If you've been following the plasma marketplace, you've surely figured out that there's a lot of product re-selling and "private labeling" these days. It's not unusual for five or more companies to be selling the same 42- or 50-inch plasma panel, albeit with different-colored trim plates and bezels. Some re-sellers even go so far as to put their own processing electronics inside, but these days, that's largely the exception to the rule. There's no end to the companies who are offering plasmas for sale, but only a handful of them actually make the things.
Most power amplifiers are primarily differentiated by their size and color. Eventually, even an amplifier fetishist grows weary of digging for the minute variations that make each amplifier special. Perhaps that's why it's so refreshing to discover an amp that embraces some truly unique new technology. Bel Canto, a small company located in darkest Minnesota, has managed to find a way to manufacture a digital amplifier, dubbed the eVo2, whose performance rivals that of more conventional analog designs.
From the high hills of Boulder, Colorado, comes a $6000 DVD player that doesn't also play SACD or DVD-Audio discs—or, as is increasingly demanded, both. In fact, there are no analog audio outputs at all, only digital. Still, the Ayre DX-7 offers something that can't be ignored: a beautiful picture that, in some cases, compares with the best I've seen in my system. Welcome to the mile-high high end.
"Universal" DVD players are the new hot item for audiophiles who want it all. They still serve a niche market, but even casual buyers are beginning to run into them in Wal-Mart. One manufacturer, Toshiba, has even broken the $200 price barrier with two new models that were expected to be on dealers' shelves as we went to print. I'd be surprised if other companies didn't soon follow suit.
We evaluate eight similarly designed and priced in-walls.
I think I've purchased enough drywall to finish the interior of a three-bedroom house. My local home-improvement warehouse now stocks extra inventory just for my in-wall speaker reviews. You see, I hate to cut holes in my living-room walls, and I'm not very skilled at patching them. So, for this review, I made some portable walls in which to test eight different in-wall loudspeakers, also known as architectural speakers, priced between $435 and $600 per pair. In fact, I made several walls and simply swapped drywall to accommodate the various models. That's why my home-improvement store likes me so much.
Why I can never watch Super Speedway in my home theater again.
Even I can't believe how far I'll travel for a great home theater demo. Hidden up in the cold, cold reaches of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is the headquarters of D-BOX Technologies, which features the coolest faux living room in North America. I aimed to try their Odyssee motion simulator firsthand. My brother told me that home theater gear depends upon the demo perhaps more than any other product, and this was never truer than with the Odyssee.
In a previous lifetime, the Sharp SD-PX2 was probably a too-cool 1940s Bakelite radio—boxy, plastic, and proud of it. The SD-PX2 DVD/receiver is a certifiable forward-thinker. Utilizing Sharp's 1-Bit digital amplifier technology, the streamline SD-PX2 packs a DVD player and receiver into a stand-up chassis that, at only 4.5 inches deep, wouldn't look out of place on a bedside stand.
DVD recorders are quickly replacing VCRs as the component of choice to capture and archive TV shows—and rightly so. After all, the picture quality is generally better, and the discs take up a lot less shelf space than VHS tapes. Still, blank disks are relatively expensive, especially the rewritable varieties. In addition, rewritable discs aren't as compatible with conventional DVD players as the write-once discs.