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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Dec 17, 2014 0 comments
Amazon Instant Video and UltraFlix now stream 4K movies and TV shows to certain UHD Smart TVs proving 4K content is beginning to trickle in through streaming. However, file size may be an issue.
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John Sciacca Posted: Dec 17, 2014 0 comments
Automation describes using control systems to operate equipment or other applications with little or no human interaction. At its simplest, home automation could be a garage door opener or a mercury-filled thermostat kicking on your HVAC system; and at its most complex, there’s virtually nothing an automation system can’t do.

David Vaughn Posted: Dec 16, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $130

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Multiple streaming options
Remote app with unique Private Sound mode
Makes your dumb TV
somewhat smarter
Minus
Glacially slow user
interface
Lightweight build quality

THE VERDICT
One heck of a bargain for a Blu-ray player with virtually every major streaming option.

When Blu-ray and HD DVD launched in 2006, electronics manufacturers and movie studios alike were looking to strike gold again, with consumers rushing out to replace their hardware and software to enjoy the new formats’ better video and audio. At the time, DVD players had become commodity items with little or no profit margin, and the bargain bin at Walmart offered discs for under $10. Unfortunately, the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD left many consumers on the sidelines, and the online enthusiast community became a virtual showdown at the O.K. Corral, with insults being tossed back and forth if somebody said the slightest negative thing about one side versus the other—kind of like Congress?

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 16, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Professional monitor sound, par excellence!
Extended high-frequency response
User-replaceable cable
Minus
No-frills design
Not as open sounding as open-back headphones

THE VERDICT
Sony’s MDR 7520 is something of an “anti-Beats” headphone that fashionistas will shun, but its real strength is its neutrality.

Just as I started working on this review, I met with Naotaka Tsunoda, one of the designers of the Sony MDR 7520, in NYC. This soft-spoken man is responsible for a number of Sony’s very best headphones including the legendary Qualia 010 ($2,400), a model that dates from 2004. That one had extraordinary high-frequency response, all the way up to 120 kilohertz, making it a good match for high-resolution audio.

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Brandon A. DuHamel Posted: Dec 16, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Helmed again by James Bobin, Muppets Most Wanted lets us know from the beginning that it won’t be quite as good as the last Muppets film. Of course, they do it Muppet-style, with a big musical number announcing, “We’re doing a sequel—and everybody knows that the sequel’s never quite as good.” Sure, Muppets Most Wanted is their eighth theatrical film, but who’s counting?
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Dec 16, 2014 0 comments
The plunging, fiery death of plasma TVs, the mind bendingly questionable benefits of curved TVs, the looks-awesome-up-close-and-personal 4K TVs, the ridiculously low prices on ridiculously big TVs, the intriguing new investments in quantum-dot TV manufacturing plants—the wide world of televisions is lively with fast and furious developments. But there is one development in particular that, I think, will overshadow all the others.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 15, 2014 0 comments
A couple weeks ago we asked about your top AV gift pick for 2014 and learned that TV topped the list for four in ten of those polled. 4K/Ultra HD netted the most votes at 22 percent, followed by OLED with 15 percent and plain old 1080p LCD/LED at just 4 percent. AV receivers and headphones were the next most popular.

With Christmas less than 10 days away, we’re wondering if you’ve done the deed or if you’re holding out for “Super Saturday” deals. (Retailers have high hopes for the last Saturday before the holiday, especially given the lighter than expected turnout on Black Friday). So tell us, just how far along are you with your AV shopping? As always, we encourage you to share the good, bad, and the ugly of your shopping experiences in Comments.

Have You Finished Your AV Shopping?
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Lauren Dragan Posted: Dec 12, 2014 0 comments
Tolkien fans, fantasy nerds, and Jackson completists will be out in droves December 17th to witness the final chapter of the Hobbit series: The Battle of the Five Armies. Closing out Bilbo’s story as well as setting up Frodo’s Lord of the Rings is no easy task, and Peter Jackson manages to capture every moment of the battles described in Tolkien’s tome, and then some.
Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 11, 2014 2 comments
Home theater enthusiasts know that when it comes to performance there is no real substitute for an AV receiver connected to discrete speakers spread around the room. But soundbars, those popular standalone TV speaker systems, have been getting better and better with each passing year, and some very respectable options have been turning up in the premium category. Here’s our current list of the best you can buy, with recommendations under $500, from $500 to $1,000, and above $1,000. For the full review (where available), click on the title of each product. —Rob Sabin
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 10, 2014 6 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I just moved into a new house. Because of the way my home theater room is configured, the distance between the surround sound receiver and HDTV is about 30-40 feet. How would you suggest I make this connection? What about wireless solutions? —Joe Feller

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