Video Appliance

05 November 2003

Kris and I will soon purchase a new video appliance. It seems that we’re destined to buy a DVD/VCR combo deck, of which there are many. What I’d really like, though, is a device that combines the following four functions:

  • VCR: Video Cassette Recorder, so that we can play all of our old movies.
  • DVD: Digital Video Disc Player, so that we can watch all of our new movies.
  • PVR: Personal Video Recorder, such as TiVo. My mother-in-law has been using TiVo for two years (to record Survivor and General Hospital and I don’t have it yet. And I call myself an early adopter? (Nicole just got her TiVo!)
  • Wi-Fi: Wireless networking functionality so that the device can play media files (mp3, mpeg, etc.) across network.

I know that each of these functions is available separately, or in certain combinations (DVD/VCR, the Gateway wireless connected DVD) but is there any device that combines all four in one unit? If we had to, we could forego the VCR component of the device and just use our old VCR.

Yes, I could google to find out, but I’m asking for first-hand experience first.

(It seems that Matt has been on a similar quest lately; I’ll have to rummage through the archives of his PVRBlog to find out what he’s learned.)


It was a near thing, but we managed to take advantage of 25 for 25 this time around. Last night we joined the Gingeriches for a trip to Laslow’s Northwest.

Laslow’s Northwest is housed in an old Victorian house at the corner of 23rd and Kearney. There’s a less-formal bistro on the main floor and a more-formal dining room on the upper floor. Both offer the same menu.

The dining room was cozy and close, very conducive to chatting. Our server was helpful, if a little obsequious. Most importantly, the food was outstanding. My Caesar salad, featuring whole leafs of lettuce and thin slices of fresh parmesan, was better than it had a right to be. Me entrée, a chicken breast in a smoky sauce, was even better. The sauce was so tasty that I mopped it up with a slice of bread, Old West style! My dessert, a chocolate pot du créme was earthy and rich, with a strong taste of cocoa. All in all, a very good meal, one that achieved the purpose of the 25 for 25 promotion: we were able to sample a new restaurant without breaking the bank, a restaurant to which we will return in the future. A win-win situation.


Finally, the “On This Day” for 2002 features a description of the moment I tore my ACL last fall. Ugh.

Comments

On 05 November 2003 (09:25 AM),
Dave said:

Other than the VCR, it sounds like you want a multimedia PC. You could probably use a SFF case like a Shuttle with a DVD RW and an ATI All in Wonder video card with a WiFi network card. At least, that’s what I’m thinking of building for our place.



On 05 November 2003 (10:24 AM),
Dana said:

I don’t have a TV.

I have an ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 7500 that I’m quite pleased with, both in terms of 3d performance (it’s not blazing, but it’s okay) and multimedia capabilities (and price).

I also have a DVD-Rom unit on that computer, and it’s completely possible to hook a normal VCR up to this dohickey, too (the All-in-Wonder has a normal co-ax connector on the back).

And it has TV-out, so you can buy a big cheap TV instead of using your monitor to watch stuff, if you want.

Or, of course, you could look into stuff like this.


On 05 November 2003 (08:08 PM),
Drew said:

I’m with Dave. I’d go for a Shuttle sb65g2 with a Radeon 9800 All-In-Wonder. Pimp that baby up with a matched set of Corsair 512’s @ 400, a Plextor PX-708A DVD-RW, a behemoth HD, a P4 @ 3.0 G’s, and a Viewsonic Pro 17″ LCD and you’ve got a bitchin’ entertainment center. All in black, because we all know that black computers are faster. Once the rock is paid off, I’ll be dropping a wad one of these, yes sir.



On 06 November 2003 (07:22 AM),
Joel said:

Such a machine could not be built, for it would satisfy all desire. And without our desires, we are nothing. And if we are nothing, how could we build such a machine?



On 06 November 2003 (10:01 AM),
Denise said:

Yikes – that’s a lot of guy-speak….and it’s all greek to me! But you know – I’m a firm believer that your computer shouldn’t cost more than your car…..



On 06 November 2003 (10:02 AM),
dowingba said:

But computers are so much more useful, and necessary, than cars.



On 06 November 2003 (10:26 AM),
Denise said:

I think that depends on where you live….when you live in the boondocks a car can be pretty useful – but don’t get me wrong – I’ve got my computer with my DSL hook-up….so I know the importance of each!



On 06 November 2003 (10:51 AM),
Dave said:

Although I normally wouldn’t disagree with Drew on something like this, I don’t think that I’d put a 3 ghz P4 into the computer, nor would I use a Radeon 9800 (but for different reasons). I wouldn’t use a 3 ghz chip because you probably don’t need that much horsepower on the machine and because it would build up a boat load of heat. This would require a fairly noisy fan to dissipate and I don’t want to be listening to my computer’s fan while I’m watching Amadeus on DVD. Of course, if you used a liquid cooling scenario you could probably make the thing run absolutely silently…

As for the Radeon 9800, sure, if you had the extra $$, that would be a sweet card to put into the machine, but the 9600 is perfectly servicable and will save you a couple hundred dollars PLUS give you the ability to receive FM radio as well (somethine that the 9800 doesn’t do I don’t think).

Of course, if noise and money aren’t issues for you, then yes, that’d would be a pretty kick ass media center system. I’ll stop drooling now.



On 06 November 2003 (11:07 AM),
Dana said:

You definitely don’t need a 3GHz processor for this.

You can get a Via 800 MHz C3 processor based mini-itx board that can be run FANLESS and which can use an external FANLESS (ie, laptop-style) power supply, for about the SAME PRICE as a Radeon 9600. This unit will also have on-board TV out and built in ethernet.

I wouldn’t ever use a shuttle box as a media PC. Too expensive, too loud.

But that’s just me.



On 06 November 2003 (11:38 AM),
Lynn said:

Let me get this straight. You would want to watch these movies on a 17 inch computer screen? At your desk? In an uncomfortable desk chair?



On 06 November 2003 (11:58 AM),
dana said:

No, see, you can hook them up to a TV of whatever size. You just don’t use the channel tuner in the TV. It all comes from the computer (which can play DVDs, mp3s, various video files, etc). That’s what TV-out is for. =)

Really, though, it’s more expensive than just buying the various components seperately.

Douglas Adams’ definition of a nerd was someone who would use a telephone to talk to other nerds about telephones. That’s kind of what this is. Oooh, look what I can do with my computer!

It’s the male geek version of talking about cars…



On 06 November 2003 (12:06 PM),
Dana said:

Plus, if you install Mame and get a couple of joysticks, you can play old arcade games on your television…


On 06 November 2003 (02:39 PM),
Denise said:

Ok – playing old arcade games on your tv would be cool – and something that I understand!

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