Rotate Videos that were Recorded Sideways

Screenshot of HandBrake video tab.

Ever since smartphones started adding video recording capabilities, I’ve seen a lot more videos recorded in “portrait” mode. This happens when you record a video while holding your phone upright instead of sideways. Depending on the phone, the video recording app you used, and how you are playing it back, the video may end up […]

Optimize DOSBox for Modern Screens

Screenshot of DOOM using hq3x scaling in DOSBox.

Compared to today’s high-definition games, DOS games used low resolutions, so playing old games in DOSBox on a modern LCD monitor or HDTV is not an optimal experience without some configuration. The dosbox.conf file controls how DOSBox displays old games and software. These settings can be changed by opening the DOSBox Options from the Start menu. First, […]

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 […]

Run the Steam Version of Doom 3 in Widescreen

One of the great things about playing PC games that are a few years old is the fact that you can usually crank the graphics up to the max and still get a silky-smooth framerate. When you couple this to the fact that I’m a sucker for video game package deals on Steam, you can see how I end up playing a lot of older PC games.

Screenshot of Doom 3 zombie in 1080p resolution.
Doom 3 running at 1080p HD resolution

One of my latest purchases was the QUAKECON pack that included a smorgasbord of games from id Software and Bethesda Softworks for pennies on the dollar. I hadn’t played Doom 3 since 2005 or 2006, so I figured I’d give it another go. Back in the day (am I really calling 2005 “back in the day”?) my GeForce4 Ti 4600 couldn’t really handle the brand-spanking-new “id Tech 4” engine that Doom 3 used, so I went out and bought a mid-range GeForce 6600 GT that did the trick very nicely. At the time I was rocking a 19″ CRT from Dell, which was an awesome monitor at 1280 x 1024 resolution. I had a great gaming experience at the time, but even with the newer video card I couldn’t run the game on “Ultra” settings without serious drops in frame rate.

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.