Thursday, 29 September 2005

Specifying a new AV system

My good friend Rog at HatBlog reminded me that I haven't been blogging about any new technology for a while. So I thought I'd start some new entries on my new AV system that I'm currently researching.

To start with I've been looking at the heart of the new system - the AV Amplifier. My current top choice is the new Denon AVC-A11XV

Details of AVC-A11XV:
A/V Surround Amplifier 7-Ch Power Amp
140 W x 7 ohms output
THX Ultra2
Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Headphone, HDCD Decoder
DTS, DTS-ES Discrete/Matrix6.1, DTS 96/24, DTS Neo:6
New D.D.S.C.-Digital Circuit
New 32-bit floating point DSP
Advanced AL24 Processing
IEEE 1394 digital interface
Pure Direct Mode
Auto Setup and Auto Room EQ with Audyssey MultEQ XT
HDMI/DVI digital video In/Out terminals
Analogue video up/down conversion with interlaced images
Analogue video up conversion capability to HDMI Output

Whoaa - thats lots of sockets!

One of the best things about the Denon AVC-A11XV is the provision of 3 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output - including video upscaling

Inside the Denon AVC-A11XV

Its a bit of a beast. Look at the size of that transformer! All adds up to 7x140W output. Nice...

Sony RDR HXD910 Freeview HDD DVD Recorder

Sony have just launched two new DVD Recorders the HXD710 and the HXD910.

Both have Freeview receivers, HDD (160Gb and 250Gb) and DVD Recorded (all types except DVD-RAM). The HXD910 has the additional benefit of an HDMI output. This is really cool as for the 1st time you can get recorded Freeview content all the way to your display without it leaving the digital domain!

I'm struggling to get confirmation on prices - both machines have had reviews with prices being quoted of £400 and £500 (Sony quoted prices of £499 and £699!) The review price on HXD910 seems a bit cheap - why would anyone go for 710 when for an extra £100 you get 100Gb and HDMI output?

BTW the above picture is actually the HX910 - note the lack of a 'D' this is the non DVB/Freeview version of the machine which has been available for some time (Haven't managed to get a nice big picture of 910 anywhere yet)

I think I'm probably going to get the HXD910 before any of the rest of the system - at the moment my old Pioneer DVD player has stopped playing CDs, can only output on S-VHS (because I use RGB scart on TV for Freeview) and I don't have any way of recording any programmes (VHS machine is pretty ancient and unusable)

There are some new machines coming from Pioneer though which may give the Sony a run for its money (the maing argument being possibly twin tuners)

(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Pioneer PDP-436XDE Plasma Display

Pioneer PDP-436XDE Media Box and Remote

Pioneer PDP-436XDE Plasma display. The display is 1024x768 resolution which is 'HD-Ready' but I don't like the fact that it doesn't support the minimum horizontal resolution of 1280. HD-Ready is dependent on being able to support only the vertical resolution of 720.

Here's a rant I posted on the Digital Spy Forum

I'm currently specifying a new AV system and have been struggling with the display choice.

The display must:

be between 37 and 45inches large (room isnt big enough to support 50inch)
have HDMI/HDCP input, ideally also have freeview tuner
Good contrast ratio
be HD-Ready*

*HD-Ready - what a loaded term....

So, I definately want something which at a minimum can support the SkyHD resolution of 720p - but hang on, the horizontal resolution of 1280 would also be good (which is what you get with SkyHD on 720p)

But.... what about 1080i, this comes with a horizontal resolution of 1920.... not many screen out there that support that!

Finally I want to plug the Playstation 3 into this and play games at 1920x1080p (as well as Blu-Ray DVDs if they get output at such a resolution)

I can't see ANY plasmas in my size range (or for that matter in much larger size) that support this resolution. The only thing that does is the Sharp Aquos LC45GD1E LCD which not only is over £5000 but also has a contrast ratio of 800:1 - sadly much less than the plasma I liked, the Pioneer PDP-436XDE which has contrast ratio of 3000:1 but only 1024x768 resolution

Why don't the magazine reviewers and sites such as this discuss the fundamental flaw in having what may look like a really good picture - but which misses a lot of the original data - or quality of the source material. Its like connecting some crappy speakers to your £000's of HIFI

In computing we use the term 'native resolution' this denotes the number of pixels that a display supports. You absolutely make damn sure that your source is the same as the native resolution as you otherwise have to upscale or downscale which produces a worse image than if it was at native rez (artifacts, blurring, etc)

So.... my simple question is where are all the displays at 1920x1080 ? (and why aren't more of you complaining!?!?)

Monday, 5 September 2005

Sunday, 4 September 2005

Simon and Sam, Denise and Ethan, Larry, Tony and Beatrice and Lavinia
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Denise and Ethan in the ball-pond
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Andrew, Lucy and Family in the sun
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Ummm, tastes nice!
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Have you seen my beer?
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Peter and Friends
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Simon and Sam. Please can I have some beer daddy?
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Heckling from audience
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

My wife and I....
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Cutting the cake
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

25 years on and still smiling!
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

A Toast!
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004

Andrew and Lucy pose for the camera
(c) Ethan Pinnell 2004