seeking techno-advice Blue-Ray etc.

Technically-oriented discussion of classic films on everything from 35mm to Blu-Ray
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Harlett O'Dowd

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seeking techno-advice Blue-Ray etc.

PostThu Oct 29, 2009 3:38 pm

Sooner or later I suppose I will have to make the BlueRay plunge. Well, I'll have to make the HDTV plunge too, but that's a year or two away.

Can anyone recommend a BR/DVD combo that's preferably region-free?

I guess it would be too much to ask for one that would record so I could connect it to my DirectTV TIVO-wannabe as well.
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rudyfan

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PostThu Oct 29, 2009 3:55 pm

I just took the plunge today with a player for $99 at Best Buy and the now OOP Third Man from Criterion. Dunno if mine is region free. going to look now.

Here's what I purchased:
http://tinyurl.com/yzgbehn

I just realized, I need to buy the damned cable for it, too.
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Jim Reid

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PostThu Oct 29, 2009 4:47 pm

rudyfan wrote:
I just realized, I need to buy the damned cable for it, too.


Be careful. HDMI cables are the biggest scam in electronics. Best Buy sells them anywhere from $40 to $120. You can get them at Wal-Mart for about $20. I buy mine from Amazon for less than $5 a piece. The price seems to fluctuate, but all my equipment is running just fine on HDMI cables I got from Amazon for $2.
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rudyfan

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PostThu Oct 29, 2009 4:59 pm

Jim Reid wrote:
rudyfan wrote:
I just realized, I need to buy the damned cable for it, too.


Be careful. HDMI cables are the biggest scam in electronics. Best Buy sells them anywhere from $40 to $120. You can get them at Wal-Mart for about $20. I buy mine from Amazon for less than $5 a piece. The price seems to fluctuate, but all my equipment is running just fine on HDMI cables I got from Amazon for $2.


Can you link to one an an example? Thanks!
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Jack Theakston

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PostThu Oct 29, 2009 5:39 pm

$10 HDMI cable: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814998015

Don't drink the Best Buy Kool-Aid. Unlike analog cables, you either get the signal or you don't. A $10 HDMI cable will look just as good as to $200 variety.
J. Theakston
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Richard P. May

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PostFri Oct 30, 2009 10:29 am

Back to the BluRay question: You might take a look at oppodigital.com.
Their players are quite high-end, costing about $500., but they seem to do everything.
I bought one of their regular DVDs a couple of years ago, after having trouble playing DVD-Rs. It was recommended to me by the technical person on the projection staff of the Academy of MP Arts & Sciences. That's what they use in both of their theaters in L.A.
I have found it to be very good. At the time, it cost about $230, including an HDMI cable.
Oppo only sells directly on line. They are located in Mountain View, CA.
Dick May
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rudyfan

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PostFri Oct 30, 2009 10:50 am

Thanks Dick for the recommendation on OPPO, you are not the only one who recommended that to me. Maybe upgrade when the day comes and I get over the TV envy and buy larger than the current one. In the meantime, anxiously awaiting the Criterion blu-ray of The Third Man.
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Jim Henry

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 1:56 pm

Good quality inexpensive HDMI cables are available from monoprice.com. Along with much lower prices, they have a far larger selection of cables than you'll find at the big box stores. I can also recommend their brackets for mounting flat screen TVs to the wall.
Jim Henry
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rudyfan

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 3:29 pm

Jim Henry wrote:Good quality inexpensive HDMI cables are available from monoprice.com. Along with much lower prices, they have a far larger selection of cables than you'll find at the big box stores. I can also recommend their brackets for mounting flat screen TVs to the wall.


Jim, thanks for the tip. Happily, I avoided the need for a cable altogether since I had an upcoverting DVD player already. I just swapped out the machines.
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Jim Reid

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 3:48 pm

rudyfan wrote:Jim, thanks for the tip. Happily, I avoided the need for a cable altogether since I had an upcoverting DVD player already. I just swapped out the machines.


You don't get the upconvert technology unless you use HDMI cables.
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rudyfan

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 4:23 pm

Jim Reid wrote:
rudyfan wrote:Jim, thanks for the tip. Happily, I avoided the need for a cable altogether since I had an upcoverting DVD player already. I just swapped out the machines.


You don't get the upconvert technology unless you use HDMI cables.


I am using an HDMI cable. I just swapped out the Sony upconverting for the blu-ray player, keeping the HDMI cable in place.
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Scoundrel

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 4:35 pm

This is also a very good source for video and audio cables:

http://www.optimization-world.com/

I have had very good results with their products and would recommend them without hesitation.
" You can't take life too seriously...you'll never get out of it alive."


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Jim Reid

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

rudyfan wrote:I am using an HDMI cable. I just swapped out the Sony upconverting for the blu-ray player, keeping the HDMI cable in place.


I misunderstood. Sorry.
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rudyfan

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 5:29 pm

Jim Reid wrote:
rudyfan wrote:I am using an HDMI cable. I just swapped out the Sony upconverting for the blu-ray player, keeping the HDMI cable in place.


I misunderstood. Sorry.


No worries!

Now, any spectacular films I need to consider on blu-ray? I've got a few in the Netflix queue for sampling. I understand that Oz is just amazing
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Mike Gebert

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 5:39 pm

Now, any spectacular films I need to consider on blu-ray?


There are some here.
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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rudyfan

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 5:53 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Now, any spectacular films I need to consider on blu-ray?


There are some here.


Thanks Mike!

Holy Magumbo! Adventures of Robin Hood is on blu-ray! OMG, that will be the next purchase, yes indeedy.

I saw this film many many moons ago, a sparkling newly struck from nitrate 35mm print (The Vitaphone Theater in Saratoga, CA if you must know, sadly long gone) and Olivia de Havviland was in the audience. OMG, I could not believe the color and depth. I can't wait to see the blu-ray.
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Danny Burk

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 6:12 pm

Browsing through that other thread, I don't see BLACK NARCISSUS. You can get a region-free Blu-Ray from Amazon.uk - it's absolutely spectacular. Almost like having an IB nitrate print of your own!
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rudyfan

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 7:20 pm

Danny Burk wrote:Browsing through that other thread, I don't see BLACK NARCISSUS. You can get a region-free Blu-Ray from Amazon.uk - it's absolutely spectacular. Almost like having an IB nitrate print of your own!


Is this similar to the UK restored The Red Shoes? Both are must have movies for me, as well.

Go ahead, Danny, make me spend money..... ;-)
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Danny Burk

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PostMon Nov 02, 2009 8:19 pm

rudyfan wrote:Is this similar to the UK restored The Red Shoes? Both are must have movies for me, as well.

Go ahead, Danny, make me spend money..... ;-)


I don't believe NARCISSUS had the full restoration treatment as did SHOES, but the quality is mind-blowing just the same. You'll never want to look at the Criterion NARCISSUS again after seeing the Blu-Ray...

SHOES is supposed to be incredible, but don't buy the UK version...it's not region free, so we can't view it here without a R-F player. Criterion will most likely release it here in the next year or two.

I always take delight in spending other peoples' money!
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Christopher Jacobs

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PostTue Nov 03, 2009 1:41 pm

The $99 BluRay player at Best Buy is their "Insignia" brand, which is made by Funai, the same Chinese company that makes the "Magnavox" that I got on sale at Walmart (was $198, now $149, periodic sales at $99). I've found it more than satisfactory (as I have no broadband internet and thus no need for BD-Live), and far more reliable than the Samsung units I've used.

BluRay's quality really becomes significant only if you have a full 1080p monitor or projector, with as large a picture as you can get. The improvement is also more noticeable on CinemaScope titles than with the classic 1.33:1 titles, but again is an obvious improvement if you have a good transfer and the resolution to display it. The BluRays of THE 400 BLOWS and WAGES OF FEAR and LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD are almost like seeing the film for the first time after seeing only the murky 16mm pan-and-scan dupes distributed to film societies in the 70s.

There are currently well over 50 features made before 1970 on BluRay, mostly from the 1950s and 60s, but a few from the 30s and 40s, and now Kino's release of THE GENERAL from the 20s. Every one looks drastically better than any of the 16mm film society prints I've ever seen, and usually look as good or better than many 35mm revival house prints (of course you need a decent and properly-calibrated projector to get more of a film look than just a large video look).

Good classics to introduce to newbies on BluRay would include AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, the unfortunately now out-of-print THE THIRD MAN, and of course CASABLANCA and THE WIZARD OF OZ. QUO VADIS is also very impressive, as is SOUTH PACIFIC and most of GIGI. ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is fine, though not quite up to AMERICAN IN PARIS. For drama and moody widescreen black-and-white, IN COLD BLOOD looks absolutely fantastic. If you're into westerns, you need RIO BRAVO, THE SEARCHERS, and THE PROFESSIONALS. I'll soon be checking out the BluRays of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951), NORTH BY NORTHWEST, and GONE WITH THE WIND whenever my Amazon order arrives.

--Christopher Jacobs
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Christopher Jacobs

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PostSat Nov 14, 2009 5:59 pm

Sooner or later I suppose I will have to make the Blu-Ray plunge. Well, I'll have to make the HDTV plunge too, but that's a year or two away.

Can anyone recommend a BR/DVD combo that's preferably region-free?

I guess it would be too much to ask for one that would record so I could connect it to my DirectTV TIVO-wannabe as well.
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Harlett O'Dowd


Well, first of all, if you don't already have an HDTV, there's absolutely no advantage to getting a BluRay player. The signal will look only as good as your TV can display it, and regular DVDs are already higher quality than most standard-definition TVs. Once you get an HDTV, you'll definitely want to "go Blu" but a BluRay on a 720p HDTV will show only a marginal improvement in quality over an upscaled standard DVD. A full 1080p HDTV, monitor, or video projector with the ability to display 24 fps will make the difference between BluRays and DVDs as obvious as the difference between DVDs and VHS on a good standard-def monitor.

Second of all, every BluRay player can also play standard DVDs (and upscales them to simulate 1080p), so there's no need to search for a special BR/DVD combo player, as they all already are! Unfortunately the region problem is harder to get around with BluRays, as the only multi-region players I've heard of so far must be manually reset each time you change regions. I still need to use my old Philips DVD player to watch multi-region DVDs and have not yet invested in a region B or multi-region player since there are only a few discs I'd probably want that aren't already Region A or all-region.

Third of all, it is truly annoying that so far stand-alone set-top BluRay recorder-players are only available in Japan, due to various legal and corporate "concerns."

If you haven't already converted to an HDTV set yet, you're best off waiting until you make that change, because in a year or two the BluRay players will no doubt be substantially cheaper than they are now, and there may well be more convenient multi-region players or even BluRay recorders on the American market by that time.

If you get a 720p HDTV and/or an HDTV that's smaller than 40 inches or so, and the majority of films you watch are 1.33:1 rather than any of the post 1953 widescreen formats, then you're still probably better off simply getting an upscaling DVD player than getting a BluRay. Newer DVDs that are well-encoded from High Definition masters can contain an amazing amount of detail with traditional 4x3 films, especially with an upconverting player. The greater improvement in the high-definition discs becomes a lot more obvious with widescreen pictures, which really suffered in VHS letterbox versions and are still considerably fuzzier in anamorphic DVDs than in the much greater amount of pixels available on 1080p BluRay discs. You'll also notice the improvement much more clearly if you sit between one and two screen widths away from the picture instead of way across the room. Watching a small HDTV picture, even 1080p, from typical living-room distances further away than two screen widths, probably won't look noticeably different than watching the same size standard-def TV picture from the same distance. HDTV is still just TV, its picture full of rows and columns of pixels. Because there are so many more pixels (six times more for 1080p), the picture can be six times larger before you start to notice the pixels from the same distance, and bigger screens suddenly don't look as soft and fuzzy as they have for the past 30 years.

The 1080p standard is almost the same as typical Digital Cinemas running 2k projectors, so you can now approximate the theatre experience much more closely. If you've got the space and a room that can be fully darkened, I'd strongly recommend getting a 1080p projector rather than a flatscreen HDTV. Then you can get a wall-sized picture and zoom in and out so the height stays constant and widescreen is actually WIDE screen and not letterboxed.

Hope this helps, though it's fairly generic and doesn't get into any specific brands and model numbers.

--Christopher Jacobs
http://hpr1.com/film
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs

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