30 November 2008

I’m Finally Digital

TV, that is… I don’t watch much TV, but for at least two years I’ve been eying the impending switch to digital broadcast. I don’t feel like paying $35/month for cable, so it seemed like upgrading my TV was the way to go (rather than paying for a converter — even with the coupon). We’re using a 19 inch model we inherited (the 19 inch model I bought in 1980 is essentially a spare). So it seemed like I could kill two birds with one stone — upgrade to HDTV, and switch to digital.

But two years ago this would have cost about $1200 for a 32 inch model. This year, I was able to find a Black Friday special model for $499: a Samsung LN32A300. Everyone had them for the same price, so I want to a local store (Magnolia Audio/Video).

I was really amazed at how much better the picture is. Hooking up the same rabbit ear antenna we used before, the picture is now totally sharp, where most of the channels were rather fuzzy before. Even the VCR looks a lot better (no doubt because it’s now connected via video instead of RF on channel 2).

Elise tried getting a new antenna with an amplifier, but this actually made things worse (one channel would cut off with the amplifier on), so she returned it.

The remote seems reasonably well designed (though it doesn’t light up), and the menu system is quite usable.

I haven’t tried hooking up a computer yet (need to track down a reasonably priced DVI/HDMI cable), but I’m sure I will at some point.

So we now have more channels (many of the stations apparently have a second or even third signal, though I’m not entirely sure what they use it for), about twice the screen size (by area), and no longer have to futz with the antenna to get an OK picture. I’m surprised at how pleased I am.

21 November 2008

Pandora on iPhone

Due to an upgrade glitch, I didn’t have any music on my iPhone for the half hour bus ride home. So I decided to use Pandora Radio.

Even though I had only an EDGE connection, the experience was fine. The app did take a while to start up and play the first song, but then I just listened to music. Some of which I already own, some that I think was new to me. But all worth listening to, and all free. And I didn’t hear any “buffering” style pauses — just continuous music. (There were apparently ads, but only on screen.)

Pandora Radio is not built in like the iPod application, so you can’t do anything else while it’s running, but I didn’t need to.

It’s worth getting this, and spending a little time customizing it so it can recommend music (I had originally done this a Macintosh using their online service — your account is available from any device).

04 November 2008

I Voted For President!

For the first time in my life, I have voted for a president! (I’ve always voted, but my candidate had never won.)