Ever since we headed over to the states, Sabriena has been on me about getting a new TV. Compounded by our giant DIY entertainment centre, our 32" just looks rather miniscule. It's a Hi-Sense HL32K26PL, so not amazing quality to begin with, though it does handle the 240p/288p composite signal from various consoles rather nicely and has very low-latency for a cheap TV so I was somewhat reluctant to replace it with anything that might be in any way inferior.
The new TV is a Bauhn ATV58UHDC-0517. I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to buy any more electronics stuff at Aldi, but others have informed me of Aldi's 60-day satisfaction guarantee, which they've apparently used with impunity, so we reasoned if we didn't like it, we could take the thing back. It was $800AUD, which we couldn't entirely afford if I'm being honest... there's certainly better things we could have put that money towards, but I think at this stage it's well worth the money.
The unit is UHD "4k"" (3840x2160), which is a really stupid name for a resolution given that every resolution before it is named after the vertical space, and 4k is named after the horizontal space (give or take, since it's not even 4000 pixels wide in UHD format!). We don't really have anything in the living room that'll drive it at 4k (the PS4 Pro - which is another stupid name, when they could probably have called it the PS4k - is cost-prohibitive for us to upgrade to at the moment), but it came with a Chromecast Ultra which will apparently do the job.
It scales 1080p very, very well - unless I'm sitting up close to the thing I can't really discriminate pixels, yet it's not blurry. The panel is bright, not washed out, no idiotic motion-blur, interpolation, or any of that other junk, and best of all it's fast. Scaling 1080p to 4k UHD should be a rather efficient operation - a simple 2D doubling of pixels - but a lot of TVs get it wrong somehow and process the entire frame for large chunks of a second before displaying it. Thankfully when Sabriena played Bloodborne (a game which requires rather precise timing) on it she was satisfied it was fast enough.
Interestingly enough, it accepts a 240p and 288p signal over composite video as well. I was surprised by this, but I guess it's not that uncommon. I would still like to buy the scaler I was expecting to have to buy, but it's nice being able to buy it when I want or when I can afford it rather than having a bunch of consoles on display that I can't ever play. Scaling 240p to 4k is also rather trivial (triple to 720p, then triple again - though what's far more likely is it de-interlaces it to 480, then quadruples), but it's very fast at scaling 288p as well so I think it might just be a rather efficient scaler in the thing. Of course the scaler amplifies the noise from the composite video, and the absolutely awful "deinterlacing" is there as usual... I won't get away from either without a fancy scaler and RGB though.
Back to the 4k content. Unbelievably massive oversight, but it looks like the build in USB media player doesn't support 4k video. At least, it won't play any 4k file I've thrown at it. I think these things are an afterthought. Decided to give the Chromecast a go, and had a very rough time getting it set up, and then playback performance was utterly unacceptable even at 720p. Thinking perhaps it was the wireless signal, I draped an ethernet cable over for a test, and it worked very well... and curiously, continued working well again when unplugged. We watched some nature documentaries for a few minutes in 4k, which was absolutely stunning... but I don't think it's worth the damage to our internet (in both available throughput, and monthly quota).
When I enabled HDMI-CEC, the controls for the PS4 and Chromecast are mostly intuitive. There's some minor issues (like seemingly needing the controller to get out of one TV app and into another) but it works well and will hopefully save us some wear and tear on the PS4 controllers. If I had to pick one complaint, it's that every so often when the TV turns the PS4 on for you, the signal comes in garbage and one must power-cycle the TV before it will display.
We had to reconfigure the top shelf of the entertainment centre to make room, and the wall-mount solution won't work either and requires re-engineering, so the TV is sitting on it's own legs at the moment, but it looks a lot better.
On the whole, I'm pretty pleased with it for the price. It's certainly bigger than I was expecting to buy, and performance is a pleasant surprise. Hopefully it doesn't end up being a piece of shit after the 60 day period!
This took me shamefully longer than it should have to figure out, so I'm documenting it here: I can finally connect to my Debian VM on my desktop via RDP using my laptop.
Enabling "Remote Display" shows an error condition, that VirtualBox extensions are not installed so it will be disabled. This is not the same thing as VirtualBox additions - extensions are on the host side, and they're talking about Oracle's specific set of extensions. Installing them is cake - simply download the same version as your VBox, open the VirtualBox preferences, browse to "extensions", and point it at the extension pack you downloaded. Then restart the Guest OS.
Connecting is easy:
I then had to right-click the monitor icon in the bottom right corner on the host machine, and select "Resize display to 1366x768" because my laptop's LCD is only that resolution (otherwise you get nasty scaling via RDP).
Duncan's been hinting for a while that he wants a new mouse. He likes Sabriena's Logitech, because of the sharp angles, glowy bits, and more than three buttons. His favourite color (at the moment) is red, so when I was pointed to a $10 MSI G Series by a random redditor, I figured "stuff it" and ordered two. The "MSRP" on these is supposed to be $50, they're $10 each shipped, and Duncan can have a second one for when he uses my laptop.
They arrived today, and I'm pretty underwhelmed but I think Duncan will like it. It's my first time ordering from Scorptec, and it went pretty smooth... I'd use them again, I think. They arrived well packed, secure, and were shipped pretty fast. Unless they get a bulk deal on postage from AusPost, I reckon they spent about $13 to ship them, so I wasn't expecting much for what's essentially a $3.50 mouse.
Upon inspection and searching around, it looks like they're usually bundled with MSI laptops/desktops, these must have just been excess stock from Scorptec including something better. The category was "giveaway stock", after all. After about an hour of searching, I can't find configuration software for it anywhere - it's supposed to support 6400DPI, but with no way to configure that it's at the 800 or whatever most mice default to. I haven't tried contacting MSI support yet, not sure whether I care enough... Duncan doesn't deviate much from standard mouse settings at the moment.
It's rather small, which is good for Duncan, but if I'd bought it for myself I'd be pretty upset, as I've got pretty large hands and a partial palm grip. My SteelSeries Rival (300?) dwarfs it, so if you've got large hands or want to use a palm grip, you'd probably want something larger.
It seems like it has a common enough, though generic, sensor, judging by the USB IDs, which does what it says on the tin. It tracks smooth enough on our Goliathus pads, and all the buttons bar the DPI switcher work out of the box on Windows 10.
It comes with a nice feeling, but stiffer than I'd like, braided cable - it might loosen up when it's no longer brand new. It's not as heavy as the charging cable that comes with Sabriena's Logitech wireless gaming mouse, but it's stiffer than your average wired mouse cable. Then again I'm comparing a freebie mouse with a $100AUD mouse.
On the whole I'm not unhappy with what we bought, I'm just glad I didn't buy it for me.
I got woken up this morning by Duncan's desktop not coming out of sleep. He power cycled it, and it still "didn't work", so I got up and had him do so again. Windows loaded up, started a bit, then the monitor went to sleep. Checking things out, the PC was still responsive, just no video signal... I noted a while back that the fan was going out, so I surmised the problem was GPU related (his GPU is the ancient HD5770 that I mined Bitcoin with once upon a time, gamed with for multiple years, and now he has it, so it's done well).
Pop the side off the case to check, and yes, the GPU fan was not spinning. I foolishly touched the heatpipe, and gave myself a minor burn. "Welp, it's toast." I thought as I turned the machine off. I rotated the fan by hand, and it was very stiff, but freed up after a few turns. I turned the thing back on again, and it functioned properly, so I used MSI Afterburner to crank the fan speed, and started out pricing a replacement.
Replacing this machine is going to be another money pit! I bought one nice desktop because Sabriena didn't want one at the time, but she's been using this one to play Dark Souls 3 on and has thus changed her mind. I figure if I build another, more moderate desktop, the three of us can share two desktops and two laptops with a minimum of inconvenience. About the minimum workable gaming specs prices out to about $700 shipped. Ouch!
But in the meantime, maybe I can just replace the GPU with something that the rest of the machine can grow into? Not really, as the minimum GPU (an AMD RX470) I'd probably bother buying (so as not to have to replace it in 12 months) is about $250 or so. But none of the better modern, low-end gaming GPUs come without 8-pin power plugs (interestingly enough, my GTX1060 has 6 pin!), and the PSU only has 6-pin GPU connector, so we'll have to replace that too. For a decent PSU that'll last, that's nearly another hundred bucks after shipping, making up almost half the cost of the build. Why even fuck around?
So at this point, I've just got the thing sounding like a hair dryer, turning it off at night, and hoping it survives long enough for us to save up some money... because I'd rather not just put it on the credit card if we can avoid it.