Monday, February 27, 2006

Catching up

Battlestar Gallactica continues to kick ass, but I forgot to talk about the Admiral Cain character. Yeah yeah it’s a little late to mention it now, but anyway. When she first came on the show, I had this odd déjà vu feeling. It wasn’t till I looked up the actress, Michelle Forbes, on IMDB that I was reminded she played one of my other favorite sci-fi characters - Ensign/ Lieutenant Ro Laren. Both are strong-willed, stubborn ladies. Guess it’s a bit of type casting. Even though Cain is played as a heavy, I really like the character. I can’t talk more about her since it would be a spoiler.

PSP Media Manager
I’ve had more time to mess with the PSP Media Manager and I have to say it’s pretty cool. I’ve only used the photo and video management functions so far, but both work great. The video quality is fantastic, even when setting the conversion to the lower setting. There is still plenty of functionality I’d like to see added to it, but I’m liking it right now.

DS musing
DS owners may have noticed that some 3rd party games eventually disappear off shelves. I’m not sure how much more complex manufacturing cards are vs. cartridges, but it’s certainly not as easy as CD/DVDs. It makes me a bit nervous now to wait too long to jump on DS games I want or even sort of want. I kinda wanted Lost in Blue, but now it’s almost impossible to find at regular price. 1st party titles are a different story, although I’m not sure how plentiful a title like Super Peach Princess will be a few months from now. Fortunately, DS games are a bit more affordable than regular console or PSP games.

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Sure there are some good podcasts out there, but few are truly great. I’ve been catching up on the Ricky Gervais show and love it so far. I missed most of the early episodes and it appears they’ll be made available for a fee as soon as the second season starts. I’m a little ashamed to admit my favorite is Tim Gunn’s podcast for the second season of Project Runway. He takes you behind the scenes of each new episode and it’s just fantastic stuff.

Friday, February 10, 2006

To Blu-ray or not Blu-ray: aka The early adopter itch.

It's official, Blu-ray discs are going to be more expensive than DVDs. Sony announced that catalog titles will wholesale for $17.95 and new releases will wholesale for $23.45. Retailers are free to charge what they like on top of that, so I’m thinking the catalog will go for $24.99 and new releases anywhere from $34.99 to $29.99. Combine that fact with the reality of initial price points for most HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc players are confirmed to be around the $1000 level. Toshiba will have two players that are somewhat more affordable at $799 and $499, but that’s still a healthy chunk of change. I’m usually an early adopter (bought a DVD player within the first year of availability), but there’s just no way I’ll get a stand alone player having just bought a 360 and eventually a PS3 and Nintendo Revolution (and now the redesigned DS…ooh).

I’ve been enjoying HD movies on digital cable, so it’s not like I’m starving for HD entertainment. Just have to force myself to be patient until the PS3 comes out before buying some Blu-ray discs. Even then, I’m sure the first batch won’t have as many special features so they can re-release the same movie for like the fifth time. The only drawback to my PS3 plan is that Warner Bros. movies will only be in the HD-DVD format (at least until one format pulls way ahead). That means no Lord of the Rings or Matrix for a while.

Another potential hurdle is the copy protection for both formats. According to The Digital Bits and other sources, the players will only pump out the full 1080i signals through HDMI cables. Early adopters like myself with HDTVs sans HDMI are likely out of luck (I do have DVI though, so might be able to find a work around).

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Speaking of HD, I was never even remotely tempted by the myriad of tiny video cameras that record to SD cards. That was until I saw the upcoming Sanyo Xacti VPC – HD1 that records in 720p widescreen! The more amazing thing was that you can fit 21 minutes of HD video on a 1GB SD card, 42 minutes on a 2GB card. That’s pretty damn good. To cap things off, it takes 5.1 megapixel snapshots and has a 10x zoom. Very nice. Still, I’m not sure what I would take video of. The HD1 is $799 and a 2GB SD card can be found online for $95-150. Adds up enough that it’s not a purchase you just rush into. That price means it better serve some actual purpose other than “wow this is so cool I want it and I may use it for something eventually”.