The Files of X

X-Files - agents Mulder and Scully
Do you watch shows like Bones, Fringe, and of course, are you enjoying for years the many various Crime Scene Investigation or 'CSI' television series until you were blue in the face with criminal forensics?  Well, now that many of these shows or their spin-offs have come and gone, maybe it's time to go back to the one that started it all, to really appreciate it.

What's that famous old saying?  'You've tried the rest, now try the best?'  Or is it more like, 'The original, and best'.

However you put it, we and many others personally feel that some of the best writing ever for dramas that dealt with crimes and the paranormal came out of a little known show that showed up on TV screens in 1993.  It was called, of course, 'The X-Files', a show created and written by Chris Carter, but Chris also had a pool of other excellent staff and guest writers that contributed and wrote many of the series' episodes as well.

Going back and watching the show now, it is truly remarkable to reflect upon the actual structure of the show.  Using a method that was hardly (if ever) used before, the X-Files episodes consisted of:

1) A main thread of what we call a series sub-theme that would re-occur and pick up and continue where it had left off a few episodes prior, and then in-between the sub-theme episodes would be:

2) Various other episodes that were written about and uniquely covered another popular and random sub-topic within the paranormal realms.  Of course, the main thread dealt with UFO's, aliens, and their clandestine plot to develop (along with shady government figures) a successful alien-human hybrid to employ as a slave race to accommodate their eventual colonizing and taking over of planet earth.  The random episodes would deal with things like astrology, Bigfoot, Moth-man, ghosts, matters of the occult, and so on.

Many dramas today use this method of recurring main thread or sub-theme intertwined with other random episodes, which is a testament to the ground-breaking show that was the X-Files.

The X-Files also seemed to have helped bolster the Sci-Fi resurgence that occurred in Hollywood during the mid to late nineties, and has continued to this day.

The show lasted for 9 seasons, and spawned 2 feature films that carried on the TV series' subject matter.

When you go back to re-visit the X-Files, we are sure that you will notice some things:

First of all, the show is still hell-a-scary!  Its trademark, what made it what it was, and why you will always have a post-viewing discussion with your pals, or 'water-cooler' talk.

Another thing would be all of the young actors or no-names that were in the show who are famous now.  Some of them are a little hard to spot, but you can always watch the credits at the end if you are in doubt.

Finally, you will start to realize that given the year the show came out, that there are so many shows you watch now that are dead copies of the X-Files, or are borrowing some of the story-lines or approach to the style of directing and acting.

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Faster Streaming

Faster Streaming - IPAD
To stream or not to stream?  Well, have you decided?  If the answer is 'yes', I want to stream, and if you have been streaming and using Wi-Fi to do it, like many of us have been, then maybe, after seeing just how 'well' basic streaming works, your next wish would be:

How Can I Stream Faster?!!

Unfortunately, this is truly not a one-word answer.  It will depend on a few factors, which we will attempt to break down for you:

1) The presence (or lack thereof) of other devices in your house

2) Your Internet Service Provider (or ISP) connection speed

3) Your wireless Router and Network set-up

4) If using Wi-Fi, how far away your Wi-Fi Router signal is from the streaming device or Smart TV

Factor 1 - Devices - Cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens, baby monitors, alarm systems, wireless speakers, or anything else that usually uses the 2.4 GHz band can interfere with your Router's wireless signal, which like many laptops, or even the new 'Roku 2' streaming device, will be capable of handling only the 2.4 GHz band, unless otherwise noted in the specs.

5 GHz Wi-Fi networks, on the other hand, are not susceptible to this interference since they occupy a totally different frequency band.

Factor 2 - ISP - from our tests, even though the original Netflix requirement was for around 1 MBPS (megabits per second data transfer rate), we saw a marked improvement in streaming performance when speed was tested between 20 to 30 MBPS, as delivered by our ISP.

Factor 3 - Router - In theory, any kind of video streaming should be smoother and more defined in the 5 GHz band, due to the absence of interference in this frequency range (Factor 1), and also due to more efficient 'channel blocking' (techie talk), meaning the way the internal video data is assembled and transmitted across the wireless network when you stream using 5 GHz bandwidth.

Factor 4 - Distance - Generally speaking, though, the higher the frequency band, the less further a Wi-Fi signal can actually travel, in theory, hence the reason for most all 2.4 GHz signals to have a better range than their equivalent 5 GHz signal.

So...what does this all mean?  How do I stream faster?

Let us make some suggestions:

First of all, the wireless technology keeps evolving, and some of the latest Routers even have more powerful 5 GHz radios built-in, with better range, but here's what we can recommend at this point:

1) Make sure you have a fairly high-end Router - capable of both 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands.

2) Make sure your ISP download speed is acceptable, at least 20 MBPS or more.

3) If your streaming device/Smart TV is say, 20 feet or less from your Wi-Fi Router, you may want to try using the 5 GHz band and test your streaming to check for any marked improvements versus the 2.4 GHz setting.

4) If your components are much further away from the wireless signal source, and you do not have a late model higher-end Router, stick to the 2.4 GHz band and ask your ISP for a 'speed-boost' (for more MBPS) which may or may not come with an additional charge, depending on your service contract.

5) Check with your streaming provider to make sure you are getting the most out of your 'data usage' or 'data bandwidth' setting from the provider, also known as 'playback settings'.  For example, with Netflix, make sure that your playback settings are always set to 'HD' and not some lower performance setting.

And as we say here at VideoCrib:

Give it a Try, and Happy Streaming!

Faster Streaming


Current ISP Speeds required, Netflix streaming:

.5 MBPS - original basic requirement

1.5 MBPS - Netflix recommended (original)

3.0 MBPS - SD - Standard Digital

5.0 MBPS - HD - (includes 720p or better)

25 MBPS - Ultra HD 4K

Basic Wireless chart:

Band2.4 GHz5 GHz
ChannelThree (3) non-overlapping channels23 non-overlapping channels
Standards Wireless B, G, & N Wireless A, N, & AC
Network Range Longer Range Shorter Range
Interference More Less

Wireless Dual-band Gigabit Router
Pictured: Asus RT-AC66U Wireless Dual-band Gigabit Router
Find it here.

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Video Files to DVD

Video Files to DVD - ImportA computer DVD burner makes it easy to convert video files to dvd.

These files use lots of memory - up to 10 gigabytes for every hour of your recorded data - so converting to a DVD disc can free up your hard drive space.

The computer or laptop must be equipped with a DVD burner to record videos to disc. Most computers with a burner will also have DVD software installed to manage the recording. With a supply of blank recordable DVDs, videos can be moved off the computer's hard drive and onto long-lasting media discs.

Items you will need:

Computer with DVD burner
Video files stored on the computer - (e.g., from a video camera, webcam or smartphone)
Blank DVDs

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1

Insert a blank, recordable DVD into the media tray of the computer, and close the tray.

Step 2

Open the program that manages the DVD burner, such as Windows DVD Maker or iMovie (Mac).

Step 3

Click the "File" button, and select "New" or "New Project," depending on the software.

Step 4

Click the "Add Items" or "Import" tabs, then select the videos to be burned to the DVD by clicking (or dragging) each video file. This will move copies of the videos into a list of files for recording to disc.

Step 5

Click "Next" and/or select menu styles (themes), recording options and other preferences.

Step 6

Click the "Burn" tab to record the video files to DVD.

Computer DVD Burner
Pictured: Computer with DVD Burner

**Note to Mac owners (Macs bought 2011 or later): iDVD is no longer available to use to burn your video files to DVD.  You will have to use the 'Share' option in iMovie to format your video files and save them to your computer, then:

You can download either of these free, easy-to-use apps from the Apple store to complete the DVD burn of these files:

1-Click DVD Creator
Free DVD Creator

Or download freeware 'Burn' located at:
Looking to transfer your video tapes to DVD?  Visit our VHS Tapes to DVD page.

Video Files to VCD - Another Option!

Question: Did you run out of blank DVD's?  Do you have photos, camcorder video files, etc., that are not longer than 74 minutes of total playing time or not bigger than 700 mb?

Answer: Then if you have some blank CD's laying around, you can try burning and creating a VCD (Video Compact Disc).

Advantages to VCD's:

1) They are usually cheaper than blank DVD's, usually only costing somewhere between 25 and 10 cents each.

2) VCD's can store both audio (CD) and video files (DVD).  However, like an audio cd, the storage limit is around 700 mb per disc.

3) VCD's usually use the MPEG-1 format, which is highly compatible with most computers' CD players and virtually any kind of DVD player.


1) Picture and sound quality are usually inferior to a DVD, especially if the video file(s) are larger than 700 mb, because some compression has to occur to store the video on the disc, which can lower the resolution from 720x480 (DVD) to 352x240 (VCD).

2) Surround sound may be degraded a bit, however, any stereo sound should be pretty much un-affected.

How Do I Burn a VCD?

1) You must first have a video file that is already in MPEG-1 format.  For example, a video that you took with your camcorder and then transferred to your computer's hard drive.  This file must be encoded in the MPEG-1 format before burning it to disc.

2) Usually encoding software is used for this, like Bling Software, which also offers a free download and trial.

3) Once encoded to MPEG-1, you may use your normal CD burning software to burn the VCD.  Just insert a blank, recordable CD into a CD recordable drive, open your CD burning application, and follow the prompts.

4) Viewing a VCD - it will be viewable in almost any computer drive as well as a vast majority of DVD drives.

'Give it a try, and Happy Burning!'


Deleting video files from the computer is a separate step. The original video files will remain on the computer's hard drive after copying them to VCD or DVD. Get rid of unwanted files by selecting each video for removal, right-clicking and selecting "Delete."


Wait for the DVD to finalize before removing it from the computer. Finalization prepares a disc for playback on other equipment. Removing the DVD before it finalizes can ruin the recording.
Test your VCD or DVD to see if the recording is complete and plays properly with no errors, before deleting the original file from your computer.

No time to do it yourself?
To have a look at some sites that do most or all of the work for you, go here for some great assistance with video transfer.

Sony Creative Software Inc. MoviEZ HD
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What is 4K TV?

What is 4K TV?
Pictured: 84-inch LCD (Ultra High Def 4K TV). 
Technology inevitably marches on.  '4K TVs', 'QuadHD TVs', or 'Ultra HD 4K TVs' as the manufacturers are calling them, are new to the market and here's what we know about them so far.  If you are video geeks like us here at VideoCrib you may want to look for one to purchase, or at least go to the store to check one out. 

Here's a quick breakdown, please keep in mind that some of this info may be subject to change, but we'll make sure we keep you up to date.

(You can also view some 4K UHDTVs for sale here.)

  • The resolution - right now it's (3840 x 2160) or simply (2160p), as opposed to the current standard of (1920 x 1080) or (1080p).  So it's twice as many horizontal lines of resolution as regular HD and also 4 times the pixels, 8 million versus 2 million.
  • Can most people notice the difference in picture resolution?  From what we've seen, mostly no.  Most people will sit 5 feet or more away from their TVs, that's just the way it is.  Studies show that the closer you get to your TV, the more you can notice the picture resolution quality (see chart below).
  • To compensate for loss of picture quality effect (or resolution) of 4K TV as the distance from the TV increases, manufacturers have, at least from what we've seen, made the screen sizes bigger, many of them between 70 and 80 inches measured diagonally.  (Note: motion blur, contrast ratio, color accuracy, refresh rates, compression artifacts are all separate issues from the 4K increased resolution that still need to be improved going forward, so be sure to check that each TV's specifications are to your liking for these other items).
  • If I get one, will I be able to play or view my old content?  Yes.  4K TVs will upscale your content (like 1080p) to 2160p.  For viewing discs in 4K you'll have to buy a new Blu-ray player that upscales to 4K, for example.  There are even some Home Theater receivers and video projectors now on the market that upscale video to 4K.  Of course, right now there is little or no actual source content available in 4K, but we've got some 4K Movies here if you're interested.

1080p vs 4K TV

  • Remember when 1080p TVs first came out?  That was 10 years ago (wow!), and people asked the same types of questions back then, so it looks like we're going to experience some Deja vu.  As we gradually move to 4K TVs, people will be complaining about how there's just not enough content (like from TV Networks, Cable/Satellite providers that are not up to the new standard yet) and also not very many discs available.  We'll be in 'up-convert heaven' until all the various industry providers scramble to catch up to the new formats.  Oh, and yes, these TVs carry pretty steep price tags at the moment, just like in the 'old days', and maybe even 'more steep' than back then.
  • HDMI 2.0 is currently the latest HD Version that is 'standard'.  Can I use older Version 1.4 HDMI cables if I buy a new 4K TV?  Yes.  Just make sure you are using 'High Speed Category 2' cables, Version 1.4 or higher. You can get more details by visiting our HDMI Releases page.
  • Bottom line - should I get a '4K TV', 'Quad HD' or 'Ultra HD 4K TV' right now?  As with any new technology, only serious videophiles may opt for it at this point. If you work in the business or medical world, are a video gamer or are feeding your computer signal to your TV, you may want to immediately take advantage of this new technology, which is said to closely rival 35mm film stills (photos) and motion pictures, which 1080p does not. Otherwise your need may not be as great. But as we say here at the Crib, if you want to check one out to see for yourself, go to your local store and:
Give it a Try, and Happy Viewing!

optimal viewing distance by TV size and resolution

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Disc Cleaners

You've seen them in stores, or online.  They may be in the form of wet or dry cloths or wipes, or simply a dry anti-static cloth accompanied by an alcohol based spray cleaning bottle.  Does this product really do its job, do you really need to spend 15 to 30 dollars (or more) to clean your CD, DVD or Blu-ray disc, and will it even be worth it?  What will you expect to get?  Improved sound, more crisp and clear, and a sharper, clearer video experience?  Maybe...

Disc Cleaners

Well, we here at VideoCrib have tried some of these products.  To be honest with you, although in our opinion they haven't actually taken away from the experience, made the video or audio appear or sound distorted, for example, we cannot really say that we've seen a significant improvement over not using these products.  We feel you can get just as good or better results using another option.

Chances are you have exactly what you need to achieve good performance just laying around your house, say under the kitchen sink, in the laundry room or at any spot in your house where you keep your household cleaners and rags.  If you want your discs to look and sound their very best each time you play them, then just round up the following household items:

Items Required:

1) 1 paper towel or lint free, non-abrasive cloth

2) 1 spray bottle of natural 'green type' household cleaner.

We like to use 'Green Works' household cleaner.  If you don't have this brand or some similar type of 'green' household cleaner, then a spray bottle of window cleaner will suffice.  We prefer the green type of cleaner since it is usually coconut-based and a little gentler on the disc than using window cleaner or rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab, which can also be used as a last resort.


1) Spray some cleaner onto the paper towel or cloth

2) With the paper towel or cloth, gently wipe the underside of the disc (the side that has no lettering printed on it like 'DVD-R' or the movie name), wiping from the center of the disc out to the edge in a straight line.  Avoid circular motions so as to mimic the encoding patterns of the disc itself (cleaning in a spiral motion), as this could cause loss of data from the disc.  Make sure the disc is dry before step 3.

3) Voila! - Pop it in the player and enjoy your movie or CD at its very best!

...and no need to spend $$$ on a disc cleaning kit.

Give it a Try, and Happy Viewing!

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What is 3D TV?
It's been over 4 years since the first modern 3D TV's have hit the market (back in March 2010), giving viewers a chance to enjoy 3D Blu-ray movies, 3D TV programming, and play 3D games.  The technology behind it is still relatively new, so let's attempt to dig in and answer some of the questions...

So what is 3D TV?

3D TV is a general term for a type of display design that adds the illusion of a third dimension, namely 'depth', to high def TV displays, which otherwise typically only display 'height' and 'width', or what we call a '2D' TV.

How Does 3D TV Work?

A 3D screen displays 2 separate images of the same scene at the same time, one for the viewer's right eye only, one for the left eye only, and each at separate angles.  Without the glasses, the images appear intermixed and skewed or distorted together.  When viewed with the 3D glasses, the two images are 'fused' together as a single image.  Additionally, the natural phenomenon of 'stereopsis' is re-created for the viewer, which is the power of the human visual sense to add depth to what the brain sees in nature after processing and translating the 2 separate images coming from both eyes, which usually lie about 2 inches apart and are seeing each image from slightly different angles.  The glasses take the 2 images on the screen and re-create these angles and effect for the viewer, making an otherwise flat image or '2D' image appear to have depth.

3D Glasses

Historically, there are 2 types, 'active' or 'passive' types of glasses.  The 'active' ones need batteries and sync to the TV signal via infrared or radio signal.  Sound clunky?  Well, fear not , because in 2011 Vizio, Toshiba, and LG introduced new 'passive polarized' glasses that are thinner, lighter, inexpensive, and actually compatible with the passive 3D used in movie theatres.  In this scenario the TV screen is actually coated with a polarizing film that allows each eye to view every other line to create the 3D effect.  The active glasses are generally not compatible across different TV manufacturers, whereas the passive glasses may work pretty well across brands.

active 3D glasses
Pictured: 'active' 3D glasses

How Do I Do It?

1) You need a TV with 3D - you'll need to decide on an 'active' versus 'passive' 3D TV, based on your preference for the matching 3D glasses described above, the TV's performance, and your own budget.

2) You'll need a 3D source, like a 3D Blu-ray player, a cable or satellite box that shows 3D content, or a 3D video streaming device or game console.

3) A pair of 3D glasses for EVERY VIEWER - you'll receive at least 2 'active' pairs with 'active' 3D TV sets and 4 'passive' pairs with 'passive' TV models.

4) If you have an A/V receiver, it needs to be able to switch 3D sources.  If you're using fairly recent HDMI cables, you should be ok (see our HDMI Releases Explained page for more details on 3D functionality with regards to HDMI cables).

With What?

Blu-ray discs - there are over 200 titles available now, look for discs with the 'Blu-ray 3D' logo on the box.
TV - ESPN 3D channel, DirecTV '3Net'.
Streaming - Vudu was first, but most recently Netflix added 3D streaming services (limited availability).
There are a few games available on Sony PS3 and Xbox 360 as well.

How Best to View 3D at Home?

The closer you get to the screen, the better the effect is.  But industry recommends no closer than 2 meters from the TV for a 50 inch-screen, to reduce eye fatigue and headaches, which have been reported in industry studies.
The formula is roughly 3 times the screen height away from the TV for the minimal distance.

Cost of a 3D TV

In 2012, the the cost of a new 3D model versus a new 2D model was on average about $300 more.
In 2013, expect the prices to even out a little more.

Can I toggle the 3D effect on and off?

Yes, all 3D TV's can display 2D if desired and from what we have seen, there is no degradation in picture quality.
Blu-ray discs also include 2D versions of the movie, so 2D TV's can also play them.

3D Formats

There are currently 3 formats, 'frame-packing' for Blu-ray, 'side-by-side and top and bottom' for TV and gaming, and 'checkerboard' used by the older DLP models.
(ALL new 3D TV's can handle all of these formats).

Things you can do, things you can't do

You CAN wear the 3D glasses over your existing prescription glasses.
You CANNOT wear them and get the 3D effect while lying down (sideways) on a couch (this mainly pertains to 'passive' 3D glasses).
You CANNOT wear them and get the 3D effect from a far-off point (this mainly pertains to 'passive' 3D glasses).

Note:  we understand many viewers complain about the discomfort of having to wear the glasses.  Hang in there, 'glasses free' HDTV is in its early (we mean early!) stages but it's in the works and we'll keep you posted on its development for the mainstream markets.


Right now, we give the edge to 'active' 3D TV models versus 'passive' ones, since they exhibited less ghosting or artifacts.  We also prefer Plasmas to LED TV's, because they exhibited less ghosting and better colors.  These are general observations and may change in the near future as we expect the 'passive' and LED 3D TV technologies to narrow the gap as they evolve.

So...Should I buy a 3D TV or is it just another gimmick to get me to spend money?

3D TV has come a long way, and still has a long way to go.  If you are looking for a smaller TV, which has less 'wow 3D effect',  or not wanting to spend any extra money on an 'upscale TV', we would say 'No'.

But if you are looking for a better and larger model of TV, you may find (especially in 2013 and beyond) that most or all of the larger models include 3D as just one of their many standard features.

That being said, 3D is not for everyone, and we recommend as with all TV's that you go to the store and view a demo of it to decide for yourself.

At this time you can still purchase a model with or without this technology, and if you do decide to go for it you can always 'toggle it off' when desired (as mentioned above).

You may also want to see a 3D movie in the cinema to get more acquainted with it as well.  (Here you can browse a great selection of 3D TVs online, or 3D titles.)

As we say here at the VideoCrib, 'Give it a Try, and Happy Viewing!'
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Speaker Layouts

5.1 Layout

5.1 Speaker Layout

7.1 Layout

7.1 Speaker Layout

    Center Channel speaker:  place it centered, directly above or below your TV.  The tweeter of this speaker should be close to the height of the Front Left and Right speakers' tweeters, within 2 feet or less.  Make sure the distance from all 3 front speakers to the listening position is the same.  Try to make the distance from each Front Left/Right speaker to the Center speaker as similar as possible.

    Front Left and Right speakers:  the tweeters should be at your ear level when you are seated in the listening position.

    Surround speakers:  can be placed to the left and right of the listening position, in line with it, or just behind it.  If you cannot do this using any side walls or speaker stands, you can place them on the left and right sides directly behind your listening position, facing the front of the room, mounted on the rear wall.  Whichever of these options works for your particular space, the surrounds should be placed high enough so that the speaker drivers do not fire directly at you ears when you are sitting down.  This will overpower the Front speakers.  To get the proper height of the surrounds, you can start by placing them at ear level or higher when you are actually standing up, not sitting (but in any case, please make sure the speaker is at least 6 inches below the ceiling).

    Note: with some audio/video receivers, instead of connections for Surround Back (Left and Right), you will have 2 additional channels up front for 'height' or 'width' channels that give you a bigger front soundstage.

    Subwoofer:  subwoofers create non-directional sound, so they may be placed almost anywhere in a room.  Typical placements are in the front or front corner of the room, at least six inches from walls.  The closer you get to the corners, the more 'boom' your bass will have, the less 'boom' if you move it away from the corners and walls.  Another thing you may want to try is to walk around the room until you reach a spot where the music or soundtrack bass sounds the best to you.  Then, you may move the subwoofer to that spot.  (By the way, for all your high-end audio needs, please check out Klipsch, you'll be amazed).


Pictured below from left:  Left, Center, Subwoofer and Right channels in the foreground, with Left and Right wall surrounds.  
Watch the YouTube video below for Basic 5.1 Setup.

5.1 Home Theater Setup

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