Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Thursday, April 03, 2008
The Dish network guy installer showed up yesterday just as I was finishing eating and watching Rick Steves—what timing! It was just a matter of swapping out the HD box with the HD DVR box and then activating the box and the remote, as well as the recording function (he had a bit of a struggle with the last, but it finally worked). I was amused when I had him use the HDMI cable and he said, "You could have used this with the other box," and I said, "We did and it quit working after ten minutes," and he said, "I'm not surprised. These boxes are [uncomplimentary scatological term]." ROFL!

I'm afraid I had to agree with him, because even for the few minutes we had the HDMI cable plugged in on Monday, I was a bit disappointed in the picture. I had racked that up to the fact that what the store displays is the best picture they can and it's not a cable or satellite feed, but a Blu-Ray disk with a 1080p picture. Even satellite doesn't have that quality.

With the HDMI cable in the HD DVD box, the picture looked so much better. However, I didn't get to notice it, because since I had some time before my lunch hour was over, I started to program the favorites lists and immediately ran into a problem. I had to go back to work, but every time I had a minute, like waiting for items to print or responses, I messed with the remote and things went wrong. I even called the installer back the first time it happened, but then it straightened out and I called back, a bit embarrassed. I thought I'd pressed a wrong button.

I won't go through all the iterations (since this happened about ten times), but the summary was that every time I used the up-down-right-left buttons in any application, including choosing channels in the channel list, suddenly what was onscreen would go crazy. If I was scrolling channels to pick a program or scroll through channels to set favorites, it would just scroll and scroll and not quit. It froze up on the menu once and stopped working in programming as well. When it finally did stop or freeze, the television would no longer respond to any command from the remote. To cure this, you had to press the reset button on the console and wait for the silly thing to go through the acquisition of signal again.

Since I had to pay $75 for the box, I was understandably...miffed. So I called up DishNet, hoping to get a new box, and was aghast when the technician told me that this was a known issue with all the boxes and that they are working on a software upgrade. I was even more understandably miffed. I wouldn't pay for something from a store if I knew it has a "known issue"!

But now for the good part: the picture is stunning. The first thing I actually got to sit down and watch after I finished work was a plain old house-hunting show on HGTV. Wow. It was as if you could walk into the screen and into the scene. I noticed that this morning during Today—I felt like I could shake hands with Meredith Vieira! (George Clooney was on a few minutes later and I wished it was 1993 with all those Sam Neill interviews! When's Hugh Laurie going to be Today? LOL)

Even the commercials look good. :-)

The HDMI cable also has solved a disappointment we had on Monday, since we were finding that if shows were in widescreen 16:9 we had to manually set the screen for widescreen, and if they were 4:3 we had to manually set it to 4:3. (I know there are some people with widescreen televisions that just keep the setting on 16:9 all the time, even with 4:3 ratio programs, but I don't like watching it that way—everything looks w-i-d-e. I'd rather have the black bars on either side of the screen.) HDMI has a "just scan" setting and widescreen is formatted to fill the screen and regular ratio fits in the center of the screen.

(There's a caveat even here. If the station is HD, the screens will automatically adjust. If the station is not HD, any widescreen program—like Torchwood and You Are What You Eat on BBC America—appears widescreen in the center of the screen. You have to shift the screen to 16:9 manually to show it full screen.)

(Wasn't BBC America supposed to go HD in January? Or did DishNet just not pick it up?)

Anyway, it's nice. I have played a little with the "pause programming" feature and am testing the DishPASS system (you program it to find a movie you want to see and record it; if that movie ever shows up on any channel you subscribe to, it will record it). Haven't recorded anything yet, but have Torchwood programmed to record on Saturday. I'm thinking about recording anything we watch regularly on commercial television and watching it later. I know the commercials pay the bills, but I am fed up with the breaks and breaks and breaks. If there weren't popups during the programs, I might not care, but enough is enough.