Posts About: Home Theater

Headphones, Dad Ears and the Cowin E-7

From the day I got my first pair of headphones I’ve maintained a love/hate relationship with these apparatus.  I love that I can listen to my music without anyone else complaining about the song choice or volume level.  I hate that I have to put something in or on my ears to accomplish it.

You see I share a little bit in common with Warren from “There’s Something About Mary” in that I don’t like having my ears touched.  Weird, I know.  I won’t fly off the handle and pummel you if you accidentally touch them, like Warren does, but I will certainly let you know I’m not loving it.

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Projector, Projector Mapping and Holograms

Computer interfaces have evolved slowly over the last 40 years. As soon as we were able to produce affordable display graphics, the Windows-type environment became the standard. Since then, we’ve only had refinements of the same basic interfaces. Windows, Icons, Mice and Pointers, better known as WIMP have been the defining characteristics of our interactions.

I won’t open a can of worms about who pioneered this paradigm, but suffice to say it originated somewhere within the halls of Silicon Valley. Others might add it came to maturity further north in Seattle, but that’s a whole other post. The important thing is that it’s the accepted standard and you’ll find little argument about that. Arguably the only thing that has been added over the intervening years is touch displays.

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Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB Turntable

To say that vinyl is making a comeback is not only an understatement, but a belated one at that. Since this blog is relatively new, you’ll have to excuse my tardiness.  I realize that for the audiophile among us, vinyl never actually went away.  For those of you who have either come back to it through nostalgia or for more aesthetic reasons the options have never been better.

I bought my first turntable at the age of 15.  After careful study of all of the choices available to me I chose a BIC 980.  If you’re not familiar with BIC, it’s not the same guys who make the lighters.  They were a loudspeaker distributor turned manufacturer that got into turntables for a brief period in the 1970’s.  The company still sells highend speakers today.

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LED TV Backlight Accent Strips

Since we’re already on the subject of lighting, I decided to look into something that has fascinated me for quite a while and that’s LED back-lighting. It’s one of those subtle things about a movie theater experience that we take for granted. When you find yourself looking for that missing ingredient to recreating the big screen cinema feeling in your home, it just might be the lighting.

What’s currently on the market ranges from the very simple lighting strips, to more advanced units that can fully interact with your content. Much of the latter is still in the development phase, and far more expensive, but what’s out there now gives you plenty of control over how you set the mood. Choices of colors and schema from remote control is pretty much the starting point for what you want to look for in LED Back-lighting.

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TP-Link Smart LED Light Bulb

One of the often overlooked aspects of home theater setups is lighting. I’ve gotten used to using the little lamp in the corner to produce the right amount of light so that I can see whatever I might be snacking on, or to find the controller on the coffee table. Otherwise, I like the room fairly dark. For anyone who’s spent time and money on getting the right gear, the full theater experience isn’t complete unless the lighting is just right.

In the past I’ve had media rooms with recessed lighting and full-on dimmer capabilities, but my space is quite a bit simpler now. Scattered lamps and an overly bright overhead light fulfill the lighting duties of the room. I admit that I’ve been lax in upgrading but I wanted to do the next iteration right, complete with connected devices and voice control.

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Nvidia Shield Streaming Media Player

Online Gaming is something I’ve done since I first got dial-up many years ago.  I started with a Zork derivative back in the early 80’s, and moved on to RP and Social Muds later in the decade. It would be years later when I actually worked in the field myself, that I picked up online gaming again in the form of Asheron’s Call.

For those who play the genre of MMO’s you’re aware of the many benefits and challenges of playing online games. The games today are light years ahead of their ancestors in both content and graphic quality, but the basic issue remains the same – is the game world as responsive as if it were running on my local computer. In gaming, there’s little tolerance for lag.

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Echo Dot Voice Controlled Smart Device

Voice enable devices is one of those things I had a hard time warming up to. It probably didn’t help me to see movies like “Her” or 2001:A Space Odyssey; “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” The whole technology just seemed creepily inadequate to serve any useful purpose in my daily life.

On the other hand we have benevolent (and useful) voice enabled computer tech in shows like Star Trek and Knight Rider. Back in the day, I would have bought a Trans Am if I could have gotten it with Kitt.  Sadly, the reality never came close to the science fiction hype.

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Universal Remote Control Receiver

Sometimes there are minor annoyances in our lives that we allow to grow, rather than doing something about it. I can think of plenty of personal examples. When it comes to home entertainment media, one of those minor annoyances that I’ve allowed to percolate is my uncontrollable remote control collection.

As I mentioned in another post, I have a variety of media devices in my living room and I’ve somehow managed to ignore the fact that they each have their own controller. My coffee table is no longer a coffee table, but a repository for electronics controllers. I finally decided to get in control of the situation and find the best solution to consolidate them all.

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Wireless Gaming Chairs

I’ve been a gamer for many years. I’m old enough to remember when Pong was brand new to the market and recall being jealous of my friend’s shiny new Magnavox Odyssey 100. He and I spent a lot of hours knocking that little blip back and forth. I’ve maintained my love of gaming over the years and seen an evolution of graphics and sound that’s truly astounding when I look back at those modest beginnings.

There’s been vast improvements in every area of gaming since then, from sights to sounds to the way you interact with the games. Today’s controllers are designed by ergonomic experts who study the hand movements and player interactions to find just the right form for optimal performance.

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Universal Infrared Remote Control

I enjoy a wide variety of media, but I don’t watch a lot of television. That’s not something I could always say. I used to watch a lot of television. Too much television. I won’t go into all of my reasons for shutting off the tube, but suffice to say it has a lot to do with content. For the past 8 years, I haven’t maintained a subscription to cable or satellite, preferring instead to get my video from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube and other sources.

So when I recently made a move to another State, I surprised myself (and my spouse) by ordering cable TV. As I’m sure nearly everyone in the country is aware of by now, Spectrum has taken over quite a few cable providers. In an effort to woo new customers, they offer better deals when you get combination packages. So when my new broadband service included a very cheap subscription to cable television, it was difficult to say no.

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