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...)
It seems that Voom is finally nearing the end of the line, despite Herculean (some would say Machiavellian) efforts to keep it alive by Cablevision founder Charles Dolan. In what can only be described as a real-life soap opera, Dolan's attempts to resurrect the HD satellite service have raised more than a few eyebrows and divided his own family squarely down the middle. (If you haven't been following the saga, you can get up to speed by <A href="http://ultimateavmag.com/news/030105voom/">starting here</A> and following the links.)
Digital rights management (DRM) was one of the hottest topics to be discussed at the recent Digital Hollywood conference, held March 31, 2005, at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in (where else?) Santa Monica, California. DRM is a key issue holding up the finalization of the specifications for both HD DVD and Blu-ray, the two competing contenders to become the next-generation optical-disc format.
The HDTV market is heating up, especially for microdisplays - rear-projection TVs (RPTVs) that use LCD, DLP, or LCoS chips to produce their high-resolution images. These sets are essentially video front projectors stashed in a box, so it's no surprise that a projector and printer maker like Epson would want to get in the game with something that sets them apart from the competition.
The soundtrack from the DVD of last year's King Arthur offers up barbarous sonic attacks and thrilling surround effects. The latest speaker release from Paradigm, the Cinema 110 Compact Theater, delivers some pretty exciting surround effects as well. But could this value-priced system produce truly civilized sound from King Arthur's medieval mayhem?