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Comment The comparison tool works fine here (Score 1) 110

In my experience, the "price plus shipping" rankings are accurate and even include the effect of tax. In other words, the first offer listed has the lowest total delivered cost, and so on. Shipping charges are omitted for most shipments from Amazon because I'm a Prime member and thus shipping is free - the listings even say "free shipping with Amazon Prime" and how long the shipment will take. There are some things that are not eligible for two day delivery - those are either especially large and heavy items that would be too expensive to use two day shipping for, or things that must be shipped ground such as large quantities of liquids or big lithium ion batteries. And occasionally something says "may take an extra 1-2 days to ship" - I think some of those are products that they produce on demand, which can include books, videos, and printed items like T shirts.

If the difference is small, I'm likely to choose the shipment from Amazon because I'll get the package faster and because their return policy is good. If there is a big difference in cost I may take another deal.

Comment Re:Cool, and no 4K content (Score 1) 207

I checked a couple of my recordings from cable channels. AMC is 1080i at 7.2Mbps, which is about half the bit rate that my major local broadcast channels use. (The main PBS station and the major commercial networks use 14-15Mbps for their primary channel and give the rest to one subchannel.) Disney Channel is 720p at 6.4Mbps; that's an ABC property so 720p is probably its native resolution. The bit rates do seem to be somewhat more variable program-to-program than the broadcast channel bit rates. Cable multiplexes a few digital channels on each traditional channel slot; current digital cable confine each bundle of TV channel to one slot (combined with a few others) rather than bonding multiple channels and spreading channels over all of them. (Internet over DOCSIS 3.0 does bond multiple channels, potentially up to 16 depending on your cable system and the capabilities of your cable modem.) Comcast is probably dynamically adjusting the compression rates of the multiplexed channels to optimize the results depending on program content, so a given show may get more or fewer bits depending on how visually demanding it is and how demanding the shows on the other multiplexed channels are.

All in all, not as good as it could be, not as bad as it might have been, and much better than what I've seen on a friend's satellite TV setup. I don't have any way to check the bit rates on satellite but visible artifacts abound.

Comment Re:Cool, and no 4K content (Score 1) 207

Near the end, some 70mm films came with DTS digital sound tracks instead of the magnetic stripes.

Although the making of major theatrical films has gone its own way rather than following consumer standards, documentary films are frequently made with consumer or prosumer cameras and filmed in 1080p, or very recently in 2160p. They are also released in that resolution, and will be slightly windowboxed at some theaters because the theater does not have the ability to adjust its side curtains to that aspect ratio.

Comment Re:Cool, and no 4K content (Score 1) 207

A 35mm print is technically capable of beating 4K. A 35mm print as exhibited in most theaters does not. One problem is that the physical transport mechanism of the projector is not sufficiently stable; effective resolution is lost to the little wobbles of the film. The other problem is that few theaters receive reference quality prints; viewers outside of NYC and LA are unlikely to ever see one.

70mm is another matter. We'll have to move up to 8K to really challenge that. And then there is the glory that is the film version of IMAX...

Comment Re:Cool, and no 4K content (Score 1) 207

A lot of the big theater chains have installed 4K projectors. (For example, the big AMC theater here in Boston has 4K projectors for every screen other than the IMAX one. The IMAX screen uses the usual Digital IMAX system of two 2K projectors set up with a half pixel offset for an effective resolution of about 2.9K. No frickin' laser beams yet.) Smaller independent theaters and chain theaters in smaller towns are likely to still be using 2K projectors because they are less expensive. Art houses that focus on indie films are in no hurry to install 4K projectors because few of the films they show are distributed in 4K.

Comment Re:Cool, and no 4K content (Score 1) 207

That is not true here in Boston. Comcast appears to be sending exactly the same bits that the local TV stations are broadcasting; the only difference is that they demultiplex the transport stream and send each subchannel as a separate cable channel. The files (captured by my HD HomeRun Prime and recorded by Windows Media Center) are the size that you would expect given that the subchannels are removed, and VLC verifies that the video is 1080i or 720p depending on network and that all the alternate audio and subtitle tracks are present. (Sadly, some local broadcasters are falling down on the job there; for example, the local CW affiliate does not send the Spanish language audio for Jane the Virgin on its OTA broadcasts.) I have compared the visual quality of OTA and cable captures of the same program and they look identical. Bit by bit comparison of the files would be challenging as it would be very difficult to align the exact start points of the recordings, and because either or both may be affected by occasional signal dropouts. It's not an infrequent thing OTA at my house - one reason for using the HD HomeRun instead - and rare but not unheard of on cable.

Satellite TV is another matter entirely. I believe those guys are recompressing everything in H.264 to save bandwidth. And they aren't using enough bits. so the results look bad.

Comment Re:Cool, and no 4K content (Score 1) 207

TV is either 720p or 1080i depending on network. There are standards for 4K broadcasting in development, but whether it will ever see the light of day in the US is doubtful.

4K streaming has arrived from Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube. Limited selection so far, but all new Netflix original shows that are actually made by Netflix (as opposed to partnerships with foreign broadcasters) and all new Amazon originals for adult audiences (but not the children's shows) are being made in 4K. Some new TV series from other companies are shot in 4K and available to stream that way; for example, Amazon has the first two seasons of Orphan Black in 4K and Netflix has Breaking Bad. Most new movies other than documentaries or low budget indies are shot at 4K or more, though home distribution in 4K has lagged, and a few older films like Lawrence of Arabia have gotten new 4K transfers.

Ultra Blu-Ray is a real product now, and you can buy a player for $299. It's called the Xbox One S, and you also get a game console for free. (Now that it's available, the street price of the only other Ultra Blu-Ray player currently available in the US, the Samsung UBD-K8500, has dropped from it's $399 list price to a bit over $300. A much more expensive and higher end Panasonic player is expected to be available soon.) The selection of discs is small so far but it's growing rapidly; most of the big budget films of 2016 are getting Ultra Blu-Ray releases, as well as some older titles that were released theatrically in 4K. (I don't expect a flood of new transfers of movies shot on film, but some popular ones will get redone.)

Comment Re:Not quite true. (Score 1) 81

Apple won't kill the iPod completely so long as people continue to buy the existing models. They just won't invest in updates or promotion. (The iPod Touch could conceivably get an update based on a newer generation of iPhone, since it's basically an iPhone without the radios. The Nano and Shuffle are unlikely to get changed at all, at least in any way visible to the buyer.) The iPod is no longer a hot new product, but Apple is still selling plenty of them by the standards of any company not named Apple. Sunset industries can be profitable cash cows if you manage the milking process well.

Comment Re:Sign or don't buy (Score 2) 195

If you live in an area where all or nearly all the property has restrictive covenants, you don't have a lot of choices. You can live in such a place or you can move to another city. Here in New England it's relatively easy to escape them because a lot of the housing stock predates the widespread use of covenants, but the situation in other parts of the country is far more challenging.

Comment Re:Not quite true. (Score 1) 81

Apple had a reason for not making an iPod Classic with a flash drive. If they had sold it at a comparable price to the version with the miniature hard drive (and they could have given the current price of flash memory; 128GB is around $30 retail now which means it costs Apple less than that), it would have exposed the lie that is their current pricing of the versions of the iPhone and iPad with more than the minimum amount of memory. Those big and important parts of their customer base would have rebelled and demanded lower prices, which would have cost Apple a LOT of profit.

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