Control AV Receiver Zone 2 with Harmony Hub (and Alexa)

I recently upgraded to a 4K-capable AV receiver and had to update my Harmony Hub devices and activities. When I did, I noticed that the commands for controlling zone 2 of the new receiver were not available in the Harmony app (whereas they were available for my previous receiver). Initially I thought I’d just need to […]

Lamp Replacement for HDTV

Burned out lamp

I purchased my first and only HDTV nearly six years ago. Before the purchase I scoured forums for months (mostly on AVSForum) to find out what others were saying about various TVs. Many flat panel LCD and plasma displays were cost-prohibitive for my budget, and the ones that weren’t had mediocre features and image quality. I finally […]

My Impression of Bias Lighting

Several years ago I was shopping around for a new HDTV to splurge on. I spent months pouring over reviews on CNET, reading threads on AVS Forum, and walking around Best Buy to find the perfect HDTV. I found AVS Forum to be the best resource of good information because you could ask specific questions, and there was most likely someone on the forum who could answer it based on personal experience (and who knew what the heck they were talking about unlike most retail employees).

During that search, I came across the concept of bias lighting.  This is not the colored ambient lighting crap that some TVs use as a marketing gimmick—colored back-lighting actually screws up your perception of contrast, color tone, etc. This is the lighting that professionals use with a professionally-calibrated monitor so they can edit video. I could go off on a tangent about why I prefer to see movies the way the director and editor intended, but I’ll save that for another post…

The basic idea with bias lighting is that you reduce eyestrain and perceive contrast better if there is a small amount of light behind the TV or monitor that you are watching. I won’t get into the specifics, but suffice to say that you shouldn’t throw any old lamp or cold cathode behind your TV. If you want to read more about the concept, here are a few links to get you started:

I always wanted to get a bias light for my TV, even though I never had it professionally calibrated, because I always liked the idea of having a little bit of light in the room at night rather than burning my retinas with a bright image in a totally dark room, and most lights cast reflections on the TV screen that are very distracting during darker scenes. As fortune would have it, I moved into a new apartment recently and it has no built-in lighting in the living room, but it does have a switched outlet right next to my TV. This was the last bit of motivation for me to finally get a bias light. The thought of adding a little light to the room while improving the TV viewing experience at the flick of a switch is very appealing, don’t you think? (more…)

Set Up an HTPC Using Windows 7 and Windows Media Center

Home theater PCs (HTPC) are a great way to bring digital media to your living room. You can access your music, photos, and digital home videos from the comfort of your sofa. In addition to your own media, you can use an HTPC to access internet content like streaming movies on Netflix, streaming TV shows on Hulu or major network websites, YouTube videos, internet radio stations, and more. This article will walk you through the process of setting up Windows Media Center (WMC) on a Windows 7-based PC. Without getting into specifics, your HTPC should have at least 2GB of RAM, a dual-core processor, a Windows Media Center remote control and USB IR receiver, and an HDMI or DVI output that supports HDCP to get the best experience.

Setup a Nintendo Wii on an HDTV

The Nintendo Wii does not support high definition resolutions (1080p, 1080i, 720p). It comes standard with composite cables (yellow for video, red and white for audio) that only support 480i standard definition resolution. However, with the use of component cables (red, green, and blue for video; red and white for audio) the Wii can output 480p enhanced definition resolution (EDTV). This typically results in a smoother, cleaner, brighter, more vivid picture. For people with a Wii hooked up to an HDTV, component cables should provide a noticeable improvement in image quality.