Home Theater

HDTVs, projectors, and surround sound systems.

How can I backup programs from my DVR?

Episode 1402

Chris from Burbank, CA
DVR

Chris has a DVR with a lot of programs on it. Can he back them up before he changes companies? Leo says no. The programming is heavily encrypted because of copy protection. The only real way he can do it is by exploiting the analog hole. If his DVR has an analog connection, he can put a VCR in between the DVR and the TV connection. But he'll be recording in real time and it won't be in HD.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Episode 1402

Scott Wilkinson

Yesterday was "cut the cord day." Started by TV maker TCL, it's the day to commemorate canceling your cable or satellite subscription in favor of streaming video online. But Scott says that while cord cutting is extremely popular, the options we're getting is really just another spin on the cable model. He hopes that someday we'll get true ala carte programming where you just pay for what you want. But currently, Sling, YouTube, Hulu, and DirecTV Now are all just "cable lite." And in many ways, you end up paying more or the same amount by cord cutting. That may be the whole idea.

How can I hear dialog better on my TV?

Episode 1400

Karen from Smith Center, KS
Vizio 2017 36" 2.1 Soundbar

Karen wants to know how to make her TV sound better, especially for vocals, which are hard to hear. Leo says that vocals are mixed to be part of the center channel and if she don't have a home theater system, it can be a common problem. Leo recommends getting a sound bar. Vizio makes a good affordable one. She should also get one with a subwoofer. Then she'll have the ability to hear the center channel better and can even turn up the center channel alone to help with dialog.

How can I watch movies from my phone on my plasma TV?

Episode 1400

Carlos from San Bernadino, CA
Google Chromecast

Carlos has an LG G6 Android phone and he also has an old Samsung plasma TV. Can he use DLNA to cast to it? Leo says that he can't do it natively, but he can plug in a Google Chromecast to the HDMI port and it will work to cast from his phone to the TV itself via the Google Home app. It works really well and it's very easy to setup. Most apps will do it.

Another option is Miracast through his Windows machine if he has movies there, but it doesn't work very well. Chromecast works much better.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Episode 1400

Scott Wilkinson

Leo and Scott talk about cleaning out and organizing the "techno spaghetti factory" that is wiring coming from all home theater stuff. There was also a lot of dust built up and Scott says it's a good idea to clean out that cruft at least once a year and use IEC standard power cables to keep everything consistent. Leo likes banana plugs, and Scott agrees, but many people don't like them because they tend to be easier to disconnect. They make it easy to swap out other tech, though.

How can I stream music to my old stereo?

Episode 1398

Lynn from Torrance, CA
Chromecast Audio

Lynn wants to get a new laptop to use for streaming music to her home stereo. What's the best setup for her, Intel or AMD? Leo says either will do. The real issue is that since Lynn is going to be converting analog to digital, she needs a good DAC. She'll want something that's all digital, so she should avoid connecting through the headphone jack. Bluetooth is solid option. Google has Chromecast Audio, which is supported by Spotify and Pandora too.