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LATEST ADDITIONS

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Feb 11, 2014 3 comments
Video streaming company Aereo is fascinating from a technological standpoint. The legal questions it raises are equally intriguing. They will determine whether Aereo proceeds on its merry way or whether it will be shut down. There’s only one way to decide, and that’s to ask the Justices. Yep—another big AV case is heading to the Supreme Court.
Al Griffin Posted: Feb 09, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color (after adjustment)
Good screen uniformity
Affordable price
Minus
Half-baked Cloud TV user interface
Not-great remote control

THE VERDICT
Smart TV shortcomings aside, Toshiba’s LCD offers very good picture quality at a low price.

With plasma TV tech seemingly on a path to early, unwarranted extinction, prospective TV buyers unwilling to spring for OLED soon won’t have much choice other than to purchase an LED-backlit LCD TV (aka “LED TV”). And while the performance of such sets has improved quite a bit over the years, the better ones are still expensive for what you get—particularly in comparison with same-sized plasmas. So, what’s a quality-conscious consumer to do? Roll over and get eat the high prices? Not necessarily.

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 09, 2014 1 comments
Live TV is one of the most anxiety-inducing tasks facing artists, producers, and engineers, not to mention corporate and political types. In the past two weeks, the NFL’s cash cow, the Super Bowl on Fox and Russia’s pride and joy, the Olympic’s Opening Ceremonies on NBC tried their darndest to impress the world. Both the NFL and Russia took extreme precautions to ensure a flawless show. But in the end, the best way to wow the crowd is to fake it.

Kris Deering Posted: Feb 07, 2014 19 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Darbee video enhancements
DSD file support
Zero-compromise video playback
Minus
Still looking for one

THE VERDICT
Our Top Pick Blu-ray player only gets better with onboard Darbee video processing and full support for DSD file playback.

Awarding a Top Pick rating is always a big deal with us, but I don’t think we’ve ever had two Top Pick products merge into one. That, however, is exactly what we have with Oppo’s latest generation of Blu-ray players, the BDP-103D and BDP-105D. The second D stands for Darbee Edition, as Oppo has thrown Darbee video processing right into the players. I reviewed the Darbee Darblet DVP 5000 standalone video processor in 2012 and proclaimed it a must-have for making the most out of your display. But the BDP-103D, reviewed here, is more than just a BDP-103 with Darbee processing. Oppo has done a few more tweaks to their player, making it an even stronger Top Pick than before.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 07, 2014 0 comments
High-resolution audio (HRA) can enter your life in more than one way, as I discovered when reviewing two HRA products practically end to end. Both devices are DAC-amps that play HRA audio files. The main difference between them is that Cambridge Audio's Minx Xi streams music in real time from PCs and other devices, whereas Sony's HAP-S1 server-amp plays music from its own internal hard drive. The Cambridge is more of a network player, while the Sony is more of a music server (as I define these terms). These two products offer profoundly different ways of enjoying HRA.

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Lauren Dragan Posted: Feb 06, 2014 2 comments
Here’s a funny thing about being at CES this year: lots of companies gave presentations on what I, as a woman, want in technology. What I want to buy, what special needs I have. This is what I learned that companies generally think women want in tech:
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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Feb 06, 2014 0 comments
Stream every 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics' ski run, hockey game, speed skating heat, ice skating performance, and every other sport to a mobile device or computer. Here's how to watch any of this year's Olympic sports live or as a complete replay.
Fred Manteghian Posted: Feb 06, 2014 8 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,095

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fulfills your innermost audiophile aspirations
Simple operation
Excellent proprietary room EQ
Minus
Kiss your sweet analog sources goodbye
Feature-wise, it’s missing a lot more than the kitchen sink

THE VERDICT
You’ll easily get through your diet of high-def viewing and listening with this great-sounding surround processor that works without a hitch.

I couldn’t make the John Mayer concert in Hartford a few weeks ago, but I heard it was great. Best I can do is throw the Born and Raised CD into the tray and set the AVP-18 surround processor to one of the DSP modes that turns a studio album into a concert event in your living room. Let’s see, he was at the open-air under-cover Comcast theater which has really great sound from most seats, so nothing slap-echo-happy like the over-the-top Stadium or Theater modes. Ahh, Rock has just the right amount of reverb tail.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 06, 2014 7 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,995

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Internal storage for up to 100 BDs, 600 DVDs, or 6,000 CDs
Bit-for-bit downloads of BDs and DVDs from Kaleidescape Store
System interface and operation unmatched by any other movie server
Minus
BD must be inserted to authorize playback, even if movie has been imported
Limited options for adding zones and storage

THE VERDICT
The Cinema One provides almost everything you’d want in a movie server. “Almost” not good enough? Pair it with the DV700 Disc Vault.

Sometimes I’d rather take a jackhammer to my brainstem than dig through piles of disc cases and endure the mind-numbing delays of spinning icons, non-skippable trailers, loading menus, FBI warnings, and whatever else stands in the way of watching a movie at home.

If it seems like I’m exaggerating, it’s only because you haven’t experienced the tidal wave of dopamine that comes with using a movie server in your home theater. For the uninitiated, a movie server is an A/V component that provides near-instant access to movies stored digitally on an internal or external hard drive (or drives). Some servers, such as Kaleidescape’s new Cinema One, include a built-in Blu-ray/DVD player that makes it easy to import movies or music.

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