The entrance of computer companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard into the HT space has raised a few eyebrows. Will the computer giants drive home theater prices down into the realm of computer componentry or, instead, drive themselves out of the HT arena?
By the time you read this, Samsung's claim that their 46-inch LTP468W is the largest LCD flat-panel TV with 1080p capability will surely have been broken, perhaps by Samsung themselves. In the frenetic flat-panel HDTV category, new models seemingly appear in stores on a monthly—nay, weekly—basis. Samsung is chasing the flat-panel crown with a slew of offerings, in both the LCD and plasma categories, wowing visitors to their CES 2005 booth with dozens of new models, including a 102-inch behemoth.
Plug in your cable feed and kiss that box goodbye.
I decanted Hitachi's 32HDL51 as though it were a vintage wine—delicately, so as not to stir up the sediment. I didn't want to lose a single one of its 1,049,088 pixels. This 32-incher converts all incoming signals to its native resolution, 1366 by 768, but processes video in the ultra-high-res 1080p format.
What if you could put your home theater (virtually) anywhere?
Simply put, Belkin's PureAV RemoteTV accepts the output of any NTSC video source, converts that analog audio/video signal to MPEG-2, and sends it wirelessly to a display device in another location, in better quality than is possible from similar devices. It essentially eliminates the need for a second source component—not just the hardware, but any related service, as well. Already have a single TV/DVD setup but want to enjoy programming in another room? Want to keep an eye on what someone else is watching or be sure to get your money's worth by displaying your pay-per-view movie on two different TVs? This is the way.
Since the arrival of the DVD recorder several years ago, reviewer types have speculated about just what would have to take place for the DVD recorder to gain mass acceptance and replace the VCR in people's homes. Obviously, price needed to drop way below the original four-figure mark, but what else? Ease of use? Naturally, but how easy is easy? Features? Maybe. VCRs aren't exactly feature-laden themselves, but that doesn't stop everyone from owning one.
There are many different approaches to home theater, which is one of the reasons why this magazine is as burly as it is, month after month. The stereo speakers built into many modern televisions are nirvana for some, while carefully matched loudspeakers, preamplifiers, processors, and amps are the only solution that others would ever consider. Somewhere between those two polar extremes are the ubiquitous home-theater-in-a-box systems and novel products like the ZVOX 315 Sound Console. The idea here is simple, and noble, offering your TV a painless upgrade to the inadequate audio it was born with.
This review brings together two brands that are special to me: Harman/Kardon and Paradigm. When I was a teenager, I bought a Harman receiver with the money I earned running deliveries for the local supermarket. You know how that is: Nothing ever gets close to the thrill of the first one. I wore out several LP copies of Sgt. Pepper and Led Zeppelin II over that 15-watt-per-channel receiver. Much, much later, in the late '90s, I reviewed a set of Paradigm Atoms. Those little speakers sounded surprisingly huge, and, even more importantly, they were a lot of fun. The Atoms lingered in my listening room long after I finished the review, and that's probably the best indication of what separates good speakers from great speakers. For this back-to-the-future review, I paired Harman's DPR 1005 Digital Path Receiver with Paradigm's newly revised Monitor Series v.4 speakers. Looks like a good combination, but let's see.
As is their practice this time of every year, Mitsubishi recently invited dealers to a secret location (actually it was in Orlando, Florida) where, amidst much hoopla, wining and dining, and the all-important dealer/sales representative bonding (courtesy of the wining and dining), the company unveiled the HDTVs which will be available for delivery to home theaters later this year. Mitsubishi's introduction brought to light 17 new models and involved several of the world's most sought after display technologies.
Normally the disclaimer* comes at the end, but why hide uncomfortable news? When it comes to home entertainment equipment and someone starts talking about a piece of gear being "wireless", they don't mean "wireless" - they mean "nearly wireless". Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about Panasonic's new rear-speaker wireless-ready home theater systems. Oh, by the way, "wireless-ready" means you'll need an optional piece of gear to make the system nearly wireless. (But don't let that put a barbed-wire fence around your lofty goal of having free-range wireless chickens. There ain't no totally wireless lunch from any company in this neck of the woods, pardner, but that don't mean you can't dream...)