<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.sw.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=200 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>As digital television emerges as the home-entertainment medium of the new century, the convergence of audio/video broadcasting and the Internet is inevitable. After all, DTVs are nothing more than computers dedicated to A/V tasks; it seems a simple matter to include telecommunications capabilities as well. This convergence is made even easier with the increasing use of broadband cable modems, which access the Internet via the same infrastructure that brings television to roughly two-thirds of American homes.
In today's hotly contested home theater market, the big consumer-electronics manufacturers are grabbing an increasingly important slice of the pie. Their new, big-boned receivers—with prices to match—approach (or sometimes exceed) the performance of most separates. The competition is fierce, with those mega-corporations using their marketing clout, engineering expertise, and production efficiency to built better products, but smaller companies can still compete. They're fighting back with separate pre-pros and power amps that trade on their traditional strength: sound quality.
I first saw the Samsung SP-H700AE almost two years ago at the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) convention in Las Vegas. The company had hired video guru Joe Kane to help them design a single-chip DLP projector that would meet his exacting standards, and he invited me to come see the result (admittedly, in prototype form).
Albuquerque, New Mexico, sounds like a strange place for a video manufacturer to hold its annual new-product launch, but Toshiba knew what they were doing. The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, about 10 miles north of the city, was a great spot not only for taking in the sun, but for checking out what Toshiba R&D has been up to for the past year. While the east coast press contingent seemed a little overwhelmed by the mountain and desert vistas, 90-degree May temperatures, cloudless blue skies, and 5000-foot thin air, it was all old hat for me, having lived 50 miles further north, in Santa Fe, from 1990 to 2000.
Sometimes, solving a problem is as simple as knowing the right tool to use.
Gustave Flaubert was a realist and a perfectionist. No wonder he came up with this gem: "Happiness is a monstrosity! Punished are those who seek it." This might well be the mantra of anyone who seeks to put together a high-performance home theater. Unless you start with a set of blueprints and a lot of expertise, you're going to run into a few punishing problems on your way to home theater happiness. Fortunately, Wilkinson's First Law of Home Theater (mine, not Video Technical Editor Scott's) states: "There ain't no problem that can't be solved by throwing large amounts of money at it."
Normally, <I>UAV</I> wouldn't pay much attention to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3, being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, May 17-20, 2005. But at this year's show, there were some announcements that perked up my ears a bit: new game consoles from the Big Three (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo), at least some of which will have high-def capabilities, making them much more interesting to home theater buffs.
For a long time, flat-panel TVs were linked with the future in the popular imagination. And when they finally became a reality, they were still out of reach for most people, costing ten grand or more. But these days it's a different world. For less than $3,000, you can bring home a 42-inch plasma HDTV.
Over 10 million of them have been sold, and it seems like everybody has one. Some are pink, some are green, some are blue, some are black, but most are white. Owners caress them, lovingly running their fingers back and forth across "my precious." Some can hold 10,000 of your favorite songs, and they'll follow you wherever you go.
Tony Hawk became the world's most famous skateboarder by "going big" and performing maneuvers no one else had even thought of. But when it came to his new home, the avowed "electronics nut" decided that less is more. Hawk in front of his home theater system.
This universal disc changer makes beautiful music.
As most of the world scurries down the MP3 hole, gobbling up low-quality music files for the sake of convenience, I prefer the loftier heights of DVD-Audio and SACD. Not only are these formats of a higher quality than CD (not to mention a much higher quality than MP3), they offer multichannel mixes that make full use of 5.1-channel home theater audio systems. And, with a universal disc player, I can buy the music I want to hear, regardless of the format on which it is released.