Philips Sound Bar (CSS2123)

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In additional to a new Blu-ray player, last weekend I also purchased a Philips Sound Bar (CSS2123) for our living room HDTV. The speakers included with the 32″ HDTV are OK. They’re not the worst. The ones in my smaller HDTVs are so bad they must be connected to external speakers to be tolerable.

Still, we like to watch movies in the living room. I didn’t want to deal with full-surround sound. That would require a heavier investment of money and space. Instead, I decided to add a relatively inexpensive sound bar.

Audiophiles may not care for this set but we both have enjoyed it. Music, movies, and television sound really good though movies that I have ripped from DVD to an Apple TV format do not (This was done using Handbrake. I’m not sure why – the quality may have not been good before but it’s only become apparent with the use of better speakers – my next test is to rip to a slightly different format or to try movies purchased through iTunes).

The set cost $99 at Wal-Mart. It includes the sound bar itself, a wired sub-woofer, and a remote. During the first movie that we watched I had to turn the sub-woofer down. It was actually much deeper than I was expecting and I didn’t want to annoy any of our neighbors.

I haven’t experienced any major problems though when I tried to use a coaxial digital connection only the sound effects from the Apple TV came through. None of the audio for Netflix, or from our Tivo, worked. I suspect this has more to do with the different audio formats (stereo versus true surround) and for now I only have it connected to the TV via the headphone jack, which is split out to RCA adapters that go into the sound bar inputs (stereo only).

Updated 05/22/2013: So far so good. We haven’t had any problems with the sound bar.

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Toshiba Blu-ray Player (BDK33)

Toshiba-Blu-Ray-01Toshiba-Blu-Ray-02

Last weekend I made a couple of purchases for the living room, which I’ve been planning for a while. One of these purchases was a Toshiba Blu-ray Player (BDK33). We’ve been able to watch Blu-ray movies on the PS3, but it’s in a different room and I’ve been wanting to be able to also watch Blu-rays in the living room (the other room has a larger television but it’s currently lacking comfortable furniture).

I looked at several different models in Best Buy and Target. I didn’t bother with checking Wal-Mart this time. I was surprised to find a real deal in Best Buy. It’s rare that they have anything, aside from movies, that I would purchase there.

It only costs $59.

I considered it a good deal because it has wifi capability built-in (unlike many that are “wifi ready”, meaning you’ll need some kind of adapter to use them on wifi). It also supports Netflix, Hulu, and some other services.

I was actually just looking for a plain Blu-ray player without those bells and whistles. After all, I already have an Apple TV in the living room. The price convinced me to go ahead and get it. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a regular Blu-ray player even for $59.

So far I’ve been happy with the purchase, though I haven’t used it much. We’ve only watched a single Blu-ray movie and though I do have it on the wifi network I haven’t tested Netflix or Hulu. It’s connected to my older 32″ TV via the HDMI switch. The movie played without any problems and it looked great on my older HDTV.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Paper-Mario-Sticker-Star

I’ve had a Nintendo 3DS for a while and lately I’ve actually played on it more than my other consoles, most likely because it’s just easy to pick up and play. About a month ago I purchased Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

Surprisingly, I actually finished the game. This has been a rare thing over the past few years. Often, I purchase a game and take my time working on it. Even Mass Effect 3, which I was anticipating for some time and pre-ordered, was a game that I spent several months playing off-and-on before I finished it.

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Powermat PBV01-001-US Travel Mat (Combo Pack)

Powermat-Travel-01

Earlier this week I decided to add another component to my Powermat system. This piece will probably stay at my office and travel with me when I go out of town.

I ordered a Powermat Travel Mat Combo Pack. It includes a folding Powermat charging station that can charge three devices at once. It also includes a Powercube kit with additional adapter tips and a Powermat portable battery pack (this is a smaller, cheaper battery that is different from the other device I recently purchased).

Pricing seems to vary. I paid about $30 for the entire kit. Overall, I really like this kit. It has some pros and cons that are worth mentioning.

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