Isaac's Blog

January 12, 2007

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung DVD-R145

Stay away from this unit, its crap. I just bought a 4k TV from you, the least you can do is give me some decent support for a DVD player! Here are some of my communications with Samsung support, which is also turning into crap:

Initial support request email dated 12/28/06:

I got this DVD player in hopes it would be good, for the price. I've since thought otherwise. I have a child, hitting pause on a DVD is normal. Having that pause turn automaticly into a 'Stop' after only 5 minutes is HORRIBLE. To put salt on the wouldm hitting play after this happens doesnt even compensate for the fact it will miss about 3-4 secs of audio and 2-3secs of video. this is REALLY disappointing. Another problem is with DivX playback. there are horrible lipsync issues if you pause/ff/rw ins the middle of ANY divx file. you have to watch from start to finish, or its just not worth it. FF and RW is very 'sputtery' as if it was a digital file on a computer, not a dvd being FF/RW.

All these things seem like software/firmware issues which can be resolved. Every time I call up support, I basicly get told 'thats the way it is.' For $200, this is NOT the way it should be. So I have a couple questions:

1) can you help me?
2) can this timeout be disabled or extended?
3) can this FF/RW sputter be addressed?
4) is this DivX problem fixable?
5) can a stop/play 'buffer' be implimented? ie. if i hit stop, and play after that, some sort of compensation, like 5-10secs BEFORE the stop mark.
6) any firmware update for dvd-r145
7) can you actually help me?

Support reply, date 1/12/07

Sorry about the trouble your running into.

I am sorry about the pause going to stop after 5 mins. this is a feature most dvd players and vcr's have. This is preset in the unit and can not be adjusted. For the quality of the divx play back you need to consult divx. since most divix files are files people coonverted from dvd's or mpegs then shared on a file sharing network the quality can not be garantied. I would sugest buying or renting dvd's instead.

Please call us to troubleshoot this issue over the phone. Please call us at 1-800-SAMSUNG and select menu option 4,1,1

My reply to support on 1/12/07:

As a customer who just purchased a $4k HLS5679w, I should expect SOME help. I went out of my way to thoroughly explain my issues, and this reply, over 2 weeks later doesnt even touch the main issues. and this 5 min "feature" isnt on every dvd player, and should be a selectable option.

Now please answer all SEVEN of my questions. I'm really disappointed with this unit, and so far with this support. I want to be helped, not handed off. You can even get me in contact with an engineer to further explain these issues if your customer support checklist doesnt cover technically minded customers who want answers

Support pissed me off so much I'm reviewing the product where I can:

December 20, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

$77 XM Radio for a year

So my 3-month GM XM trial is set to expire 1/25/07, and Sirius is offering 12months free for their service. So I decided to try and get some free months. After calling XM's customer [no]service in india, corp, and GM... I found it was just a no win situation. SO I started looking for promo codes. I found one... ZWINBACK... 1 year for $77 and free activation... Thats half off the normal price! Just call 800-892-5400, and ask for the "$77/year deal". If they ask for a code, which they didnt for me, use the one here. If you get shot down, just hang up and try again. If they ask you how you heard about it, tell them you got a postcard. THIS IS KEY. dont tell them anything about online and play stupid.

November 22, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung HLS-5679w Calibrated

Prior to calibration of my HLS5679w, SD content via my Tivo/HDVR2 was like watching blots of paint w/ color banding/contouring from hell. My HD sources via DirecTV HR20-700 and Samsung DVD-R145 looked relatively ok, but not what you expect from an expensive set. Naturally, I was stuck in movie mode and things looked dull and dim.

As scheduled, David Abrams from Avical arrived at my home around 5pm, and 7 hours later my set was stunning. Don't expect night and day difference, it took me 2 weeks to get used to a calibrated picture after a lifetime of crap. Dave set my color gamut to normal for SMPTE C and wide for SMPTE HD. I use Dynamic for my good HD/upscaled input sources. The color looks pure, contrast/black levels are so lifelike its almost in 3d. I use Normal mode for crappier SD inputs with a little more brightness which makes the source look acceptable. Dave set up Warm2 for B&W viewing.

Prior to Dave coming, using the DVE disk, title 12, chapter 14, the ramp showed a LOT of contouring. Post calibration, this ramp is 98% smooth, with that other 2% soft enough to not hurt too much.

Watching Fifth Element post calibration was like watching completely different movie. The colors where vivid, the flesh tones where very lifelike. The improved black levels have definitely helped. I've had to begin watching my whole DVD collection again to capture the true elements on the movies. Football games look excellent. CSI, Lost, House, 3lbs, any network tv show in HD.... look great. DiscoveryHD is actually nice to watch, even though you aren't even paying attention to the content itself.

Dave was very professional and courteous. He answered every question very well. Being a geek myself, he was able to explain details of his process while he did them, which was extremely interesting. If I had 25k for equip, patience, and time, I'd be calibrating! Dave treated my set as if it was his own baby. He's welcome to treat it well any time in the future. Money well spent. Samsung should seriously consider service credits or something to offset the blatant misconfig of these sets to "look good on the floor."

August 29, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

DLP Color Banding

So it seems these new Samsung HLS5679w sets are plagued with color banding issues. Dont bother calling samsung, they will asked "whats color banding" and say "we've never heard of any problems with this set" Many say this can be solved by a good ISF calibration.... we'll see.

August 24, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung HL-S5679W arrives

Its finally here!

First off, I'm in no way a professional A/V guy, but I can read up. First thing I noticed was, the remote looks like a cheap hotel remote that stands up. very odd. Second, the presets it has are, well.... don't use them. Use the following settings that Eliab so graciously provided:

Digital NR - OFF
DNIe - Off
Mode - Movie
Contrast - 40
Brightness - 45
Sharpness - 0
Color - 45
Tint - G50/R50
Color Tone - Warm2

Please visit the avs forums for more details. Patience is definately needed while tweaking.

Denon AVR-3806

So far so good with this unit. At first it was a bit daunting, but once you get the basics done, sit through the COMPLETE auto-setup (all six locations) its a great starting point. It accurately found the distance to my speakers. I have an oddly shaped room, and it was able to tell the surround speakers are not even from left to right, and adjusted accordingly. I'm still messing with it, needs more bass :)

I got this from as well. They do price match, but I was asked not to post links, find the lower prices yourself :) The warranty is backed by Warranty Corp of America. If your reciever doesn't require service before the plan expires, contact them within 90 days of the plan's expiration and receive a 50 percent credit towards a future purchase!

Call 1.800.340.4770, ask for Chris, tell him Isaac Kishk referred you, so the price matching is easier.

August 19, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung HL-S5679 LED tracking

My tracking info for my TV is available, excellent. Now I have to wait for it while it slowly works it way down to me. Anyone know of a google map for ABF? heres the tracking info ABF tracking pro #252309129. Granted, now my time is short for making my tv stand!

August 16, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung HL-S5679W being delivered!

I get a call from on my way to dinner last night. They had my contact info from a pre-reserve I had on the unit. Apparently since they never had the unit on their site as "reserve now" they didnt get any foot traffic as I was the only one. They will price match ABT Electronics, who is price matching TVAuthority. got 15 units into their warehouse yesterday, they have 14 left. Mine is shipping out today. The warranty is backed by Warranty Corp of America. If your tv doesn't require service before the plan expires, contact them within 90 days of the plan's expiration and receive a 50 percent credit towards a future purchase!

Call 1.800.340.4770, ask for Chris, tell him Isaac Kishk referred you, so the price matching is easier.

July 26, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

iRiver, iPod... whats your poison?

Recently at I picked up an iRiver H10 refurb. it came in about 5 days, but wouldn't power on, ever after a charge. Had to RMA it. So while waiting for my money to come back, I looked into what model is REALLY best. I think I decided on the iRiver H320. I hate apple, the simple fact they LIE about white plastic on laptops just pisses me off. So H320 it is, rockbox anyone?

July 19, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung Ships LED DLP Set

Its about freakin time! Too bad TVAuthority STILL doesn't have a definite ship date for their inventory, and I'm still #28, ugh!

Ridgefield, N.J. � Samsung confirmed that it recently began shipping to dealers its first 1,080p high-definition DLP rear-projection set using a light-emitting diode (LED) array instead of a conventional UHP lamp.

Model HL-S5679W ($4,199 suggested retail, $3,999 average street price) was originally scheduled to ship in April and has been significantly back-ordered since its formal introduction at International CES last January, Steve Panosian, Samsung rear-projection and SlimFit CRT TV marketing director, told TWICE.

He said the product has been heavily requested by technology enthusiasts looking to add sets based on the latest technologies. The HL-S5679W is among the first LED-based rear projection sets to reach market.

A spokesman for NuVision said its LED DLP model would ship prior to the CEDIA Expo in September. Representatives from Akai, which also showed LED DLP prototypes at CES, were not available for comment on their rollout plans.

The system is said to use a postage-stamp-sized LED lighting array made up of 18 LEDs (six each of red, blue, and green) in place of a UHP bulb.

Life-span of an LED is conservatively rated at 20,000 hours.

The new technology is said to extend the color gamut of traditional DLP rear projection TVs, while eliminating the color wheel that has produced visible color bar patterns noticeable to some viewers when watching certain fast-action programming.

The system uses less electricity than conventional micro-display rear-projection systems and even most flat-panel TV displays. It also removes UHP bulbs, which use mercury, from the waste stream.

The set features a 56W-inch 16:9 screen, 1,920-by-1,080p resolution, 1,080p-capable HDMI input, unidirectional CableCARD slot and built-in ATSC tuning.

GREG TARR -- TWICE, 7/14/2006 12:45:00 PM

June 19, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung HL-S5679W

damnit, still number 28 in line. 27 other patient geeks infront of me.

June 6, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung HL-S5679W saga continues....

"Available in August" is a new update samsung has posted on their website. One can only hope. I was 36 in the preorder line 4 weeks ago, we're now 28. yey.

June 5, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Samsung HL-S5679W 56" LED DLP

Our Hitachi CRT has horrible burn in. We called up our warranty to get it serviced. Turns out they dont want to fix it because it would cost more than the tv. They paid out the original cost. Yey. so we took this "extra" money and combined it with the money we saved up for a new tv knowing this tv was crapping out... so we're upgrading Samsung HLS5679W! It was suppose to be out 5/22/06, so we preordered on 5/2/06. But then they pushed it back to "sometime in July", but then its "sometime in September" Finally, a press release. This tv better friggin rock, and it better drop in price for this wait damnit.

March 26, 2006

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  


My current CRT projection tv has the classic tivo burnin problem. The thing is, this is a NEW tube, not 4 montha old. The previous factory rube took 3 years. figure that one out. So im shopping for a enw TV so when the warranty company buys out my warranty, I can be set. Then I have the question, "which is better, LCD or DLP" After some googling, I found a great post by someone that nails all the aspects, and here it is....

HDTV's fall in to one of several catagories: Tube, CRT-RP, Plasma, LCD, LCP-RP, DLP-RP, and the new exotics.

Tubes are just like the sets we know and love. They have a giant picture tube in them. The tube makes them very heavy and they don't usually come in sizes > about 40". You can burn in pictures but it's generally very difficult.

CRT-RP's are what people usually think of when they think of big Tv's. They have three small CRT's in them and use a mirror to project the image on to the screen from behind (the -RP stands for Rear Projection.) The sets are HUGE and weigh a TON. They burn in "easily." They are also amoung the most inexpensive of large screen sets.

Plasmas are flat and don't generally burn in easily. True HD plasma in large sizes is still very expesive: more than DLP-RP and lots more than CRT-RP.

LCD's are flat like plasma but are, at heart, digital. They have pixels, not weirdo strange analog plasma gas. LCD panels are expensive to manufacture in large sizes. They can't burn in.

LCD-RP. What if you have a small (~9"), high quality LCD and then used a mirror to project the image on to the back of a screen just lke CRT-RP does? Then you'd have LCD-RP. Like LCD, it can't burn in. They are light (~100# for a 50") and are 'tabletop' sets. Not really wall mountable like plasma or LCD, but not huge hulking sets like CRT-RP. More like the size of a traditional tube set. They are more expensive than a CRT-RP but less than a DLP-RP or Plasma. Like LCD it is a digital set with the concept of pixels. I own a 50" Panasonic LCD-RP; for me it hit the sweet spot between price and quality.

DLP-RP uses a ball with thousands of individually controlled mirrors to produce a picture. Sounds wacky but works VERY well. It uses a mirror to project the image on to the back of a screen (all RP's do this, hence the term Rear Projection. ;) It can't burn in. It's digital. It costs more than a LCD-RP and less than a Plasma. Tabletop just like LCD-RP. I tried like hell to buy one of these; they were very backordered, so I got a 50" LCD-RP for about $1000 less than the 50" DLP-RP I wanted.

ExoticS: D-ILA, LCOS, etc: Very similiar to LCD-RP and DLP-RP in that they are digital, don't burn in and are tabletop setsl. The first and sewcond generations are just coming out so I'm not sure I would completely trust these yet.

In terms of picture quality, CRT-RP (adjusted) is best, followed by the exotics, plasma, LCD, DLP-RP, LCD-RP (non-adjusted). LCD-RP may be the worst but that's relative in the HDTV field: if you're not a videophile then you probabally won't notice. If you like to watch HDTV and DVDs you are not a videophile, you're a normal person. If you have $200,000 home theater you're a videophile (why are you reading this?) CRT-RP is the best when properally adjusted. Proper adjustment is something you can't do yourself, you have to call in a specialst. It costs at least $500 and you have to have it redone every 6 months. If you don't do that then you have a non-adjusted set and a picture quality that's worse than LCD-RP. In short: don't worry about picture quality. You'll like them all. be careful when looking at these sets in stores. The salespeople in most stores don't set them up so they don't look tht great. 10 minutes of setup gets you a lot of improvement. Some stores will adjust the sets that cost a lot and 'degrade' the settings of the cheap sets to stear you towards the expensive ones. Don't fall for it. Most new/current model sets look very good these days.

CRT-RP is the worse, followed by Plasma and Tube. The exotics, LCD, LCD-RP and DLP-RP can't burn in. Their technology doesn't allow for it. Don't believe that "sets are better these days' stuff. They are better, but they still burn in. Do you want to stretch out all of your 4:3 content to 16:9 (yech!) all the time? Do you want to only play video games for 1-hour at a time? Do you want to not watch ESPN, CNN, and other stations that have 'bugs' and scrollers at the bottom of the screen? Do you want to live in paranoia for the rest of your Tv's life? Do you want your Tv to tell you how to watch it? I don't, so I got a set that can't burn in. I like to turn on my XBOX and hit pause, then I go on a 3 day vacation just to spite the CRT-RP owners. Don't buy a Tv that will burn in: it's a waste of money unless you have enough money to buy a replacement every few years or if you're ONLY going to use it to watch movies in your home theater room.

We live in an age of wonder: the digital era. I don't think most people realize how disruptive (in a good way) digital is. Analog loses quality as soon as it leaves the source. In analog you have to worry about interferance. The signal at the destination is never what you sent, it's only the best thing given the loss and interferance it encountered. It's fuzzy, blurry, and wishy-washy. A $10,000 piece of electronics is really better than a $300 piece because it has less interferance. Digital is different. What you send is EXACTLY what you get. You either get the 0/1 or you don't. A digital set (Digital is different than HDTV. Digital is LCD, DLP-RP, LCD-RP, some exotics. NOT PLASMA) can take advantage of that by doing something called '1-to-1 pixel mapping.' What is sent by your DVD player/HDTV box is EXACTLY what is displayed on your set. Every pixel on the source is displayed EXACTLY the same way on your set. To do this you need more than a digital set. You need a digital source (DVD player, HDTV set top box from your Sat or cable provider.) The digital source needs to have a DVI or HDMI output. These are DIGITAL ouputs. All of the other output, component, composite, s-video, those are all ANALOG. Your Tv will need a digital input, DVI or HDMI. Finally, your Tv needs to actually be digital: it needs to understand and display nativly the concept of a pixel: LCD, LCD-RP, DLP-RP, and some exotics. Taken together you get EXACTLY what the source is, the best possible picture. (Even in my eyes, a layman, I can easily tell the difference in an all digital system and one that's not. It really is that much better.) If you have an analog signal, or an analog cable or your set is analog (Tube, CRT-RP, Plasma, some exotics) or you don't have DVI/MDI inputs or outputs, then you can never have 1-1 pixel mapping and you're picture will be less than perfect. It will still look good, but. why settle for less than perfection?

LCD-RP, DLP-RP and some exotics have an interesting 'drawback': they have a consumable. Eventually there is a part in the set that will have to be replaced: a special light-bulb inside the set will eventually grow dim and burn out. These little (uh, medium size, actually) buggers cost about $300. You will need to replace it every 3-5 years. My Tv is on from 6am to midnight every day (not counting my 3-day 'pause the xbox' weekends. ;), 18 hours a day. I'll need to replace the bulb in a little less than 3 years. I'm ok with that.

Digital sets have a drawback: there is space between the pixels. For example: Think of a pixel as a circle. Bunch the pixels up as close as can in a box ,one at each corner. Right in the middle will be some black space that no pixel touches. Repeat a lot (say, the size of a typical 50" HDTV screen) and you get something known as the screen-door effect (SDE). Imagine you are lookng through a screen door. You can see through it (the pixels) but you also see the black grid lines ot the screen (the space between the pixels.) If you sit close (~2-3 feet) to a digital set you will see the SDE. If you sit farther back you will not see it. Analog doesn't have this problem since there's no space to speak of between the scan lines. Image you drew a straight line with an extra-sharp pencil. Draw another one 1 cm under it. You could see the paper between the lines pretty clearly. Now image you did the same thing with a fat ragged marker. The ragged edges and dye would cause the lines to bleed in to each other. The color may be lighter in the center, but it won't be like the pencil. BTW: Most people agree you should sit about 8-9 feet away from an HDTV set, so this shouldn't be an issue in any case. I usually sit 3-4 feet away when XBOXing, and I don't notice it. I see it sometimes about 3-4 feet away when I'm watching 'normal' analog Tv.

Once last thing, all Tv's are plagued by viewing angles. All technology gets dimmer when you're off angle horozontially (remember the old LCD computer monitors) and/or vertically. For the best picture you need to be in front of the Tv (maybe off horozontal axis about 30 degrees) with the center of the Tv at your eye level. Higher, lower, or off to the side the picture will get dimmer. The height issues can be solved by basing your Tv stand purchase so it puts the Tv at eye level when you're on the couch/bed/floor (whereever you expcet to view it more.) When looking at Tv's in stores I would suggest you move around a btit and see how the picture brightens/dims as you move off to the sides and above/below eye level. That will help you see how it will fit in to your room, and there's little the sales driods can do setting-wise, posative or negative, to change that factor.
If I were purchasing today I'd get a 50" LCD-RP or DLP-RP with at least 1 DVI and/or HDMI input. That should run between $2500 and $3500.

Thanks gcbrowni for the info! original post is here, so a page find on "09-17-2004, 08:23 PM" and you'll skip right to his post.

Looks like I'm gonna get a DLP eh. I wonder where 3-LCD comes into play?

October 19, 2005

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

XM on DirecTV

As part of DirecTV's dedication to offering the best in entertainment to its customers, beginning Nov. 15, 2005, 72 channels of XM's quality music, children's, and talk programming will be available via DirecTV, nearly doubling its current audio programming lineup at no additional cost.

DirecTV, XM Radio to Deliver 72 XM Channels To DirecTV Customers Nationwide

El Segundo CA (SPX) Sep 30, 2005
An agreement between DirecTV and XM Satellite Radio will be much more than just music to the ears of more than 14.6 million DirecTV customers nationwide.

As part of DirecTV's dedication to offering the best in entertainment to its customers, beginning Nov. 15, 2005, 72 channels of XM's quality music, children's, and talk programming will be available via DirecTV, nearly doubling its current audio programming lineup at no additional cost.

In addition to music channels and children's programming, XM will provide XM's Major League Baseball "Home Plate" talk radio channel, and its High Voltage channel, featuring talk radio stars Opie and Anthony.

"DirecTV is making a major commitment in the world of music, and this alliance with XM Satellite Radio will leave a lasting imprint on not only our more than 14.6 million customers nationwide, but on the pay television industry as a whole," said Dan Fawcett, executive vice president, Programming Acquisitions, DirecTV.

"By partnering with fellow satellite innovator XM to deliver an unrivaled lineup of quality audio channels, we will continue to provide our customers with more entertainment choices, more value and the best service available."

"This marks the beginning of a natural partnership between the nation's leading satellite radio company and the leading satellite television company," said Patricia Kesling, senior vice president, Marketing and Operations, XM Satellite Radio.

"DirecTV offers a fantastic platform for people to experience some of the amazing content we offer on XM. We know from experience that when people get to sample XM, they want to become XM subscribers. "Part of XM's appeal is that we have an extraordinary group of music experts who handpick the songs from XM's enormous music library, and they work directly with artists to create original music specials and live performances. Our talk radio programmers share that same spirit of creativity and freedom. It's what separates XM Satellite Radio from everyone else."

April 27, 2004

From the g33k/audiovideo dept.  

Is congress killing HDTV?

In an article posted on fnc, blame lay at the broadcaster's doorstep for procratinating, yet Congress really isnt doing anything about it... what gives? I want my HDTV!,2933,118035,00.html