April 24, 2005 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I broke down and went HD, buying a Toshiba 44NHM84 (new DLP chip), a Samsung progressive-scan HD player, all the THX super-special Monster cables. In order to definitely not go outside this summer I'm also getting TimeWarner's HD box. What movies should I get to go with this awesome setup? My DVDs aren't HD oriented, what movies would look jaw-dropping in HD? Also, do I need to buy the Monster $200 surge protector that was aggressively pushed upon me?

The surge protector is $200 and does noise-reduction and voltage regulation. I have a new house with new wiring and my "overpriced rich guy toy" flag went up. Is this something that I should definitely get or will my every day surge protector be adequate?

I don't like Star Wars really, but was told Episode 2 looks great in it. I have a copy of Lord of the Rings somewhere I'm sure I'll check out. Any suggestions, blockbuster and non-blockbuster alike will be great.
posted by geoff. to Technology (16 answers total)
Monster Cables are the single biggest ripoff in A/V. Please don't buy that $200 Monster protector, and please don't tell me how much you paid for the THX cables. $10 of wire from Home Depot would've done the trick.

I personally don't like DLP, but more power to you. I assume you chose your TV because you preferred the way it looks to other TVs in the price range, which is much more important than what some guy on the net thinks.
posted by Jairus at 3:48 PM on April 24, 2005

I second the opinion on the cables. As an electronic enthusiast with access to tons of diagnostic equipment, my testing has resulted in NO discernable difference in noise or quality (image AND audio) with going with Monster over an comparable gauge copper wire with gold connectors. I highly recommend reconsidering and returning, don't buy into the marketing hype.

Same goes to surge protection. Price doesn't equal quality in this case, save the money towards a HD DVR or something...
posted by omidius at 4:03 PM on April 24, 2005

Just to backup Jairus - MonsterCable is about a big of ripoff that there is. Period. And his suggestion about Home Depot is right on for things like A/V cables and surge protectors.

As for DVDs, the DVDs that are labeled "superbit" are usually encoded to the maximum 9.8 Mbs bitrate that DVD supports. Any action movie labeled superbit would be a good choice. Also, there is a superbit version of Das Boot and that is probably the 5.1 audio exhibition disc ever.
posted by aaronh at 4:13 PM on April 24, 2005

Best answer: I know it wasn't part of your question, but seriously return the Monster Cables and buy something cheaper. Use the money you saved for other equipment or movies.
posted by pmbuko at 4:18 PM on April 24, 2005

Weather you need a surge suppressor or not is highly dependant on where you live. I'm in a large city and surges are exceedingly rare here. In more isolated regions, surges can actually happen.
posted by Chuckles at 5:05 PM on April 24, 2005

But even then you don't need to spend $200 on a power strip.

Usual culprits for showing off are Finding Nemo and The Fifth Element -- I don't have an HD and won't vouch for them, but if you look at avsforum those movies seem to be the standard how-is-your-picture movies.

Also, if you paid for a big extra-long warranty on the dvd player, cancel it immediately and get your money back. I don't know about whether or not the extended warranties are almost-worth-it for dlp tvs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:27 PM on April 24, 2005

If you watch a lot of DVDs, get yourself a really good DVD player with HDMI and/or DVI output. I believe that Faroudja is a good chip-set manufacturer to look for as far as scaling or upconverting the DVD resolution goes. If possible, you want a very high-quality scaler in your DVD player, because it's going to take the relatively low-resolution DVD picture and interpolate it into a higher-resolution for you. Your TV probably does that for you, but probably doesn't do it as well as a single-function scaler in a DVD player would. Trust me, I've tried it both ways, and it makes a big difference.

DVDs can look good, but no matter how much manipulation you do, they are still standard definition. If you REALLY want to get into HD, see if your cable box has a firewire (IEEE 1394) port on it. If so, you are quite possibly in business to be able to record true HD programming. I don't care how good the DVD transfer or your DVD player is, there's just no comparison between DVD and true HD.

For recording HD, check out D-VHS VCRs. JVC makes them, and even though D-Theater tapes are fading out of popularity (if they were ever popular in the first place), there are a lot of good movies in true 1080i HD 5.1DD sound. I think the HM-HD5U (around $600) is the latest D-VHS deck, although you can find some really nice deals on the HM-DH40000U ($400-$500). Blank tapes are $8-15, but $8 to record a 2.5 hour 1080i HD movie isn't too bad.

I caught Spiderman and the Matrix on HBO on D-VHS. They look AWESOME.

Oh, and I agree with the other posts. Once you realize that the accessories that the AV stores are trying to sell you carry an 80% markup, you'll start shopping for similar items online that are more reasonably priced. Personally, I think that Monster Cable typically makes a decent product. It's their price/performance ratio that really, really sucks.
posted by ensign_ricky at 7:06 PM on April 24, 2005

As everyone else has said, avoid Monster Cable like the plague - its nothing but a high markup for profit. Go buy cables from Radio Shack or Wal-Mart.

I use APC UPSes, line conditioners, and surge protectors for all of my equipment (DirecTiVo, TV, computers, etc). (picture of my current setup)

For picture quality, pick up a copy of Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials and use that to tune/tweak your TV.

The only high-dollar component I'm thinking of getting is a BrickWall surge protector - anyone know if their claims of being better than MOV-based stuff are true?
posted by mrbill at 7:21 PM on April 24, 2005

Response by poster: Okay I hope to get a few more people's attention before this thread ends as it looks like I totally bought into the "Well, you would be doing yourself a disservice to buy anything but the best with this TV..."

Here's what I got:

Monster DVI-400 Ultra-Low Loss at $140 or something absurd like that. On the back it has a "standard" and "us" noticeable difference comparison. What would be a similar high quality DVI cable?

Also got some component 24-carat gold Monster THX... replaced with these cheapies?
posted by geoff. at 7:30 PM on April 24, 2005

I concur Monster *can* be a rip off, but not everything they offer is bad -- like the power conditioners mentioned here.

A buddy went through three brands of OTA HD receivers with glitch problems; the power conditioner solved two (didn't try the third.) His house was 2 years old at the time, only 3 now.

Still, I think the answer for now is no. If you have issues, then get one. Good ones, Monster or not, aren't usually "Best Buy" type items; try a specialized store -- talk to a real A/V dealer for a bit -- getting a loner, to see if it helps, won't be an issue.
posted by SpookyFish at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2005

Reminds me of the time I saw "gold plated" *fiber optic cables*.

I wouldn't pay more than $35-50 for a DVI cable (depending on length), and for Component cables, $20. I had good luck with the RCA-branded stuff.

Monster Cable, in addition to being vastly overpriced and hyped, sucks and is to be avoided at all costs. They've tried to take domains away from other companies that have the word "monster" in them, regardless of what the business was.
posted by mrbill at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2005

One more - more info on Monster Cable's strong-arm tactics.
posted by mrbill at 7:51 PM on April 24, 2005

Response by poster: I did not mark the best answer as best answer, I have no idea how that happened. Metatalk. Continue as you were.
posted by geoff. at 8:06 PM on April 24, 2005

All the caveats about the cables are totally on target, but whether or not you end up with a Monster-branded power conditioner, I can definitely attest to its effects. I've lived in three different old houses since I got my home theater setup, and every time I've set it up, I've checked to see if there's a difference. In every place, there's been a noticeable improvement when I run the AC power through the line conditioner.

Granted, you only really hear a difference when you're playing "silence", turned up high--you couldn't really tell while listening to a loud 5.1 movie. But still, at my last place, there was a distinct hum that came through without the conditioner, and there've definitely been more clicks, pops, noise, etc. without it every time I've checked hooking the amp up right to the house current.

That's not an argument to over-spend, mind you. I'm sure you could find a more reasonable unit than the Monster-branded one.
posted by LairBob at 5:28 AM on April 25, 2005

My mother was sold this 'power conditioner' as well as several hundred dollars worth of Monster Cables.

After a few hours of troubleshooting, I discovered that 3 of 20 Monster cables were defective and wouldn't pass signal. Considering they cost 10-50 times what the corresponding cable from Radio Shack costs, you - and other readers - would do well to buy all your cables from Radio Shack as well. I've never had a bad cable from Radio Shack, but even if I had to replace one 5 times it'd still be cheaper than buying the comparable Monster product.

The power conditioner doesn't appear to do anything except "clean" the cable signal so it no longer passes Internet to the cable modem. It also doesn't properly apply load to the coaxial cable connection, rendering other cable outlets in the house useless. I disconnected it and things started working better.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:25 AM on April 25, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's advice. I'm dumping all Monster cables and saving myself ~$300.
posted by geoff. at 11:20 AM on April 25, 2005

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