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The online journal of Vermont filmmaker, Bill Simmon.

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Boldly Going Plasma!

Posted on Nov 18, 2009 by billsimmon in Life of Bill, TV | 6 Comments

Last night I finally hooked up the 50″ Panasonic G10 plasma display and got to see some results. We watched the Star Trek Blu-ray (released yesterday) and it looked pretty sweet. The TiVo and the Mac look great too, and the SD shows don’t even look too bad. Emily is a bit freaked out by the size of the thing, but she’ll get used to it soon enough and wonder how we ever watched TV in a mere 32″.

I also threw in my DVD of Star Wars Ep. IV and while I could see a significant difference in quality between the HD and SD videos, it was totally watchable.

The one qualitative step down in this process is audio. The speakers that are built into the G10 ain’t all that — compared to the speakers that came with my Sammy CRT, they sound tinny and thin. The answer, of course, is to make judicious use of my A/V receiver and stereo speakers, but getting that up to speed in terms of optical digital audio for all of the various components is another project in and of itself. We just used RCA outs for Star Trek and it sounded pretty good, but getting all of the gear sounding good and working seamlessly will take a bit of figuring out.

I’m also already frustrated by only having three HDMI ins on the Panny. I only had two on the Sammy so this is a step in the right direction, but I have four devices that I want to use that utilize HDMI ports — the Mac, the TiVo, the PS3 and the XBOX360. Something’s gotta give — maybe I just have to use the 360 on the Sammy that has been relocated to the office (or deign to allow a device to be connected via analog component video).

I’ve ordered a SlingLink Turbo 4-port Powerline network device so I can have hard-wired network connections for the various devices too. That should arrive tomorrow. The plan is to spend Saturday digging out the rat’s nest of wires in the home theater setup and to start from scratch, getting everything in place and functioning properly.

Anyone know a good place to get cat-5 and optical audio cables cheap?

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6 Comments

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  1. On November 18, 2009, BenMac said:

    I probably have some optical cables kicking around, depending on what you need.

    For CAT-5, I would suggest going to “the Shack” and picking up a spool and some connectors. That way, you get exactly the length you need.

    If you don’t really care about that, new egg has great prices on cabling.

  2. Does your new TV have a VGA plug? If so, you should be able to connect the Mac that way, and the video will still look great.

    As for cables, if it were me, I would order them from Newegg.com or PC Connection. They usually have good pricing and cheap and fast shipping.

  3. On November 18, 2009, billsimmon said:

    Therem, there is a VGA plug, but since DVI and HDMI are actually the same video standard (HDMI just carries audio too), I prefer to keep that signal clean and not convert it. It’s a good thought though, and maybe I’ll give it a try and see how it looks.

  4. Bill, the Mac doesn’t do HDMI very well. You can’t actually buy an HDMI adapter from Apple. Use DVI for the computer… or even VGA; it’s digital too and just fine.

  5. On November 20, 2009, billsimmon said:

    I’m afraid you’re doubly wrong on this one, Alex. First of all, HDMI essentially *is* DVI with a different connector. The HDMI port carries audio and DVI doesn’t, but the encoded video is completely compatible between the connections as far as the ones and zeros are concerned. I have a DVI-HDMI connector hooked up now from the mac mini and it looks great.

    Secondly, VGA is not digital, it’s an analog video standard.

    I’m doing a bunch of re-tweaking on Saturday and I’ll try the VGA port and see if I notice an image difference.

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