DIRECTV Charges $99 For ‘Free’ HDTV Upgrade

Filed Under: HDTV Local, Cable, Satellite, Home Theater News

direct tv hd not so free
Last September, DirecTV told their current subscribers that they would get a free upgrade for new HD hardware.

Recently though, HD subscribers have been billed $99 for the new system.

“DIRECTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the free upgrade would not happen until the company converted from its current MPEG2 transmission to MPEG4. Mercer said it was unclear when that transfer would happen, but it would likely occur in most cities sometime in 2006.”

Ah! So, it’s free once they convert their entire network. You must pay to get in early. Sounds fair enough, had it been properly explained beforehand.

Some customers have reported getting refunds if they complain enough. (Squeaky wheel and all.) Seems a bit underhanded to this dude.


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New ZoomBox from Hasbro

Filed Under: Misc - Other

hasbro zoombox dvd entertainment projector
Ok, first let me say this is not exactly a high-end piece of kit, but with Christmas just around the corner, this could be just what little Johnny needs.

If your kid has his own projector, maybe it will help you keep his dirty little hands off of yours.

Before we get into the details, let’s get right to the price – less than 300 bucks. Ok, now that your expectations will be more in line with what this thing is…

The unit has RCA video and audio inputs, enabling your crumb-snatcher to easily play video games or (gasp) VHS tapes.

Built in DVD player

Built in speaker

Resolution – 557 x 234

Lamp is weak, the room needs to be dark. Rated at 1000 hours.

“Just plug it in to a power outlet, pop in a DVD, aim at a white wall and start the unit. You’ll get a 5-foot diagonal image from 8 feet away.”

Ok, you know Junior doesn’t need HD quality while watching Nemo for 174th time. The size of the image should keep him occupied, and pretty soon, he’ll grow up to be just like Daddy.

Check this thing out, it is online for less than $285:


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Is High Definition Necessary for Home Theater?

Filed Under: Misc - Other

I came across an interesting post at HD Beat today, asking if HD is a requirement for Home Theater.

It is not.

Just as 4 wheels and a combustible engine are not a requirement of transportation, a VHS VCR and 20″ crt TV can be a viable home theater.

It’s all in the perspective. 😉 (nobody said HT requires BLING, just don’t brag about your coax inputs…)

While HDTV, HD, and high definition are the buzzword rage, we need to know if we actually need HD for our home theater experience. It boils down to this – what will you be watching?

If you primarily watch DVDs and Standard Defition broadcasts (I like to call it ‘fuzzy tv’, but whatever) such as regular cable, HD is not for you. That is, unless you want to be future-proof. (Buy HD now for the content you may watch in the next year or two +.)

If you have digital cable or satellite, have HD channels available OTA (local broadcasts), want to get that extra 10-15% of pop from an upconverting DVD player, and/or play hi-res computer or console games, you need to seriously consider HD for your display.

It mainly boils down to this – whatever you feed it determines what you need. If you’re not sure, find out what is available from your cable or satellite provider. Chances are, if it’s available and you’re willing to try it, you’ll probably want it.

If you’re not sure what you’ll be watching, or you’re middle of the road for usage, consider the size of your set. The larger the set, the better quality image you’ll want to have. In other words, fuzzy TV is not quite so fuzzy when you’re at 23″.

HD is good stuff, but it’s not required for you to have a good home theater.

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HDTV: Sharp 65DR650 DLP At Costco

Filed Under: Rear Projection

65dr650 sharp DLP 65 inch HDTVIn search of HDTV news today, I came across this entry about Sharp’s 65DR650 65-inch DLP rear projection HDTV at Costco.

The writer mentions he found a $500 off deal at Costco, bringing the price down to $2500 which includes shipping. Not a bad deal at all, especially when you consider Costco’s customer service and gracious return policy.

If you don’t have a local Costco, this unit is also available online for less than $2200 (add shipping) :

Here is a review on this model at Home Theater Mag:
65DR650 Review

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HDTV Prices Plunge

Filed Under: Home Theater News, Plasma and LCD Displays

hdtv prices falling lcd and plasma are quickest

LCD and plasma flat panel HDTV display prices have plummeted over the past year. Fueled by better manufacturing results and competition from budget brand manufacturers, even the big boys have been dropping prices steadily.

Check out the graph, the 42 plasma range has dropped from over $4 grand to just above $2500. 32-inch LCD prices have been cut almost in half from $3000 this time last year, to just above $1500 now.

As you can see, the price drop is starting to level off, the market seems to be stabilizing. If you’ve been waiting to pick up that new HDTV, now may be the time.


Via engadget.

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HP MD6580n Review – Rear Projection HDTV

Filed Under: Home Theater Reviews, Rear Projection

HP MD6580n Rear Projection HDTV

HP’s MD6580n, which took the Best of Show at the Digital Life Expo earlier last month, is under the gun at Cnet. There, she attains the Excellent score of 8.3 out of 10.

This 65 inch masterpiece should be worthy of your interest, if you’re in the market for a 60 inch plus rear projection HDTV.

The good: Accurate color temperature; excellent black-level performance; accepts 1080p sources via HDMI; ample jack pack accessible via front panel; thumbnail source selection feature.

The bad: Nondefeatable edge enhancement; somewhat inaccurate primary colors; can’t fully resolve 1080p.

The bottom line: While it doesn’t quite deliver the best picture among 1080p HDTVs, the HP MD6580n’s innovative design and future-ready inputs may tip the scales in its favor anyway.

HP MD6580n at CNET

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Sony KDS-R60XBR1 SXRD 1080p RPTV Review

Filed Under: Home Theater Reviews, Rear Projection

sony KDS-R60XBR1 SXRD hdtv The Sony SXRD rear projection hdtv units are all the buzz right now, and it’s easy to understand. The big brand of Sony coupled with their image quality reputation makes for quick notice on the tech side.

Ultimate AV take an in-depth look at this 1080p unit, the KDS-R60XBR1, and here is what they found:

Full 1920x1080p HD resolution
CRT-like black levels and contrast
Rich color gamut and outstanding saturation

No place for center channel speaker
Poorly organized instruction manual
No direct input access


“Physically impressive, with a distinctively superior picture to match, Sony’s new KDS-R60XBR1 sets the standard for large screen rear projection television. It beats the images produced by any large screen LCD RPTV I’ve seen (including Sony’s), offering subjectively CRT-like black level and contrast ratio, richly saturated, natural colors, and levels of detail only a full 1920×1080 chip (or three) can produce. For now, it appears that only JVC’s new 1080p LCoS sets offer these SXRD sets any competition—at least technically.”

The high gain screen grain and perhaps some intrinsic noise are the only serious complaints I have about this set’s picture performance. That said, if you mostly watch DVDs on a good CRT based RPTV, I’m not sure you’d gain enough to make trading up to a set like this worthwhile.

Nevertheless, with this level of performance priced at $5000 for a 60″ display, predictions of the demise of rear projection television are wishful thinking at best. Show me a 60″plasma or LCD flat panel display priced at $5000 that delivers this kind of picture quality, and I’ll reconsider. For now, this set appears to put Sony back on top. It’s really something special.”

Right on, that’s what the buzz is all about – 60″ HDTV goodness at a fraction of the same-size plasma cost.

Heck, online this beaut is selling for less than $3700, check it out:

KDS-R60XBR1 Full Review

Via HD Blog

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Optoma PD50A Plasma TV Review

Filed Under: Home Theater Reviews, Plasma and LCD Displays

Audioholics, our favorite home theater addictophiles have reviewed Optoma’s 50 inch plasma HDTV offering.

This plasma is not the best as far as features and control set, but it makes up for it in the price department. Also, you’ll want to look elsewhere if you view a lot of standard definition (non-digital) material, as its processing for interlaced sources is poor.

Out of a possible five for each category, here is how they scored it:

4 – Build Quality
3 – User Interface/Remote
2 – Features
3 – Detail and Video Quality
4 – Contrast & Black Levels
4 – Color Reproduction
2 – Calibration Options

3.25 Overall
4 Value

The Optoma PD50A plasma television is, as we mentioned, quite possibly the least expensive 50-inch plasma display on the market (street price). For users with digital sources it’s almost a no-brainer, unless you’re a stickler for D65 color temperature and a perfect color profile. In that case, you’ll need to spend quite a bit more money to get this much television. For the rest, the Optoma represents a plasma display that is large, attractive and will be quite impressive to your friends.”

Full Review

Via HD Blog

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Samsung HL-R6768W Review

Filed Under: Home Theater Reviews, Rear Projection

Samsung HL-R6768WCnet takes a look at this 67″ 1080p rear projection behemoth from Samsung.

The review final rating is Very Good, 7.6/10.

Noteworthy on this HDTV are the 1080p input (but it’s only for PC input) and very deep blacks.

The good: Excellent color accuracy after calibration; superb black-level performance; generous connectivity, including 1080p-capable computer input; exhaustive feature package.

The bad: Black level changes on the fly due to permanent implementation of the DNIe circuit; severe edge enhancement in most picture modes; cannot accept 1080p signals via non-PC inputs.

The bottom line: The Samsung HL-R6768W is a strong contender for the best 1080p HDTV we’ve reviewed yet, but nondefeatable DNIe processing spoils its chances.”

Samsung HL-R6768W Full Review


Panasonic TH-42PD50U 42″ Plasma TV for $1,599

Filed Under: Plasma and LCD Displays

Bring on the bling, it’s Christmas time baby! Panasonic’s ultra-popular 42-inch plasma, the TH-42PD50U, can be had for less than 1600 bucks.

That’s right, plasma goodness from Panny for $1599.

Check it out:

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