DVD player from RCA that keeps on giving

Last Christmas, I decided to help upgrade Rebecca’s aged DVD player by getting something that would help us enjoy home time together. Her old player would get picky about what it would or would not play from time to time, especially any burned media that we would throw into it. So this is what I ended up getting her.

RCA DRC285 DVD Player The RCA DRC285. Our hope is to do the HD upgrade in the future, so that was my main reason for choosing this model due to the HDMI[wiki] outputs. That way when we make that jump, she can watch her “Sex in the City” DVD’s in all their 1080p glory. Plus there is the ongoing education of sharing movies with each other form respective “must see” libraries. The price for this was a great buy, so it was a good situation.

Now here’s the kicker. This little puppy has a USB 2.0 port on the front of it. On a whim, I took a 350MB AVI and put it on a 1GB thumb drive. The remote has a “DVD/USB” button on it, so after plugging it into the USB port, I hit the button, the little LED flickered like it would when being accessed by a computer, and there was the file listed on the screen. I selected it, hit the “OK” button, and the video file loaded.

What we normally did before this was run about a twelve foot A/V cable with RCA connectors[wiki] from the back of the TV to our iMac. The TV then became a second monitor with audio running to it from the computer, giving us the option of watching downloaded video files on our TV. None of that sitting in front of the computer monitor for us.

So with this USB discovery, it was an amazing moment. The video looks superb compared to the output generated from the iMac to standard NTSC video quality. There was a lot of pixelation from fast video movement, but that has changed since we’ve gone to viewing programs off of the thumb drives. I say drives because you can put about two episodes of a program per one, 1GB thumb drive. With two, we cycle through the pair.

Additionally, the DVD player flows right through the list of files. Start with the first one and it plays the next one in order. Oh, and you can also pause and fast forward like a standard DVD.

With our hectic lives, it’s safe to say that this has been a very cool addition to our arsenal of things to disconnect with.

Back into the desktop lifestyle

New Toy Our recent addition to our home has been this monolith, 24-inch iMac, and I think I am finally getting comfortable with fitting it into the overall scheme of things. Since about April of 2003, I’ve been a laptopper, getting one of the first versions of the 17-inch Powerbook[wiki] when they came out. It’s still going strong, but the processor, hard drive, and screen real estate cannot compare to what I have in front of me right now.

Having two machines to work with can increase your productivity greatly, but I find myself getting increasing concerned with not remembering what is where. I’m slowly discovering the little tricks that the Mac OS can do to handle this, but there isn’t a lot of time to spend on learning everything, not to mention the downtime to undo what you could potentially hose your whole operation with.

The big thing that was bugging me with this machine was being able to turn the screen off. You can have the computer automatically shut off the monitor after a period of time, without going to sleep or shutting down, but I need this at my fingertips. Thinking green, I like to help cut down on energy consumption as much as I can.

I found this really nice widget for Dashboard on your iMac. Sleep Display does exactly what the name says. One click, wait three seconds, and the display turns off. You can adjust a few settings, and I can sleep easier now.

Photo by: miss604 on FlickrNo, seriously. If you leave the display on in our apartment, the display is so bright that the light shines slightly annoyingly into the bedroom. This widget actually allows you to sleep, especially while the machine is busy downloading our “entertainment” overnight.

In my IT/RF days at WSUI/KSUI, I was pretty used to bouncing between desktops and laptops, not to mention the PC platform that prevailed there. When you toss the personal factor into the mix, it throws you for a loop. I’ll get used to it, but the Powerbook will always be that saving grace when it comes to being mobile.