Monthly ArchiveAugust 2007

Technology (general) 30 Aug 2007 02:07 pm

Interesting Toppy times

Australian owners (or prospective owners) of Topfield PVRs might be interested to know that the manufacturer (Topfield Korea) has appointed a new distributor of the product in Australia. Some details here.

Sounds like Topfield Korea is less than impressed by the fact that the Australian distributor has  also been distributing the competing Beyonwiz range. Might be a good time to pick up a Toppy bargain if the old distributor wants to clear stocks quickly (and maybe devalue the brand a bit in the process…).

Bargains &Flying Nerd recommends 29 Aug 2007 08:24 am

Topfield SD PVR boxes now on sale

At the House of Nerds, we love our Topfield PVR. It allows us to simultaneously record two TV programs (to hard disc drive) while watching another previously-recorded program.

Frankly, the Toppy has revolutionised our (actually quite limited) TV viewing. It’s now unusual for us to watch anything in real time. We tend to set things to record, and then either (i) watch them later or (ii) start watching the beginning of the recording while the recording is in progress. In both of these scenarios, the Toppy allows us to skip over advertisements almost instantly.

The good news for you late adopters is that Topfield Australia now has SD (standard definition) PVRs on sale for $399 — see here. Unless you have a HD-capable display device (plasma, LCD, CRT), the SD Toppy is probably all you need — SD produces surprisingly good quality in most situations. And when you team up the Toppy with a few community-generated add-in programs (known as TAPs), you have a very usable and worthwhile box.


Technology (general) 29 Aug 2007 08:16 am

The great cable debate

For some reason, the cable that carries signals from my Topfield PVR box to the TV has become intermittently faulty. Not sure why a cable would fail after well over a year of use, but there you go. The failure symptom is a badly flickering picture followed by complete loss of picture. I think the ‘Y’ component of the cable is the culprit.

So, I had to buy a new cable. The cable in question has a multi-pin European SCART plug on one end, and RCA connectors on the other (for component video and stereo audio).

I decided I’d spend a few dollars on a new cable for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to see whether a more expensive cable would produce a better picture
  2. I couldn’t find a cheap one!

I paid $50 for the new cable. It has (allegedly) gold plated connectors (well, they are a sort of gold colour), and the individual coaxial cables are much thicker than the cheap cable provided with the Toppy.

And, you know what, the picture is noticably better. Colour saturation and even-ness are improved. Text is sharper. Hard edges are harder.

I’m not surprised that there would be some improvement, given the skimpy quality of the coaxial cable employed by Topfield. I am somewhat surprised at the magnitude of the improvement (as viewed on my 86cm CRT TV).

Now, please don’t think I’ve become an expensive-cable-convert. Silly people could easily pay several hundred dollars for a SCART-to-RCA cable in a hifi store – but they’d be wasting their money. I think what I’ve seen here is evidence that a good quality cable does give a better result, but I know that a silly-priced cable probably wouldn’t see any improvement in performance at all.

Miscellaneous 29 Aug 2007 08:04 am

Hello, I’m still here

I know, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy. Many things have happened at once, namely:

So, sorry for the absence, Nerd-fans. I hope to have some interesting items for you all over the next few days.