Andy Pennell's Blog

See me blather about software development, Gadgets, Technology, Fatherhood, plus anything else that gets me going.

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  • Blog Post: Car Head Unit Compatibility with Windows Phone 7.5 Mango

    I recently had a desperate need to upgrade the audio system in my car, and wanted a good Mango-compatible system. I learnt a lot about Bluetooth and what to look for to get a great in-car experience, which I am sharing here. Please note these are my personal findings and opinions, none of this should...
  • Blog Post: Letter to DirecTV: You have a month to show the new TiVo or I'm going to Fios TV

    As a happy TiVo customer since 1999 I and a reasonably happy DirecTV customer since 2000 I've been anxiously awaiting the new DirecTV TiVo . However its been a while since I've heard anything about it, and now I'm pissed. My existing DirecTV HD TiVo can't do MPEG4, which wouldn't be so bad except DTV...
  • Blog Post: Zune Installation in my Boxster

    Following the recent success in using a Zune for the kids to watch movies in the family vehicle , I decided it was time to update the music system in my car. I was a very happy customer of a Kenwood Keg which had been professionally installed in my Boxster years ago, but frustrations with that system...
  • Blog Post: Using a Zune 80GB as a Car Video Player

    Following on the theme of trying to make it easier for my kids to watch movies in the car but without the hassle of the pesky shiny discs, I decided to try using a Zune 80GB as a car video player. This is clearly outside its design parameters, because the Zune Car Kit has no provision for video output...
  • Blog Post: Playing Ripped DVDs with Media Center Extenders

    At last I have succeeded in getting ripped DVDs to play from my Xbox 360's Media Center Extender, and here is how I did it. First off let me explain my goals: I want to be able to play my kid's DVDs via my home network, so they can avoid trashing the shiny discs any more than they already have...
  • Blog Post: Vote for HD DVD

    Its November and its time to place your vote. No, not for US Presidential candidates, but for the optical high definition format you want to be the winner in the format war, which of course for me means HD DVD. This holiday season might be the last chance for your vote to be considered by the studios...
  • Blog Post: Tide is turning: Paramount declare HD DVD only

    An important day in the next-gen DVD format war: Paramount have announced that they are going HD DVD only, an important change from their previous neutrality. "Blades of Glory", "Transformers" and "Shrek the Third" are the initial announced titles. The press release quotes "market-ready technology" and...
  • Blog Post: HD DVD: Audio Mixing, and why you don't need HDMI

    There has been much confusion over multi-channel audio and HD DVD, so I thought I would try and explain how this works. As a side-effect you'll see why you don't need HDMI for the highest quality audio, and why you certainly don't need HDMI 1.3 for audio. DVD: The Original Way To start with...
  • Blog Post: Terminator 2 on HD DVD

    Thanks to the fact that there is no region coding on HD DVD, you can now get the Director's Cut of T2 on HD DVD, encoded with VC1. Previously the theatrical version was only available on Blu-Ray in the USA (in 20th Century MPEG2 format). As Canal+ were involved in the original movie's creation, I can...
  • Blog Post: Why HD DVD is more technically advanced than Blu-ray

    Since forever it seems that there is this idea that Blu-ray is "more technically advanced" than HD DVD. This was based on Sony's PR as far as I can tell, so now I feel it is necessary to call out the gaping holes in Blu-ray to prove how much more technically advanced HD DVD is in fact. [Note I am talking...
  • Blog Post: Fixing Letterboxed Widescreen content on HD DVDs

    HD DVD obviously rocks on HD content, but the SD content on the discs often grates me as it is displayed as widescreen content with black bars on the top and the sides. This happens because the original content (usually Extras) came from old fashioned DVD, and was 16:9 content letterboxed into a 4:3...
  • Blog Post: Xbox 360 HD DVD Update Now Available

    [Player version list now moved to separate post ] As of 2am this morning, the latest software for the Xbox HD DVD player is now available via Xbox Live (and will be posted on xbox.com in due course). The three teams involved (HD DVD, Xbox and the Codec folks) have all been hard at work for the last...
  • Blog Post: Matrix coming to HD DVD (only)

    At last: on May 22 we get the Matrix on HD DVD, according to http://www.homemediaretailing.com/news/html/breaking_article.cfm?sec_id=2&&article_ID=10426 Remember when The Matrix was released on DVD? It was pretty advanced in its day, so I'm expecting a similar step forward for the HD DVD version...
  • Blog Post: Sonos: The Perfect Network Music Player?

    I have posted a review of the Sonos network music player on my personal site . If you have any feedback or questions, please use this blog entry.
  • Blog Post: Xbox 360 HD DVD drive now in black

    We just got some goodies on our team: Xbox 360 HD DVD drives in black! These limited-edition drives were made especially for those of us who helped work on the product, and come along with a black remote control. All I need now is an Xbox 360 at home to plug it into and I'll be set! (It's no use...
  • Blog Post: Comparing the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on with the Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD Player

    With the release of the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive, I thought people might like to know how it compares feature-wise to the Toshiba A1 HD DVD player. I have owned a Toshiba since it was released, and have used the Xbox drive extensively at work and at home (as a part of the Take Home testing program...
  • Blog Post: Why does my TiVo contain Apple's Bonjour network code?

    My HD TiVo finally upgraded to 6.3a last night - at long last I get Folders. However, I noticed at the end of the System Info page some new text saying "This product contains Apple Computer Inc's Bonjour network discovery protocol. Source code for the Bonjour software is available at"... WTF? My TiVo...
  • Blog Post: BBC America: Why Do You Hate Me So?

    I'm sorry but I have to rant about BBC America's Guide Data that my Tivo uses. My TV enjoyment is determined entirely by how well or otherwise my TiVo works. In my seven years of using TiVo, only once has it not recorded something I wanted. However, in order for it to do its job well it needs accurate...
  • Blog Post: Go See the HD DVD Tour

    There is a giant truck set up with kick-ass video and audio systems so you can witness HD DVD in all its fabulous goodness. The schedule looks like this: Chicago: Oct 30 Denver: done Dallas: done LA: Nov 20-22 Minneapolis: Sep 29-30 New York: Oct 10-15 Philadelphia: Nov 9 Richmond...
  • Blog Post: If you want the Truth about Blu-Ray vs HD DVD

    Please read the Joe Kane article in Issue 3 of the Widescreen Review Newsletter (sign up here ). Joe is the industry expert on video playback, and he has some very telling comments to make about what is broken about Blu-Ray: why its picture quality is so poor, and why its audio abilities are so limited...
  • Blog Post: Firmware Upgrade Available for Toshiba HD DVD Player

    Last night, on a whim, I asked my Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD Player to see if there was a firmware update available, and there was, and it proceeded to download it from the web. I took a dinner [that's a unit of time] to do it. Due to the new baby I regret to announce I have only manage to watch one HD DVD...
  • Blog Post: PS3 Video Specs - Much Less Than Originally Claimed

    Sony's press release for the PS3 makes interesting reading, especially for the cheaper one (if $499 can be described as cheap ). It lacks digital video out, so I'm not sure how they can do 1080p at all (how many TVs can take 1080p over component video? None that I have ever seen). There is also no HDMI...
  • Blog Post: Authoring iHD apps for HD DVD

    My team has just created a new forum for programmers and content creators who wish to make great HD DVD apps using iHD. Look for some interesting downloads there soon.
  • Blog Post: Being an Audio/Visual Early Adoptor is getting cheaper

    Since the late 90s I have been something of an early adoptor for AV gear. With the imminent [I hope] arrival of my HD DVD player, along with the discovery of an old receipt I started calculating exactly how much early adoption has cost me, and how quickly (or otherwise) my gear fell in value (and rose...
  • Blog Post: HD DVD is available in the USA!

    Yesterday the first HD DVD players from Toshiba became available (from Best Buy mostly by the looks of it). There is a gigantic thread on AVS forum about this exciting new piece of technology. The launch movies were embargoed until today, though some folks managed to get copies early. Also Netflix...
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