20 August 2011

the parade

Here are some photos of this year's Gold Cup and Saucer Parade in Charlottetown.

12 August 2011

OPPO BDP-93 Blu Ray and Universal Disc Player

I decided to branch into Blu Ray for certain films. Carrying 50gb of data per disc compared to a standard DVD’s 8.5gb, Blu Ray discs are able to provide significantly more detail for both picture and audio. We won’t see the best of our Hi-Definition TV unless we have a Hi-Def source so I researched players and settled on the Oppo.

I need a player that can handle Blu Ray, DVD, DVDR, CD, CDR, SACD and DVD Audio. Not only that but one which can read discs encoded for all geographical Regions and convert video from PAL to NTSC and vice versa. In short, a universal disc player that can play anything I own whether purchased in the UK or North America.

Oppo is a new American Manufacturer established in 2004 but already making a big name for itself with multi-functional disc players, upper mid-range in price but rivalling high-end competitors for performance. I bought the BDP-93 from an online retailer in Ohio for $630, $100 more than list price for the “region free” modification. Delivery took four days by FedEx. Packaging is the best I have seen; a large box with plenty of padding and the player wrapped in a strong linen bag. A separate box within contains cables, leads, wireless dongle and a chunky remote control with beautiful backlighting. I won’t delve into the technical detail of the BDP-93, suffice to say it has played anything I have thrown at it without fuss. The hefty owner’s manual is available online for the curious, as are detailed reviews.

From a user’s perspective, the Oppo’s upscaling of DVDs is great. My picture has never looked so sharp. Blu Rays are notoriously slow to boot up but this player reaches the menu within thirty seconds. So far I have only sampled a Blu Ray transfer of the thirty-five-year-old “Exorcist” but even that looks superbly defined with detail and illumination even in the dark corners.

As to sound quality, the player is amazing. I already own good players by NAD, Cambridge Audio and Toshiba but this beats them all by some distance. A universal disc player is all well and good but if you need an additional CD player to achieve quality audio then the point is lost. The Oppo gives the best audio experience I have had. Sound is full and crystal clear. I play it through a Yamaha ampilifier/receiver and Harmon Kardon surround sound speakers and the sound is truly detailed and powerful.

A potentially useful feature is the Oppo is wireless Internet ready and I had no trouble connecting it to my home network. Now a full range of online videos are available via the likes of YouTube and Netflix.

As a bonus you can leave an external hard drive plugged into either of the two USB ports and access any audio or video content using on-screen menus on the TV. My entire music collection is ripped to mp3 so unless I am looking for CD quality then I can call up from my armchair anything I fancy listening to. What’s more, the Oppo can read image files enabling you to watch slideshows of your digital photos on the big screen. All in all I’m quite happy with the purchase.

10 August 2011

Marco Polo land

This was our pitch at Marco Polo Land. We camped for three nights and enjoyed a mixture of sunshine and showers. I wrote more about it here. And on my photo site there are some of my photos from the weekend.

The Marco Polo was a three masted clipper built in St John, New Brunswick in the 1850s and named after the famed Ventian adventurer. It sailed the seas in a number of guises and indeed setting records before finally floundering on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. In death it gave its name to the the high ground upon which today's campground was eventually built.

Pictures on the other sites show me looking a trifle subdued. I'm afraid the combined stress of taking tots camping and the lousy weather took its toll.