Weekend Roundtable: Your College Dorm Entertainment System

The school year is starting up again, and our site’s Steven Cohen recently wrote up a Gear Buying Guide for College Dorms that includes HDTVs, speakers, streaming services and more. I don’t know how old you are, but I sure didn’t have this fancy stuff when I went to college. In today’s Roundtable, we reminisce about the crappy gear we were stuck with back in the days when we lived in dorm rooms.

Steven Cohen

I started college in the fall of 2005, a transitional time when flat-screen HDTVs and SD tube TVs still coexisted peacefully together, and quality high definition was still a premium product for customers with far deeper pockets than my own. With that in mind, I began my undergrad education with a 20-inch standard definition Toshiba CRT TV in my very own room. Though it may not have had the same pixel count as my current plasma, it really was a pretty great set… that is, until it broke during my sophomore year right as I was reaching the half-way point in ‘The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess’.

Of course, I didn’t mind so much because it gave me a great excuse to use some of my hard-earned scholarship money on my very first HDTV, a 32-inch 720p Samsung LCD model. Yes, textbooks would have probably been a more responsible purchase, but I had a princess that still needed saving! That set ended up lasting me until my senior year when my HD enthusiasm (spurred on by reading Blu-ray reviews on this very site!) led me to use my hard-earned Circuit City summer job cash to upgrade to a 46-inch 1080p Samsung LCD model. Though the damn thing took up most of my room, it was one of the best TVs I’ve ever owned and still looks great to this day. It now sits in my parents’ bedroom back in Florida.

Outside of some solid Klipsch 2.1 desktop computer speakers (which I still use now), I didn’t invest in any audio gear back in college, but both my roommates were rocking full 5.1 systems in their rooms. To be clear, we were in an off-campus apartment, not a dorm… and my roommates were crazy. I did proudly own an HD DVD player that I bought during a big sale right before the format received its final blow, and I eventually relented and bought a PS3 when the format war came to an end. In fact, my Blu-ray collection first began in that college apartment and it hasn’t stopped growing since.

Mike Attebery

For some reason, I was determined to go to college and live a monk-like existence of study. Given the ratio of guys to girls at RIT back then, half of that monk-existence was easy to maintain. But when you’re addicted to movies, you can only go so long without a way to watch them. By the second or third week, my roommate and I had bought Movie CDs (Remember these? No?) of ‘The Player’ and ‘Friday’ at CompUSA. (Remember that? No?).

They were a terrible way to watch movies. Most of the time we would stack couches on cinder blocks in the common area, in order to make rough stadium seating to watch ‘Star Wars’ marathons. Around Christmas of my freshman year, I went to Circuit City (Remember that? No?!!) to buy my first DVD player, which I paired with a used TV that I was forced to buy at a junk shop after my dorm neighbor blew out my grandfather’s old TV while trying to repair a finicky power switch.

Brian Hoss

During my first semester in college, my Aiwa Pro Logic five speaker plus sub sound system was the home theater highlight. I set it up along with my 19″ Magnavox TV and Sony Stereo VHS in my apartment bedroom. My roommate also had a 19″ Magnavox TV and Sony Stereo VHS, which we set up in the main room. (I think he had a 13″ TV in his bedroom.) I had an N64 and a Pentium I PC, which later became my first DVD player via a Creative Drive and a RealMagic decoder card with remote. We sprung for two phone lines, and then passively fought over them. In the spring, we got a nice intro deal on premium cable boxes. I can recall quite vividly that our downstairs neighbors hated my Aiwa.

Aiwa Pro Logic

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

From the time I started college in 1996 to my graduation four years later, my TV more than quadrupled in size. That sounds much more impressive than it actually was, though. For my freshman year, I’d brought with me a 13″ TV I’d gotten for Christmas five years earlier. It was so basic that all it had was an RF input. At some since-forgotten point, I upgraded to a cheap 19″ set, and I’m pretty sure that was RF-or-die too.

I didn’t have a sound system to call my own at the time, or at least not one that I used for anything but CDs. I always had roommates with a VCR, although I don’t think I brought one with me. I was more of a PC gamer back in those days, so I didn’t have a videogame console with me back then either.

In the fall of 1999, I rang in my senior year with a new 27″ TV and a DVD player. That was practically a big screen by Clemson dorm standards, and I don’t think anyone else I knew had a DVD player at the time. I would say that I can’t believe how much things have changed over the past twenty years, but I refuse to acknowledge that my first day of college was anywhere near that long ago.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

Freshman year (1984), I had a turntable, a stereo receiver, cassette tape deck and speakers. The speakers were really cool flat panel transducers from a company called Bertagni Electroacoustic Systems (BES). I loved that wide open flat panel sound, though they weren’t great with the bass.

While in college, I picked up a huge (25″) Sylvania CRT TV and a VHS HiFi VCR which we used to watch movies in the dorm and later in the townhouse apartment I was in during junior and senior years. There wasn’t much surround sound gear at the time. I think it was shortly after college (late ’80s) when I picked up a Yamaha DSP1 Dolby Surround decoder. But even without surround, the system was pretty sweet for its time. Our place was a popular hangout for watching movies or MTV’s ‘120 Minutes’ video show. It helped that we usually had beer. (It was Piels… we were on a budget!)

Josh Zyber

I didn’t bring a TV with me to college. That would have been too much to haul from Florida to Boston, and I couldn’t afford to buy a new one when I got there. Instead, I relied on my roommates to have televisions while I brought my VCR (four heads!) and collection of tapes. As it turned out, my first roommate was a raging fratboy prick and I tried not to spend much time in the room anyway.

My roommate sophomore year was much better. As I recall, we jury-rigged a way to hook my VCR up to his 12″ computer monitor. I’d estimate that the CRT tube had about 30% overscan, so you can imagine how much fun it was to watch tapes that had already been panned-and-scanned on that screen. The only option for sound was the tinny speaker (singular) built into the monitor.

For music, I had a state-of-the-art Sony Walkman cassette player that I bought for $15 (headphones and all) at Circuit City. It crapped out after a couple months of use.

I satisfied my need to watch movies not in the dorm at all, but at work. I had the best Work Study job ever. The college’s Media Lab was a small room crammed with televisions (some up to a whopping 25″!), VCRs and, best of all, a pair of Laserdisc players. I worked the night shift every evening from 5 PM to 9 PM. I was the only person there at that hour. The entirety of my job was to simply be present in case a professor came in needing a TV to use in class. If that happened (which was maybe twice a week, sometimes not even), I’d make him sign a sheet and then I’d point to a cart he could wheel down the hall. Then I waited for him to return it. That was the sum total of my responsibility. In between those small flurries of activity, I’d watch Laserdiscs that I rented from a shop near campus. (Nobody ever signed out the Laserdisc players.) A four-hour shift typically meant two movies a day, every weekday for four years. Forget all the time I wasted in film studies classes; that’s where I got my education.

Do you think that, someday a couple decades from now, the kids entering college today will look back and bemoan the primitive 50″ flat panels they once suffered with in their dorms? I mean, geez, they don’t even have full immersive holographic VR projected from a device the size of a postage stamp or anything! (“What were postage stamps, dad?” they will ask.)

What kind of gear did you have in your dorm room? Tell us in the Comments.

31 comments

  1. NJScorpio

    My stereo setup in college was one of those CD/Cassette/Radio combos with detachable speakers, and a separate powered AIWA subwoofer. That stayed the same for awhile.

    My gaming setup evolved. First I had my Sega Saturn with a 9″ color TV. Yes, 9″. After some eye straining matches of Baku Baku Animal, I brought from home my 25″ JVC TV. This was one of those old school CRTs that had a 2nd pane of plastic/glass on the front, and flaps on the sides that covered the speakers. It even had an electronic eye to dim the brightness to the room, and a laserdisc mode. No clue what that did. The thing was a BEAST, and I had to bring a solid wood piece of furniture from home just to have a place to put it. At that point, I had bought the just-released Sega Dreamcast. I would wake up to people sitting in my room gaming.

    Still, at that point all the Saturn stuff was very cheap. I got a great deal on a multi tap, extra controllers, and set up in the dorm’s lounge large groups playing Guardian Heros multiplayer.

    • Deaditelord

      I feel your pain about having to play games on a small screen. When I was a kid, I used a coax cable adaptor (the one would where you would slide the u shaped terminals under the screws and then tighten them down) in order to connect the NES to the 9 inch black and white TV in my bedroom. Thankfully, I only had to do this for a few months (we were also allowed to connect the NES to the bigger TV in the living room when it wasn’t in use) before my parents decided to purchase a slightly larger color TV to play on.

  2. Chris B

    Although I never lived in a dorm, I had my own crap-tacular one bedroom apartment while attending my first year of college. Between work, school and my obligatory viewings of Late Night With Conan O’Brien, I would cram in as many movies as I could. Usually rented from a nearby Blockbuster or Roger’s video. This was the period in which I really began to move beyond the films I’d watched as a kid and teenager and really started digging
    Into movies from all eras, with specific emphasis on the 1970’s. All this revelatory viewing was done on a 32 inch Magnavox tube set my parents had given me and some Toshiba budget brand VCR.

    • NJScorpio

      Your post reminded me that freshman year in college was when I had gone from watching movies as pure entertainment value (Terminator 2/Aliens/Akira/True Lies), to discovering “movies of substance” so to speak. The first movie to make me wince while I reflected on it’s content, on my life, and everything in between, was Trainspotting. I remember showing a VHS copy to friends, and a few “got it”, but most were just turned off by it. They didn’t understand why anyone would bother watching a movie “like that”.

      • Chris B

        Speaking of which; I remember seeing reservoir dogs for the first time when I was 14, it literally made my jaw drop and changed my life. I was blown away by the fact a film could be that visceral and ferocious, it really was like the gateway drug to exploring cinema. No matter what Quentin makes for the rest of his career, RD will always be my favorite of his, it’s an experience I had that cannot be duplicated.

  3. Dorm days at Purdue were more about functionality than excess. My roommate and I had a 35″ CRT hooked up to a Nintendo 64, SNES, and Sega Genesis plus my RCA DVD player I’d received from my mom as a Christmas present.
    We played a lot of Goldeneye and Super Mario World after class (or sometimes instead of).
    My collection was a big hit with some of the football players on my floor, and I’m pretty sure one of my dads proudest sayings is whenever Niko Koutouvides makes a tackle and he mentions “That guy borrowed my sons copy of The Fugitive.”

  4. Bill

    I took my high school sound system to my college dorm room. I thought it was amazing. It was a Fisher, bought-as-a-package system. Separate components for the receiver, the CD player (which supported “indexes” on a CD), the dual-tape deck, the 7-band graphic equalizer, the AM/FM radio, and the turn-table. And big pair of 100-watt speakers – with 15″ woofers, and I forget the size of the mid-range and tweeters. The stereo-rack had a pivoting glass-door. The stereo rack was the same size as the speakers. I got my first job – a high-school paper-route – to pay for that system.

    Going to the dorm, I had no TV. (Fortunately, my roommate brought a TV with him.) For me – it was all about the music. That’s when I started my CD collection – joining those 12-CDs-for-a-penny clubs, making my minimum required purchases, quitting, and then joining again. Wash/rinse/repeat.

    Movie watching? That meant heading down the to local Blockbuster, or AVN, or whatever the other chains were, or even just the local 7-11, and leaving a $300 signed check as a “deposit” when renting a VCR. Rent the VCR, rent as many movies as you want, take them back home – wire everything up – and – ta-da! You’re in business. Please be kind/rewind when returning the tapes… And bring that VCR back the next day so they don’t report the VCR stolen and/or cash your check.

    Eventually (still an undergrad, but out of the dorms and into a real apartment), I bought my own VCR – a real monster – a JVC 4-head Super-VHS with all sorts of edit controls and a remote that looked like it could launch the space shuttle (jog/shuttle-dial, an incredible number of buttons, an LCD display – everything). And while still in that apartment, I succumbed to the magic of Laser Discs. The first time I watched a movie at home on Laser Disc – when the movie ended – I felt incomplete. Unfinished. It just seemed weird to not need to rewind the movie once it was done.

    I still have the high-school/college stereo system – sitting in the front room/office. I fire it up once a year (with an iPod plugged into the aux jacks) and play Haunted Mansion sound-effects on Halloween. And I still have the JVC VCR too – (and even the Laser Disc player) in case I ever want to watch the very few tapes I still have. Or my shelf of LaserDiscs (including some “gold” CDs – which have 3 or 4 songs playable in your normal CD player, plus a single Video playable in a LaserDisc player).

    Ahhh, the simple days. Stereo sound. And 480i pictures (using S-Video because that was “better”!). Life couldn’t get any better.

    • Robert Stokes

      Sweet! Very similar to my own experience except you had a much bigger “system”. I remember those systems with the cabinets and glass doors. So very 80s/90s!

    • Peter

      I had almost the same exact Fisher rack system which I got junior year in high school in 1988. Bought at The Wiz in Brooklyn, NY. I didn’t take it to college – it was too big. But I used it at home in the summers and after college as I moved into my first apartment of my own, which I lived in during law school and continued to use the Fisher stereo system. Eventually pieces of it broke or were given away, with the last surviving pieces being the receiver and 5-disc cd player. I had that cd player until about 2002. After law school in 1998, I moved from NYC to Boston and couldn’t take the speakers. My parents’ mailman wound up taking them and last I heard about 6-7 years ago, they were still going strong.

      • Bill

        I had the single-CD player. I think I had it repaired twice before I realized it was cheaper to just buy another CD player. One day in a big-box store when I saw CD players sold in clam-shell plastic, around 10 of them all hanging from one of those long metal hooks – I finally realized CD players were now intended to be disposable.

  5. Robert Stokes

    Back in 1993 there wasn’t much in the way of budget home theater.

    I didn’t even own a TV. In my house there was no stereo hooked up to the TV. Had the old style 19″ TV that had only a limited number of channels you could have on it. Remote would just scroll through those channels. That and the old Quasar VHS we had since the early to mid 80s that we got from my grandfather.

    When I moved into our apartment (no requirements at A&M to live on campus). We had a 13″ TV. I had purchased an inexpensive 4 head stereo VCR from a discount my friend who worked at target got me. I also had a sony audio system that had dual cassette and CD player.

    We hooked up the cable box through the VCR (yeah buddy) and had audio output to the Sony system.

    This was the hi-fi setup! We got in lots of trouble from our neighbors (paper thin walls at this place) for watching TV too loud or blasting awful music.

    My second year I had a new roommate and the same VCR and Sony stereo (I used this thing through at least 1999), but now had a 19 in Zenith TV. This was a relic. It was on a stand and had a clicker. And when I say clicker I mean it. Some of you old enough to remember the first remotes know they worked on a clicking sound. Luckily the cable through the VCR meant we had a capable remote(s) to watch our shows and jam music.

    It wasn’t until 1999 that I went 5.1 and fell down the Home Theater Rabbit Hole! I did get one of the early DVD players in 1998 that I proudly ran through my Sony system mentioned above.

  6. Deaditelord

    My first home theater system was in 1997 when, much to my parents disapproval, I used part of my financial aid to buy a floor model laserdisc player and a cheap Kenwood AV Receiver from Circuit City. Once the furor died down and I started working part-time, I eventually got my hands on some beat up Advent Speakers along with a small center channel and rear channel speakers from Infinity. Frankly, it didn’t sound all that great and the CRT I was using to watch laserdiscs was all of 20 inches, but I had a laserdisc player!

    In addition to the laserdisc player, I also had a Panasonic VHS player and a Nintendo 64. The VHS player didn’t get much use other than to record the occasional TV show, but practically every weekend during college was Totino’s pizza and 4 player split screen deathmatches once Goldeneye came out for the Nintendo 64. Fun times… except for when somebody picked Odd Job (we eventually agreed to ban him as a selectable character).

  7. EM

    1987–1990. I was a little unusual in having a TV (a FULL 12 inches—color, too!) and a VCR (VHS, natch—top-loading). (I could still kick myself for not bringing along the Atari 2600.) That VCR broke down a little too often, and I eventually replaced it with a videocassette player, i.e., one that didn’t record. None of my friends could ever get the hang of calling it a VCP instead of a VCR.

    For music, I took along an audiocasette boombox I’d won in high school. In contrast with my video ways, I was behind the curve on audio, and my freshman year introduced me to the wonders of the compact disc, thanks to my dorm-hall neighbors. For Christmas I requested a portable player, thinking of a Sony Discman that I could hook up to inexpensive speakers, and I received a CD/cassette boombox instead. Still, it was quite nice. It didn’t come with a remote control, but I fashioned one out of a wooden rod and a rubber foot—I became very good at tapping the CD buttons with the “remote” while lying in bed! With the following year’s Christmas money I finally got myself a Discman for on-the-go listening. One of the two CDs I received along with that first CD player was both a joy and a disappointment. It was the strange original CD release of the fabulous score of The Empire Strikes Back, which was missing about half the cues (7 of 17) from the original double LP and audiocassette and had the remaining tracks in a bizarre, unprecedented order (end titles: track 5; opening titles: track 6!). Still, I listened to that CD many, many times. Despite increasingly complete rereleases of Empire music in later years, I continue to yearn for a properly mastered CD of that original album. (And proper DVD/Blu releases of the original trilogy, but that’s another soapbox.)

  8. Csm101

    I never went to real college, so never lived in a dorm. I imagine my early interests into home theater probably started at around the same time some of the other readers of this site. I remember my mom bought a BITCHIN four head JVC VCR and I thought it was to cool. The nudie scenes paused so clearly. I decided to get a four head myself, but went with a much more affordable Magnavox. I always trusted them anyways because that’s what my dad had bought and we had ours for years and got more than plenty of use (2 to 3 movies a night like 5 days a week for about 10 years). I had bought a cool desktop stereo with prologic, much like Brian Hoss. Actually, my brother has an Aiwa very similar to the one on the pic above. Always loved those. I went with a Sony with a bunch of cool dancing lights. It’s in my office and still works perfectly. One day I decided to experiment a little and hooked up my analog cables from my VCR to my Sony to get that theater like sound. My go to movies were Lion King (the music sounded so spatious and grand). Terminator 2 (the endoskeleton crushing the kiddie skull, so startling and loud!). I think I used Jurassic Park a lot too, but I’m not too clear if the rain effects were with the vhs or dvd. I then topped it off with a 25 inch Philips that still works to this day and sold it to a girl I work with a few years ago. I’m guessing this was around ’96ish.

  9. Ross

    2005 I was in film school in Toronto, I was living in a house with 2 girls, I had a 480i BenQ projector, a white sheet, a Panasonic 6.1 receiver,6.1 Athena speakers. I had the receiver for several, when I purchased it, it was one of the first to have DTS ES, a Toshiba upconverted DVD player. I remeber fighting the urge to upgrade to HD because I had close to 300 DVD’s, at the time I felt that was a lot, now with over 800 BD’s I’m fighting the thought of UHD.

  10. Matt G.

    I had a 20″ RCA Flat CRT in my apartment, but when I changed majors (for one semester only) to Computer Science, I irresponsibly went out and got a Best Buy credit card and maxed it out immediately on a new HP PC with Vista and a 20″ HD monitor. I then connected my Xbox 360 to it using the 360 VGA cable and a VGA splitter ($60 total extra) and marveled at Gears of War in all its splendor. I then realized I had not changed the output resolution in the 360 settings, so after correcting that, I then finally marveled at Gears in all its high definition glory. I bought the HD-DVD attachment for the 360 along with some movies. I used just some Koss computer speakers. It wasn’t until I quit school and got a real full-time job that I upgraded to a proper HDTV (a Vizio 26″).

  11. Aaron

    I began college in August 2001. My roommate was a friend since kindergarden so we were able to coordinate our items accordingly. For our freshman year he brought a 19″ crt set and I brought my 13″ tv/vcr combo crt as well. We ran a splitter to both so we could watch two programs at once or game and watch tv. I was a big gamer so I brought my ps2, Dreamcast, and Gamecube (after getting it that Christmas). I had an Apex DVD player that I used to play VCDs and SVCDs more often than dvds as I found a releasing group on irc and was burning 50-100 cd-rs per week of or my first semester. We each had our own computers as well. Sophomore year we had a better dorm layout and streamlined the equipment. Only my roommates 19″tv returned but all my other gear was back. This year we each brought our own couches so we had nice V style seating. For my junior year I lived on my own in an apartment. Since I was no longer in the dorms I bought a nice 27″ apex crt and brought my stereo from home. I now had quality stereo sound. At the end of my Junior year I bought my first surround sound system. A Yamaha 6.1 system. I also upgraded the DVD player to a 5 disc yamaha system and finally had surround sound. Being that I was still largely a gamer I added an Xbox to my home consoles. For my senior year I moved in with my gf (now wife) and acquired a modded Xbox and took my first HDTV plunge. I purchased a 27″ crt online. It was a refurbished model but served me well for about 7 years. It was so heavy it was delivered by crate. For my last semester of school I acquired my first of 7 Xbox 360’s. All throughout I slowly purchased dvds, but it wasn’t until Blu Ray that I want all in with my movie purchasing. Nearly 1000 later I’m fully hooked. Meanwhile my gaming peaked during my 360 days and with 250+ games and growing my time actually spent playing said games is a fraction of what it once was. I still enjoy my Xbox one and other systems, but I’m miles away from where I started. I know watch/game on my 60″ Samsung plasma with my 7.2 Onkyo setup.

  12. C.C.

    I was unique that I was a cinephile that could not afford a decent TV. But I had a laserdisc player!
    I was (swear to god!) watching letterboxed lasers on a 12″ black and white TV!

  13. William Henley

    I started college in the fall of 1997. My city began the first digital broadcasts in the nation in February of 1998, so I knew what HDTV was (er, well, I knew what digital widescreen television was, I had no clue it was higher resolution until 2004 – this was probably due to the low quality of those early projection sets).

    So I started college with a 21″ Emerson televison (with MTS sound – did anyone actually use SAP? I think one of the stations had a classical station as one of the programs, and one had weather radio, but that was it). Now, it DID have video inputs (even SVHS – I picked out that model set myself along with my Dad, who was researching consumer electronics – I think I had it since around 1993 or 1994). I had a 4 head HiFi Stereo VCR, and I had a stereo with dual cassette decks and a turntable. I had some long RCA cables I picked up to run from the VCR into my aux input on my stereo. The television was at the foot of the bed, the stereo at the head, so I swapped the left and right channels so that it sounded right as I laid on my bed and watched television. The dorm also gave us cable, but it was BAD. It was analogue cable with about 25 channels that suffered from long cable runs and cascading signal splitters. On top of that, because it was a Christian university, they blocked half the channels – I pretty much had local, Disney, Nickelodeon, Discovery and The Learning Channel (anyone remember when TLC actually did educational programming?). Later we finally got SciFi, but they blocked MTV, Comedy Central, and even though the cable company allowed it (I called them up and was willing to pay for it), the University blocked us getting digital when it came in in 1999. Truthfully, I had a pair of rabbit ears that I used for local channels because the quality was better.

    Halfway through my freshmen year, I bought an ATI All-In-Wonder for my PC because I wanted to do video editing and do 3D gaming (so early 1998). Sadly, it had a horrible 3D chipset, but the video capture and tv output were amazing. With a Pentium 90 with 16 meg of ram and a 1.2 gig harddrive (around this time I upgraded to a 4 gig), video editing was an adventure. Adobe Premiere would not let me compile more than 35 seconds of video at a time (I picked up the student edition fro like $80), so I would compile stuff in segments, then splice the segments together. Annoying when doing music videos – really tough to make the audio seemless.

    In fall of 1998, I picked up a Creative Labs DVD Decoder card for $150 (this was a passthrough card – there was a short cable that ran from your output on your video card into this card, then you plugged your monitor into this card). About a month later, I picked up a generic dvd drive from some startup website called eBay for $90. Sadly, neither my television or my VCR had SVHS, so on Friday nights and weekends, we would haul my computer down to the common area and plug it into the projection screen down there. they had four speakers, but they were in a stereo arrangement (front left and rear left were left channel, front right and rear right were right channel. We didn’t know any better).

    A few months later (probably early 1999) I picked up a 6 head SVHS ET VCR, which was a significant improvement. I think I paid $600 for that puppy (I am trying to remember where I got $600 from – maybe it was $600 and I got it on clearance or something. Yeah, that sound about right). So, I finally had SVHS input so I could plug my computer up to my system – except that DVD had Macrovision. However, about this same time, some early work was being done on a Linux implementation of DVD – Using the Creative Labs decoder because it did all the decoding in hardware, we just needed a software front end. As such, it was the first working DVD software in Linux. I did some early code submissions myself – a few people got basic playing working, and I did some bug fixes to get subtitles to display using the correct color and fonts and to get it to properly play multi-angle discs (The World is Not Enough and The Matrix – both would play the file straight through and so you would see the same scene sometimes twice – I fixed it so that it properly read the Index file, which I think is also where the subtitle information was at, so fixing one fixed the other). That was the only time I ever did coding for an open source project. What was great about the whole Linux thing is that, amazingly, while Macrovision was done in the hardware, you had to pass it a command to turn it on. We simply chose not to do that, so I would use Linux to watch DVDs now on my television through the SVHS input on my VCR, now with no Macrovision!

    In fall of 2000, I decided that the following semester, I was going to study in Europe. I LOVE to take pictures, and I HATED film – I basically wanted to just shoot and shoot and shoot and not worry about costs. I had an Advanced Photo System camera that I bought in 1996, but I was afraid that I would not be able to find APS film in Europe. I needed another solution. Then Nikon released a camera called the Nikon Coolpix (I don’t think this had a model number, it was the FIRST Coolpix). It was a 1.2 megapixel camera, and came with an 8 MEG card. It would hold an entire 60 pictures! To think, almost twice the capacity of a role of film, and I could see the pictures right then, and decide if I wanted to reshoot the photo! I paid $700 for this thing on sale (Yes, this was a Coolpix, the cameras that are now $70 for a 12 megapixel). I picked up a 64 meg card to go with it (held around 260-270 photos on it). And for Christmas, I got a 8mm tape video camera.

    While in Austria, I had my computer shipped, as well as my VCR (that was fun to get working), but it was too expensive to ship my 21 inch Sun monitor. So there was this new technology that was out called LCD Flatscreens. So I picked up a 4×3 15″ flatscreen monitor in Salzburg for around $350. Ridiculously cheap at the time! It had a refresh rate of about 15 times a second, so it was sure to blur when watching action movies on it! There was a video rental store down the street from where I was staying, so we would rent DVDs, and, using Linux, I was able to get pass region blocking. Me, my roommates, and four girls I knew would sit around and watch movies on Thursday nights.

    Sadly, my All In Wonder did not support PAL.

    Upon returning to the US, because I was in Europe when dorm signups happened, I got stuck in the crappy dorm. I did not have room for my television, so I used my PC, with the flatscreen monitor, and my TV tuner my final semester in college.

    • William Henley

      Oh, I also had a SNES and a Sega Saturn. Many of my friends had an N64, but I refused to pick one up – i Boycotted that controller. WORST…. CONSOLE….. CONTROLLER…. EVER!!!!!

      The Saturn was a disappointment as well. I thought it was going to crush the Playstation (established game company Sega against startup Sony? Not a chance!) Man, was I mistaken

    • William Henley

      Oh oh oh! Almost forgot about something cool. These are important

      Around 1999, I got a CD-Writer. This is important for various reasons. First, it allowed me to make VCDs and SVCDs. This was important because, as I was doing video editing, it was significantly easier to do mass copies on CD versus tape. In 2001, after returning from Salzburg, I made a semester video and had 40 people pay for copies. Most did not have DVD players, so I exported it to SVHS, and then sent it to my roommate from Salzburg, and at his college, he was an advertising major, and used his university’s a/v lab to mass produce the tapes.

      But the CD writer came in important for another reason. When I was in college, this new file format called MP3 came out (anyone remember these? They are almost 20 years old, so surely no one is using a file format that old anymore). Then a little company called Diamond came out with a device called an MP3 player. It allowed you to store up to 32 meg of songs on a device (so it held roughly 8 songs at the bitrate most people used at the time). This cost $200. You could get one with 64 meg of ram (about 16 songs) for $250, and it had an extra card slot. Still, I thought this was stupidly expensive (note that the iPod did not come out until October of 2001, 3 years later).

      Well, around early 2000, A company came out with a portable CD player that would read MP3s off of CDs. A CD held 650 gig (and most of my mp3s to this date are still backed up on CD – at least all MP3s I acquired up until about 5 years ago – now everything is backed up on the cloud). The player was $150. So the CD Writer was instrumental there. The player also lasted longer when playing MP3s as the player spun about 40 seconds of audio at at time into the internal memory buffer, so batteries lasted about 3x as long. I took that with me to Europe in 2001, and I used it up until around 2004ish when I got a car stereo that read CDs with MP3s on it.

  14. itjustWoRX

    RIT Monks unite!

    Exact same time period as Mr. Cohen. Even at a tech school in 2005, I think there were only a handful of flatscreens (By the next year we saw more with the PS3 release).
    I roomed with my best friend, so that made the planning easy. We bought a decent Sylvania 20-something inch tv. I was able to hook it up to my ridiculously powerful (at the time) laptop and play movies through it. RIT was known for its unfathomably fast T3 internet speeds and a very, VERY large collection of P2P material.

    Thankfully though, one of the residence halls had a decent sized media room that was never used at night. With a laptop, a projector and a giant, white wall…there were many good movie nights. And lots of Mario Kart 64.

  15. Chapz Kilud

    I had a Philips mini-system that was made in Belgium unlike the garbage that are made in China these days. It had dual cassettes with Dolby B/C which was useful for dubbing CD’s for my Sony Walkman. CD-R those days cost $8,000 and blank around $50. Computer was a 386. I had a single dorm and that’s about all I can have in there.

  16. I sadly had an RCA dvd player that would play divix dvd discs until the service was cancelled and made all my copies of Mr.’s Doubtfire obsolete. All joking aside, my dad got it for me with Knock Off, Replacement Killers and the Big Hit which were all video showcases for me since the jump from DVD to VHS was so huge.

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