Okay, so it doesn’t qualify as a real home-theatre setup, but I’m finally getting around to upgrading the media playback in the living room. Because I wanted to keep the TV hidden in an existing cabinet, I’m limited to a 32-inch screen. Not so easy to find in a world where anything less than 42 inches isn’t even on display at some stores. I opted for the largest high-rated 1080p set I could find and that would fit in the furniture, a Sony 32XBR6. Blu-Ray discs (eg, Discovery Channel’s ‘Planet Earth’) look great when played back via my son’s PS3. But what really shocked me was how good standard DVDs look when upscaled. Sweet.
Next was a trip to Comcast to pickup an HD-DVR. I already have three TiVos (one dual-channel HD on an older 32″ 1080i), but given that I won’t be watching all that much over-the cable content on the new setup, I didn’t want to pay the price of another HD TiVo. From just an hour or so of playing around, I’d say that the picture quality of the Comcast box is as good as the TiVo, but the on-screen UI and (in particular) the remote control are truly the worst I’ve ever seen.
Warren’s PS3 leaves when he goes back to Long Beach this weekend, so I ordered a Sony BDP-350 Blu-Ray player. Should be good enough. And to replace my 20-year-old stereo, I stayed in the Sony family and bought a STR-DG920 receiver. Since the DG920 can decode almost any 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 audio format, I could go with a Blu-Ray player with limited decoding options. At least I think that’s right. We’ll see. Finally, to get to real 5.1 audio I ordered a Sony SA-W2500 subwoofer and SS-CN5000 center speaker to add to the front and rear pairs I’ve already got.
It’s definitely an entry-level system, but it’s a huge step compared to a week ago. Oh, and I upgraded my Netflix account to HD for another $1 per month. About one-third of the titles in my queue are available in HD, and I moved most of those closer to the top. If I’m not online, you’ll find me in the living room.