for more than 400 hours of storage space. I’m not even sure what the 8300HD has, but I don’t think it’s that much. However, it lets you plug an external SATA drive in the back. I can buy a 1 TB SATA drive and have virtually limitless space. That is awesome. I’m sure the Series 3 will do that too, but there’s that initial investment problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not TiVo bashing. I’d rather have the TiVo interface over the 8300HD’s any day. I still don’t have the hang of using the guide. Nothing beats the TiVo interface. I just can’t justify the cost. I’m still keeping one TiVo for my other TV.

birds (in contrast to winter in April).

April 8, 2007


Originally uploaded by howIroll.

As I’ve mentioned, I like to flip through pics on Flickr. Usually, I use them as wallpaper for my computers, but they have to be big enough. A lot of photographers don’t put full size work up because they don’t want people stealing it. I can’t blame them for that.

Currently we have almost two feet of snow on the ground. This dynamic action beach shot is a wonderful reminder that winter eventually ends.

Happy Easter!

Review of the Linksys Wireless N-Gigabit Router WRT350N.

April 7, 2007

***Edit on December 28, 2007***

The router decided to stop playing nice with my cable modem tonight.  Took my whole system down for several hours.  That’s it, Linksys.  We’re through.  I bought a Netgear router tonight.

***Edit on July 2, 2007***

Linksys sent me another router and it’s working great.

***Edit on June 7, 2007 **

I got my case number to return the router. That’s what I wanted, so I’m happy.

***Edit on June 4, 2007***

Over the last few days, the router hasn’t been able to hold a connection, either wirelessly or wired. Thankfully, I kept my aged Wireless B router. I switched back and I haven’t had any problems. Now I get to see what Linksys’ return/RMA procedure is like.


I’ve been meaning to write this for some time, but as always blog posts take a second place to real life. I haven’t even sent in my rebate for the router yet. It’s probably too late as I bought it in February.

I’ve had this router for two months. My old wireless B router started to get flaky so I took the plunge. At first, I had a little trouble. This router is packed with features. While Linksys makes things simple, it did take me a little time to get it running. When I turned to the internet for help, I gasped at the negative press the router had received at its launch. I wondered if I had made a bad choice. I bought my last router four years ago. I don’t plan on buying another one any time soon. I got some help on Linksys Community Forum. I would recommend this forum as a good resource for Linksys users.

To my relief, the WRT350N has been fine. I got everything hooked up including an external drive. It has been fast and reliable. I use it to link about 7 computers via Cat5 cable and 3 computers via wireless. It also serves two TiVos. One of the TiVos has no problems whatsoever. The other one, sadly, loses its connection all the time and I have to manually reset it every two weeks. I haven’t figured out what the deal is with that yet. Finally, it supports my phone service as we use Vonage (and I sincerely hope we’ll be able to keep doing that).

It also lets you create an FTP server with the external hard drive. I’ve not tried that yet. There is a media server function as well, but I would probably just use something else that I’m more familiar with. While I am a gamer, I haven’t had to use any of the port forwarding features. I don’t really game with other people much. I’m a solitary gamer.

I haven’t tested the wireless N capability at all. I plan on moving my flagship PC upstairs soon, so that will change. I’m not going to run Cat5 all over my house. In theory, the wireless N will give me essentially the same speed as the 10/100 wired computers that I have now. I think that probably deserves a big “we’ll see.”

I haven’t tested the gigabit wired speed yet either. My best two machines have gigabit nics but the room where I use them has a 16 port switch that’s 10/100. I need to replace that switch with a gigabit switch. It’s on my list of things to do by 2008.

If you want the specs on this router, download them here.

In short, I have to give this router high marks. It’s been doing it’s job with no input from me. That’s what you want in a router IMHO, turn it on and forget about it.

She reminds me of Rosanna Rosannadanna

April 5, 2007

I really just wanted to see if I could embed video in free WordPress.

I can’t.  The video I want to embed is here:
When I try to embed it, I get this:

<object width=”425″ height=”350″><param name=”movie” value=””></param><param name=”wmode” value=”transparent”></param><embed src=”; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” wmode=”transparent” width=”425″ height=”350″></embed></object>

If I am doing something wrong, please help me.