Archive for March 14, 2009

Can I use satellite dish as my house antenna to receive digital signal?

satellite dish
QingQing asked:

My house antenna cant receive digital signal.

My house antenna to receive digital signal.

Brittany

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Panasonic’s plasma TV plans for 2009

Panasonic plasma TVWith a growing number of TV manufacturers easing out of the plasma TV business—Pioneer and Vizio being the latest—you might think plasma is a dying technology. Not according to Panasonic, whose plasma sets have done very well in our Ratings of plasma TVs (available to subscribers) for years.

With its 2009 Viera plasma TV lineup, the company is enhancing plasma's inherent advantages—deep blacks, accurate colors and the ability to handle scenes with fast motion—while addressing some of its shortcomings, such as screen reflectivity and power consumption.

New models, which roll out starting this month through the end of the summer, range from an entry-level 42-inch 720p set for $750, to an ultra-slim 1-inch showstopper—the $6,000 Z1 we wrote about at CES—that uses wireless connections for everything but the power cord.

Among the biggest changes in many new models is the use of a new "NeoPDP" panel that promises better brightness, deeper blacks, and higher contrast, while at the same time improving energy efficiency. When combined with a technology that Panasonic is calling "600Hz sub-field drive"—which essentially allows the TV to refresh at an even faster rate—the new sets claim to be able to maintain the highest resolution (1080) even during fast-moving scenes. It's been our experience that plasma TVs have typically done well—better than LCDs—at motion handling, so we look forward to testing these sets.

If you're worried about longevity—not a real concern in our view, though rumors persist—you'll be glad to learn that new panels offer screen life of 100,000 hours, according to the company.

New designs are also being implemented in top-of-the line sets. The new Z1 model, for example, is just an inch deep, making it Panasonic’s slimmest model ever. In addition, it uses a two-piece design that wirelessly sends signals from a separate media module to the TV, allowing the set to be wall-mounted with only a power-cord connection. While we’ve seen similar models from Sharp—XS1U-series Aquos LCDs are also two-piece systems with 1-inch depths—they're considerably more expensive. For example, the 52-inch model is $12,000, twice the Z1's $6,000 price.

Panasonic has also expanded its Viera Cast IPTV service, available on just a single series last year, to more models. New to Viera Cast is Amazon On Demand video service, which allows you to rent movies—including some in HD— directly from the TV. Amazon joins existing content partners such as YouTube, Picasa (photos) and Bloomberg.

Even budget-conscious buyers get some good news: the 42-inch C1-series 720p set, carries a price tag of just $750. Stepping up to a U1-series 1080p set adds just $150.

Here are some specifics:

Panazonic Z1 plasma TV

Z1 series
Currently available only in a 54-inch screen size, the new flagship TV has a silver-colored, thin bezel, and detachable side speakers. It uses the WiHD (60GHz) wireless technology to send signals from the settop box, which houses the tuner and A/V connections. (Click on the image at right for a closer look at the Z1.)

X1 series
Available in 42- and 50-inch screen sizes, these sets replace current PX80 models. Priced at $900 and $1,100, respectively, these are 720p (1366×768) sets that claim better antiglare performance in bright rooms.

S1 series
The new S1 series, replacing current PX80 models, are entry-level mainstream 1080p sets that step up in brightness, contrast and energy efficiency thanks to the new NeoPDP panels. Prices range from $1,200 to $1,800 for sets in the 42- to 50-inch range. But there will also be larger 54-, 58-, and 65-inch S1 sets in the future.

Panasonic P54G10 plasma TV

G10 series
These 1080p models replace Z85/PZ800 sets, and are where the Viera Cast IPTV service kicks in, which now includes Amazon Video On Demand. These sets also add the 600Hz technology, plus an SD card reader that can play high-def video files. Prices range from $1,400 for a 42-inch set to $2,400 for a 54-inch model. (Click on the image at right to take a closer look at the 54-inch model.)

G15 series
Step-up G15-series sets ($1,500 to $2,100) will be sold only through regional specialty dealers (perhaps to fill a void created by Pioneer’s exit from the TV business). G15 models have many of the same features as the G10 line, but have a narrower bezel design and are just two inches deep.

Panasonic P50V10 plasma TV

V10 series
The V10 models replace the current top-of-the-line PZ850 sets. These TVs are also two inches thick and use the single sheet of glass design launched last year. Their claim to fame is wider color-gamut capability, mimicking what you might see in a theater. The first model to ship is a 50-inch set (Click on the image at right for a closer look.) priced at $2,300; 54-, 58-, and 65-inch models will follow.

Budget models
Panasonic has two lower-cost lines that will be sold through mass-market stores, such as Costco. The C1 series consists of two 720p (1366×768) plasmas, priced at $750 and $1,000, respectively. The U1 series, in 42- ($900), 46- ($1,200) and 50-inch ($1,500) screen sizes, steps up to 1080p resolution, but don’t use the new NeoPDP panels. Both series include an SD card slot for viewing still photos.

—James K. Willcox

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How many satellite dishes does Direct TV or Dish Network have in space?

satellite dish
prelan asked:

The satellite tv system work.

Arthur

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iPod Shuffle review: Cool but compromised

Apple iPod Shuffle
The new iPod Shuffle succeeds in its leading innovation: It recites song and playlist information to you clearly and intelligibly. But the new pint-sized Apple music player is compromised in some other ways.

Having now used the new $79 device, which launched this week, here's my take on its strengths and weaknesses:

Pluses:

The voice feature works fine. This is key, since the new VoiceOver technology aims to compensate for the Shuffle's lack of a screen—its leading drawback.

A gentle squeeze on the remote—mounted on the cord for the right earbud—prompts the music to fade and a voice to announce the name of the song and artist; the song then returns to normal volume. I found the voice to be pleasant and intelligible. That's in spite of the fact I was using the device synced to a PC, in which the voice is a bit more mechanical-sounding than when the Shuffle is synced to a Mac—as this Apple demo demonstrates.

Accessing playlists is a bit less convenient, I found. To do so, you continue squeezing the remote as it begins to recite voice information. The Shuffle then begins naming the playlists you've loaded onto the device. I found the pause between each announcement a bit trying, and changing lists to be slower than on players with a screen.

The Apple iPod Family; from left, the iPod Touch, iPod, iPod Nano, and Shuffle
Its tiny size and relatively large capacity.
The Shuffle is now among the smallest 4GB players around. Less than half the size of the old Shuffle, and less squarish in shape, the device is very unobtrusive—and, perhaps, easy to lose. And its capacity, double that of the 2-GB Shuffle it replaces, allows up to 1,000 songs to be stored.

Minuses:

The lack of controls on the device itself. Despite the new Shuffle’s shrunken size, there appears to be room on its top to duplicate the small (about an eight-of-an-inch wide by an inch long) controls found on the earbud cord. Had Apple added those, you wouldn't be forced to always locate and press the controls on the cord—which I found to be sometimes tricky when jogging or walking. I found it was all too easy when on the go to accidentally yank out the earbud when adjusting the controls.

The proprietary headphones. These sounded fine to me, and most other Apple headphones we've tested in the past have also been decent or better performers (see our headphone Ratings, available to subscribers).

But the fact that the 'phones hold the sole controls for the Shuffle compels you—at least until any third-party alternatives hit the market—to exclusively use them, or upgraded $79 Apple phones, which have longer earbuds. If neither is comfortable for you, or up to your sonic standards, you're out of luck. And if you lose the 'phones or leave them behind when you leave the house, you’ll be unable to use the device until you get another set; the supplied 'phones cost $29 to replace.

It's pricey given its skimpy features. A $79 price tag is low for an iPod, and it isn't atypical for a 4-GB MP3 player, as our Ratings (available to subscribers) illustrate. But competing players generally offer more bells and whistles for the same price—including controls on the player and a screen.

With its bigger capacity and voice capability, this new Shuffle is more versatile than the old $49, 1-GB model, which remains available. And it's undeniably small. But its screenlessness means that, despite its voice feature, navigating music is compromised and you obviously can't use it for photos, videos, or other applications.

Given that and other factors, we recommend at least considering non-Apple players before shuffling to buy this newest iPod.

—Mike Gikas

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