So the new replacement HDTV set arrived yesterday, and all seems to be well. It’s so many lightyears of wonderfulness beyond anything we had with our old Quasar–and it’s very, very flat. My husband, about whom I shall shortly say more, kept pointing out to my youngest guy how if you look at the TV set sidewise that it’s so thin that it practically disappears.
More after the jump…
Our TiVo claims to be Sceptre-compatible. But the single code it offered for the remote control didn’t work. So we ended up using the search-for-a-code-function built into the remote. What you do is this. You hold down the TiVo and the power buttons together, for about 3-5 seconds until the light goes on and stays a steady red. You then enter 0999 on the numeric keypad. Then you very, very slowly press channel up. Again, and again, and again. Eventually you hit a code that works and the TV turns off.
I paid my oldest child to sit in front of the TV and press the channel up button on the TiVo remote. She did one yesterday, she’ll do another today. Unfortunately, the Sceptre responds so slowly to the power button that we had to do it several times until we realized that you need to wait about 15 seconds after powering off to re-power back on. It’s not a problem with the TiVo remote, it’s a problem with the Sceptre TV.
Of course, the TiVo remote doesn’t offer many of the Sceptre remote’s features that we’re going to regularly use: like switching input sources or changing the display aspect ratio, so we’ll have to keep both remotes on-hand for any exciting use. On the plus side, we can now turn the Sceptre off (”on” doesn’t work so well) and adjust the volume from the same TiVo peanut-shaped remote that we use on a day-to-day basis. We actually have two of these remotes (and a third that’s in critically bad condition) because we’re always losing one or the other.
Today, I hooked up the Sceptre’s coax to both an ATSC antenna and to my cable connection. The Sceptre, if you remember, is supposed to come with a built-in QAM and ATSC tuner. I was unable to get the TV to realize that I wanted digital reception, not analog and both cable and antenna were failures at producing HDTV reception. I’m trying to figure out how to bypass this as I scour the users manual, but I did not have any success today on that front.
Setting up my Mac mini as a media center was far more successful. I hooked it up using the VGA connection and Man! did that look good. I now want to keep the HDTV as my permanent 32″ monitor–although I bet I’d have severe neck strain by the end of the first day of use. I didn’t initially realize that I couldn’t connect the audio out to the TV’s RCA jacks. Instead, you’ve got to use a miniplug-to-miniplug cord. I lucked out in that I had an extra one in my iPod miscellaneous stuff box. It’s even shiny and white and looked good with my Mini.
Front Row using the Apple Remote was fabulous. I was able to play video that I’d captured through the EyeTV and laboriously converted to an iTunes-friendly format. It really gave me a sense of how AppleTV would work. What will be particularly great about AppleTV is getting all those cables and annoyances out of the living room and back into the office. Really, I did not like setting up the mini-as-media-center because of all the bits and bobs and whatsits that had to be connected.
I also connected my Creative X-Mod to the Mini and it really brought the audio playback quality to life. Between the high quality video and the enhanced audio, it was a superb viewing experience.
EyeTV playback also rocked. I had no problem playing my HDTV recordings full-screen and it looked amazing on the TV. I mean really amazing. Which brings me to what my husband said last night. He came into my office, as I was trying to unpack the HDTV, assemble it and so forth. “You know,” he said meaningfully, “Superbowl is just a few days away. Is everything going to be ready?”
Unfortunately, I could not get the EyeTV remote to work at all. Nor, could I get the Apple Remote to work with EyeTV. I’m not sure what’s going on there, and I submitted a trouble ticket to Elgato. Both remotes work (the Apple Remote certainly works with Front Row), and I made sure to load the Elgato remote with new batteries and I used my digital camera to test out that there was a clear, strong signal coming from the remote. (Digital cameras are great at picking up infrared to make sure devices are sending out the proper signals.) We’ll see what happens if and when Elgato responds to the ticket.