Tag Archives: HDTV

Topop VGA to HDMI Converter Review



If you spend any time at all tinkering with computers, it’s inevitable that one day you will have a computer with one set of ports and a peripheral with a completely different set of ports. Back in early 90s, before USB, serial ports changed from 25 pins to 9 pins and you needed a whole bag full of adaptors and gender changers. Or SCSI, which went through a series of connectors faster than you could say Sun Microsystems.

Today, it’s usually video standards that cause the problem, with VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort and even USB C all trying to get in on the act. Often it’s an older VGA PC trying to connect to a newer HDMI flatscreen TV or an HDMI-only ultraportable wanting to use a VGA equipped data projector. In this case, it’s the former, as I take a quick look at the Topop VGA to HDMI Converter with Audio Support.

As you’ll see from the unboxing video, the converter comes in plain packaging and there’s no branding on either packaging or the converter. In the pack, there’s only two cables, the VGA to HDMI converter and a USB to micro USB cable which is used to power the converter via socket on the back of the HDMI part. The additional power is needed because there’s electronics in the converter to change the picture signal from analogue VGA to digital HDMI.

Topop VGA-to-HDMI converter

Getting going is simplicity itself.  Plug the VGA end into the PC or laptop and then use a standard HDMI-to-HDMI cable to connect the other end of the converter into the monitor or HDTV. The 3.5mm stereo jack needs plugged into the PC’s sound card or headphone socket and finally the converter needs powered using the USB to microUSB cable.

Turn on the computer and the HDTV. If it’s a laptop, don’t forget to toggle the relevant function key to get the laptop to output to the VGA port. On the TV, switch to the right HDMI input if it doesn’t switch automatically, and Bob’s your uncle as they say.

For me, it worked perfectly first time on an old Toshiba Satellite Pro A120 running at 1280 x 800. The picture quality was good too. I wasn’t expecting much as even directly connected VGA can look a bit fuzzy on a bigger monitor but the Topop converter does an excellent job. Here are a couple of screen shots which aren’t really going to show off the picture quality but if you click through they’ll give you an idea. The converter had no problem keeping up with video either and I was able to watching Netflix and YouTube.

Topop VGA-to-HDMI converter  Topop VGA to HDMI converter

The converter has audio support so sound comes out of the TV speakers. Possibly the only downside of the converter is that the audio cable could be a little longer. It’s around 55cm, which seems fine, but if you have a laptop where the headphone socket is on the front, the cable has to come under the laptop rather than round the side. Other than that, it’s hard to fault and the converter seems well enough made – I tried a little wiggling and nothing came free so QC passed…

Note that this converter will only go from VGA to HDMI. It will not do the reverse, HDMI to VGA, so don’t buy it thinking that it might.

In summary, the Topop VGA to HDMI converter with audio support works well and gives a good picture on the screen. At GB£10.99 it’s well priced, especially if you want to prolong the usefulness of an older computer with a newer monitor. It’s worth it too if you occasionally want to show some digital photos on your big HDTV and like to keep it simple.

Thanks to GoldenSwing for supplying the Topop VGA-to-HDMI converter cable for review.


Westinghouse Digital is Introducing a Roku Ready TV at CES 2013



Roku Streaming StickI am a big fan of the Roku. I currently have an original Roku and the Roku2 is on the top of my Amazon Wish List. I am however not a big fan of Smart TVs. So when I saw that Westinghouse Digital was going to introduce a Roku ready TV at CES 2013 I was immediately intrigued. These TVs will have the Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) technology installed. With this technology installed a consumer can simply plug-in a Roku Streaming Stick and the TV will recognize the local home network and begin streaming Roku content directly to the TV. Westinghouse Digital is betting that an MHL compliant displays are the wave of the future. Rey Roque, Senior Vice Pres. of Marketing at Westinghouse Digital said.

Westinghouse Digital believes MHL – Compliant displays are the future of the connected TV market. Consumers are no longer forced to buy a smart TV only to have it become outdated two years later when new technology is released.

Compared to a smart TV the Roku Streaming Stick is an expensive and easy to replace.

Westinghouse Digital

Westinghouse Digital is a leading manufacturer of LED TVs in the United States. In an addition to the 60 inch IPTV they will be introducing. Westinghouse Digital is also going to be unveiling a full line of edge lit LED TVs for 2013 at CES. They will have models ranging from 28 to 60 inches. They will also be showing off a new series of 4K UHDTV models. Westinghouse Digital award-winning HDTV lineup includes a complete line of Eco-friendly LED and LCD HD TVs in various sizes and formats.  The new line of TVs will be introduced at CES 2013 in a Las Vegas hotel hospitality Suite 360. If you are in Las Vegas you should come by and take a look.


Videophone with the Biscotti TV Phone



CES HonoreeThe sci-fi vision of the videophone being as commonplace as the telephone hasn’t materialised but Skype and Google+ Hangouts have made videocalls with webcams popular, especially with families who are a spread across the world. Having said that, it’s still not as convenient as picking up your phone and dialling a number.

Biscotti hopes to change that will their TV Phone, which has just been announced as a 2012 CES Innovations Honoree. It’s a small camera unit that sits on top of your TV, connecting to the TV via HDMI and to the network via WiFi, allowing owners to make high-definition video calls to other Biscotti owners and Google video chat users. After an initial setup which only takes minutes, the Biscotti TV Phone is ready to make or take calls.

Biscotti TV PhoneThe TV Phone uses a pass-through technology, meaning that there’s no need to change channels to receive a call. The TV Phone notifies users of incoming calls while they are watching TV via a pop-up message on screen. By using Google video chat, the Biscotti TV Phone can connect to any device that has a Google chat client, whether it’s Android, iPhone or a PC.

Biscotti is designed for people who value real-life, personal interaction. It’s a single-purpose, dedicated TV Phone that’s always ready to connect, so you can make and receive calls without interrupting your lifestyle,” said Dr. Matthew B. Shoemake, Biscotti’s CEO and Founder. “HDTVs are selling faster than any other consumer electronics product on the market, fueling the demand for high definition video calling. By 2015, we’re predicting 25% of homes will be making high-definition video calls daily.”

If it’s as simple to use as they claim (and there are some videos here), it could be a little winner. The Biscotti TV Phone is now available for $199 and no monthly fees. There’s no word on a twin pack, which is what I’d be interested in to link granddaughter with grandparents.

If you want to catch up with the Biscotti TV Phone, they’re on display at CES in South Hall 1, Booth #21442.


HSTI Wireless Media Stick™



Harry Diamantopoulos of HSTI presents the Wireless Media Stick™. The Wireless Media Stick™ is able to deliver to playback devices the files stored in PC, Mac and NAS (network attached storage) devices. For example, plug the Wireless Media Stick™ into your HDTV’s USB port and watch a movie or view digital photos stored elsewhere on your WiFi home network. The memory is on your network, not on the Wireless Media Stick™. The Wireless Media Stick™ sells for $119 dollars. HSTI has also announced an app that installs on Android smartphones that is able to connect with the Wireless Media Stick™ to enable instant, easy sharing of photos and videos from the phone.

Interview by Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com and Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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Samsung 950 Series 3D Displays



The upcoming Samsung 950 is not only 3D capable, but is also being billed by Samsung as their top-of-the-line 2D display as well.  This set will even do 2D to 3D conversion.  It has an ultra thin chassis and no bulge in the back because all of the electronic are built into the base.  It’s LED display that has the thinness of an OLED panel.  It will be available in two versions – a monitor and a combination HDTV and Monitor.

There’s no word yet about when the 950’s will hit the market, but they are saying that will likely be the first half of this year.  Of course there is also no price as of yet, but you can almost always expect to pay a handsome price when you buy top-of-the-line gear.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central

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96 Years of The 3D Gimmick



The 3D gimmick has been periodically making the rounds for many years. How many people are aware that the first presentation of 3D films before a paying audience took place 96 years ago? According to an article at www.3dgear.com, it took place at the Astor Theater, New York, on June 10, 1915. The program consisted of three one-reelers, the first of rural scenes in the USA, the second a selection of scenes from Famous Players’ Jim, the Penman (US ’15), with John Mason and Marie Doro, and the third a travelogue of Niagara Falls. They used 3D glasses with red and green lenses.

The first big Hollywood film debuted 57 years ago on April 8, 1953, called “Man In The Dark.” Ever heard of it? I haven’t.

Periodically over the years, Hollywood would bring the 3D gimmick back to life in hopes that it might catch on. 3D has made the most lasting splash with highly specialized short films in special venues such as Disney World.

Of course, the biggest 3D splash was made in 2009 by “Avatar.” I saw the 3D version of Avatar on the big screen. It was an okay movie – lots of spectacular special effects but very light on plot. After 3 hours of Avatar, I left the theater with 3D fatigue. When all was said and done, Avatar was a very lengthy special event film.

In the real world, we have natural depth perception. We are used to moving our heads back and forth and up and down and see around objects in very subtle ways.

The 3D movie experience is exaggerated and is not anything like normal depth perception. Producers of 3D movies always seem to feel obliged to make things appear to come out of the screen at the viewer.

I’ve seen a number of 3D HDTV demonstrations at my local Best Buy store from a variety of different TV manufacturers. None of them have impressed me.

3D television will never catch on in a big way until it can approximate normal depth perception and can be easily experienced without the obligatory 3D glasses.


Samsung 58″ Class (58.0″ Diag.) 500 Series 1080p Plasma HDTV



A few days ago I made a trip to my local Best Buy store and ended up walking out with a Samsung 58” 500 Series Plasma HDTV. I’d gone into the store thinking if I left with anything, it would most likely be an LCD HDTV. However, after spending quite a while comparing picture quality and prices on the massive number of sets covering the big-box store’s back wall, I happened upon the Samsung model PN58C500, a 58” Plasma.

This Samsung Plasma has an absolutely stunning picture, rivaling the best high-end LCD sets that cost two and almost three times more. The PN58C500 sells for $1,197.99. I happened to have a “Best Buy Rewards” coupon for 10% percent off of any HDTV set costing $750 or more, and the coupon did end up applying to the PN58C500. My final price, including our rather high local sales taxes, ended up being $1,147.

There’s no 3D circuitry, but that’s not a problem for me since I consider 3D TV’s (as well as 3D movies) to be a useless gimmick. The PN58C500 has Samsung’s “AllShare DLNA Networking” that allows the set to connect to computers and DLNA servers running on your home network to stream HD video via Ethernet. I’ve also got a Mac Mini, as well as a Western Digital HD Live Plus media player attached directly to the set via my surround sound receiver/switcher.

The PN58C500 has a useful variety of video formatting modes to easily cycle through via the remote control that facilitates getting the right picture format for the particular video you are watching or device you are watching it from. It has 3 HDMI inputs, and is a thin 2.8 inches thick.

The remote control seems to be a bit touchy, needing to be pointed at the set to ensure that remote control commands register. Also, the built-in speakers seem to fire out of the bottom, but the volume levels are more than loud enough to be usable.

If you are looking for a new big-screen HDTV, you can’t go wrong buying this set considering the price versus value. I cannot over-stress the absolutely stunning picture quality this set produces.


GNC-2010-11-30 #630 Back in Paradise



Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, things have been a little crazy with trying to help the family back in Michigan with the missing kids (see below article). In amidst the chaos put out two pieces of media for you over the weekend. My presentation from Blogword and the Saturday Morning Tech show which has yet to be posted. I hope that you enjoys tonights show, way to serious in the beginning, but I am really glad to be home. As a bonus, my youngest broke his arm at school today, so I spent 8 hours at the ER with him all is well and he is not happy with his cast.

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Listener Links:
Scientist Trick Cells into Switching Identities
Microsoft Messing with WHS.
My Extended Family Tragedy.

Show Links:
Blogworld 2010 Presentation.
Hughes Net to get Upgrade.
Questions on X-37b
Google Shortcode.
Microsoft goes to Supreme Court on Word.
Kinect gets Smart.
New Owner of Sun.
Comcast ignoring Net Neutrality.
Hugh releases a reading collection.
Microsoft to replace your Cable provider?
WHS Bomb Shell.
WHS Ballmer follow up.
Some cool websites and tools.
4 ways to Monitor Flickr.
BitTorrent Streaming Video?
Video Preview coming to Netflix.
Video Ad Click through Study.
Perfect Gift for Dad.
WordPress grows a Million Sites.
Google Earth 6.
Don’t buy that Domain.
Site Seizure Explanation.
Don’t try to help playwrights online or get Sued.
Pirate Bay Crew Guilty Again.
Airplay Hack Coming.
Is Microsoft, Google Apple being Evil?
Paths of Flight.
Calibrate your HDTV.
Do you feel like your walking in Circles?
Bishop Museum going online.
No Google Social in 2010.
Copyright firm Sued.
Nissan Leaf Business Opportunities.
EFF trying to prevent embarrassment.
iPhone Concerns.
Tiffany gets turned away from Supreme Court.
Game Moding trial to go Forward.

Send in your stories to geeknews@gmail.com and be sure to provide a link to your websites!


OTT Tsunami



We’ve been hearing quite a lot about Internet-delivered video content lately. Trends sometimes seem to advance slowly over a long period of time but then tumultuous market shifts seem to happen overnight.

Blockbuster just filed for bankruptcy. Blockbuster was unable to reconfigure their business structure to compete effectively with Netflix. It seems that Netflix has won the ongoing war.

Streaming video and video podcasts have been around for several years – these are not new ideas. However, what is new is the proliferation and increasing popularity of set-top boxes.

Back in the 1980’s backyard satellite TV dishes were a hobby among people that were looking for something different and as many choices as possible. That quest for choice ended up going mainstream in the form of commercial cable and satellite providers offering hundreds of channels.

Starting in 2004 people began experimenting with Internet-delivered content in the form of podcasts. I believe that podcasting happened as a direct result of broadband availability getting to a certain critical mass, combining the existing elements of RSS, MP3’s, etc. into a new form of communication. This new form of communication offered something very different along with unprecedented levels of choice.

Internet-delivered content of all kinds is rapidly becoming mainstream.

I believe 2010 is the year of the app. Apps suddenly seemed to have come out of nowhere to seeming to pop up on every device imaginable. Why the sudden popularity of apps? Desktop and laptop computers have been around for a long time, along with full-blown applications. What has really happened is that computers have now shrunk down to the point where they not only are in our pockets in the form of smartphones, but they are also showing up in HDTV sets and plenty of other devices. These devices we are running these apps on are actually quite powerful computers in their own rights.

There is now a wide variety of content that is heading for every computer-enabled screen you own, especially your HDTV.


Ending A Relationship



Our relationship had always been so full of promise and fun. Being gone so much of the time due to my job was certainly a strain. Even so, when I was around, I didn’t make many demands.

Something was coming between us. Lately I’ve been looking elsewhere and slowly began finding satisfaction on the Internet. The thought of divorce has been crossing my mind over the past few months. It was a painful decision, but I knew it had to be made.

Today I decided it was time to sever our ties.

I’ve been a Dish Network customer for about 10 years – until today.

What came between us? I’ve been experimenting with the idea of getting TV content from various sources on the Internet. I’ve tried connecting both Mac with Front Row and Windows Media Center laptops to an LCD HDTV. A full-fledged computer is very flexible in that it can play virtually any file type, but the clunky, complex hands-on Interface is not designed to be operated from an easy chair. I want as much content as possible integrated into one place.

In the meantime I stumbled across some software called Playon TV available at http://www.playon.tv. The software comes with a 30 day trial and works with the DLNA and UpNP network device standards. The software sells for $39.95. Playon TV is designed to be installed either on a computer or a home server on the home network. Playon TV enables streaming of Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Videos, Pandora, etc. to a DNLA/UpNP device like the WD TV Live Plus, X-Box 360, etc. There are also plenty of free third-party plugins for Playon TV that add a mind-boggling and growing variety of content to the Playon TV network share. It works well with my hacked Apple TV with XBMC.

Yesterday I visited my local Best Buy store and bought a Western Digital WD TV Live Plus to connect to the small HDTV in my kitchen. The WD TV Live is a very small set-top box that comes with a small remote control that has an Ethernet port in and an HDMI port out. Straight out of the box it does an excellent job of playing Netflix and is capable of playing back 1080P content. Only the Plus version plays Netflix.

The WD TV Live Plus combined with the Playon TV software convinced me it was time for radical measures. This afternoon I cancelled my Dish Network account and will save $97 dollars per month. I also bought a second WD TV Live Plus unit to connect to my main HDTV/surround sound setup.

At $97 dollars per month savings the two WD TV Live Plus units will have paid for themselves within 3 months.

Can I live without access to Dish Network? I think it’s going to be similar to a few years ago when I dropped my wired phone line. There was a bit of an emotional attachment that I had to let go of, but once I cut the cord it was no big deal.