January 29, 2005

Device Manager

Filed under: digital — mhoye @ 1:35 pm

I finally bought a DVD player, catapulting myself once again into the late 20th century. It took me a while, but with some information from Ben I finally found a model I could live with. I tried to buy a Sony, but no, sadly, it was not to be.

Devices in my home fall into exactly one of two categories. They are:

  1. Computers, and
  2. Everything else.

The critical difference between widgets that are computers and those that aren’t is the interface. The computer has a keyboard, does a bunch of complicated things, and I have to push a bunch of buttons on that keyboard in a special order to make the complicated things happen. The appliances have buttons on them that say what happens when you push them, and when you push those buttons, that thing happens.

If the the thing written on the button doesn’t happen when you push it, and happen immediately, every time, regardless of what else is going on, then that appliance is broken. Full stop. The thing is, if you’re not careful you might buy something that’s actually broken in the box it shipped in.

At some point, people who make movies decided that they should be able to control when, where and how you watch them. If you’re unlucky, you’ve already found out that Disney is in on it – on compliant players, some DVDs won’t let you fast-forward through their previews. On every player that it’s legal to sell in the U.S., you can’t copy your DVDs to VHS, or watch movies from other parts of the world. In fact, some people think you shouldn’t be allowed to fast forward at all, ever.

As far as I’m concerned this means that every DVD player made for U.S. consumers is designed and shipped broken.

If you’re in the U.S., you’re basically hosed in this regard; your legislators have been bought, and consequently no economic levers exist that will allow you to express your dismay. Competing alternatives to “my home appliance is pissing me off” are simply not allowed to exist in your market. But I’m not in the U.S., so I have a choice. And as a result, I’ve had to go with a DVD player from some pokey Korean outfit I’ve never heard of. But let me tell you what it does:

  • It doesn’t respect region codes,
  • It doesn’t respect Macrovision encoding,
  • It doesn’t respect no-fastforward codes,
  • It plays every media-on-round-shiny-thing format under the sun and, most importantly,
  • When I push a button, it shuts the fuck up and does what I tell it to do.

Right away, every time.

I want devices that make my life easier and let me do more, and you want to sell me devices that do less that VCRs did twenty years ago, cost more, and are a hassle to use?

Sorry, no. None of my money for you.

To whom it may concern, if you think that a business model based on bought legislation and complacent consumers will just keep working, good luck with that. But I will do whatever I want with my home entertainment, whenever I want. I will move it, watch it, wherever and however I feel like, because once I buy it, it’s mine. I have two full-length movies on my key ring right now, and you won’t ever be able to stop that from happening. And you think I will allow you to force me to sit through crappy previews?

Two words for that: bitch, please.


  1. Got a URL for that DVD player’s make and model? I’ve been looking to replace a dying 2nd-generation Samsung (which also disrespects macrovision codes, but does respect region codes) with something that can play some R3s from Korea.

    Comment by beltzner — February 1, 2005 @ 6:23 pm

  2. Excuse me, of course. The Nova DV-P5133. Plays everything (including CDs full of JPGs. Wierd.), progressive scan, ignores region codes, S-Video out and doesn’t look like ass, $60. The only thing it’s missing is digital-video-out, but I don’t own anything that takes digital video in, so who cares? My only complaint so far is that the remote is a little counterintuitive, but that’s not what you’d call wildly unusual in the world of consumer electronics.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 1, 2005 @ 6:49 pm

  3. I should add that if any of my Americanski readership wants one, they should drop me a note to that effect.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 1, 2005 @ 6:51 pm

  4. Should “bitch, please.” look more like “bitch, please!!!?

    Comment by kev — February 1, 2005 @ 8:53 pm

  5. Try as I might, I can’t find the “<eyeroll>” tag in the HTML spec.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 1, 2005 @ 9:13 pm

  6. > Try as I might, I can’t find the “<eyeroll>” tag in the HTML spec.

    Is that like <blink>?

    Comment by Coop — February 1, 2005 @ 11:39 pm

  7. Of <eyeroll>course</eyeroll> not.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 2, 2005 @ 12:14 am

  8. Unituitive remotes don’t bother me much, as I’m the happy owner of a (sadly) now out of production remote from SONY that allows 100% learning capability without having a single dumb-ass LCD button or panel.

    Comment by beltzner — February 2, 2005 @ 3:29 pm

  9. The MX-500 universal remote (learning and pre-programmed) is the single best A/V purchase I have ever made, and improves A/V usability a hundred fold.

    DVD players motherfucking piss me right the hell off. The worst part is, they all suck. Look at these test results:

    And note that even with a decade of experience, they still can’t make bug-free basic players, never mind getting de-interlacing right. To be fair, they’re sort of hampered by the insistence on getting a player for $29 on the part of the buying public, but still. Surely by now somebody could have made a chip that does basic DVD stuff flawlessly but is cheap enough for $99 players!

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — February 2, 2005 @ 7:05 pm

  10. If it weren’t for this fucking idiotic DRM and the horde of drooling lawyers manning its ramparts, this shit would have been taken care of five years ago. That’s what the combination of DRM and obscene copyright laws does, if a technology gains wide acceptance – it lets the owning companies get to be completely complacent, because they’ve been made completely free of market pressures.

    Want a DVD player? (and – I cleaned up your comment a little.)

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 2, 2005 @ 9:28 pm

  11. Jeebus – according that page, the only thing that comes even close to passing is $3500.


    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 2, 2005 @ 10:50 pm

  12. You see what I’m saying.

    (And what’s up with your comment thing eating all my newlines? Shouldn’t putting a blank line between paragraphs indicate that, in fact, they’re paragraphs?)

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — February 3, 2005 @ 7:31 pm

  13. Yeah, the comment widget takes some subset of HTML that I should probably spell out, but doesn’t break paragraphs properly in unmarkuped text.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 3, 2005 @ 10:54 pm

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