LATEST ADDITIONS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 18, 2014 0 comments
I’m on a quest to find the best of the affordable smart home automation systems that are available (or will be shortly). The first couple of review samples have come in, and one of the primary aspects these two systems have in common is the impressive amount of engineering and design effort put into making installation and set up as easy as possible. That’s vitally important because for home automation to really get its foot in the door (so to speak) and appeal to more than just gadget-freaks like me, the system controllers need to be smart enough that the end user doesn’t have to commit an overwhelming amount of brainpower to the process of setting them up and getting them running. If the initial installation of a smart home automation controller is anything close to the pain involved in creating a bunch of macros in a programmable universal remote control, there’s going to be a lot of product returns from unhappy customers.

The first system to arrive was...

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Feb 18, 2014 2 comments
Is it just me, or is there something really weird about this video? I’ll invite you to watch it after the break, but meanwhile, at least IMHO, someone has gone off the rails here. Maybe it was a marketing big-wig at Sony’s HQ. Maybe it was just some regional manager. Or maybe the whole thing is a put-on, a spoof specifically designed to encourage suckers like me to recommend that you watch it. In any case, the video might go viral, but I’m pretty sure this marketing concept never will.

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John Sciacca Posted: Feb 18, 2014 1 comments
As a custom installer, I’m routinely asked, “What should I do with my old stuff?” It’s a great question, because with all the recent advancements and price drops in technology, lots of people are upgrading and ending up with older gear still in working order but with no idea what to do with it. If you find yourself in this predicament, here are some suggestions that I give to my clients.

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SV Staff Posted: Feb 16, 2014 0 comments
The results of last week’s survey are in. We asked how you are watching the 2014 Winter Olympics and just over half of you chose cable/satellite TV. Off-air antenna was the next closest choice with 19 percent of the vote, followed by DVR recordings and “other,” which netted 12 and 11 percent, respectively. We interpret “other” as meaning you are watching two or more ways—say, streaming and cable/satellite—which in hindsight probably should have been a choice. Remarkably, streaming via a smart TV got no votes. Here’s the complete breakdown…
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 14, 2014 5 comments
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $40,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color
Superb resolution
Near state-of-the-art black level and shadow detail
Huge, bright picture
Minus
Price

THE VERDICT
The UN85S9AF is a hyper-expensive flagship for Samsung, and more of a technology demonstration than a product for the masses. But the money, as they say in Hollywood, is up there on the screen to see.

I once joked about the humongous 100-inch-plus HDTVs many manufacturers trot out at trade shows, suggesting that the best way to get them into your house was to place the TV where you thought it should go on the slab of your house under construction, then build the house around it. Samsung’s new 85-inch (diagonal) Ultra HD isn’t that big, but it’s close.

Al Griffin Posted: Feb 14, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive sound quality for Bluetooth
Audiophile-friendly look
Pain-free setup
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It might not be high-rez or high end, but Mass Fidelity’s Bluetooth receiver is a great option for casual listening.

Bluetooth gets a bad rap in the hi-fi world, and for good reason: In contrast to other wireless audio technologies that let you stream uncompressed CD-quality audio from a PC or portable device, Bluetooth subjects the signal to lossy compression. If you’re an audiophile with a reputation to uphold, the story pretty much ends there.

Lauren Dragan Posted: Feb 14, 2014 0 comments
In this era of technology that seemingly at best connects people through a screen and at worst isolates us from any human contact whatsoever, it’s refreshing to encounter a concept that actually encourages and enhances in-person interaction. The Camden Square is a Bluetooth Speaker. But add Polk’s DJ Stream app, and it’s suddenly a party speaker.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Feb 13, 2014 0 comments
Making a Digital Konnection

There was no mistaking the origin of the Klimax Exakt 350 system. Scotland-based Linn has had an affinity for the letter “k” since introducing its first high-performance audio product 40 years ago—the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable, the latest version of which can be found on Stereophile’s current Recommended Components list.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 13, 2014 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $350

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Good video performance
Unique ergonomics
Vertical or horizontal placement
Minus
No front-panel display
Sluggish YouTube access

THE VERDICT
Its video performance, 4K upconversion, and atypical form factor may well attract buyers, while its slight edge enhancement and mixed performance on some Internet sites may not. But it’s clear that this Toshiba is not your father’s disc player.

It’s getting harder these days for a manufacturer to build and sell a high-end Blu-ray player simply as a Blu-ray player. The market is saturated, and the latecomers, who finally realize that DVD is not high definition and a Blu-ray Disc offers the best quality video currently available to the consumer, seem content to pop for the $49.99 Blu-ray special on aisle 5.

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Al Griffin Posted: Feb 13, 2014 3 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I need a new TV. Here’s what I want: LED-backlit LCD, 55- to 60-inch screen, thin (2 inches or less deep), great picture.  I also want it to be truly dumb, with as few Smart features as possible. My research has turned up a new NuVision Lucidium NVU55FX10LS, a 55-inch model that appears to have a good picture. Can you suggest another dumb TV with an equally good picture that might be cheaper?  —Dennis A. Fuller / Dallas, TX

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