| Friday July 20, 2007|
| 10:45 AM - bktoh|
|As Leonides would say... "THIS IS MADNESSSsssss..."|
But first, a brief recap.
I was never particularly discerning when it came to audiophile quality reproduction for audio. After all, I was an early adopter of MP3 and even ATRAC3 Network Walkman I always liked the convenience of a small enough package to lug along virtually my entire CD collection. Sure, some modicum of quality was important, so like many, I bought into the Sony marketing and got some midrange earphones like the MDR-E888 and when that was discontinued, I got the EX series.
When I got my iPod Nano for long business trips in cattle class, some research in the forums got me acquainted with Shures. At that time, I thought it was crazy that anyone would pay so much (over S$150) for a earphone, and that was just the entry level one.
But I noticed I was going through my Sony earbuds at the rate of about one a year. They just weren't as well built. According to some good friends, the Shures seemed better built, so I figured they may actual make for better value for money in the long run. That, and I needed an excuse to try something new.
So I got the entry level E2C. I have to say, I was really amazed when I got it. The bass was sooo much better than all those "alleged" MegaBass Sonys I had in the past. Bass was pretty good once you got the right foam/adaptor for your ears.
The Shures kept me happy for a number of years.
Then, I noticed on one of my trips earlier this year, that the wire on one side had been frayed. There was nothing wrong with the sound reproduction, but the frayed wire sheath just over my ear caused a lot of discomfort, and using sellotape to seal the area didn't improve things.
As luck would have it, that business trip put me in Hong Kong, home of geek and gadget-dom. But I was surprised to find that the famous PC malls in Kowloon didn't stock Shures. Just the usual Sony's and budget Seinheisers.
But I did find a mall in Hong Kong Island which was a treasure trove for ear and headphones. Squirreled away in a corner was this shop selling a bunch of esoteric brands I barely heard of. After my experience with Shures, I got more comfortable with the brand, and contemplated getting a higher end E3 or E4 to replace the E2Cs. The sales guy was a geek too and he recommended the Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5.pro with dual driver design which he felt were a much better bang for the buck than the Shures.
I was a little sceptical, but whipped up my PocketPC Phone and hammered away at Google over GPRS and found quite a number of pretty good reviews. So on a gamble, I took the plunge.
I brought it back to the hotel and began playing back stuff from my Nano. Just before I dozed off, I was listening to a Jeff Chang playlist and there was this song that I was pretty familiar with, but I just was amazed with the details that I was never aware of before, it was like I was listening to it for the very first time.
Since I had a 3 hour flight with nothing really great on the inflight entertainment the following day, I decided to look for the song and do an A:B shootout between my 2 earphones.
First, I listened to the song "Lang Man Shou Ji" with the super.fi. Again, I was wowed by the incredible separation of all the instruments and vocals. The bass was, again, really tight and distinctive and with great presence, yet it never overpowered the other components.
The vocal track was clear and precise and completely distinct from the midrange of the guitars. I really loved also how easy it was to pick out this harmonizing second guitar track that I never noticed before.
So I got out the Shures to listen to the same song again.
And it sounded pretty bad in comparison. Bass felt totally underwhelming, and all the instruments and vocals were all muddied together. And there was totally no clarity in the vocals. And the second guitar track? I finally managed to pick it out, mainly cos I was looking it out for it, but it just was difficult to make it out from the muddied midrange.
Along the way, I switched to a faster tempo playlist. First up was Buttons from PCD. The resolution of the super.fi brought out a backup vocal track that I never noticed.
Could swear I picked up some additional background instruments in Eminem's Lose Yourself. And in Cassie's Me and U with Ja Rule and Harry-O, could make out the odd adlibs from the male singers more clearly (often drowned out by Cassie's primary vocal track when I listened on the Shures), and even when Cassie sings the backup for herself, you can discern the 2 different layers.
To be honest, I never thought the Shures were bad. I really loved them when I first got it. But this 5.pros were just damn amazing.
And so began the slippery path into the dark side.
To be fair, the UE 5.pros satisfied the upgrading itch. Even though I was tempted by the 10.pros with triple drivers or the upcoming Westone UM3s with triple drivers and triple crossovers, it was only a daydream, gone in an instant.
But the problem with the 5.pros were that they were soooo detailed and so clear that you started noticing small niggling problems that slowly became bigger annoyances gradually, like there was more hiss on my notebook headphone jack, and I could occasionally make out EM interference. Annoyed me no end.
It was during this time (well actually last week!), that I knew of Jaben Network in Adelphi.
I began spending more time there and got to know Wilson. He's a really friendly guy, and always offered really good and sane advice. He's more like "a trusted advisor" (a term most sales people in the enterprise use as a buzzword, but in this case is the real deal) than a sales guy
He first recommendation that I try the Firestone FUBAR III. This was a USB DAC integrated with a headphone amplifier.
This used the USB to supply a pure digital audio connection from the notebook, bypassing the internal audio. The internal DAC of the FUBAR III then gave a much cleaner analog output, with its own cleaner power supply, and partnered it with a good headphone amplifier.
Wilson wasn't wrong. There was an incredible amount of detail revealed by the USB DAC that the notebook's internal audio just obscured. The clarity and staging were so much better. It's weird, you know. I never once expected the puny notebook to be this competent.
Unfortunately, I noticed that my office issue Dell notebook produced intermittent "clicks" that were barely audible, but noticeable with the newfound clarity of the FUBAR III.
We then unhooked the FUBAR III and used the internal audio of the notebook. With the Grado/Alessandro Music Series 2 I loaned from Wilson, I could make out the same intermittent clicks as well. It was really annoying. Wilson suggested disabling File Indexing which helped, a little, but never quite fully rectified the issue. Looked like there was something with the loaded software that was causing the problem, and since it was a company issue, I couldn't just uninstall different pieces of software to troubleshoot the problem.
In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to conduct the test using the Grado
The MS2s were surprisingly comfortable and I liked that I could just slip them on and off in the office when people came a knocking in the cubicle. Using my 5.pros were great, but it was a real pain putting them back on every so often.
And the sound quality nicely run-in MS-2s were seductive, to say the least.
But unfortunately (or fortunately?), the MS-2s were not in stock. But the highly sought after MS-Pros surprisingly were. And after a very long wait to boot. Guess there's something abt being in the right place at the right time.
Wilson offered me a swap and top up to the MS-Pro, and it didn't take me long to decide.
I decided to partner it with my old Nano, which was taken out of storage (normally kept with my travel gear) and just forget all about using the notebook. But this was a miscalculation on my part.
The 5.pros I had were very very easy to drive and the Nano was a good match. The MS-Pros, unfortunately, were notoriously much harder to drive.
So, that prompted another trip to Wilson's.
It looked like a headphone amp was needed to partner the Nano.
I was initially drawn to the Emmeline Tomahawk by Ray Samuels Audio for its mammoth-like battery life. But it was really designed for easy to drive IEMs, not the Grado.
Wilson was a little unwilling to reveal his prized possession, the Emmeline Hornet from the same company. It was his last piece, but he was nice enough to let me test it out.
Listening to the MS-Pros and female vocals like Corrinne May (Safe in a Crazy World, Fly Away) and Sarah Brightman (Phantom of the Opera's Point of No Return) was a new-found revelation. The Hornet was able to drive the MS-Pros so beautifully. With my 5.pros and the Nano's internal amp, Brightman's high notes suffered a little bit of distortion at higher volume levels. Not so with the MS-Pro and the Hornet partnership.
So I pleaded and cajoled with Wilson until he let me have the last piece. Thanks again, bro
Am so loving this setup now. It's not the most portable solution (primarily due to the size of the Grados), but it is very very very satisfying. If there is only one drawback to this whole system, it is that the noise leakage from the MS-Pros are pretty high, and it's driving my colleague nearby nuts.
|Print Today's News|
| Tuesday June 12, 2007|
| 20:25 PM - kan|
|Whew, finally had the chance to pen my experience over the past few days using my new system. My good-old Asus A8N-SLI motherboard died on me recently, and I took the opportunity to upgrade from my dual-core AMD Opteron. |
I got myself the following:
Intel Quad-Core Q6600 processor and the new Asus P5K which runs on the Intel P35 chipset.
Tried doing RAID 5 using the on-board RAID which runs via the ICH9R chipset and I got random BSODs when trying to install Windows XP. I have to wish you good luck if you are going this route as well. A quick search on Google shows that it may prove to be a bit more ‘challenging’ than you hope for. However, I have to admit RAID 1 works without a hitch but I wasn’t really interested to do RAID 1 since I have several HDDs on hand.
With that, I went ahead to purchase the Areca PCI-E RAID controller card along with a couple more 500 GB hard drives. The Areca was something which I have been eyeing for the longest time ever and if not for the fact that it cost exorbitantly high from the Singapore retail stores, I would have gotten it long ago. But I have no regrets with the Areca right now. Performance is great and it just _works_. However, I have to turn off NCQ on my Seagate drives as I realized with NCQ enabled, I would get random desktop ‘freezes’ when copying large files. Hmm…
Along the purchases also came the Samsung 22” LCD monitor, a new ergonomics chair which simply doesn’t sit as good as it cost, an Antec P182 casing, Zalman heatsink which promises to slice your fingers if you are not careful, Razor Copperhead laser mouse and the Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound.
Man, I have to say the Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound save the day for me. For 3 days, I was frustrated with the high CPU core temperature on my Q6600. Temperature ranges from 55 degrees Celsius at idle to 90 degrees Celsius (not kidding!) as recorded by CoreTemp 0.9.4.
I was disgusted.
I started to research on the most appropriate watercooling kit out there and even thought of doing TEC (peltier). I was on watercooling for several years but removed the kit a couple of months back as it was just too much of a hassle trying to change your hardware components with all the pipes and water pump squeezed into my old Lian Li casing.
I didn't really believe in thermal compound before this. But after reading all the rave reviews about the Arctic Silver, I decided to give it a shot and managed to lay my hands on the tiny syringe today. I followed their instructions religiously and applied a thin line of thermal compound on my Q6600, re-sat my Zalman heatsink and fired up my PC.
I was astonished.
My CPU temperature right now is 35 degrees at idle and 56 degrees at full load running 4 x Orthos. All these with my CPU overclocked to 3GHz.
Now we are talking..
|Print Today's News|
| Saturday March 24, 2007|
| 13:31 PM - bktoh|
|The search for the elusive ideal PDA phone continues...|
As most of you guys know, I migrated to the Dopod 900 about a year ago. It was pretty much everything I needed out of a phone at that time.
Everything but the kitchen sink. I loved that I could hammer out professional-looking emails on the road without needing to boot up my PC.
There were only a few caveats that I didn't like:
a. I missed a physical numeric keypad like a regular phone.
b. It was big and heavy
So I switched to a Sony Ericsson m600 for my Blackberry client/phone for a while and it was a decent compromise.
But two things made me switch back to the Dopod 900.
Firstly, my company was switching to MS Push Mail for more functionality (>60KB downloads!! FINALLY!) and our authentication certificates only worked with Windows Mobile phones. And the other was that one of my commonly-used buttons on the m600 (Return/Back key) was no longer working.
I began to enjoy using the brick again. Like rediscovering an old girlfriend, I guess.
But alas, tragedy struck yesterday!
Someone/something must have bumped into me. And despite closing the screen in clamshell mode, my LCD screen cracked. *sigh* I could see a small dent on the back cover behind the LCD.
To be honest, I was trying to hold out for this baby, the HTC Wings, and use the 900 until this new phone arrives later this year with WM6.
IMHO, this is almost the ideal form factor. Regular numeric keypad that you could use as a normal phone (T9 SMS, speed dial or *ahem* when you need to use the keys without looking directly at the phone).
And when the need to hammer out an email arises, slide out the keypad and voila. Full keyboard capability (well almost, the 900 has an extra row for numbers which I find very useful).
But the cracked screen hastened my migration.
Initially, I thought of using a more conventional phone until WM6 and Wings arrived. I was moving to a new job which didn't use Push Mail nor Blackberry. So I looked at the SE k800i, the w880, the Nokia N73 Music Edition etc, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy them. After all, I liked how I had arranged my contacts and Address Book in Outlook and SE used to muck around with the order and grouping I used.
When I headed to Sim Lim Square later, I was surprised to see this: the successor to my Dopod 900.
This thing is pretty beautiful. The screen is huge and very readable. Very very readable.
But it was even pricier than the 900. In fact, it was almost the price I paid for my new Pavillion tx1000 TabletPC!!
And I believed it was pretty clunky as a phone. As a portable system to capitalize on the growing WirelessSG network, I feel the tx1000 is a MUCH better system with a better more usable screen. Also, with M1's wireless 3G service, I could get the phone/cellular functionality of the U1000!.
The deal breaker IMHO was the keyboard. The keyboard was on a thin piece of plastic that was not fully integrated with the rest of the unit, but was attached magnetically. I didn't think the travel and key response was very good. It felt even worse than the clip on keyboard of the old Compaq tablet.
A part of me secretly wanted the Dopod 838Pro but at S$1299, it was too expensive an interim solution until the HTC Wings
I popped over to AAAS.com and started looking at the O2 Zinc, which looked like the 838Pro but was about 100 bucks cheaper. One major difference though was the lack of a scroller wheel that the 838Pro had.
Then I chanced upon this older model.
I first saw it in Hong Kong about 2 months back, and it was already a pretty old model then. And I almost bought it then (less than S$800 after conversion) but it was a Chinese language model and I wasn't sure about warranty.
The major compromises for the Asus p525 were
- no QWERTY keyboard (I won't have Push Mail in my new job so I guess it's not an issue)
- no 3G/UMTS or HSPDA, which may be handy if I transit in Japan or Korea
At S$899, it wasn't too bad a deal. They bundled a screen protector, a 1GB mini-SD and a Bluetooth USB 2.0 dongle.
It isn't too big actually, and the screen is a usable 2.8". The other alternative was the O2 Stealth, but that keyboard was nigh unusable. The Asus p525 keyboard is surprisingly responsive and feels as good as any from Sony Ericsson or Nokia.
Am going to configure it for Push Mail access on Monday, but in the interim, battery life looks pretty good and I am getting re-acquainted with the T9 input again. So far, it has been a breeze.
Wireless LAN access seems stronger than with the Dopod 900, and the machine feels pretty responsive.
Camera with auto-focus and decent powered flash is above average.
The only niggling downsides are the lower resolution screen for Internet browsing. Solitaire looked particularly bad, after I have been used to the 640x480 version in the Dopod 900. Also, enabling ClearType seemed to cause some rainbow effect around the edges of text. But I am perfectly fine with disabling ClearType anyway.
Will update this page when I get more usage out of it.
|Print Today's News|
| Monday March 19, 2007|
| 14:51 PM - bktoh|
|Windows Vista has changed the layout of the Control Panel and Settings so it took me a whil to explore it, but it looks like the tx 1000 comes with Bluetooh integrated as well. With it, comes a stereo profile. Awesome. Gonna test out my BT Stereo headset from Sony Ericsson later.|
And I caved.
I went off and bought 2 sticks of 1GB DDR2-667MHz CAS5 SODIMMs during lunch, and now my machine has 2GB of memory. All I can say is that Windows Vista is a lot snappier and responsive now.
|Print Today's News|
| Sunday March 18, 2007|
| 19:51 PM - bktoh|
|As far as gadgets go, I have always had a real hankering for a TabletPC. The first one I encountered was the old Compaq original slate form factor unit. It was a pretty cool unit. Right size (for me) snd right form factor, but it was hampered by a pretty puny processor (to keep power consumption low and battery life long enough to be usable) snd it was also priced pretty high and the premium over a regular notebook prevented me from plonking my cold hard cash for one, despite its obvious appeal.|
Fast forward 5 years into the future, and hp has released a new variant: the hp Pavilion tx 1000. This time the pricing is surprisingly affordable: at S$2299 list price. In fact, I have seen offers on VPost selling it for almost S$300 off.
This new design is a convertible form factor, ie, it looks like a regular notebook at first glance, but has a swivel built into the screen, so you could swivel the screen and close the unit up for a regular tablet look.
Regular notebook? Not quite
Swivel the screen and close
Voila! Presto! You have your tablet
The model I am using is the AP spec tx1005a:
So how does this new gadget feel? I have only had this unit for two days so far and since it works as both as a notebook and a tablet, I feel it is worthwhile to evaluate how it works as both individually.
- 1.8GHz Turion64 X2 Dual Core CPU TL-56 (35W TDP) with 2 x 512KB cache
- 1 GB DDR2 memory (2 x 512MB, shared with integrated graphics)
- 12.1 inch widescreen LCD (WXGA 1280x800 resolution) touchscreen
- GeForce Go 6150 integrated graphics and chipset
- Fujitsu 120GB 5400rpm SATA HDD
- Integrated 1.3Mpix webcam camera
- Integrated fingerprint scanner
- Integrated GBit NIC
- Integrated 801.11abg Wireless LAN
- Integrated microphone
- Integrated Altec Lansing speakers
- Integrated Realtek HD Audio
- 4 cell battery (slim)
- 6 cell battery (extended)
- VGA out
- s-video out
- 5 in 1 memory card reader (SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, xD)
- ExpressCard/34 slim slot
- Expansion Base (type 3) slot
- 3 USB 2.0 (1 right, 2 rear)
- 1 front headphone mini stereo jack
- 1 front SPDIF mini stereo digital audio out (usable as second headphone jack)
- 1 front mic/line-in mini stereo jack
- 1 wireless remote control
- 1 Lightscribe multi-format DVD/CD rewriter
- 1 stylus
As a notebook
The first Compaq tablet used a really low powered processor to extend battery life and graphics was merely so-so. This allowed the designers to stretch battery life, but the performance was pretty pedestrian, and it was a pretty big compromise going with a tablet, especially when it cost more, a lot more than most notebooks with better performance.
A number of reviews IMHO unfairly criticize hp's use of the AMD Turion 64 X2. The truth is that the 1.8GHz Turion 64 X2 performs about on par with an equivalent priced Core 2 Duo. Windows Experience Index rates the processor at 4.7 and the memory performance at 4.5. In fact the only thing hampering this notebook's overall Index is the graphics subsystem, which ranks an average 3.1 for Aero and 3.0 for Gaming Graphics. So, you do get a decent performing tablet, which compares well with a regular notebook of about the same price.
Even with the lower ranking for 3D performance, the Nvidia 6150 chipset performs its tasks in Aero admirably. An equivalent Centrino/Duo platform would normally have required a discrete 3D graphics chipset (non-UMA) to perform ideally with Aero. This would have had an impact on battery life and cost.
With Windows Vista, and with the full Aero interface enabled by default, the machine always felt very snappy and responsive. I might eventually upgrade the memory to 2GB since Vista seems to appreciate the extra memory, but for now, I think the 1GB base spec is sufficient to keep Vista's hog at bay.
Coming from an Acer Ferrari 4000 large desktop replacement notebook, the tx 1000 is pretty slim and easy to carry around. It may not be the slimmest notebook around, but considering the amount of stuff integrated, it is a pretty impressive feat: 2 spindles (DVD rewritable with lightscribe labelling and 120GB HDD), webcam, and a whole lot of other features.
The original Compaq TabletPC that I played with at work was a Slate form factor, ie it was a thinner form factor with no keyboard. However, Compaq saw fit to add an optional clip on keyboard for when you needed it. The keyboard was meant to be used as a supplementary input option, and was not very good.
Since the new tx 1000 was designed as a convertible, it was able to accomodate a decent sized notebook keyboard with good tactile response and travel. The use of the widescreen 12.1" LCD display gave the right amount of space to fit a wide enough keyboard. Some compromises are still made, though. It does not offer full sized function keys, and the Ins, Del, Home, End, Pg Up and Pg Down keys are all equally small. That said, those keys are still dedicated, so it isn't a stretch to use them. I really detest notebooks that force you to use Fn key to access standard navigation keys.
One of the things I have yearned for in a notebook keyboard is backlit keys. To date, only the MacBook Pros seem to have it. Surprised that no other PC manufacturer has seen fit to include one. When you are on the plane, that extra feature makes a lot of sense. That and when you are surfing in bed, with the lights off
The new Synaptics touchpad is pretty interesting. At first, I thought hp didn't include one and expected you to use the touchscreen to navigate.
Turned out, the touchpad was a new design. In use, I found it equally sensitive as the generic ones used in my current and previous notebooks. But the use of a spacer between the 2 sections made it easy to use the up/down scroller (smaller narrower strip on the right).
My acid test for a pointing device was how fast I could play Solitaire, and in this respect, the new touchpad, even with its funky rippled design, has not disappointed.
hp ships the tx1005 with 2 batteries: a slim 4 cell unit that fits snugly within the overall lines of the notebook, and an extended 6-cell unit that protrudes slightly from the dimensions.
Battery life is decent. With my usage (WiFi On) and a factory new 6-cell battery, I was able to get over 3 hours of uptime. The new slim 4-cell unit gave me about 2 hours of usage time.
I would expect the uptimes to be better once I run in the battery charging/recharging cycles properly.
One thing I would have liked hp to do was to design the tx1000 to use BOTH the 4-cell and 6-cell batteries at the same time. My Fujitsu notebook allowed you to swap the DVD drive out, and use a blanking cover to reduce weight, or to replace it with a battery that fits into the gap for extended use away from a power point.
With the tx 1000, I would need to hibernate the machine, swap batteries, before I could resume working. A small annoyance, but an annoyance all the same. But with the features installed, the battery life is definitely acceptable.
The 12.1" WXGA 1280x800 native resolution screen used in the tx 1000 is beautiful. Fonts are a tad smaller than I am used to (15.4" widescreen Ferrari 4000), but perfectly usable.
As a tablet
I guess this is the piece de resistance of the tx 1000.
Like a Transformer, a quick swivel and turn is all it takes to convert the tx 1000 into a TabletPC.
Some of the initial previews claimed the locking mechanism did not seem all that inspiring. I am glad to say that the production units seem to be built to the usual hp standards. In fact, I'd say build quality feels better than my Acer Ferrari 4000 which cost a lot more.
So how does it perform?
Previous TabletPCs, including the original Compaq one, used a digitizer screen. This required the use of a special pen and pen tip.
hp felt that this complication might be harder to accept in the consumer space, where the tx 1000 was targetted and opted to use a touchscreen (not unlike those used in PocketPCs). This allowed us to use ANY stylus, not just the bundled one with the touchscreen. In fact, I have found that the tip of my fingernails also worked pretty well.
But for the touchscreen to be usable (and not suffer accidental screen presses from our palms etc), sensitivity had to be decreased. This meant that some of the traditional pen gestures need more effort than before. But if you've used a PocketPC before, this is not a big leap, even if it does require taking a bit of getting familiar with the pen gestures for Page Up/Down etc.
One of the things I do miss is a scroll wheel or D-pad like in PocketPCs. IMHO, this would help simplify navigation a whole lot when in Tablet mode.
But it is perfectly usable as an e-book reader and the form factor is ergonomic.
These minor niggles aside, I have found myself pretty much familiar with the Tablet in the last 2 days. Of course, I still type much faster in keyboard mode than with scribbles or virtual keyboard, but I find myself using the Tablet mode most of the time, and when I need to type, I can just "transform" the tx 1000 back into a regular notebook and use the keyboard.
I understand the tx 1000 has a Direct Play mode that allows you to play back DVDs etc without turning on the notebook and booting into Windows. I haven't tested that feature out before, but it does seem pretty nifty. Will test this and other features of the notebook as I get more familiar with it in future Rants
I am honestly very happy with this TabletPC. Granted, it isn't perfect, but the affordable pricing, without compromising on performance, meant that this is very good value for money, for many users who have been waiting to jump on the Tablet bandwagon but were always deterred by price and price/performance.
The 3D graphics of the Nvidia based integrated chipset makes light work of Vista's Aero interface, and the unit is sufficiently beefed up, whether it is in the processing department, storage or memory.
|Print Today's News|
| Saturday December 16, 2006|
| 18:24 PM - bktoh|
|Managed to get hold of the Mitsubishi HC5000 projector today. This is one of the first few projectors to use the D6 LCD panels from Epson. |
The specifications of the projector are as follows:
- Full D6 1920x1080 native resolution x 3 LCD panel
- Inorganic LCD panel (less likely to degrade vs traditional organic panels)
- Separate DVI and HDMI input
- Component input
- VGA input (doubles as 2nd component)
- S-video input
- composite video input
- motorized zoom lens
- motorized lens shift
- motorized focus
- supports 1080p50 1080p60 1080p24 1080i50 1080i60 720p 480p 480i 576p 576i
- Built in Realta HQV deinterlacer
Setting up the system was pretty easy. Loved the motorized zoom, lens shift and focus controls on the remote. A lot less twiddly than the manual adjustment on the Panasonic AE700. And at max zoom, I was pretty amazed I could match about the same size as the old AE700 which was supposed to have a 2.0x zoom lens (vs 1.6x? on the HC5000). Thought I would have had to compromise for a slightly smaller projected image.
Damn, I never expected a quantum leap over my old 720p Panasonic AE700 but this new projector really just wowed me out of the box. Contrast is really good over my older unit. And the image just look more punchy, more 3D-ish. All those posts about not needing 1080p? No way. There really is a difference. I have a sneaky feeling it isn't as inky black as the DLP unit at Jags, but then this is on a grey wall and not on a screen.
With no calibration utility (still waiting for HD DVD Essentials), I could only calibrate by gut feel. Dialed in sharpness to lowest possible setting, dialed down contrast a decent amount, adjusted color down a little and then dialed up brightness a tad.
And the projector is virtually silent in operation.
Running even in low lamp mode feels much brighter than my AE700. I was running the AE700 in low lamp mode with about 1000+ hours usage. I don't remember the AE700 ever looking this contrasty.. even when new.
I still don't have a good solution for the PS3 BluRay with my current set up since I never got around to laying HDMI/DVI cables (done in 2003) when I was renovating the place.
At the moment, I have an old Yamaha RXV1500 as a component switch (Shinco EVD and XBox360 with HDDVD) and also upscaling video sources (mainly just SCV set top box) to component video out to the projector. I also have an HD MediaBox (PixelMagic) over VGA. These components are in the customized AV rack next to sofa.
Projector is in a built in cabinet above the sofa on the upper shelf of the cabinet. Lower cabinet housed a Denon 1920 DVD player hooked to my old AE700 over HDMI. Audio was carried over a coax cable (originally planned as a composite video cable).
I replaced my Denon with the PS3. PS3 no coax digital audio out, so audio duty is handled by a makeshift optical cable running loose from the PS3 to the front optical input of the amplifier (dangling). Not pretty or ideal but it works. May have to look for an optical to coax converter tomorrow.
Definitely a big wow watching BluRays on the bigscreen. Not entirely sure why but I felt the picture looked more detailed than on the Amoi. For some reason MPEG2 BRs looked softer on the Amoi lacking the detailedness(?) of HD DVDs on the same display (Amoi). With the HC5000, even the MPEG2 BRs looked pretty good. Of course Click 1080p trailer with VC1 still looks like the best reference material on the PS3.
HDDVDs from the X360 even at 1080i on component looked as detailed and as gorgeous as BR on 1080p HDMI. The stairs scene in the Vatican in MI3 which shimmered in some displays at 1080i, played back properly on the HC5000.
Even Initial D EVD on the Shinco looked way better than I remembered on the AE700.
Next I tried some SD stuff over cable (composite video to Yamaha AV amp, then "upscaled" to interlaced component). Just did some quick channel surfing, but overall the deinterlacing seems better, and less prone to artefacts. Picture seems much sharper and clearer with details I never noticed on the AE700. Not entirely sure if this is the work of the Realta HQV chip or if this is because of the added contrast and resolution.
Next up was the HD MediaBox over VGA. Surprised that I could output in 1080p over VGA. Wonder if X360 VGA@1920x1080 output will work on this... Tested mainly the DIVX 640x350 clips with similar results as with SCV.
I could have sworn I heard an audible click when I switched between Dynamic Iris modes. Maybe it is cos the unit is much quieter than the AE700. Then again, the AE700 never had additional Dynamic Iris modes. It was just on ar off.
And there might have been once or twice I thought I saw the DI adjustment. But this could have been the source material so I can't entirely be sure.
As if by fate, my HD and BR versions of Superman Returns arrived today. Can't wait to put them side by side.
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| Tuesday November 28, 2006|
| 21:48 PM - bktoh|
|In my initial set up of the Wii, you may recall I was a little miffed I couldn't set up the Wii in the roomier living room because the cable for the Wii sensor bar wasn't long enough to reach frin my hifi rack to the projector screen.|
Some reader pointed me to this link
Interesting that the Wii sensor bar wasn't really a sensor after all. It was just a set of IR transmitters arranged 7.5 inches apart which provides a signal that the Wii nunchuk controller received and used to triangulate the position.
I showed the design to a colleague who then reworked this design for a more elegant one. He arranged the IR LEDs in parallel (with 4 on each side), rather than in series. That way if an IR LED were to blow, the other LEDs would still function. And he added a resistor for a more consistent voltage drop. And he added a AC-DC voltage power brick. (ps Thanks Siggy!)
I brought it back and tested it just now! It works great. Amazingly, I think it is even more sensitive than the original one.
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