Category Archives: HDTV and Home Theater

National HD in O&O markets

1 800 263 0028. Let me write that again: 1 800 263 0028. That’s the number to call if you’re a DirecTV subscriber with HDTV service. It turns out that you can get, at no extra cost, the east or west coast feeds of any network if the network owns the local affiliate station. That’s called an O&O station, for “owned and operated”. In Toledo, WTVG is owned by ABC, so we qualify to get the ABC national feed. I’m still trying to figure out if the Fox station is an O&O or not; I’ve seen conflicting reports.

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Massive HDTV recording tip

I wish I’d thought of this: a smart guy came up with the idea of creating a TiVo wishlist with “2004” as the search term to catch all movies released in 2004. That’s not the cool part– now I can create a wishlist for a video type of “HDTV” and have instant access to the list of what’s on in HD. W00t.

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Discovery HD is showing the documentary “Trinity and Beyond” on Saturday. Now I won’t have to buy it.


Filed under HDTV and Home Theater, Musings

Stop the broadcast flag by calling Sen DeWine

The entertainment industry is still trying: I got an “action alert” email from EFF asking people to call Senators on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that owns technical issues. Apparently the forces of darkness are trying to sneak a broadcast flag amendment into an appropriations vote. This comes after the the DC circuit Court of Appeals struck down the original broadcast flag rules. If you value your ability to use devices like iPods and TiVos, call or email your Senator right now. It only takes a minute to do.


Filed under HDTV and Home Theater

Amazon sale on Eytmotics ER-6i

I lost the ER-4ps that I got for Christmas, so I bought some ER-6is to see how they sounded. They sound almost as good and they were hella cheap(er). Now Amazon has the ER-6i on sale for $89, which is a terrific deal. If you’ve been wanting a set of these but have balked at the price, well, balk no longer.

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Flag waving

This just in: the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit just struck down the FCC’s broadcast flag requirement. w00t.

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Free 140-hour TiVos

TiVo is running an interesting promotion: buy a $155 12-month subscription and get a free 140-hour TiVo unit. This post at the TiVo Community has the details. Even if you’re an existing customer, this is a pretty good deal, since the $155 subscription turns into about 22 months at the $6.95/month rate. Heck, if you buy a lifetime sub you still come out about $200 ahead, since that’s normally what the 140-hr boxes cost. Want one? Email me, but do it before 4/30, when this expires.

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Anybody want a TiVo?

TiVo is running a promotion for people who have referred customers to them: I can get up to 5 140-hour TiVos for free with the purchase of a 12-month subscription ($155) or a lifetime subscription ($299). This is quite a deal, since the TiVo box itself normally goes for $199. I don’t need one, but if you’re in the market for a new or replacement TiVo, drop me a line before 4/30 and we’ll talk.

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The future of broadcasting: dead

Bob was talking about how broadcasting is doomed, and then I found this: A Broadcaster’s Christmas Carol.

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DCT-6412 first impressions

I’ve spent a short while playing with the DCT-6412 since I got it. Here are a few random observations; I can’t really say this is a review, because it isn’t (and isn’t meant to be) comprehensive.

  • It does what it claims: provide DVR/PVR functionality for HDTV cable signals. On that grounds alone, I’m happy to pay the extra $5/month (which means that, after 200 months, I’d come out ahead buying an HDTiVo).
  • The iGuide interface is reasonably functional for watching live TV. It’s much faster, and better-looking, than the interface on the older DCT-6100 series boxes. As a bonus, you can choose a color scheme from a list of eight or so predefined sets.
  • In general, the TiVo interface makes it much easier to perform common tasks with fewer button presses.
  • There’s a popup “quick menu” that lets you quickly select from the most common functions; this appears as a thin strip at the bottom of the display superimposed over whatever you’re watching. Combine this with the “favorite channel” list and you have an easy way to jump between HDTV programs.
  • The program status bar (or what Moto calls the flip bar; it shows recording status, time remaining, whether the program is paused, etc) is remarkably ugly.
  • You can toggle the front-panel display between a channel display and a clock. This is a great feature, since the clock is bright and easy to read. However, when the unit is recording, or when you pause live or recorded TV, the display changes to “rEC” or “PAU” respectively.
  • Speaking of pause: if you pause a program, the 6412 will happily sit there paused forever. It still seems to record OK while paused, but it doesn’t jump back to live TV after a preset interval like the TiVo does.
  • The interface for choosing programs to record is fairly terrible. It’s easy to record a show you’re watching (just press the remote Record button) or one you see in the guide (press Select when it’s highlighted, then Select twice more to schedule and confirm the recording). However, the “search by name” function is buried, and it has a bizarre multiple-choice selection metaphor that I’ve had trouble getting used to.
  • There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to schedule a recording for a particular time and channel (e.g. Sunday, 8-9pm, channel 650). This is such an obvious feature that I just must not have found it yet.
  • No Season Pass feature, nor anything like unto it. However, there is a nice listing of HDTV programs.
  • The 6412 has a 14-day guide, but at least in some cases it’s missing programs. Example: yesterday (10 November) I wanted to record a program that airs on 22 November. It wasn’t in the guide yet. I haven’t reproduced this so I don’t know what’s causing it yet.

I’ll post more details and impressions once I’ve had a chance to use the unit more. So far, I haven’t spent a lot of time watching recorded programs because of Halo 2 work.


Filed under HDTV and Home Theater, Reviews

DCT-6412 arrives

If you need me, I’ll be in front of the TV. The Buckeye installer just dropped off a shiny new DCT-6412 HD DVR. It doesn’t have a full set of program guide data yet, so I can’t set up all the scheduled recordings I want. However, I did set up a few test recordings, so we’ll see how well it works. The iGuide interface is a huge improvement over the crappy TV Guide guide for the DCT-6100, although it’s not quite as sharp as TiVo’s interface. More on the unit after I’ve had a few days to wring it out and read the manual.


Filed under HDTV and Home Theater

Buckeye launches 6412 PVR 11/7

I just got mail from Judy Carter at Buckeye Cable: they’re launching the Motorola DCT-6412 HD PVR/cable box on 11/7. By “launching”, I mean that starting on the 7th you can call them to schedule an install appointment, or you can swing y their Southwick office to pick one up. They’re charging another $5/month for PVR functionality, which I can live with if it means I can finally PVR all of the network shows I want to watch in HD.

Update: trabblc asked two good questions: will the new units have the “iGuide” guide rev, and will both tuners be activated? Buckeye’s answer: yes to both. Good thing, too, because without dual tuners this would be mostly worthless to me.

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Toledo DirecTV locals finally arrive

FINALLY! After several postponements and delays, DirecTV launches local-into-local service to Toledo today. Thanks to the fine folks over at DBSForums, I was able to call and make an install appointment. The channel lineup includes all of the local broadcast stations, even WLMB. Now, time to check with Buckeye to see if they’ve got an ETA for the Motorola DCT-6412 yet…

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Save Betamax

Congress is considering legislation called the INDUCE Act. It would, not to put too fine a point on it, outlaw many of the common devices found in your house. This might seem drastic, but the basic point is pretty clear. From

The Betamax VCR died more than 15 years ago, but the Supreme Court decision that made the Betamax and all other VCRs legal lived on. In Sony vs. Universal (known as the Betamax decision) the Court ruled that because VCRs have legitimate uses, the technology is legal—even if some people use it to copy movies. Of course, the movie industry was lucky it lost the case against VCRs, because home video soon became Hollywood’s largest source of revenue. And the freedom to use and develop new technology that was protected by the Betamax decision set the stage for the incredible growth in computer technology we’ve seen in the last few decades.

The INDUCE Act would overturn the precedent set in Sony v Universal, creating huge financial liabilities for any company that makes technology that might be used to copy copyrighted material. Goodbye, TiVo. Goodbye, iPod. Goodbye, home DVD burner. Etc. The SaveBetamax folks are asking people to sign up to call their Congressional reps at a preset time; by scheduling calls, they hope to produce a steady flow of calls during the day. I signed up, and (IMNSHO) you should too. Don’t take my word for it, though; even Mr. Rogers (God rest his soul) agreed with the Betamax decision.

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OnHD.TV launches

Philip Swann, a well-known TV pundit, has just launched a new site: OnHD.TV. It purports to be an all-in-one, consumer-focused guide to HDTV, including what shows are in HD, which ones are worth watching from a production-values standpoint, and how to choose suitable HD hardware. Stop by and check it out.

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