Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time Warner: slower than ever!

I'm trying to SSH to a server in my lab, and it's laggy as hell... so I ran a speed test and get this result:
I'm glad to be moving out...

Yes, K-ON! in widescreen!

Finally, K-ON! has been broadcast in HD! As an example of the difference it makes, note the difference between the OP in normal 4:3:

Compared to the OP in 16:9:

And the ED in 16:9:

It's too bad K-ON widescreen is being broadcast like a month behind :(.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clannad After Story thoughts, Time Warner still sucks

First off, Time Warner still sucks here in Ithaca, NY:

Finally watched episode 22 of Clannad ~After Story today (why the widescreen version airs like a month after the 4:3 version nobody knows... why even bother airing the 4:3 version anyway?!)... and the ending definitely made use of deus ex machina, but a lot of Key's stories are like that (Kanon, a little bit in Air). The story concluded pretty well, and, well, I think Jason said it best in his posts on Clannad.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Time Warner sucks

My current speed from oh-so-wonderful, planning to cap people's download Time Warner, is .

You might say, why not call them and see what's up? I did this, several times. First time, they told me to swap my modem. Didn't make a difference. Then they sent a tech out, didn't make a difference because my levels were fine. Call number 3, they could not understand that their router was blocking a traceroute, and finally the only thing they could tell me is that there's too many people on the network... and they can't (or won't) do anything about it!

And now, not even 2 hours away in Rochester, they're planning on switching to metered billing. I don't think it's going to help the speed any, because college students just can't get enough internet! ARGH. I can barely load web pages at this hour...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My HT setup

In case anybody's wondering, here's my current home theater setup:
  • TV: Samsung LN46A550
  • PS3 (80gb with backwards compatibility)
  • Sound: Onkyo HT-SR800
  • Remote: Harmony 720

My computer is connected to the TV using HDMI and to the receiver using optical SPDIF. PS3 is connected the same way. Anything 1080p looks gorgeous, and anything with 5.1 sound rocks. The best part is that I got everything on sale! The Onkyo system was refurbished and under $300, the PS3 had walmart's sweet $100 gift card deal, the remote was refurbed and under $40, and the TV was relatively cheap at the time.

The PS3 does a pretty good job upscaling DVDs -- they're not as good as blu-ray, but they're not too bad, especially from a normal viewing distance. I watched Mushi-shi, and it looked great, though the picture was a little soft.

Most HD anime fansubs look good too, though the quality difference amongst different animes are quite apparent. Crunchyroll even looks decent at 720p, but anything lower looks like a poor quality DVD :(.

I'm pretty happy with the system and probably won't be upgrading for the foreseeable future. My next upgrade will probably either be the speakers or the TV, but probably not till I move...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Saki is...

...pretty good I think! Watched it on Crunchyroll today (woo 720p), and found it to be pretty exciting. You don't need to know much about mahjong (I don't) -- it seems to be a lot like any sort of, "let's enter into a competition, yea!" sort of anime, like Angelic Layer.

Again, props to Crunchyroll to licensing it for distribution. It was pretty smooth too, now that I've figured out how to get hardware acceleration to work consistently (right-click the video player while in normal mode, enable HW full screen accel, then make it full screen). The video stutters occasionally, but it may be my computer not having enough processing power.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Setting up hardware accelerated anime playback...

A great guide for setting up Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC) for DXVA, along with sample videos and lots of pictures, is located here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Why all the hate on Crunchyroll?

Why do people hate Crunchyroll so much? See the comments here, or just about any blog post on HnG2. I'm going to copy and paste a comment from THAT anime blog:

"I dislike Crunchyroll and their licensing. It didn’t affect me before…but now that CR has taken HnG in, I’m slowly realizing how much I hate them. But I am not here to say i hate CR, but rather my adoration for HnG. Anyways, I’m surprised that JC staff actually used plot material(compared to Synergy SP’s style of using fillers and given the fact of how they changed Shakugan no Shana S2, Zero no Tsukaima S2 & S3 and Tsukihime). The animation, in my opinion has changed dramatically, with similarity to the drawing style used in Zero no Tsukaima and sharper colors. Overall, I am hoping forward to HnG S2 and really want the part where Hina started realizing she fell for Hayate."
So this commentor doesn't like CR because they have the license to the show and are streaming it for free (albeit in lower quality and delayed than if you paid for a subscription), and because of their license, most fansub groups won't sub it? *shakes head*

You'll even notice a lot of anime bloggers are using the ripped from Crunchyroll softsub! (I can understand that for some of the bloggers outside the US, Crunchyroll doesn't work, but I can't believe there aren't ANY US anime bloggers!) I guess I just don't understand why people don't want to spend $5 a month to support their hobby, it's not like Xam'd which cost $5/episode...

And I'm not really a Crunchyroll fanboy, it has it's share of problems, but the main thing is, I can legally watch anime very shortly after it airs in Japan in decent quality.

While I'm ranting, what happened to only fansubbing shows that weren't licensed? I see two groups subbing Fullmetal Alchemist 2009, even when Funimation already has the license and plans to stream it free.

Lest you think I'm just a prude that only watches legal stuff, I watch lots of fansubs for shows that aren't licensed yet or aren't made available legally within a reasonable amount of time -- for example, K-ON. But when you can watch stuff legally and in 720p for $5 a month... why not support the industry a little? It's like a value meal at McDonald's!

I'll end with a Crunchyroll pro-tip: to enable full screen HW acceleration, you right click the video before you full screen it, then select the option, THEN full screen the video. It doesn't work otherwise.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hayate's back... and on Crunchyroll!

I watched the first episode of the new second season of Hayate no Gotoku on Crunchyroll. They're running a handy 2 week trial anime membership, so I gave it a shot and watched Hayate in glorious 720p.

You can get the episode summary and impressions elsewhere, but I wanted to comment on the Crunchyroll experience. So the positives first:

  1. 720p quality with membership with good video quality -- it looks better than a poor-quality fansub encode, but not as good as the best encodes (like SS-Eclipse).
  2. Subs for the first ep are pretty good! No karaoke, but they translated most of the on-screen text, like the descriptions of all the characters (in fact, I'd guess that most of the fansubs released of the show are using the Crunchyroll subs).
  3. It's released the same day as it's shown in Japan. This is huge... it's faster than a fansub, and I think this is really key, I can't imagine a good reason for any group to sub this show now.

Not everything was good though. There's nothing wrong with the video itself, but I have some gripes about the player and website.

  1. 720p and Flash -- it brings my computer to its knees. The CPU utilization averaged almost 90% on my 2.7 ghz Pentium dual-core (probably equivalent to a 2.2ghz C2D). The main culprit is probably the fact that I could not get full screen hardware acceleration to work. Most of the time it was smooth, but during pans, the video would stutter.
  2. Account settings -- I signed up for the trial. There doesn't seem to be a way to sign up for anything other than a monthly membership other than ending the trial and signing up.
  3. Advancing between videos -- I also started watching Skip Beat (good show so far), and when one episode finishes, a link to the next video shows up like in youtube... but it proceeds to load a new page. This isn't so bad, except it 1) kicks you out of full screen, 2) and requires you to setup the player again (like enabling HW acceleration).

Overall, I'm actually pleasantly surprised by Crunchyroll's offering. I'm waiting to see how Saki and Shangri-la turn out, but if those are decent, I might actually pay for it (gasp)!