Thursday, February 28, 2002

The Blue Planet - Seas of Life

I saw parts of this wonderful 4 segment documentary produced by the BBC on the Discovery Channel about a month ago. It was beautifully written and filmed. If you are a Nature show addict like me, it is a must see.

Nicer still is the 2 DVD set that is now available. You get the original series and some really nice "making of" extras as well as a still picture gallery and some nice trivia. For the most part, the extras aren't that impressive compared to the documentary itself which can more than stand on its own. A really nice surprise was that though it is listed as being in "Full Screen" format (I was expecting 4:3 aspect ratio), it is acutually presented in a 16:9 Anamorphic aspect ratio so it looks REALLY nice on the Aconda.

Definitely worth checking out and adding to your collection. I also bought 2 Super Bit DVD's while I bought these discs at DVD Planet (also known as "Ken Crane's DVD Superstore on Beach Blvd in Huntington Beach, CA): "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "The 5th Element". What can I say, I'm a really weak man :) A comparison of these "SuperBit" DVD's will be posted as soon as I can sit down and do a critical comparison to my original non-SuperBit versions.


Sunday, February 24, 2002

Well I was afraid of this...

I've talked about the threat DTCP copy protection poses to current HDTV equipment owners in terms of making our current equipment incompatible with a protected HDTV broadcast before. At it's worst, we'd be left with a 480p signal not the 1080i we've all spent so money to get. There is an interesting thread a on how New HDTV Encryption Obsoletes Sets. See also this Home Theater Hi Fi article that the Slashdot thread references.

They do bring up an interesting point though, with how slowly these HDTV standards are being implemented, my good old Aconda may be long dead before it is actually made obsolete...


Friday, February 22, 2002

Yet another article on the sad state of HDTV

I've gotten my HDTV setup working, but honestly, it's pretty limited when you compare what is available on cable and sattelite. Of course I still assert most of what's out there being pushed out by the networks is pure crap anyways, only PBS and a few cable offerings like The Discovery Channel or The National Geographic Channel really seems to consistently put out quality programming HDTV or not.

Check out this article: Tube Tied - We still want our HDTV. By Fred Kaplan

It nicely summarizes the current dilemma for most consumers looking to go to HDTV. Realistically, except for those who are early adopters or HT enthusiasts like you and I, HDTV really isn't worth it for the average consumer. In the end, the very fact that widespread adoption and reaching critical mass in the marketplace has been so difficult to achieve may kill the whole thing before it has a chance of really getting going. We may be relagated to a really mediocre digital SDTV world and that would be really lame.


Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Back from Snowboarding again and other stuff...

Whoo Hoo!!! We broke 20,000 page views!!!! Sorry about the infrequent posts and slow e-mail responses folks, I am gone Snowboarding an awful lot during the winter, maybe things will get a bit better

Gregory Singer wrote in with this interesting tidbit:
"You may be interested to know that Bose and Loewe have teamed up together and Bose is actively marketing the Loewe sets through its retail stores. The sales person I spoke to said something about "exclusive distribution" but I am pretty sure he was mistaken on the exclusive part since it is available in several different places."

I do appreciate all the cool e-mail and nice comments people write in with. I'll try to respond to technical questions as best I can, but understand that I'm not any sort of a hardcore Electronics Tech guy but just a hobbyist. If you have any real technical questions, I encourage you to consult your manual and Loewe's Customer Support department (see a couple posts down).

If anyone out there would be interested in being a regular contributor (NEWS and INFO not $$, the rent is free here after all) or a co-editor, please contact me as I do feel bad about the infrequent postings. Updating and maintaining this site properly is getting to be a bit too much work for just one really part time guy.

Some more HD Offerings coming soon

I think most of what is on broadcast TV is an absolute waste of time, but I do love movies and the Olympics (if they'd only get rid of some of those sappy "Human Interest" stories and just show more of the dammed events!!!).
HD Movies

'Breakdown', February 20th on CBS

'You Only Live Twice', February 23rd on ABC.

'The Rosa Parks Story'. February 24th on CBS.

'Tarzan', February 24th on ABC.

'Practical Magic', February 25th on ABC.

'Diamonds are Forever', March 2nd on ABC.

'Crossed Over', March 3rd on CBS.

'Live and Let Die', March 9th on ABC.

'The Man with the Golden Gun', March 16th on ABC.

'Beyond the Prairie II', March 17th on CBS.

'The Spy Who Love Me', March 30th on ABC.

'Moonraker', April 6th on ABC.

'For Your Eyes Only', April 13th on ABC.

'The Pilot's Wife'. April 14th on CBS.

'Octopussy', April 20th on ABC.

'Two Against Time', April 21st on CBS.

'Living with the Dead', April 28th on CBS.

'Living with the Dead, Part Two', April 30th on CBS.
Olympics in High Definition

Wednesday, February 20 -- Day 13
3-5:30 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Semifinal, womens
5:30-7:30 p.m. ET - Speed Skating Men's 1500 meters final
7:30-8 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Semifinal, women
8-11 p.m. ET - Figure Skating Ladies' Short Program

Thursday, February 21 -- Day 14
3-5 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Quarterfinal, men
5-6:45 p.m. ET - Speed Skating Women's 1500 meters final
6:45-8:45 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Quarterfinal, men
8:45-11 p.m. ET - Short Track Women's 3000 meter relay and men's 1500 meters finals

Friday, February 22 -- Day 15
3-5 p.m. ET - Nordic Combined Sprint, K120 Competition
5-5:30 p.m. ET - Olympic Recap
5:30-8:00 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game, women
8-11 p.m. ET - Figure Skating Ladies' Long Program

Saturday, February 23 -- Day 16
Noon-1:30 p.m. ET - Speed Skating Men's 10,000 meters final (limited)
3-5 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Semifinal, men
5-7:30 p.m. ET - Figure Skating Champions Gala
8:30-11 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Semifinal, men

Sunday, February 24 -- Day 17
3-5 p.m. ET - Short Track Women's 1000 meters, men's 500 meters relay finals
5-6 p.m. ET - Olympic Recap
6-8:15 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Semifinal, men (encore)
8:15-9 p.m. ET - Speed Skating Women's 5000 meters final
9-11 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game, men

Sunday, February 25 -- Day 18
3-5 p.m. ET - Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game, men
5-7 p.m. ET - Closing Ceremony


The 27 GB successor to DVD's

You know how I've been holding out for a REALLY big jump in DVD technology (beyond Progressive scan cuz my Aconda does line doubling well enough for my myopic eyes) before upgrading? Well the next big step may be just around the corner.

BBC's web site is carrying this article about the Next Generation DVD format. Also see this Matsushita Press Release.

It is nice to see that the various DVD player makers will be collaborating on a unified standard for this higher density DVD format rather than splintering into multiple incompatible or semi-compatible formats that is the current situation with DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and DVD+RW.

Sure having 13 hours of regular video on one higher density DVD is nice I guess (you know, if you want the entire 1st season of the Soprano's or the X-Files on one handy disc), but what I'm really salivating for is full resolution High Definition movies in 5.1 surround sound...heh, heh, heh....: )


Friday, February 01, 2002

Update on the U.S. Loewe Warranty Situation

I have been corresponding via e-mail with Paul Fredrickson (V.P. Marketing) who has provided some valuable information about the status of current and future Loewe owners here in the U.S. Loewe's U.S. subsidiary, Loewe Opta Inc., has begun operations. They are in the process of getting their IT infrastructure in place so they don't have a web site, customer inquiry 800#'s, customer inquiry e-mail addresses and such in place..yet. However they can be reached for any questions or inquiries at the address and phone number below:

Loewe Opta Inc.
10 Cordage Park Circle, Suite 213
Plymouth, MA 02360
Phone: 508-830-0025

Loewe Opta's staff is made up of many of the friendly faces formerly employed by Sensory Science that were working to support the Loewe brand. I am assured that the transition should be essentially painless for U.S. owners. Loewe Opta will honor ALL Loewe warranties on currently purchased Loewe products and future products.

Here are the answers to some of the questions I posed Loewe Opta about the current owner's warranty situation, I think this should clear up most concerns. (Note I've paraphrased some of the responses given to me, so these are not verbatim, but I believe it accurately reflects Loewe Opta's position):
  • If you purchased a product and registered your warranty with Sensory Science/Sonicblue or have proof of purchase that the product is within its warranty period, then Loewe will have a record of this and the product is covered by the warranty that came with the set. The warranty remains unchanged: 2 years parts and labor.
  • Like other products, you should always go through your dealer first. Many of the Loewe dealers also have the ability to service the product directly. If they can not service the product, they have a relationship with an authorized service center that they use to support their customers.
  • Product service will be handled locally by authorized service centers who have been selected by the manufacturer. These service centers have been have trained by the manufacturer in the repair/adjustment of Loewe Televisions, they have been provided with service and support information, and have access to Loewe parts.
  • Typically, most service issues can usually be performed by servicers in the field (ie. on site, in your home). Failing that, the unit may need to be taken to the service center for off site repairs.
  • Payment for any service on a Loewe Television is handled by the local servicer who now sends all of his warranty claims to Loewe if the product is in the warranty period. Of course, if it is outside the warranty the owner will have to cover the costs of the repair and any needed parts.
  • Loewe plans to continue to serve the market with it's existing dealer and service network established over the last several years and expects to continue to selectively expand this network through high-quality specialty retailers and installers throughout the country.

Hope that helps, it sure puts my mind at ease that we are not (and were probably were never) in a warranty/support limbo. To tell you the truth, I haven't had a single problem with my Aconda to date (14 months and counting) so it all hasn't been an issue, but I'm glad we have a definitive place to go for answers now.