Turn on, tune in, strap down.
I was standing in an area of last year's Home Entertainment Show in New York that had no demonstration rooms anywhere nearby. It started with a boom and a rumble, like the gathering of a distant but powerful storm. It wasn't enough to shake me yet, but it was enough to grab my attention. Then came another boom, another rumble, and enough curiosity that I felt compelled to find a tactful way out of my conversation and make my way toward this growing intensity. Not only could I feel the floor moving under my feet as I got closer, but I even started to believe I was seeing Sheetrock flakes on the floor, steadily gathering into a distinct trail. Soon enough, the rattling of the walls, the low-frequency energy waves hammering my senses, and the shaken but excited looks of people coming the other way told me I had arrived. MiCon Audio, the door announced. Curious, I thought—or tried to think, before another sortie ripped out from inside—and a belief that the door might literally be blown off its hinges began to monopolize my thoughts. Finally, the door opened, and the answer to all of the riddles awaited me inside—but, for that, you'll have to read on.
As Scott Wilkinson and I stood in line at Kennedy airport last week for a taxi to take us to the Hilton Hotel for Home Entertainment 2005, Scott noted that the Hilton was on the Avenue of the Americas. I told him not to tell the cabbie that; he'll think we're tourists. For a New Yorker, the Avenue of the Americas is simply 6th Avenue. They didn't rename 6th Avenue The Avenue of Home Entertainment for the show, but there's always next year.
Although many manufacturers claim their products are revolutionary, the truth is that most audio/video components are fairly generic. DVD players, surround receivers, and even speakers tend to be interchangeable parts of your system. It's rare - very rare - that a truly unique product comes along, one that radically departs from the norm.
Don't buy this receiver if you have a bad back, a rickety rack, or a bulging credit limit. Because Denon's latest flagship, the AVR-5805, is as tall as many receivers are deep, as deep as many are wide, as heavy as a pair of many other flagship models - and as expensive as a two-year-old Kia.
I was born in New York and moved to Connecticut when I was 5, but I visited the city often over the next 20 years. The visits have slowed since I've lived far from the northeast US, so every time I come back, the milling throng of multicultural humanity crowding the sidewalks continues to surprise and amaze me. And on April 28, they all decided to crowd into the Hilton Hotel.
The doors to the Home Entertainment 2005 show officially opened to the public in Manhattan Friday, and five floors of the New York Hilton were jammed with attendees. It's truly an international, multicultural event. I personally heard at least five languages being spoken - English, French, Spanish, Audiophilish, and Wowish (none of which am I fluent in). Here are some highlights of what could be found the first hectic day of HE2005 (and the press day that preceded it).
My first surprise on arrival at the Hilton Hotel on 6th Avenue in New York City for this year's Home Entertainment show (running through Sunday, May 1) was the widescreen Philips LCD flat panel television in my room. Many of the rooms at the Hilton have apparently been equipped with these sets. It was no surprise that the set was adjusted for a "full" widescreen display, thus rendering all images in "fat" mode, but the set did allow me to adjust the aspect ratio. Still, the picture was in need of further adjustment, which the display, typical of hotel sets, did not provide. Not that it mattered much; the source was standard definition. Oh well, one step at a time. Equipping a major New York hotel with flat panels is still a coup for Philips, who wasn't at the show, but in one real—and important—sense, they were.
Halle Berry revived the comics' most seductive villain in 2004. Aside from a new midriff-revealing leather catsuit (meow!), there's little to recommend this movie, which produced a hairball at the box office.