Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My grade school is turning 80!

Nice little write up about my grade/middle school (and the parish my parents belong to). My father also attended Holy Family... as did my mother before she moved to Guardian Angels (also mentioned in the article).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Commodore will rise again!

So it looks like Commodore 64 games are coming to Wii Virtual Console!

As an owner of a Commodore 128 that spent more than 90% of its life booted into C64 mode to play games... this is absolutely, awesome!

Unfortunately, plans right now are limited to Europe, but I can't believe they won't come here eventually.

Completely unrelated: I posted some thoughts of mine on buying expensive electronics (online and otherwise) in my friend, Aaron's blog this morning. I think this is generally good advice for anyone shopping for electronics.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

So I took my own advice...

So in yesterday's post I mentioned that HD-DVD players are often excellent scaling standard-definition DVD players. While I do believe that statement is generally true... it's more true for some then others. I'm specifically referring to Toshiba's HD-XA2 to HD-DVD player.

Because this is a "second generation" model and stores have moved on to the "third generation" they are hard to find... particularly for a good deal. My local Fry's has exactly 1 on the shelf. It's an open-box. They want $530 for this player. Just to be clear.... this player originally retailed for $999.99.

I managed to pick one up for $251 shipped from Admittedly it's refurbished so we'll see what condition it arrives in, but for that price it was too good to pass up. Heck... The next best price I can find online for one (even refurbished) is $299 before shipping!

While it's certainly conceivable that there will be a better deal at some point in time... I doubt it will be common.

The HD-XA2 (at the time of this writing) is currently ranked the fifth best standard definition DVD player (click the "get results" button in the middle of the page) ever made. The entries above it include the $3500 Denon DVD-5910, an $800 Samsung Blu-Ray player, the Oppo Digital OPDV971H (no longer made), and the $230 Oppo Digital DV-981HD.

Only the last player mentioned is competitive with the XA2 in terms of price, and when when you take into account shipping, I think the XA2 is a better deal. Besides... the XA2
can still play HD-DVDs! Also, unlike my PS3, the XA2 can bitstream DTS-MA and Dolby TrueHD audio to my Denon receiver. I'll admit I won't get to enjoy that on too many discs since the future of HD-DVD is limited, but still... I think it's a good deal.

Of course, Shannon thinks I'm nuts, but I bought this player with my "allowance" money so it's just going to cut in to some games/movie purchases for a couple of months.... it's not like it will affect our household budget.

If anyone is curious about more details on this player. Here's a review from about a year ago on High-Def Digest. Like the note at the top of the page indicates... the bulk of the review was done using a very-early firmware... and newer firmware updates have definitely improved some of this player's pain-points.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

HD-DVD is R.I.P.

It's Official! HD-DVD is "dead". You can find numerous articles online summarizing Toshiba's official press release, but they all essentially say the same thing. Toshiba will stop manufacturing HD-DVD players by the end of March. And since Toshiba is by far and away the primary manufacturer and proponent of HD-DVD... well it's over.

However, I agree with this arstechnica article. I'm not sure that the future for Blu-Ray is totally rosy with digital downloads on the horizon. That said, with Blu-Ray's much better storage capacity over HD-DVD... I think Blu-Ray stands a much better chance against down-loadable movies then HD-DVD ever did.

Despite my insistence for some time that Blu-Ray was going to win this format war. I ultimate went "purple" and purchased both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players, and have discs in both formats. However whereas I've purchased about 30 Blu-Ray discs so far... I have exactly 7 HD-DVDs. Five of those were "free" with the purchase of a player and 1 of them was a Birthday gift. So I've only really bought one disc out-of-pocket.. and it's the Digital Video Essentials calibration disc!

Something to consider though... HD-DVD players make very good up-scaling Standard-Definition DVD players... and as the bottom falls out on their prices over the next month... it may be a the cheapest way to get a very-good up-scaling DVD player. It's definately something to consider. I know I won't be quickly replacing all 600 or so DVD's with Blu-Ray discs anytime soon. So a good upconverting DVD player is definately good thing to have.

My genuine condolences to early HD-DVD adopters. As someone that owns both Super Audio CDs and DVD Audio discs, it definitely stinks to sink money into something and then witness the future dry up. That said, I don't think anyone can really be surprised by the outcome. I think it was obvious since before the launch of either format that one of them would have a premature lifespan... so regardless of which format you backed... if you were really honest with yourself at some point you considered the possibility that your chosen format wouldn't be the one that would "make it" (or at the very least would survive the other).

However, as I've said in the past.... the best future for HD-media was a single-format future. So in that respect, the end of HD-DVD represents (I believe anyway) a brighter future for HD media on the whole.

And for the record, I'll probably buy a few HD-DVD's when they get cheap. My HD-DVD player still works and some of the discs are really great, and it might be some time before we see them on Blu-Ray. When they get cheap enough that I wouldn't feel like my money was wasted rebuying it later.... you better believe I would pick one up.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Time for Marquette again!

It'll be interesting to see which Louisville team shows up on Tuesday. The team that beat Marquette last time or the team that lost to Cincinnati, Uconn, et al.

At least it's on in HD.

For completeness, here's some pre-game articles: