Archives For Blu-ray

I hope my fellow Zatz Not Funny readers are having a wonderful holiday season. Among other goodies, Santa kindly left a few Blu-ray movies under our tree. One nice thing, in theory, is that each disc is bundled with a free digital copy. Since I’m heading out to Los Angeles for business next week, I intended to put the movies onto my iPod Touch for the plane ride. For those that haven’t yet tried the digital copy, it’s very simple. Pop the disc in your computer, select video format (iTunes or Windows Media), and when asked, enter the code found on the DVD insert. A few seconds later, you’re enjoying the movie on your handheld of choice. Things were going great until I got to the Star Trek Blu-ray.

Star Trek

After entering my download code, I was greeted with the following message: “This code has already been used. Each code may only be used once.” That can’t be right. This was a sealed package with the security tape intact. I must have mistyped the code. My second, third and fourth attempts were rewarded with the same failure message.

Now comes the fun part. I swung by the Paramount support site and found info regarding problems with serial numbers (screengrab below). I then clicked through the Contact Us link to provide the necessary information in hopes of getting this resolved.

Support

After filling out the form, I hit the submit button and was redirected to an Apple support page. It would have been nice to receive a confirmation message indicating the form was actually submitted. Something to give me that warm fuzzy that the data was received (and then promptly ignored). The automatic redirect seems like a brush off. And since filing my claim (twice) on Christmas day, I’ve yet to hear anything.

Some searching on the Internet turned up others with the same problem, including a related thread on the Apple support forum. A reply by Stephen Zupan, of Deluxe Digital Studios, indicates that Paramount knows of the issue and is working on a solution. Has anyone else had problems pulling down their digital copy of Star Trek?

The Boxes of the Year

Dave Zatz —  December 18, 2009 — 9 Comments

With the last holiday shopping weekend of 2009 upon us, it’s probably time to list my favorite home entertainment boxes of the year. This list is by no means exhaustive, these are just some of my faves – top picks, suitable for mainstream audiences and geeks alike. Keeping in mind, that for the second straight year, the Xbox 360 ($300) is still my #1 digital media powerhouse – the one box I cannot part with. Take my TiVo. Take my Roku. But you better come armed if you want this 360. Not only does it feature the best online gaming experience, it also boasts THE best Netflix instant streaming client – in addition to offering a variety of other media playback options.

Video

netflix-boxes

In the video category, there are two standouts for those sticking with physical media – and a higher quality of HD. But the snappy LG BD 390 set-top box (<$300) and the redesigned PS3 gaming console ($300) are much more than capable Blu-ray players. Both offer a variety of connected services (and 802.11n), including Netflix instant streaming. Those who have current or potential gamers in the house should probably look to the PS3 (and budget another 20 bucks for a remote), while everyone else would be quite happy with the Vudu-streaming LG. If you’re less picky and/or on a tighter budget with a higher tolerance for networking pain, look to the Samsung BD-P1600 (~$150) for similar features.

Continue Reading…

Apple Store King of Prussia Mall Black Friday

While I avoided the lines at 4:00 in the morning, I couldn’t resist stopping by the local King of Prussia Mall later in the day yesterday to see how Black Friday was shaping up. Frankly, the mall wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be, but there were still more than a few folks in the Sony Style store, and the Apple Store could have used traffic cops to keep the hordes at bay. Of the Sony products available, one customer rep I spoke to said the laptops were getting the most attention, specifically the VAIO NW and recently launched VAIO CW series. I asked about the Sony Reader products and was told they were being more heavily promoted at a kiosk elsewhere in the mall. Blu-ray players? Not doing so great, unlike last year. Despite the discounted price, this stack of Sony BDP-S360 players didn’t get one interested passerby in the time I was there.

Sony Style store King of Prussia Mall Black Friday blu-ray players

Meanwhile at the Apple Store, it was difficult to move a foot without running into another body. According to the employee I spoke to, the hottest sellers of the day were the Nano and the iPod touch. I also got a quick glimpse of the new mobile payment system in action. Actually, I overheard one clerk asking another where to find the cash drawer he’d just opened with his iPod, so possibly there are still a few kinks being worked out. However, everyone seemed happy with their gadget shopping experience, and I even convinced a guy behind the roped off area to give me a close-up shot of the iPod he was using to ring up orders. Unfortunately, the shot’s blurry because I didn’t have time to adjust my camera settings before I had to move on.

iPod EasyPay Apple Store King of Prussia Mall Black Friday

More shopping photos below. Anyone else have stories of braving the stores yesterday?

vudu-wikipedia

Later today, Wikipedia movie content (and more) joins Rotten Tomatoes coverage on Vudu partner hardware. As a refresher, Vudu began life as a peer-to-peer movie streaming service via their dedicated hardware. After some layoffs, restructuring, and refinancing, they emerged with a hardware diversification strategy and a focus on supplemental web content. Additionally, the P2P streaming was dropped in favor of a more traditional (and scalable, dependable, etc-able) content delivery network (CDN) solution.

All in all, Vudu’s done well these last few months. And their streaming web interface allows them to make on-the-fly enhancements, like Wikipedia info, without burdening them with partner/manufacturer QA processes and firmware updates. However, do you really want to read all of Wikipedia on your television? (Not I.) Also, I have to wonder if a purely web-based UI leaves them vulnerable to outages and latency. Regardless, my desire for the highly rated LG BD 390 networked Blu-ray player ($260), that provides streaming Netflix, YouTube, and Vudu VOD, continues to grow.

vudu-ui.jpg

popcorn-hour-c200

Those of you who follow me on GeekTonic know that I spend a lot of time with HTPCs and all manner of media playback gadgets. When Syabas announced the new Popcorn Hour C-200 I was intrigued. From the specs it was clear that this device comes to the party prepared, touting the ability to play back a multitude of media file formats in a sleek-looking set-top device as well. So how well does this it perform?

The Popcorn Hour C-200 is the ideal hardware for the hard-core media player enthusiast, containing about everything you could possibly want and which seems to play back every format you throw at it. But the bugs I ran into with the firmware updates, the current issues with gigabit networks, and a UI that seems dated even compared to the stock SageTV holds it back. So, as of today the C-200 isn’t a perfectly polished device, but I expect they will get there just as their older model A-110 has. Once the software/firmware catches up with the awesome hardware, this new Popcorn Hour will rock the media-player world. Until then Syabas still offers a great device – just expect a few bumps in the road along the way.

Continue reading for the comprehensive hands on »