Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

Blu-ray, cables, and stuff.

I've just installed a Sony BDP-S1100 blu-ray player, taking the place of an upscaling DVD player which was getting a bit noisy and the Android network box for iPlayer and other online video sources, which I never found very user-friendly. Someone has the Sony region-hacked (for DVD) on eBay UK for £44.99 ($74.75), which seemed a pretty good deal.

As usual the main problem with all of this was getting all the cables to work properly. Most of my older equipment uses SCART connections, which are an excellent idea in theory, bi-directional with stereo sound and RGB or composite graphics, but implemented by designers who somehow came up with the world's ugliest and least reliable connector, which comes out of its socket very easily. Since SCART sound can be a bit iffy I've got extra audio cables - digital or analogue sound - and that means there's always a tangled mess. It took more than two hours to pull everything I'm disconnecting, untangle the mains leads and cables, and get everything back in place and working. Then I finally tried the player.

I was a bit worried when the first thing it did was check for updates and insist on updating the firmware, but this didn't affect the region coding - I could still play UK and US DVDs without problems. It's possible that the next update will mess things up, of course!

So far my reaction is pretty favourable, not least because this let me eliminate several cables and an HDMI switch box. Video quality is very good with blu-ray (but I only own one disk so it's possible I've been lucky) and as good as I'd expect with upscaled DVD, and the media player part of it works very well, with nice clear menu options throughout. Sound is OK, but doesn't seem any better than the previous DVD player. One oddity - it didn't seem to recognise DVDs with 4:3 format video and switch the TV to that format automatically, it's possible I need to tweak the settings.

One other change I made was the cabling for a PC I sometimes use on this screen. Originally I had it connected via an HDMI cable because I was getting a lot of ghosting with a long VGA cable. But I wanted to eliminate the HDMI switch if possible. It happens that a long time ago I wanted to use the TV in another room as a second screen for my main computer. Since that was a long cable run, about 25ft if I went around walls and kept things tidy, and VGA cables that long are horribly expensive if they're any good, I ended up buying a simple VGA over CAT6 cable setup - two plug adapters and a length of cable, costing about five pounds for the plugs and four for the cable. This never got used because Windows XP didn't let me set it up the way I wanted, but the cable worked very well indeed. So today I found the plugs and a suitable CAT6 cable, this time about 3 metres, and tried that. The results were perfect - no ghosting at all - and I can thoroughly recommend this as a better alternative to conventional VGA cables over 5ft or so, it's cheaper and a smaller lighter cable, and works really well.

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