This post is (I think) the first in an ongoing series of posts about a very specific problem... making a big, ugly, but reasonably nice entertainment system much smaller and nicer, without blowing the budget too far out of the water.
- A Rotel receiver. About 100 watts per channel (only 2 channels). Irritation: stand by mode (rather than being totally off) and an annoying pop that is emitted to the speakers when you first power it up from being fully off. It's done that since it was new, alas.
- A Marantz 5 disk CD changer. (I have chewed through and spit out so much Sony gear, particularly CD players that whine after a year or two, that I will never, ever, buy anything made by Sony. That is irrational of me, I know, but I simply won't go there. Every single thing I have bought that was made by them has irritated me in a big way, except a phone answering machine that we finally ditched because we wanted to avoid the tape. Yes, really.)
- An LG blu ray player.
- A Philips DVD player. (We keep this only because somewhere in our DVD collection there is one disk that causes the blu ray player to choke. Everyone tells me I am crazy and that should never happen, but it does. The problem is that we don't know which disk it is now. We might just ditch the DVD player and the problematic disk when we find it, but that hasn't happened yet.)
- A Nintendo Wii. We are not big gamers, but some of what is available for this machine is fun.
- A Philips 32" somewhat high def CRT TV. 1080i was the best it could do.
- A Sanza Fuze mp3 player. (I have a long standing hatred of all things Apple because they have hacked me off in a manner similar to Sony, as mentioned above. I don't buy Apple gear as a result, and thus will not and do not own and ipod or an iphone.) For the Fuze I also have a dock sort of thing that will let me connect it (via 3.5mm or RCA jacks) to a stereo device.
- A pair of KEF 105/3 speakers. These were the biggest single investment in anything audio related in my life.
We are happy with the new TV, which has worked, looked, and sounded just fine (to us) so far.
Looking at this logically, the first problem was the Wii. How to make it talk simply is step one, and today, finally, I found a cheap answer. I hope. There is a Chinese company named Lenking that makes inexpensive video conversion equipment. Among other things they make this Wii to HDMI converter. It plugs into the back of your Wii and gives you an HDMI port. No power supply, nothing funny, just convert the composite video and RCA audio outputs of the Wii into HDMI, and upscaling to 720p or 1080p. Reviews on Amazon vary about how well this works and how well made the device is (or isn't), but for the $21 I just paid, I will give it a try. (Most amusing are the reviews from people saying that the converter from company X failed, so they tried one from company Y. They are all clearly made by just one original source, folks: Lenking in China. The US distributors merely silk screen on a logo and sell the things. Get a grip.)