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Discussion in 'The PatsFans.com Pub' started by Mike the Brit, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    As many of you know, despite my screen name, I’ve been living in the U.S. during the winter months for the last couple of years. I’m now more or less settled in an apartment in Cambridge. Now I need to think about sound and vision, etc.

    There isn’t any choice about television viewing: the apartment is wired for Comcast and that's it. I have an HD cable package that includes ESPN and the NFL network. Honestly, I’m not that interested in any other TV except sports, although I occasionally think that I’d like HBO.

    Last year I bought a Samsung 30 inch HDTV, which was as big as I could fit on the TV shelf, and it worked fine in my small living room (I would have bought a Sony, but Best Buy were out of stock the day I went).

    But now I need (1) something to record games on (2) something to play back DVDs (I am a Netflix user) and (3) something to play music. In the U.K., I’ve connected my TV to a DVD player/video recorder combo, a Denon all-in-one Tuner/Amp/CD and a pair of B&W speakers. Apart from needing to fiddle with a lot of remotes, the whole thing is great.

    So what I’m asking myself is how to get a similar effect in the U.S. If I didn’t want to play DVDs perhaps I could get a TIVO, but I do want to play DVDs and I’d also like some way of making copies of Patriots games (for private pleasure!) Also, I have some DVDs and (more important) some VHSs from the U.K. What I’m thinking is that I should try to get a zone-free DVD recorder and get the VHSs transferred to DVD (there are only about a dozen, but they include some important family tapes). And perhaps then I should add some kind of “all in one” hi-fi.

    What I haven’t thought about is integrating any of this with computing. The apartment is attached to (free) Ethernet and I’ve just been plugging my (Windows XP) laptop into a cable. But I assume I should start thinking about a wireless network. In which case, might I also think about moving my music collection onto a HDD? Or recording from the TV onto a HDD?

    From the above, you can probably tell that I’m not a techie, so I need to think about ways of doing this that don’t involve trying to make sense of huge amounts of copper spaghetti or fiddling with complicated interfaces and protocols. I haven't got a fixed budget, but I'm not planning to spend the price of a new car!

    Any and all suggestions and advice very welcome -- thanks in advance.
  2. Richter

    Richter Rookie

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    I'd honestly consider buying or building an HTPC, aka the home theater PC. Since you aren't very tech savvy, building one may seem intimidating, but it's actually fairly easy, and will save you quite a bit of coin. A decent, cheap dual core processor, a video card that will speed up your video decoding, a nice chuck of memory, a bunch of storage and a tv tuner card will enable you to record and stream video and music fairly easily. The one thing to keep in mind, is that it is basically impossible to get a tv card that can handle encrypted signals, so if you're going from your source directly into the tuner card, you'll only be able to tune and record unencrypted channels. That said, it's very easy to go from a cable/satellite box to the tuner card, and even tune the box via a remote to the computer using what's called an IR blaster (basically, a little device that sends channel changing signals to your cable box). There's a wealth of information out there on DIY HTPCs, which I can point you to if you're interested. Otherwise, I'd go with a pre-built HTPC, or just a standard PC for music and a DVR for TV recording. Toss in a Slingbox if you're interested in streaming video to your portable devices (so you can watch TV away from home), and you have a nice setup. Let me know if you're interested in any of the builders resources for the HTPC.
  3. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks a lot -- I'll do some research and get back if I've got questions.
  4. Ciara's Dad

    Ciara's Dad Rookie

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    I bought a Toshiba, zone free, DVD recorder with a 160GB Hard Disc Drive. I copied all my old videos by playing them on the TV and at the same time recording them onto my HDD. After some editing, I then copied what was on the HDD onto DVD's. I then slung the VHS recorder into the bin.
    With 70 hours recording capacity at a decent quality, I can 'tape' all Sundays Sky sports NFL coverage and Ch5's on a Sun and Mon with plenty room to spare. If I am nightshift, I copy games onto RW discs and watch them at work.
    You can also use the timeslip function, which is terrific. When you start 'taping' you can pause or go back to the start of what you are 'taping' and play catch up. It is great to fast forward every advert or studio talk!! By the time I get in from Mass on Sun night, Sky is already 90mins into it's programme. Using timeslip, I go back to the start of the recording and start to watch. I usually catch up at the end of the first game.
  5. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That sounds like the solution I was thinking of -- though, of course, I can't play my U.K. VHS tapes on a U.S. DVD recorder.
  6. Scouse Patriot

    Scouse Patriot Rookie

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    I recently found a box full of VHS tapes in the loft. I hadn't seen them in what must be 10 years...



    *Sorry, I have nothing usefull to add here, just reminiscing the days of VHS and the noise of some of the first players.
  7. Michael

    Michael Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'd be willing to bet that those old tapes have degraded quite a bit.
  8. Scouse Patriot

    Scouse Patriot Rookie

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    In terms of playabilty more than likely, which is a shame because there was porn on one of them. Then again they're in their sleeves, the films in their plastic cases so I don't know.

    I used to like putting the tapes nobody had marked in and seeing what was on them. Found allsorts from old films to tv series to sports games.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  9. Ciara's Dad

    Ciara's Dad Rookie

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    You don't have to. All you need to do is play your tapes on your TV through your VHS recorder. You then set your DVD recorder to record from whichever channel your tapes are being played on. I started playing my tapes on the TV and then searched through the possible recordable channels on the DVD recorder until I found the one showing my tapes.
    If it is a UK VHS machine, you will need a 110v to 240v step up transformer to do this. Something like this http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280253491305. You can get them cheaper than this depending on the power needed for the machine.
    The newer models of DVD recorder with HDD, my own is 2yo now, are a lot cheaper than they were at first, and can do a lot more stuff, like tape from 2 differnt channels at a time whilst you watch something else you have recorded.
    I bought a new camcorder the other week for going on holiday which is also has a HDD. http://www.pixmania.co.uk/uk/uk/755871/art/jvc/gz-mg330-camcorder-blue.html It is a great toy. You can download your film to your computer in double quick time. Or do what I did and record it onto the HDD recorder and do my editing there.
    Holiday in Mallorca was great, btw!!
  10. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Sorry, I should have said that (I'm pretty sure) I can't play UK VHS tapes on a US VHS player/TV.
  11. Ciara's Dad

    Ciara's Dad Rookie

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    I'm not sure you can either. But out of interest, does your tape fit into the US VHS player will it play? If it does, you should get something on your screen, probably in b/w. This is because 2 different systems for recording/viewing are being used. In the UK we use the PAL system and in the US they use NTSC. On all my machines, it offers you the choice of settings to view material, either PAL or NTSC. It would be interesting to see if a US machine gives you the same choice. If it does, try changing the viewing setting to PAL and see what happens.
    Worst comes to the worst, send me your tapes. I'll view them with discretion ;), see what needs to be edited out, then burn the remains onto some discs for you. :D If you turn this offer down, I'll just assume that you are a private person who wouldn't let a total stranger view his family material, and not someone who just wants his stash of 1970's porn tapes copied. :eek:
  12. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Rookie

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    As an aside, I'm wondering if anyone's tried watching movies via a laptop computer on their TV.

    With Netflix now offering unlimited streaming/downloadable movies, I'm thinking I might be able to take my laptop and hook it up to my plasma tv via the RGB connection and be able to watch movies on demand for free

    With wireless access there won't be an issue with cables - just the audio and video connection from the computer to the TV

    The big question here is how good or bad the resolution will be - I'm not sure of what quality Netflix streaming movies are and how they'll look on a 32 inch screen.

    Still, even if they're not up to the task now, I'm sure in the future we'll all be integrating computer, stereo and HD tv

    Already I routinely hook up my laptop to my stereo so as to get some better sound from the numerous free streaming music sources there are out there (Pandora, Archive.org's free live music archive) and though my laptop is slightly bulky, I was thinking of adding a smaller mini-laptop as a virtual jukebox hooked into my stereo

    http://www.buy.com/prod/asus-eee-pc...-color-pearl-white-7/q/loc/101/206529447.html

    Although these only have 4GB of internal memory, I suppose it wouldn't be a challenge to have it tapped into the home workgroup to take advantage of a few hundred GB of music and video

    Perhaps others have experimented with this as well?
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008

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