DirecTV’s five tuner, RVU-ready HR34 DVR revealed

By | Highlights

We’ve been waiting for more information on DirecTV’s next generation multiroom DVR hub, and here it is, courtesy of the folks at DBSTalk. They’ve gotten an early look at the HR34 and all of its five-tunerRVU blasting capabilities and report it is just the HR24-on-steroids you’d thought it would be, with a 1TB hard drive and support for 100 Series Listings and 3 remote sessions, either RVU or whole-home DVR, at once. Of course, if we’re really going to eliminate the cable / satellite box anytime soon then hardware is going to have to hit the streets, both form DirecTV and third parties like Samsung. Don’t bother calling DirecTV to get one yet as they’re in extremely limited release, but we’ll let you know once they’re widely available. In the meantime, hit the source link for a quick preview, and if you’re looking for more info on the placeshifting Nomad box then you’re in luck, since its product page is (finally) live on DirecTV’s site.

Source: DBS TALK

Addressing common problems with LCD displays

By | Highlights

Unlike older cathode ray tube (CRT) displays that scan an electron beam over a phosphor screen to create light, LCD displays are composed of a fixed grid of tricolor pixels that change transparency based on a range of voltage levels provided by the monitor’s controller. Without a voltage the pixel is opaque and blocks the screen’s backlight from transferring through it, and when a full voltage is applied then the pixel allows full transmittance of the backlight. When this is done over the entire pixel grid in patterns, then you see those patterns on the screen.

At a very basic level, the way pixels work is a voltage change alters the pixel to allow more or less light through. When there is no voltage, no light is let through (darker), and when the voltage is at its maximum level then 100 percent of the light is allowed to pass through (brighter). By supplying intermediate voltages the computer adjusts the pixel’s transmittance levels for its three color components, to display various combined colors and intensities.

This pixel-based setup for LCD monitors provides many advantages over CRT displays, but does have potential drawbacks arising from the fact that the image is dependent on millions of independent electrical components as opposed to a single scanning beam, so if faults occur in these components then the display output can be affected. The resulting problems include stuck or dead pixels, as well as a residual image effect.

Fixing stuck pixels
One of the more common problems with LCD displays is the potential for stuck or broken pixels, where the pixel either does not receive a voltage and remains black, or does not respond to voltage changes and stays at a set luminance level. Sometimes this can happen for individual pixels, suggesting a problem with the pixel itself, or it can happen to groups of pixels, suggesting the possibility of problems with the display’s controller or a defect in a portion of the pixel grid.

LCD Repair interfaceA tool like LCD Repair will help you isolate and fix stuck pixels by presenting different colors and patterns onscreen.

When stuck or broken pixels occur, there are a couple of things you can try in order to fix the problem. One is to apply a small amount of pressure to the pixel when turning the display on or off, which can sometimes help stimulate the electronics to work properly. Unfortunately, Apple’s glass-covered glossy displays prevent this from working on modern Mac systems.

The alternative to using pressure is to exercise the pixel’s electronics by using a program that displays quick-changing patterns on the screen and thereby rapidly switches the pixels on and off. Three such programs that will work on the Mac are the following:

Do keep in mind that fixing stuck or dead pixels can be a hit-or-miss process, so do not be surprised if a broken pixel does not come back to life.

Fixing LCD residual images
LCD monitors can also be affected by another problem called “transient persistence” that is reminiscent of CRT burn-in. Classic burn-in would happen because the phosphor coating on the screen would get depleted by the persistent bombardment of electrons from the CRT, resulting in the inability of those sections of the display to convert the electron beam to visible light. This meant that if you kept a specific pattern showing on the screen then over time it could become a permanent residual image on the display that would show even when the display was turned off. This was a reason why screensavers were developed–to keep the wear on the screen’s phosphor coating as even as possible.

The physical burn-in of displays is no longer an issue now that LCD displays have taken over, but while transient image persistence is not a physical burn of the device, it is an alteration of the pixel response to voltage changes (usually temporary) that prevents pixels from getting as bright as others on the screen.

Similar to CRT burn-in, LCD image persistence generally happens after you have displayed a pattern of intense colors on screen; however, unlike CRT burn-in, LCD persistence can sometimes set in after only a few hours of displaying the image, as opposed to the weeks or even months that it can take for burn to set in on a CRT monitor. Additionally, unlike CRT burn-in, image persistence can often be reversed.

What happens with LCD monitors is the affected pixels have lost their ability to respond to the full range of voltages that the display gives them, resulting in a limited range of colors that can be output. This can happen if the pixel is acting like a capacitor and is retaining a residual charge, or if it is not able to reach the level of luminance that is desired when given a specific voltage. Either way, the pixel is not able to reach its full range of possible intensities.

Unlike stuck or dead pixels that may benefit from having the monitor turned on and off rapidly to produce rapid voltage changes, image persistence will benefit from a lengthy stretching of the pixel’s range. Therefore, instead of using tools like JScreenFix to run random patterns over the affected screen area, you might instead place a pure white window (such as an empty TextEdit window, or what you get using the “White” option in the LCD Repair tool listed above) over the affected area for a few hours or even a few days if necessary. Doing this will force those pixels to be fully on, and over time their intensities may increase to be the same as the surrounding pixels.

Likewise, try turning off the pixels fully by shutting down the display for a long period of time or placing a pure black texture over the affected area (see the LCD Repair tool listed above for this option as well). This will turn the pixels completely off and allow residual voltage in them to drain slowly over time.

Beyond pixels
So far we have discussed pixel-based problems with LCD displays, but the system’s backlight can also suffer some common problems that include the backlight randomly blinking off, not turning on, or only illuminating part of the screen.

Using a flashlight as a backlightShining a light through the Apple Logo on MacBook systems will show rendered text and graphics if the backlight, and only the backlight, is not working. Notice that reflected light on the right of the display reveals some graphical elements as well (click for larger view).

(Credit: fiendie)

When the display fully cuts out and does not show any light, one possibility could be that your computer is not properly communicating with the display, or the display’s controllers or power supply are not working properly. If this occurs, try connecting the display to another system. But if power LEDs and other indicator lights turn off when the backlight goes out, then it may be your display’s power supply is failing.

If only the backlight is malfunctioning, then the LCD panel itself should still be working just fine and should be rendering the text and images of your computer’s output. To test for this, use a bright flashlight and shine it on your screen at an angle in an area where you expect images and text to be (such as the Dock or menu bar). On Apple’s laptop systems, you can shine the flashlight through the Apple logo on the back to illuminate the screen on the front and better detect text and images that way.

If shining an alternative light source on the display causes graphical content to show up, then either the backlight or some component involved in controlling it (such as the power inverter for it) have failed and will likely need to be replaced, especially if you cannot rectify the problem by restarting the system, resetting PRAM and SMC, or otherwise toggling different hardware and software settings on your system.

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Report: 3.5 million 3D Blu-ray discs ‘sold’ in first year, half were bundled with hardware

By | Highlights

If we’re looking at sales figures of 3.5 million units in the first year for a new laptop, smartphone, or camera, then we might be impressed. But 3D Blu-ray discs? When half were included in the box with aBlu-ray player? Man, that’s gotta sting. Those numbers are based on an IHS Screen Digest estimate, tallying US sales beginning in June of 2010 and ending last month, though many larger titles didn’t make their debut until later in the year. Still, if those results are even in the ballpark of official (unreleased) numbers from BD distributors, then things really aren’t looking up for 3D. With fewer than 100 titles even available on Blu-ray, however, we’re not really surprised that discs aren’t exactly flying off the shelves. Obviously, as a growing number of movies are filmed in 3D we’ll see BD title availability increase as well, but with the technology’s lackluster beginnings over the last year and no sign that consumers are ready to spend more to embrace that new dimension, 3D may continue its slow crawl toward the mainstream for some time to come.


Surc combination iPhone 4 case and IR remote now shipping for $75

By | Highlights

Mashed Pixel’s Surc iPhone 4 case is finally ready take on the challenge of making Apple’s slab a universal remote now that it’s on sale for a mere $74.95. That’s pricier than the RedEye Mini Dongle but cheaper than the Peel receiver, and it does pull double duty as a protector. The built in MicroUSB hookup and included cable means it can stay on even while charging before jumping into action when the companion app is opened on the phone. It can be controlled via buttons, gestures or motion control, with plenty of programmability built in. The only downside we can find is that this is definitely a goner whenever you upgrade to Steve’s next iThing, and it means leaving the sweet, potentially reception-improving case you already picked out behind.

Source: Engadget

Hulu Plus Android app is now playing on Evo 4G, Thunderbolt, myTouch 4G and G2

By | Highlights
Last month Hulu Plus finally arrived on Android however support was unfortunately limited to just six devices, but tonight the official blog has announced the count has reached double digits. Four HTC phones are on the list — the Evo 4G, Thunderbolt, myTouch 4G and G2 — bringing the total to ten models supported, featuring a mix of first and second gen Snapdragon chips clocked at varying speeds. Given shared architecture with some phones already on the list it’s not clear why these had to wait, but Senior Product Manager Lonn Lee is quick to point out that the streaming video site isn’t done yet. Even as it’s on the auction block, there’s at least some chance to pick up disgruntled Netflix subscribers and adding a few underserved handsets is as good a way as any to reach out.