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Lauren Dragan Posted: Dec 19, 2014 0 comments
There is technology to track your activity, track your diet, track your work, track your email, track your sleep, track your social life, and just about anything else you want to quantify. But there aren’t many gadgets that teach you something, and even fewer that teach you how to relax. Last year in my New Year roundup, I mentioned the development of a new meditation headband, Muse, that promised to evaluate your brain activity and coach you into a meditative state. Well, it’s finally available, and I just had to try it. Does Muse help you achieve nirvana?
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Daniel Kumin Posted: Dec 19, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,599 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fine tonal balance with genuine deep bass
Very substantial level potential
Elegant appearance
Minus
A few operational and hookup quirks (it’s French!)
No remote-control learn/teach scheme

THE VERDICT
A 5.1-channel system in soundbar packaging that combines tonal accuracy with impressive low-frequency response and power, plus surround as effective as we’ve heard from an all-up-front affair.

As recently as a couple of years ago, anyone shopping for an “audiophile soundbar” was in danger of being laughed off the lot. The bar scene was dominated by price-driven, mass-market models sold in big-box stores, and most of these were plastic jobs from the mega-mills of the Pacific rim, with just a smattering of somewhat more upscale choices from a few more serious American and Canadian brands.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Dec 19, 2014 5 comments
At Sound & Vision, we’re constantly looking for subwoofers that outperform the competition and rise to the top of their price class. Here’s our list of the best subwoofers you can buy with recommendations in three price categories: less than $1,000, $1,000 to $4,000, and $5,000 and up.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Dec 18, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) doesn’t understand social media. So, when he attacks L.A.’s most powerful restaurant critic (Oliver Platt) on Twitter, their war goes viral and sinks Casper’s career. Hoping to repair the crestfallen chef’s relationship with son Percy, his loving ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) drags him to Miami. There, he buys a food truck and embarks upon a cross-country foodie road trip, which becomes a journey of self-discovery. In addition to his starring role, Favreau wrote, directed, and co-produced Chef, which probably explains why so many top stars agreed to work for scale on this indie film. The result is an intimate, endearing movie, which, with Twitter and food trucks prominently featured, is also quite timely.
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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 18, 2014 2 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I bought a Benq W1070 projector and plan to install it in my 22-foot long by 18-foot wide by 8.5-foot high basement. The room was pre-wired by the previous owner and there’s a ceiling mount with an electric outlet close to it. The mount is about 16 feet away from the front wall. Is that too far for this projector? I was originally planning to buy a 120 inch screen, but it appears that I would need at least a 150 to 170 inch screen for that distance.—Srikanth Athipatla

Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 17, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Sound
Peter Gabriel has made a career out of being a restless chameleon, a man perpetually interested in pushing sonic boundaries rather than remaining in stasis. The roles he’s chosen to inhabit over the last five decades are as varied and forward-thinking as they come: art school rocker. Progressive pundit. Alternative icon. Video vanguard. Electronic interpreter. World music leader. If there are new musical frontiers to discover and master, Gabriel is consistently among the first to dig into the aural dirt.
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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 1 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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