Monday, November 23, 2009
So I've been using Google Video Chat with my girlfriend for the better part of a year. We use it every couple weeks or so. Now that I've figured out how to use it exactly how I want, I can safely say that it's a great free video chat solution. I never have any issues with video quality or dropouts or audio. It just works. I strongly recommend it.
Friday, November 6, 2009
10. Sony PCM-M1 DAT w/ CSBs
In my more formative years, I was very interested in recording concerts, specifically of bands that I liked the most. The best thing you could use before flash memory came out was the Sony PCM-M1 DAT Walkman. It can record at 16-bit/48KHz and is small enough to fit in your pocket. Pair that with some clip-on binaural mics, like my Core Sound Binaurals, and you can make some fine bootlegs. My concert appetite has mellowed recently, hence my bootlegging appetite has as well, but I did make some fine recordings with this thing. Even though it's obsolete, I can't bring myself to sell it.
9. Linksys WRT54G w/ DD-WRT
Out of the box, the Linksys WRT54G is a damn fine router, but add the open souce firmware DD-WRT to it, and it becomes the best and most versatile router within $300. Most useful to me is the wired or wireless network bridge functionality. I still use mine every day.
8. Panasonic TH-42PZ85U Plasma HDTV
I bought my TH-42PZ85U without having seen it in person, instead relying on online reviews. I really do love this TV, especially for what I paid for it. If it didn't have horrible phosphor trails in black and white scenes, it would be perfect. Other than that, it's superb for TV and movies.
7. Onkyo TX-SR606 Receiver
With only one minor flaw, this reciever is the best bang for the buck sub-$1000. It has four HDMI ports, 1080p pass-thru and decodes every type of audio codec, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-MA. It's last year's model, but I can't see needing anything else from a receiver for a decade.
6. Oppo DV-980H
Before Blu-ray, this was THE all-in-one disc player. It plays DVD, DVD-A, and SACD, and scales to 1080p like a dream. NTSC and PAL both work great. If you have no desire or money to go Blu, get this. Your DVD collection will never be obsolete.
5. Logitech Harmony 550
I have almost a dozen devices in my living room that require remote controls. The Harmony rules them all. I honestly don't know what I would do without it. Sure, there are newer and more expensive models than the 550, but it does everything and does it well. You need one.
4. Asus Eee PC 901
Ah, the 901. I was an early adopter. I really and truly love this netbook. Short of HD video, it does everything I need it to, has a 6 hour battery, and weighs 2.5 lbs. Webcam, mic, speakers, Bluetooth, Wifi. Runs XP and Windows 7 perfectly (except Windows Media center). Of course, I have to mention that I added a Runcore SSD to the thing, and without it, the 901 moves like mud. If you like th 9-inch form factor, one of these can be had on the cheap. Add a Runcore SSD, and the thing will fly.
3. PlayStation3 w/ Media Server
I got a PS3 last year for Xmas. It is the best Blu-ray player around, it's a solid gaming platform, and with the free PS3 Media Center suite for PC, it streams all my HD videos with full surround, basically all but eliminating my need for an HTPC.
2. FiOS w/ HD-DVR
FiOS is the best TV service in the USA. Best video quality, best channels. I thought I was going to have to spend $600 on an HTPC in order to record HDTV. The FiOS HD-DVR (QIP6416-2) has great video quality, easy use, and intelligent seeking. I love it. I just need more storage.
1. Modded Xbox running XBMC
My Xbox has been very good to me. What do I do with it, you ask? I have my entire music, video and picture libraries on it for couch-based enjoyment. I have 16 vintage console emulators running approximately 10,000 games. I can watch streaming TV shows. Apple movie trailers, too. No machine can do all this so well. I also have a Xir installed for ease of use with my Harmony remote. Thanks XBMC.