Quirks, Savings, and Conclusions
Welcome back to the third and final chapter in our recent cord cutting saga, in which the crew here at the PC Perspective office take a fresh look at dumping traditional cable and satellite sources for online and over-the-air content. We previously planned our cord cutting adventure with a look at the devices, software, and services that will replace our cable and satellite subscriptions, and then put that plan to action by deploying an NVIDIA SHIELD TV, Plex, and an HDTV tuner with antenna.
Now, several weeks into this experiment, we wanted to take a step back to evaluate how the process went in practice, including a look at some of the challenges we failed to initially anticipate, projections of the increased Internet bandwidth usage that accompanies cord cutting (especially important for the many of you with home broadband usage caps), and finally a calculation of the initial and ongoing costs associated with cord cutting in order to determine if this whole process actually saves us any money.
Ultimate Cord Cutting Guide - Part 2: Installation & Configuration
We're back with Part 2 of our cord cutting series, documenting our experience with dumping traditional cable and satellite providers in exchange for cheaper and more flexible online and over-the-air content. In Part 1 we looked at the devices that could serve as our cord-cutting hub, the types of subscription content that would be available, and the options for free OTA and online media.
In the end, we selected the NVIDIA SHIELD as our central media device due to its power, capabilities, and flexibility. Now in Part 2 we'll walk through setting up the SHIELD, adding our channels and services, configuring Plex, and more!
Subject: General Tech, Displays | July 20, 2013 - 11:36 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, seiki, SE39UY04, hdtv, displays, 4k, 3840x2160
After the interest in our overview of the SEIKI 50-in 4K HDTV last April, we got word that SEIKI was making a smaller version of the same television. The SE39UY04 is now available and sells for just under $700 at various online retailers and is surely piquing the interest of many PC users and enthusiasts with the combination of a 3840x2160 resolution and 39-in screen size.
In nearly every way, this 39-in model is identical to the 50-in version with the exception of size and pixel density. Having just recently published a review of the ASUS PQ321Q 4K monitor on PC Perspective I can now report that the move from 60 Hz screens to 30 Hz screens, even at this kind of resolution and screen size, is very apparent.
Below is our initial video unboxing and overview of the new SEIKI SE39UY04. Check it out and leave us any questions or ideas below!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Displays | April 18, 2013 - 08:52 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, seiki, se50UY04, hdtv, hdmi 1.4, displays, 4k, 3840x2160
This just in! We have a 4K TV in the PC Perspective Offices!
While we are still working on the ability to test graphics card performance at this resolution with our Frame Rating capture system, we decided to do a live stream earlier today as we unboxed, almost dropped and then eventually configured our new 4K TV.
The TV in question? A brand new SEIKI SE50UY04 50-in 3840x2160 ready display. Haven't heard of it? Neither have we. I picked it up over the weekend from TigerDirect for $1299, though it actually a bit higher now at $1499.
The TV itself is pretty unassuming and other than looking for the 4K label on the box you'd be hard pressed to discern it from other displays. It DID come with a blue, braided UHD-ready HDMI cable, so there's that.
One point worth noting is that the stand on the TV is pretty flimsy; there was definitely wobble after installation and setup.
Connecting the TV to our test system was pretty easy - only a single HDMI cable was required and the GeForce GTX 680s in SLI we happened to have on our test bed recognized it as a 3840x2160 capable display. Keep in mind that you are limited to a refresh rate of 30 Hz though due to current limitations of HDMI 1.4. The desktop was clear and sharper and if you like screen real estate...this has it.
The first thing we wanted to try was some 4K video playback and we tried YouTube videos, some downloaded clips we found scattered across the Internet and a couple of specific examples I had been saving. Isn't that puppy cute? It was by far the best picture I had seen on a TV that close up - no other way to say it.
We did have issues with video playback in some cases due to high bit rates. In one case we had a YUV uncompressed file that was hitting our SSD so hard on read speeds that we saw choppiness. H.265 save us!
And of course we demoed some games as well - Battlefield 3, Crysis 3, Skyrim and Tomb Raider. Each was able to run at 3840x2160 without any complaints or INI hacks. They all looked BEAUTIFUL when in a still position but we did notice some flickering on the TV that might be the result of the 120 Hz interpolation and possibly the "dynamic luminance control" feature that SEIKI has.
We'll definitely test some more on this in the coming days to see if we can find a solution as I know many PC gamers are going to be excited about the possibility of using this as a gaming display! We are working on a collection of benchmarks on some of the higher end graphics solutions like the GeForce TITAN, GTX 680s, HD 7990 and HD 7970s!
If you want to check out the full experience of our unboxing and first testing, check out the full live stream archived below!!
Subject: Systems | September 21, 2012 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, hdtv, guide
Missing Remote posted something a little different but perfect for their niche, a compendium of links to shared calendars in which you can find the broadcast times of every show on a wide variety of channels. The links are either shared Google calendars or ICS links which are compatible with most calendar applications. Never miss a TV show again, even if your guide is on the fritz or you are setting up a recording remotely.
"Missing Remote is proud to have many writers that are avid television watchers. When we were looking around for a list of shows and their start dates we found just those--list after list, so we have done the hard work for you and compiled these lists into shareable Google calendar with internet view or you can download and use it. Make sure you subscribe or come back, as we will be updating these all season. If you are like us and prefer to schedule only when it shows up on the guide, you will be watching this list daily when you can add your new shows up to 14 days in advance. We have made HTML links to look at the Google Calendar links and you can subscribe through that link, or ICS which is read by many of the popular desktop calendar applications, and you can subscribe to them through there"
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- 12 micro-ATX round-up: compact chassis @ Hardware.info
- How to Access Region-Locked Online Content From Anywhere @ Techspot
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Play! Network Media Player Review @ NikKTech
- Mi Casa Verde Vera Home Automation Controller - VeraLite Review @MissingRemote
US Satellite TV provider DirecTV is upgrading its network and is preparing to deploy Ultra-HDTV services in the future. They are planning to offer both 4K and 8K direct to home streams of TV programming once their users have moved off of Ku band satellites and to Ka band, which the ITU World Radiocommunications Conference in Geneva has named the future carrier of U-HDTV streams.
According to the Advanced Television website, DirecTV is planning for a future transition to Ultra HDTV. Earlier this year, we covered a news article about a Panasonic plasma television that can display 8K images. It was developed in cooperation with Japanese TV broadcaster NHK, and it seems like North American providers are also looking towards these future standards.
DirecTV’s Senior Vice President of R&D and Space and Communications Philip Goswitz has stated that in four to five years, the service provider will likely end it’s Ku-band satellite transmissions as they are currently migrating DirecTV's customers to Ka-band services which has much more bandwidth (currently used for HDTV transmission) than Ku-band. In addition, the company is working on deploying Reverse Band Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) services.
Unfortunately, Goswitz did not state any hard numbers on when DirecTV might make the transition to Ultra-HDTV. The company did state its desire to implement it as soon as possible to keep a competitive edge over cable and IPTV (like AT&T’s Uverse) services. Some numbers being thrown around online indicate that Ultra-HDTV might be available in North America as soon as 2020, though Japan may see UHDTV signals much sooner thanks to Japanese broadcaster NHK heavily developing compression, transmission, and capture devices relating to UHDTV. NHK has managed in the past to compress a UHDTV signal to a 250 Mb/s MPEG2 stream, which is a huge feat considering the uncompressed signal is around 24 Gb/s!
Philip Goswitz was further quoted in stating "4000-line is exciting to us because of its image quality, and the potential for glasses-free 3D."
Compression and bandwidth are going to be the deciding factors in whether DirecTV and other satellite TV providers are able to deliver UHDTV signals to users’ homes. While 8K video sources are scarce themselves, 4K cameras do exist and are being used to film certain movies. 4K adoption is definitely coming–although it is still a few years out at least–and the UHDTV standard is ready to support 4K streams. Over the air and IPTV are the likely candidates for early 4K and 8K transmissions, but DirecTV seems ready dive it as soon as the compression technology, source material, and user adoption is there.
Image courtesy Chris Waits via Flickr Creative Commons