Samsung HL-T5676S 56″ Rear Projection 1080p HDTV For My Parents

First of all, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

After being spoiled by my Vizio 46″ 1080p LCD TV at home, watching my parents ancient Pioneer 56″ regular rear projection TV (at least 10 years old) actually hurt my eyes. So I decided to get them a new HDTV for Christmas. I talked it over with my siblings and they decided they’d like to chip in. I had set my initial budget to less than $2000, but was really aiming for close to $1500.

Since we have a large living room, I decided the most economic way to go was rear projection DLP. They have the space and they really need a large screen if you want to see anything from the couch.

I search the regular stores online: Costco, Circuit City, Best Buy, etc. and found a interesting few. I was pretty set on getting the Samsung HL-T5676S from Circuit City. I had a 10% off coupon, I could get 5% back with my credit card, and I could get an additional 3% back via BigCrumbs (cash back service). I talked it over with Ungsunghero and he even offered to sell me his $300 gift certificate at a discount (I forget how much). Anyway, Ungsunghero seemed interested in helping me search for a TV insisted on helping me spend my money and a day later, he showed me this: Samsung HL-T5676S Projection TV 56-inch Slim 1080p DLP Rear Projection HDTV at OneCall.com.

At that time, there was an additional $50 discount. Given that there was no tax and free shipping, this would come to a total of $1450, whereas the Circuit City one would’ve come to a total of $1600+. Anyway, I called up OneCall to figure out how the shipping would go. I needed the TV to arrive before I leave so I can help them set it up. They said it’d take 3-4 days and I thought that’d work out nicely. I placed my order over the phone and the customer service rep was very helpful in explaining everything: how the process will work, what to do when I receive the TV, and what to do I notice any problems with it.

I had placed the TV on Wednesday and was expecting it to be delivered on either Monday or Tuesday, but surprisingly on Thursday morning, I get a call from FedEx Freight asking me if they can deliver the TV between the hours for 10am-2pm on Friday. Wow! Their ship center must be really close by.

I began setting up the TV that afternoon and it was amazed at the quality.
samsung hl-t5676s hdtvsamsung hl-t5676s hdtv

Here’s a shot of old Pioneer 56″ TV:
pioneer 56inch tv

I knew we’d need a TV stand, and was hoping one of our existing ones would fit. Unfortunately not, so we had to improvise with a temporary stand:
samsung hl-t5676s hdtv and temporary stand

My parents found a stand they liked at Walmart, but they were out of stock. However, the next time we went there, it was suddenly in stock again:
samsung hl-t5676s hdtv and stand

Seeing stuff in 1080p off the media center PC is always neat. I connected all the existing equipment to the TV and most of them worked fine. Turns out our VCR was dead, but that wasn’t due to the TV.

I also learnt that Charter Communications (our cable provider) used HRC instead of STD, so I was initially surprised that scanning the cable TV resulted in 0 channels found. There was also an IRC option. Looking further into this, it turns out HRC stands for Harmonically-related carriers and IRC stands for Incrementally-related carriers, 2 different methods for modulating video over cable network. From the source:

Standard:
Frequency_in_MHz = ( 6 * ( 8 + channel_designation ) ) + 1.25

HRC:
Frequency_in_MHz = 6.0003 * ( 8 + channel_designation )

IRC:
Frequency_in_MHz = ( 6 * ( 8 + channel_designation ) ) + 1.2625

However, I was quite shocked to find out how many QAM channels there were. There were at least 8 Chinese channels include Jade/TVB (翡翠台), which according to Charter was removed from analog cable and moved to digital cable and said we’d need to purchase a digital cable subscription to watch it. Guess all we really needed was a QAM tuner.

My brother brought home his Wii and we enjoyed playing Super Paper Mario, Wii Tennis, Wii Bowling, and Ghost Squad so far on it. Ghost Squad is actually quite fun. Reminds me of Time Crisis.

Weekly Top Posts (12/16/2007 to 12/22/2007)

Here’s this week’s top post:

  1. How to download HD Trailers from Apple.com (Last week: #1)
  2. Print USPS First Class, Media Mail, Parcel Mail Postage for FREE! (Last week: #2)
  3. 4 Free Xbox Live Arcade Games (Last week: #3)
  4. up arrow Haloid (Last week: #9)
  5. up arrow Free AutoCheck Report (Similar to Carfax) (Last week: #6)
  6. down arrow LeekSpin (Last week: #5)
  7. Animal Crossing Tragedy (Last week: #7)
  8. up arrow Canon PSC-1000 (New)
  9. down arrow Spinning Dancer (Last week: #4)
  10. iTunes Album Views (Last week: #10)

Previously…

My guess for the increase view of the Canon PSC-1000 is the fact that the Canon SD1000 digital camera has been on sale recently, and given that it’s near Christmas and many SD1000s are being given as gifts, they thought a nice camera case would go along with it.

The case is actually quite nice, thought a bit expensive. The hole on the top where the wrist-strap goes through is a bit too small. I actually took and scissor and made the hole bigger. Turned out rather well.

Treasure Hunting

So for the past few days, I’ve been going through my junk inside my desk drawers and found a bunch of neat things.

First I found a bunch of missing Anime CDs which were missing from my collection for quite awhile.

Then I located a caricature someone drew of me a long time ago, when I had these Nike basketball shoes with a very large tongue. I forget why they drew me with a sword on my back, because I obviously didn’t go around carrying one on my back:

toland caricature carrying sword

Then my grandma gave me this photo of when I was a kid, riding a turtle with my cousin.
mokin, barry, and toland riding turtle

My mom tells me this was when I was 1-2 years old and this was some zoo in New York.

I also located the ink stamp that I had custom made the last time I was in Hong Kong:
ink stampink stampink stampink stampink stampink stamp

As you can see, I didn’t really have anything to stamp it on, and a CD envelope was nearby and it became my test subject.

Found some more interesting stuff, but didn’t really have time to scan or take photos of it. Besides, the main purpose of this post is so that I don’t post 2 “Weekly Top Posts” next to each other.

Weekly Top Posts (12/9/2007 to 12/15/2007)

Here’s this week’s top post:

  1. How to download HD Trailers from Apple.com (Last week: #1)
  2. up arrow Print USPS First Class, Media Mail, Parcel Mail Postage for FREE! (Last week: #8)
  3. down arrow 4 Free Xbox Live Arcade Games (Last week: #2)
  4. up arrow Spinning Dancer (Last week: #5)
  5. down arrow LeekSpin (Last week: #4)
  6. up arrow Free AutoCheck Report (Similar to Carfax) (Last week: #7)
  7. down arrow Animal Crossing Tragedy (Last week: #6)
  8. up arrow Music from The Inner Life of a Cell (Last week: #10)
  9. down arrow Haloid (Last week: #3)
  10. up arrow iTunes Album Views (New)

Previously…

Free Outgoing Calls

So awhile back, I hit onto this page while searching for VoIP info: Zero Cost Voip Calls. The blog really only has 2 entries:

This gave me an idea on how to make free outgoing calls with my current setup: VoiceStick Replacement – IPKall with GrandCentral

I basically have unlimited incoming calls now due to IPKall + FWD + PAP2. But to make outgoing phone calls, I still had to use my cell phone, and what sucks about making phone calls to customer service and technical support is that you’re on hold typically for over 30 minutes and that drains your minutes quite fast.

Anyway, it turns out GrandCentral connects you with anyone in your address book on their dime. It’s similar to the function on Google Maps when you find the business you want to contact, and they have the “call” button which prompts you for your phone number and connects you directly to them.

So you just need to create an entry in your GrandCentral address book and then click call. What happens then is they’ll call you directly on your line and since you don’t pay for incoming calls, it’s a free call to you. Once they confirmed that there’s someone on your side, they’ll connect you to the other party. Simple as that.

What’s neat about this is that you can basically make any phone calls within the United States for FREE! I’m not sure about Canada, but it’d be sweet if you can make calls to Canada for free too.

These past few days I’ve been playing with GrandCentral a bit since I’ve set it up for my parents and there are some very neat things. One really neat thing is the ability to record a conversation. Even if you selected to not record initially, you can hit “4” in the middle of the conversation and it’ll begin to record immediately. However, they appear to have only enabled that for calls you receive and not calls you’ve initiated from their web UI.

Another interesting thing is RingShare, where you can customize the ring people hear when calling you. By default, it’s set to the American ring, but you also have the British ring and the Japanese ring. You can also go through the gallery and choose from a small selection of chimes and even people talking.

One thing I really want is the option to turn off the screening process completely. Even with Call Screening off, it still prompts me to push 1 to start chatting. I can definitely see it as a useful feature, but to my parents, it just complicates the process.