Remote Viewing, Filter Cleaning, Optical Cables
Taking It On The Road
I have Comcast digital-cable service at home with a Comcast DVR as my tuner. I am looking for a portable recorder that I can use to record from the Comcast DVR or directly from cable. My goal is to load up this second DVR with recorded television and take it with us to our second residence so we can watch the recorded TV shows there. Any suggestions?
I have one word for youSlingbox. You simply connect your Internet router and the output from the DVR to the Slingbox, and you can access any live or recorded content on the DVR from anywhere you have Internet access. All you have to do is take a laptop to your second home, and assuming it has good audio and video outputs, connect it to the TV and Internet, and you'll be able to watch the DVR using the SlingGuide interface shown above.
There are two models of SlingboxSolo and Pro-HD. The Solo lets you connect one device and has no internal TV tuner, whereas the Pro-HD lets you connect up to three devices and has an internal ATSC and Clear QAM (unencrypted digital cable) tuner. Also, the Solo can stream only standard-def video over the Internet to your remote location, while the Pro-HD can stream high def, assuming you have enough bandwidth at both ends.
Neither model provides HDMI connections, only component, S-video, and composite video. Also, the Solo has only 2-channel analog audio inputs, while the Pro-HD has coax digital audio inputs as well as 2-channel analog. Ideally, you would connect the component-video and coax digital-audio outputs from the DVR to the Pro-HD for the best quality at the remote location. If possible, I'd connect the HDMI output from the DVR to the main system, assuming the DVR's outputs are all active simultaneously. If not, you'd connect the Slingbox's component-video and digital-audio outputs to the main system, which wouldn't be the end of the world, since you're not getting any more than 1080i and Dolby Digital from the DVR anyway.
Keep It Clean
Many thanks for a superb website. I am a proud owner of a JVC DLA-HD950 projector; it was the comprehensive review and recommendation by Tom Norton that sold me on this model. I'm wondering about the removable air filter. The owner's manual says that it should be cleaned regularly under running water and air dried. Any idea what "regularly" means? I have about 200 hours on the projector.
It depends on the environment. According to JVC, if the projector is in a room where people smoke a lot, every six months is advised. Otherwise, an annual cleaning is fine.
Tripping The Light Expensive
I am looking for an optical cable to connect my PS3 to my AVR, but the difference in prices for different cables is quite dramaticI've seen some cables that cost 10 times as much as others of the same length. Why is that? Is it the optical material, the sheath, the connectors? Is there a noticeable difference when using different optical cables? What should I look for when shopping for these cables?
In part, the answer is "all of the above." Optical fiber comes in various grades that are more or less efficient in transmitting light pulses; for example, glass is generally considered better than plastic in this regard, and it's correspondingly more expensive. Manufacturers also claim that the sheath/coating impacts the cable's efficiency, though Fred Bargetzi, VP of Technology at Crestron, recently told me that his company makes a sheathless optical cable that works just fine. Finally, more robust connectors can better withstand repeated connections and disconnections.
I do not believe that different optical cables make a noticeable difference in the sound quality, as long as they have no breaks along the signal path. If you want to route the cable around sharp corners, plastic will work much better than glass. If you connect and disconnect the cable often, you might spring for a more expensive one with a heavy-duty connector. You might want to get a more robust (= more expensive) cable if you move it around a lot, but if you're going to connect it and leave it along, a basic, inexpensive cable should work with no problems.
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