On July 11, LG Electronics launched its latest 4K Ultra HDTVs at the Video & Audio Center, a major electronics retailer in Santa Monica, CA. The new LA9700 series includes two models, at 55- and 65-inches (diagonal) and selling for $6,000 and $8,000, respectively.
Despite all the talk about 4K (or Ultra HD) displays, there are already a bazillion hours of “standard” 2K HD programming out there in videoland. Consumer 4K sources will be slow in coming, and they might well arrive over the Internet. The question remains as to whether or not the inherent data rate limitations of streaming video could dilute or eliminate the supposed benefits of 4K resolutionapart from the marketing hype.
Over the next couple of years, therefore, and assuming that 4K sets take fire in the marketplace, the smart money will be on upconverting 2K sources to 4K. No form of upconverting can add real resolution; genuine Ultra HD starts and ends with 4K resolution. Nevertheless, we expect plenty of action on the 2K to 4K upconversion front. Since consumer 2K is largely (though not entirely) 1920 x 1080 pixels, and consumer 4K is 3840 x 2160, it would appear that such upconversion might simply involve taking the content of each 2K pixel and quadrupling it (with no added enhancement) to fill a 2 x 2 pixel area on the 4K display. But that will gain nothing in subjective resolution, and may actually reduce image quality due to the added processing required. Most upconversion, therefore, will likely include enhancement and/or other digital manipulation, designed to both eliminate possible upconversion losses and better simulate the look of true 4K.
Last week Sony put on its best April clothes and entertained the foreign press in Los Angeles. Consumer electronics scribes attended from the U.K, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and likely others that I (with apologies) can’t recall. Only a few of local CE press were in attendance, including your humble reporter.
In my review of Samsung’s flagship UN75ES9000, 75-inch LCD-LED HDTV, I remark that potential buyers should beware of bad demos of this very expensive set ($9000). Such a demo could make it very difficult to justify the expense.
In our experience, most active 3D glasses are sensitive to head position or, more precisely, head tilt. With most of them, however, the effect is minor and limited to a slight darkening of the picture.
But Sony's active 3D glasses, up to now, have been different. When using the company's HDTV 3D glasses, a 3D image on the Sony displays we've tested doesn't darken as you tilt your head from side to side. Instead, the left and right images break up, producing significant 3D crosstalk or, as this artifact is more colorfully known, ghosting. In addition, the Sony's 3D color varies with head position, shifting reddish with a tilt in one direction from vertical and bluish in the other. The latter effect makes it impossible to do a reliable 3D calibration; one eyepiece of the 3D glasses has to be placed over the lens of the measurement meter for a 3D calibration, and even a slight tilt can affect the result. Fortunately, the Sony 3D sets we've tested recently have produced visually satisfying 3D color even without a 3D calibration, though it's unlikely to be accurate. Nevertheless, the head-tilt ghosting and color shifting are annoying.
It may surprise you to learn that Technicolor is now a French-owned company, with its main offices outside of Paris. It may also be new to you that, to a significant degree, the company is now involved in audio post-production work, rather than the film processes for which it is best known.
The weekend before last, I drove to Newport Beach, CA, for the second iteration of The Home Entertainment (T.H.E. Show), Newport Beach, or THESNB. (Just kidding on the latter, though the full name is a bit cumbersome.) Last year's installment was fun but a little thin on exhibitors. This year, the show was so much bigger that it had to spread out from the main venue of the Hilton Hotel to the Atrium Hotel next door. If I had known it was going to be so big, I would have arranged to spend two days there instead of simply making it a day trip.
Movie theaters are always eager to find new ways to drag consumers off their living-room sofas and into the multiplex. In recent years, this has become more difficult as big-screen HDTV and home surround sound can often exceed the movie-going experience. Apart from sheer screen size, consumers have less and less incentive to spend $12 a head, or more, just for the seatnever mind the cost of refreshments.
It may surprise some readers, but apart from the Blu-ray discs we are assigned to review and the occasional disc that flies over the transom, most of us here at Home Theater actually buy the Blu-rays we watch. True, at one time (as the editor of the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and Ultimate AV), I received many screeners for review. So I do have a large collection of DVDs (many of which have been donated away), Blu-rays, and HD DVDs (RIP). But the pile has grown far more slowly in recent years. Nevertheless, I look forward to upcoming releases just as much as before, and I'll be in line to purchase titles I want that don't come my way for review.
The trademarked Elite name is still used by its owner, Pioneer, for a variety of products. But the company dropped its video-display business over two years ago. At that time, the Elite Kuro plasmas were widely considered, by us and many others, to be the best HDTVs available. Though they are no longer made, many observers still consider those last Pioneer Kuros better than any flat panel HDTV you can buy today.
Recently, I was doing some online research for my review of the new, Extended Edition The Lord of the Rings Blu-ray boxed set, which will appear in the October 2011 issue of Home Theater magazine. A search for director Peter Jackson produced a pile of information. Jackson today doesn't look as much like a slightly oversized Hobbit as he did when the show was in production (Jenny Craig got to him, or something). His earliest cinematic fascination was with gross-out horroran interest clearly reflected in the designs for the Orcs and other nasties in Rings. There's a particularly disgusting added sequence near the end of the Extended Edition of The Return of the King that clearly shows this fixation is far from conquered. If "The Mouth of Sauron" is any indication, Sauron and his minions need a much better dental plan.
I was so ready to ignore the British royal wedding. I had zero interest. So when I set my PVR to record one of the interminable PBS reruns of the five-hour HD event, I told myself I was doing it just in case. Maybe someone would trip over the bridal train and send the whole entourage tumbling like a row of dominoes. That would be historic. Of course, getting a choice clip or two of video out of the closed world of the PVR is a puzzle I haven't yet solvedincluding the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction from a few years back that has now sadly succumbed to the eventual fate awaiting all our precious ones and zeros: Erased from existence.