Blu-Ray vs. AppleTV HD vs. Comcast HD vs. DVD

This is the absolutely best user-based review of the various high definition digital movie formats out there.

Apple TV 2.0 vs. Blu-Ray, DVD & HD Cable: The Comparison

Very fair, very balanced.

More importantly, this is the first review I’ve seen that doesn’t focus on the technical specifications and argue theoretically about which format should be better.   Instead, this article provides actual example frames and examples from a viewer perspective in a very realistic setting.

Gorgeous screen captures and zoomed/cropped images highlight the text along the way.

Definitely a must-read.  But, in case you find it too long, here is my take-aways:

  • Blu-Ray wins, but only matters if you actually have a 1080P set.
  • AppleTV HD is surprisingly good, despite being 720p.
  • Comcast HD seems to be the loser here, although color is better.
  • All 3 are noticeably better than upconverted DVD (once again, on a 1080P set)

The article ends up arguing that Netflix may have the best model here… but I’m not 100% sure.  I’m currently in a movie buying freeze right now as I debate what form my HD library will eventually take.  It’s hard for me to consider a format that I can’t use freely on multiple devices (Blu-Ray), but it’s also hard for me to consider a rental option where I don’t have the movie at my disposal.  A Blu-Ray disc that comes with a DRM-protected iTunes MP4 would work for me, since I’d happy pay the $20 per disc to have a physical copy and the freedom to have a file that I can use on any device.

Too bad no one is providing that… yet.

Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 3: First Impressions

Got to be careful what I say here.  Mike Schroepfer might be reading. 🙂

Actually, I was reading his blog when I found out that Firefox 3 Beta 3 is out.  You can download it here.

I’m playing the naive user for now… just installed it and using it, without reading up on the specifics of the new features.  I’m trying to see what I actually notice without any prep.

First thing… it’s FAST.  Much faster than Firefox 2.  And much much more stable with lots of tabs left open, although I need to give this a bit of a test through the weekend.

One of my biggest problems with Firefox 2 has been based on my particular usage habits.  I tend to open a lot of web pages in tabs, and leave them open for days (or weeks), as reminders to either read the pages or blog about them (or both).  What I’ve noticed is that once I get a large number of open tabs (20+), Firefox starts lagging my entire machine.  I don’t have the fastest machine in the world (PowerMac G5, Dual 2.5Ghz, 2.5GB RAM), but I’m pretty sure it should be able to display 20+ webpages at one time. 🙂

Anyway, everything is faster with Firefox 3.  My eBay loads faster.  SYI 3 loads faster. loads faster.  Email links that open URLs in Firefox open faster.  And when I launch with a dozen or more tabs, it feels much more stable, not locking up nearly the way that Firefox 2 did.

I’m noticing on Mac OS X (10.5) that the controls look a little goofy.  The small controls used on eBay now come out as Mac-like round buttons, but the font is off-center.  Also, the drop-down menus actually have their text one pixel below the end of the menu control.

This is stuff I’m sure that’ll get fixed by final release.

We’re obviously going to have get busy updating our LinkedIn toolbar – Firefox 3 informed me the current version isn’t compatible.  I use that toolbar every day, so I’m going to have to make sure that gets fixed.  🙂  In fact, none of my toolbars were verified to work with Firefox 3, which is probably a good thing since I don’t use most of them anymore anyway.

I’ve been very happy with Firefox vs. Safari since I switched about two years ago.  I was debating whether Safari 3 and the rise of the iPhone meant I would eventually have to switch back to Safari as my primary browser.

It’s not final, but my first few hours on Firefox 3 has left me fairly confident that Mozilla will continue to be my browser provider of choice for the foreseeable future.

You know, I just realized that Mozilla’s success making a great web browser for the Mac proves the lie in Microsoft’s excuses for abandoning the platform.   Firefox proves:

  1. That a great web browser can be built as a stand-alone application, not as a component of the OS.
  2. That a great web browser can be built on the Mac by a company other than Apple.

These were, of course, the two nominal reasons that Microsoft gave back in 2002 for dropping Internet Explorer on the Mac.

As Apple market share continues to grow, and the concept of an all-Windows workplace fades, I have to wonder – will Microsoft ever reconsider providing IE as a cross-platform browser again?   Even if the Mac has a low (5%) market share, that doesn’t mean only 5% of companies will have Macs deployed.  It could turn out that a vast majority of companies end up with a minority share of Macs in-house.  Does Microsoft really want to cede the cross-platform web application market to Mozilla?

Somehow, I doubt this is being seriously considered in Redmond.  But it’s definitely interesting in the face of a resurgent Mac platform and a cross-platform Firefox & Safari.  Internet Explorer for the iPhone, anyone?

Spore: September 7th, 2008

Maxis has announced the launch date of the latest Will Wright masterpiece, Spore.

September 7, 2008.  They even have a quicktime movie just to announce it.

My previous blog post on Spore & Will Wright is here.  I got to play with the creature builder for a few seconds at Macworld 2008 in San Francisco.  It’s hard for me to comprehend how all-encompassing this game is going to be, or how long it may take to play through, let alone master.  It seems an awful lot like SimLife + SimCity + Civilization + Spaceward Ho! to me.

Mark your calendars.  I think it’s fair to say that US GDP may be impacted in Q3/Q4 2008 due to this launch.  Combined with Starcraft 2, we may indeed have a recession this year just from lost productivity.