Calibrating your HD TV is never straightforward. Lot’s more settings than a standard SD set and if you use an amp for your surround sound you will potentially get lip-sync issues too. You can pick up a calibration disk – Digital Video Essentials on Blu Ray for example which will step you through calibrating your TV. You can also use any THX DVD’s as they will include a THX Calibration tool that helps you tweak your setting (Wall-E also has a nice calibration tool as well). Another way of calibrating is to use the newly added BBC HD Test Card which broadcasts a number of times per day on the BBC HD channel.
Andy Quested has posted up a great tutorial on the BBC Internet blog that takes you through how to use test card to not only calibrate your screen settings but also adjust audio settings to fix any sync issues. It looks like the trickiest part of the process is recording the 2 tests. Directly from Andy’s blog post – the HD test card is just over 1 hour into the promo and the AV sync signal is 50 minutes later. To record both signals, check the time the last programme finishes and add 1 hour. So if the last programme ends at 01:30 set your PVR to record from 02:25 to 02:45 for the test card and 03:15 to 03:35 for the AV sync signal. The promo referred to is the rolling HD promo that is broadcast on BBC HD when there is no actual programming being broadcast. It would be far easier if these two tests were broadcast as individual programmes with actual time slots – would make recording far easier. However that’s a small niggle as these two tests are a nice addition from the BBC. I know I’ll be using them to set-up a new TV over Christmas.
It’s taken long enough but it finally looks like next gen HD disk format has been chosen – Blu-Ray has won. Ever since Warner went Blu-Ray only the writing has been on the wall. Most people seemed to give HD-DVD until the end of the year. That looks to have been optimistic.
Reuters are now reporting that Toshiba are giving up on the format. RIP HD-DVD. This comes in the same week that many large retailers moved to either Blu-Ray exclusive or to promoting Blu-Ray as the first choice format. I couldn’t give a toss about what format was the best from a technology standpoint. I just wanted one to succeed and for the HD market to grow with a sole format like CD’s and DVD’s. Hopefully thats what will happen now even if the HD-DVD fanboys think that Blu-Ray is a bad choice or that downloads will now take over.
The downloading options are starting to get interesting though. Apple TV Take 2 launched last week offering HD video rentals. I’d dismissed these as although they are HD in terms of resolution there bitrate is usually low to reduce bandwidth, so making them not much better than DVD, especially a good upscaled DVD. However the reviews have so far shown the rentals to be very good, in between Blu-Ray and US cable broadcasts. With start times rumoured to be under a minute it’s starting to look good for HD, especially with Apple TV. However why spend Â£200 on Apple TV when a PS3 costs Â£280, can play Blu-Ray disks, is a very capable media playback device (for Mac users try MediaLink) and when Play TV is released will be a Freeview player including HD and also act as a PVR. Even more impressively, the PS3 allows you to browse the internet and again with Play TV can do a slingbox and broadcast TV to the PSP. All very impressive. Almost forgot – it plays games too.
If someone asked me today to recommend one media player it would easily be the PS3. That’s something I didn’t expect to say even a year ago.
After a quite spell there have been some significant HD announcements for the UK. ITV HD channel will launch next spring, BBC HD has been recommended to start as a full time channel as soon as possible, MTV HD is due to land next year and Channel 4 have announced a C4 HD to launch from December. Great news and about time that there is more commitment from providers other than Sky and BBC.
I think it’s around two years since TV shows were first available on iTunes in the USA. Finally some content was made available to purchase in the UK this week. First thing you notice is how little there is – it’s all American and there’s not much off it. There’s rumours of BBC and Channel 4 content to come later but there’s nothing at the moment.
Then you notice the price. It’s high. Â£1.89 per episode. That would be Â£43.47 for Lost series 3 which sounds a lot but the whole series can be bought on iTunes for a reduced price of Â£32.99. Currently the box set is available on Amazon for Â£44.98 so there are savings to be made however it’s almost double the American price, like most things here in the UK. While I’m saying there are savings to be made on DVD’s, that’s for latest box sets only. Earlier box sets are available for much less than the iTunes price, and would you really want to pay more for lesser quality?
I’ve just spent Â£1.89 to test just how good the iTunes TV shows look. Continue reading