Home entertainment

The quality of our home entertainment system has just risen to heights never before seen in this household. Having foregone a multitude of opportunities to get into the plasma / LCD circus for the last 6 years, from those early days of a limited choice of 19,000 zloty sets to the more recent abundance, we finally took the plunge. After the compulsory amount of buggering around (more later) we have finally purchased and installed a new TV and DVD set-up. The TV is the Sony 46Z4500 and the DVD is the Sony Blu-ray BDP S350. First impressions are that this is an AWESOME arrangement and the difference from what we had before is simply eye-blowing!

The 46″ TV is massive. Luckily I asked a friend to help me collect it from the shop who also helped unpack and get it on the stand at home. The weight shown on the packing was 40kg. Completely impossible for one person to deal with no matter how big or strong you may be. After the previous TV my first concern was that I’d “got a bit carried away” and ordered something that was just too big despite having read all there was to read about the correct size of TV and the viewing distance and stuff. Thankfully, this reaction was just the shock of comparing it to what stood there before and now it seems big, but appropriate. One thing nobody points out is that when you’re watching a film, for example the Blu-ray ones I bought, the picture does not fill the entire screen area but takes a wide screen letterbox shape across the middle of the screen. The 46″ size is perfect for this. I think the 40″ would have been fine for regular low definition TV where it fills the entire screen but not good enough for the films, nor for HD TV. Anyway, now we’ve got a TV that’s bigger than our daughter, something every household should aim to achieve!!

The TV oozes quality, which is good because at this price I’d be pretty miffed if it didn’t! Build quality is excellent throughout with satisfying touches like the way the Sony logo lights up, the on-TV touch-sensitive control panel lights up when you need to use it and disappears into the black frame when you don’t. Even the remote has a sexy blue lighting system. Sound is very good from the built-in speakers but I can see I’m going to have to save up for a set of additional speakers to match the picture performance for those action movies. I’m still reading the manual but the controls so far seem to be very intuitive. I’ve even managed to stick a pen-drive in the side and display photographs…and I did it in less than 2 minutes!

I don’t feel qualified to discuss the details of how good the picture is. I’m lacking in the required scientific instruments to measure blacks, colours, widgets and hertz. This thing has ‘Motion Flow’ 200Hz and a bunch of other stuff that is supposed to give you a good picture. I know the reviews were good and I know that the five people who’ve seen it so far were blown away, that’s good enough for me. We’ve stuck to an old philosophy that applies to most, if not all, technology purchases which is to buy as close to the leading edge as you can because tomorrow it will be outdated. I’m certain that 300Hz with “digital orgasm” will be released in February 09 and 1,000 zloty or so will be slashed off the price of this thing, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Deciding to buy the Blu-ray was a harder choice because I was uncertain just how much better the picture quality would be and also whether Blu-ray would become more mainstream than it is now. Having seen it and now read more about it, I think it was a good choice. The picture quality is superb, almost a little too superb giving pictures so sharp you could cut paper with them! My worries about the thing taking too long to load discs (as I had read in some articles) were unfounded. It’s slower loading Blu-ray discs but absolutely not annoyingly so. One of the big advantages of the player is that it up-scales normal DVDs to HD quality and it does so very well. I tried an episode of The Sopranos and it was pretty impressive. The fact that both TV and Blu-ray are Sony and connected via HDMI cable means they communicate with each other very well. We’ve also got the Cyfrowy Polsat (AKA total bas*ards – more later) HD decoder connected via HDMI and that’s also doing a fine job. Couldn’t find much HD content that wasn’t encoded but we tried the MTV HD trial channel and it is definitely a step-up from the non-HD transmissions although even non-HD are far better than they were before.

So, you get a Blu-ray, you need Blu-ray discs! I bought three when I got the player and I’ve just taken advantage of amazon.co.uk’s “buy two, get a third one free” offer so before too long we’ll have a choice of:

  1. Casino Royale
  2. Cinderella Man
  3. Shrek 3
  4. Wanted
  5. The Prestige
  6. No Country For Old Men
  7. Batman Begins & The Dark Knight (double pack)
  8. Transformers
  9. The Untouchables
  10. Chicago

I thought that was a decent enough mix of drama, action and musical to get us started.

You’re all invited round for an evening of home cinema – when I’ve bought those speakers perhaps!

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4 thoughts on “Home entertainment

  1. Not the snob route! I have a pretty decent hi-fi for music but I don’t think it’s worth extending that to the TV.

    I’m just looking for a 3 speaker system – one sub-woofer and and two additional speakers, one each side of the TV. The speakers in the TV do a good job of the mid-range sound but a woofer will give much more emphasis for the lower end (e.g. explosions or spooky music) and hopefully the side speakers will give a little better clarity for higher end (screams!).

    Can’t be bothered with the full “home cinema” kit, we really don’t watch movies enough to bother with that.

  2. ha ,ha. Scatts do you remember one of your 1st bog entries about flat TV and gadgets ?

    I do. :D

    btw. here you can find some really good (and quite cheap) german “handmade” speakers.

    htt p://www.teufel.eu/

    with 8 week return period ;)

  3. You see, I’m not sure whether having “guests” is really such a good idea! ;)

    I had actually forgotten about that ‘gadget freak’ post but I just found it and read it again. It was almost exactly a year ago, Dec 6th 2007. You do have to admire my fortitude for holding out as long as we have, don’t you? In fact, we’ve moved apartments and so we now do have a wall where the TV fits quiet well and the room is lager so 46″ is not out of place. Honest!

    Also, our old TV has deteriorated significantly this year to the point where I sometimes wondered if it was going to show us a picture or not! I didn’t look but I guess buying an ‘old fashioned’ glass tube TV these days is impossible?! Won’t be long before they make a comeback though, marketed as nostalgic designs.

    I’ve also this year been suckered into buying a sat-nav as well, so I’m really just following all the other sheep. How very Polish of me! :)

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