LG BP335W 3-D WiFi Blu-ray Player

December 9th, 2013

For a while now, i’ve been keeping an eye open for a sub-$100 BD3D player. I’ve got a really nice Oppo I use for everything else, and that seemed like a nice stopgap until I wanted to get a newer one.

About a month ago, a contender appeared. H.H. Gregg, a regional chain, starting offering the LG BP335W for $64.99. Since then, I have seen them at similar prices in other stores including Walgreen’s(!). So I got one to try out.

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to, but the two shortcomings are the obvious ones you can see by looking at the back of the device and may not worry you:

It only has HDMI out. No analog audio or video. Just one HDMI port. Good thing about that is it makes testing audio and video quality completely meaningless- that’ll totally depend on your other devices. Bad thing is that if you’re not running all-digital, it’s not for you.

It only has WiFi. No wired ethernet. This is a problem for me- or would be if I wanted to use any of the networking features. Might be OK for you if you have fast enough WiFi within reach of your TV. Since everything else attached to my display has an Ethernet jack, my A/V system is hardwired and the house WiFi doesn’t reach that far, so I probably won’t be testing any of the network features.

It has one more port on the front: USB. It will apparently play many types of data files from external devices. I will test this more as soon as I get a chance.

It plays CDs, DTS-CDs, all region-1-playable DVDs (including PAL) upconverted to 1080, BDs, and BD3Ds. It does not play VCDs, SA-CDs, and DVD-As. It’s supposed to handle all recordable versions of CD/DVD/BD but I only tested CD-R and DVD-R.

Remote is small and unlighted (so useless to me and others with dark rooms), but the range seems decent (15′ away was no problem). Included battery was pretty much DOA, but I replaced it with a new AAA and it works OK.

More later…

The Sequels Project: Longest “Horror” Movie Series

January 5th, 2012

I’ve been playing with the IMDb “movie-links” data (“movie connections” in the web interface) in an effort to find a way to map that stuff graphically. Still not making much progress with that, but I’ve found some interesting info.

Of late we’ve been watching some of the more famous horror movie series. There’s a cliche that every slasher movie has a part 12, but, of course, it’s not really true. Got me wondering, though, about how many sequels different years and genres have spawned.

Here’s a list of the most “followed” features (that doesn’t count remakes or spin-offs) that don’t follow another movie and are classified as Horror in the IMDb. I had to massage the output a bit because the raw data contains things that aren’t in the web version (and probably shouldn’t be, looks like).

  • 27 “sequels”: Godzilla (1954) — I’d argue (and the hardcore fans would agree) that this isn’t really so. The movies are in separate series and make more of a tree than a line. I’ll save you the explanation since you can just read the Wikipedia entry.
  • 18 sequels: Troublesome Night (1997) — I’ve always love this movie’s understated title. Each movie tells several stories and I don’t think there’s any continuity among the entries in the series. This isn’t the only series of anthological movies on the chart.
  • 13 sequels: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) — I’m loath to include this one because it’s really the first movie in a Sherlock Holmes series, and ought to be under character series, not horror, I’d say. We’ll let it slide for the sake of the list though.
  • 12 sequels: La marca del Hombre-lobo (1968) — I broke my usual rule of using English titles for this one because I didn’t know what to put. I’d say The Mark of the Wolfman, but I guess the original confusing English title (Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror) stuck. This is the series of Paul Naschy werewolf movies, which went longer than Universal’s or Hammer’s.
  • 11 sequels: Shake, Rattle & Roll (1984) — If you’re like me, this is the place where you stopped nodding. No, I’ve never heard of them either, but they’re apparently quite popular in the Philippines. Looks like they might make more, so this could climb up the chart.
  • 10 sequels:
    • Friday the 13th (1980/I) — …and if you’re like some other people, here’s where you start nodding. Everybody knows this one has had a bunch, and though this is apparently over, there are more coming for the “remake”. (The raw data lists a cancelled Elm Street prequel as a sequel to this too for some reason.)
    • Puppetmaster (1989) — (Somehow this got deleted from the list used for the original post. Sorry.) Charles Band loves evil toys. This might’ve even missed a few as I’m not sure all the connections are right for these.
  • 8 sequels:
    • Dracula (1958) — That would be the Hammer Dracula, of course. I missed getting all the Anchor Bay discs when they were out, and the rights are now scattered around so much we may never have a box set of all of them.
    • Hellraiser (1987) — One just came out on video, apparently so the studio can retain rights to the series. Expect another one within five years unless they get the remake out by then.
    • Tomie (1999) — Like the title character, this series apparently can’t be killed. I’ve only seen a couple of these so far- I have the old set before they made the new batch but haven’t got through it all yet. Reception of the latest seems to be good, so there may be many more yet to come.
  • 7 sequels:
    • Halloween (1978) — The classic, I guess, though I’ve not yet brought myself to watch all of them. I’m with Carpenter, two was enough about a guy with a knife. And count me among those who love III. (The raw data also lists a fan film as a sequel.)
    • Children of the Corn (1984) — The raw data lists the short film version instead, but I disqualified those (and that should be a “version of” anyway). Similar to Hellraiser above, this has a new entry out- even though it has already been remade.
    • Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965) — Uh, really? This is listed as a series of anthology movies. That seems like a cheat, but so are a couple of the entries above. At least they had the decency to title them as a series unlike these guys.
    • Frankenstein (1931) — The Universal Frankenstein, that is. Some of the sequels crossed over with other Universal movies, so, like Freddy vs. Jason, they count on more than one entry.
    • The Amityville Horror (1979) — This series fizzled out long before they remade it. It’s also the third series on the list with a 3-D entry. Bet you missed one of those. (Don’t be embarrassed- it was news to me too!)

I might add the sixes later if I get a chance. That includes a bunch of popular ones. [ I’ve found a few omissions- that’s what happens when you let a draft sit around for a while. I’ll fix it this weekend. ]

Neither “Good” nor “Rich”, I’m Guessing

June 27th, 2011

Previously, I wrote about an experience at a local cinema where the 3-D was being projected incorrectly. That was, I believe, only the second movie they’d shown there, so I cut them some slack. I haven’t had any trouble since on any of their (now three!) screens in quite a few showings. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I went to see Green Lantern (I know, it was T’s birthday and we had movie cash) and they blew it again. One of the trailers they ran was for Transformers, and the stars in the background were in the foreground. Not a good sign.

I gave it the parallax test (ironic, considering the movie, turns out), and decided the trailers were wrong, but maybe the feature would be right. Nope. The movie starts in space too, and the stars were popping out of the screen. I turned my glasses over and told T to do likewise. She didn’t for some reason, but she didn’t barf on me. Didn’t see the movie in 3-D either of course, but didn’t barf.

If you happen to see the movie, you can experiment during the end credits. The stars are well in the background and the lettering is all way out. The early part is animated and swooshes around impressively, but even the roll after that is in 3-D. Of course by then, you may have seen the rest of the movie wrong.

I sent some “feedback” on GQTI‘s website. I’m not sure how effective that will be. I’ll let you know. I suggested they add a test pattern to the pre-show stuff so everyone (and hopefully someone on their staff) can see whether the glasses are working right. I’ve seen several of these used on video, and they’re very helpful.

Until then, if you’re at a 3-D screening, pay attention to what you’re seeing, especially if it doesn’t feel right. I don’t want you barfing on me either.

To Serve and Project

May 11th, 2011

I finally have ordered parts for my fileserver. Hey, it’s only about a year overdue. This is mostly for backing store for the DVRs (if that sounds silly, you have no idea how much DVR I have) and to back up the other machines.

Might also put it on some screening room duty, but I’m already having noise issues up there from the air handling, so I think, for now, it’ll stay down in the basement and telecommute. I did get it with HDMI, though, so maybe later, though I thought I’d just get a small machine to go up there as a playback/DVR machine.

I really should replace the firewall. It’s slow enough that my network speed at home is compromised. (It really is a 486 or K5 or something.) Kind of figured I might put the current mail/web server on that duty and get a new one of those.

Watch this spot for the exciting build details! ‘Cause I know y’all love watching memtest86 run for hours on end…

Today’s Tom Sawyer

April 6th, 2011

I’ve been listening to a lot of 5-channel music lately. Well, I’ve been picking up a lot of 5-channel music and getting around to listening when I can. Some of this stuff is hard to find, so I buy when I find it and listen when I’m good and ready.

But today, a disc jumped the queue. Not because it’s my favorite (hey, I’ve still got a bunch of Genesis to stroll through), but because I figured this was an excellent chance to spread the Good Word of multi-channel music.

I’m sure I’m not the only one (just check sa-cd.net) who’s been annoyed by the half-assed adoption of high-resolution audio formats. It’s particularly distressing when discs go out of print and become astronomically expensive. A few reissues would work wonders for sales of new music. So any time I get more people on board is a good day.

And today, my friends, we have a new weapon: Rush fans. I was going to say “Crazy Rush fans”, but that’s redundant. Rush fans are fervent beyond mere mortals, and I’m hoping that does the trick.

Today, Rush’s “Moving Pictures” was re-released. It’s sold in three formats: CD, CD/DVD-A, and CD/BD. The latter two have hi-res stereo and 5.1 mixes as well as videos of the band in the studio where and when (and maybe some as) they recorded the album with Jack Nance keeping an eye on them.

Most places don’t have the BD version yet, but Best Buy does, and it’s only $20 this week. I picked up the BD mostly because it has more audio options and because the menu system is probably friendlier to messing around while the music is playing (though most DVD-As do a pretty good job). Obviously the videos were shot on video in 1980 (didn’t clock the camera model, but you can see the videographer at work in the photos), and they aren’t HD, so that’s not a reason to go BD instead of DVD-A.

The audio bitrates on DVD-A are nothing to sneeze at either, but if your DVD player won’t play DVD-A tracks (most won’t), you’ll miss out on the really hi-res stuff when your player falls back to the more compressed DVD-V versions. May not make a difference depending on your system, but if you’ve got a BD player, why take the chance, right?

This is a great opportunity to vote with your wallet. You can support high-resolution audio formats and the reissue of classic albums. And Rush. (It’s also a lot cheaper than the $170 a ticket it costs to see them these days.)

Were you looking for a review of the album? I can’t say much about the music that hasn’t already been said. If there’s one Rush album beloved by fans and proles alike, it’s this one. It’s the Rush gateway drug. C’mon, you know you want some.

How’re the mixes? The little bit of the 2-channel I listened to was good. I haven’t pulled out my old CD to compare (think I have it on vinyl too), but I imagine the new version is much better.

But I doubt I’ll listen to it all the way through, at least in my big room. The 5.1 mixes give the music a lot more space. There’s no gaudy panning (well, that wasn’t in the stereo version) or other “surroundy” distractions. It just drops you smack in the middle of this mix so you can hear all of what’s going on. In other words, it works good like a 5.1 mix should.

Just switch from 2- to 5.1-channel and back a few times, or check out the opening of “The Camera Eye” if you’re not sold on this multi-channel stuff. You’ll really be able to hear all the details. You can show your friends that Rush’s music is really as intricate as you always say it is.

On the BD, I switched between the PCM and DTS-HD 5.1 mixes and the PCM sounded a little better (less harsh) sometimes, but I think they’re just at different levels (often are), and I didn’t run down to grab the dB meter to check. I quit messing around, turned it to DTS and lowered the volume a bit so I could just sit and listen to the rest of the album. It’s certainly the best I’ve ever heard the album sound.

But, hey, what do I know? I’m not a Rush fan. Yet.

That’s How We Get Down For the Holidays!

December 11th, 2010

When was the last time you heard some new, good, holiday-themed pop music? I mean, we get a lot of embarrassing stuff that never seems to die. It’s enough to make you give up.

But don’t! Target has a present for you, and, trust me, you want to open this early.

Just don’t blame me if you get that Blackalicious song stuck in your head. You’ve been warned.

Updates and New Posts Soon

December 7th, 2010

I’ve got several half-written articles (some on real topics instead of just me goofing around), but haven’t had time and motivation simultaneously to finish them. I’m working to remedy that, but I’ve thought that before…

Comcraptastic! Continuation

September 4th, 2010

Argh. I should know better.

Comcast came today and did nothing. When my appointment was “rescheduled” (that is scheduled after being cancelled because Comcast’s system sucks), they neglected to put in the part about splitting the cable and, oh yeah, about HD. Even though I get HD on my cable box and obviously would want it on my TiVo. (For those keeping score, I have four perfectly good SD DVRs- the TiVo was installed specifically to do HD.)

So the guy installed an SD CableCARD, which, at the moment does me no good (I get all those channels on analog for a few weeks yet) and complicates the cabling I have to do to keep analog cable working. Oh yeah! And increases my cable bill! Crap. And had the nerve to tell me that what I wanted was going to take hours to do whenever they do it. Yeah, Dipstick, that’s why I took yesterday off work to get it done.

He also said that dispatch wanted to know what happened to the CableCARD they installed in January. No such thing- unless they mean my cable boxes which I pointed out for clarification. At this point, the contractor was annoyed too.

He did confirm my theory though. It is true that Comcast can only have one order open per account. I am very glad I don’t have Internet service through them too. Once I call for them to come do this service, I cannot get any other service until it is complete. Think about that for a minute.

And, worst of all, I have to call them up and schedule the new appointment explicitly (again). On the plus side, we might get it right, but I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to be home for another day, and I don’t have time before the new TV season starts.

Comcast keeps telling us the digital transition won’t be hard. They could be true in other hands, but it’s not true as is. It is hard because they make it hard.

It’s Comcraptastic! III: The Search for Service

September 3rd, 2010

Today was supposed to be D-Day- the day we start the jump into digital cable here at Photosurealism HQ. “Start” because there are still significant remote interface issues to work out (believe me, I’m not happy about that either), but that was the project for tomorrow.

“Was” because Comcast completely dropped the ball. I mean, I may have been hard on them in the past (OK, I don’t mean that), but this is inexcusably inept.

I ordered a TiVo a while back. To use that on digital cable, you need a CableCARD. I poked around the Comcast site which has zero info on CableCARDs, so I used the chat and they said I needed to schedule a service call to get it installed. That in itself is ridiculous since it’s the same procedure as setting up one of the other digital devices a customer can do herself, but OK.

So I called (on August 23rd) and got an appointment for them to come this morning (September 3rd) and install it. I also told them we’d need to split the cable to make some more jacks. OK.

The TiVo arrived sooner than I’d expected, but I left the appointment alone because I was planning to be home today. On the 26th, I tried to order the digital converters for my other equipment online and couldn’t. I contacted the online chat at Comcast and they said I couldn’t order because there was an order (my CableCARD install) open already.

I told them I needed three digital to analog converters. And they ordered them for me and gave me an order number. They confirmed that I still needed the CableCARD. Yes, I do.

The converters arrived and I tried to activate them but couldn’t. That’s OK, the Comcast guy can do it when he comes. I bet we need more cable amplification or better splitters or something.

So in preparation for today I moved two of the Replays upstairs and wired everything up except the cable which needs to be split. Also means I can recable downstairs and clean some things up.

Then I waited by the phone for Comcast to call. They call thirty minutes ahead and were supposed to be here between eight and noon, so by 10:30 I was pretty annoyed.

At 12:05, I was incensed.

I called Comcast and was told that the appointment was no longer booked, though the operator could see I had scheduled it on the 23rd, it was cancelled when they resolved my order on the 26th. No, they can’t come today- not that I wanted to wait here the rest of the day for them anyway.

I’m going to be incredibly charitable here because I see what could’ve caused these problems: a bad ticketing system. I believe that because we have a bad ticketing system here at work (yeah, I said it). But ours doesn’t have this problem.

Looks like they can only have one ticket open per account. That’d explain why I couldn’t order the converters and why they didn’t come today. Well, that and a healthy does of carelessness.

They know I need a CableCARD. They know I don’t have it (because they didn’t install it and there’s no other way to do it). The problem should not have been resolved- or the appointment shouldn’t have been cancelled. Same thing apparently.

Doesn’t matter the cause- I made an appointment and they cancelled it without asking or telling me. This shouldn’t happen for any reason, ever.

So now I have to recable everything again so analog cable will work tonight. And I can’t begin on my remote problem because the cable converters won’t work so I can’t try to change channels on them. That puts me at least a day behind.

They won’t be here until tomorrow afternoon, which could mean pretty late in the day, so that’s probably another day behind. I’ll be lucky to get this project done even with a five-day weekend.

Thanks, Comcast! Thanks for nuttin’.

Because It’s in Surround, It Turns Me On…

February 16th, 2010

I will reveal a secret that I probably shouldn’t. If you have surround sound on a DVD-Video or DVD-Audio (better, and this may be your chance to find out if your machine will do it) player, run out and get the 2-disc version of The Beatles’ Love. Make sure you hold out for the 2-disc version. It’s in a thicker cardboard box, not a jewel case. It’ll probably cost more than you’d like and you might have to wait for it if you order it from somewhere, but it’s worth it.

Now take that DVD and play it in surround sound to show your friends how badass your system is. If they want to borrow it, lend them the CD from the box instead. They’ll go crazy wondering how you got so much cooler than they are.

Only one of my disc players is a DVD-A player as far as I know. I’m certain my other Oppo isn’t. Guess I should try the rest of them now that I have a bunch of DVD-As around.

All the DVD-As I’ve seen include DVD-V content too, and it’s good, but the bitrate is way lower. Whether that makes much difference depends on your hardware, your ears, and the content. The Downward Spiral is considerably crunchier in DVD-A (or SA-CD) for example.

I’ve been buying up a bunch of multi-channel music lately and have only begun to listen to it on the new system. “Love” gives good demo, that’s for sure. And it has a much wider appeal than Trent Reznor screaming about suicide (not that there’s anything wrong with that).