LATEST ADDITIONS

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 03, 2014 8 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I have a Samsung plasma TV and a Panasonic Blu-ray player. Almost none of the movies I watch are in the right aspect ratio to fill the screen. This is annoying—I never get to enjoy the movie as I should. The player has no settings that I know of to stretch the picture. Is there a device on the market that will format the picture to fill my TV’s 16:9 aspect ratio screen? —Gary Roberts / via e-mail

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Nov 02, 2014 3 comments
The Oculus Rift is the first virtual reality headset that actually works. Every person I’ve met that’s tried it experienced something between impressed shock and mind-blown awe. Since I first tried an early prototype two years ago it has improved dramatically.

Loving both the idea and the, ahem, reality of it, I bought one… sort of. Called a Development Kit, you can get one now too if you want. It’s not the final product, but it works.

So here’s my experience with a Rift at home.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Oct 31, 2014 0 comments
Amazon to release Fire TV Stick. Here is what we know about the new dongle and whether you'll be able to get one soon.
Kris Deering Posted: Oct 31, 2014 4 comments

Performance
Setup
Value
PRICE $3,097 (as reviewed)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Pristine image with no obvious artifacts
Nearly perfect brightness and color uniformity
Minus
Performance hinges a lot on room
May not provide the gain needed to achieve desired brightness

THE VERDICT
The StudioTek 100 provides the most accurate picture I’ve ever seen from a screen at home. While it demands a truly dark viewing environment—and a bright projector—it’s worth the effort if you want the best image possible.

Your video playback system is like any other part of your home theater: It is only as good as its weakest component. In the last five years, massive improvements have been made in both video sources and playback systems, but we’ve also seen a huge growth in the options for projection screen materials. There are new designs that bring great flexibility, allowing customers to do front projection in rooms that they never would have considered before. But most of the time, just like with fancy video processing, these new, exotic materials give you one thing but take away another, imparting visible artifacts to the image such as sparkles, texturing, and hotspotting.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 31, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Comfort
Value
PRICE $1,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Planar technology
Rich sound
Understated good looks
Minus
Voicing too rich for some
Crosses the $1K barrier

THE VERDICT
Oppo’s first headphone, the PM-1, uses a planar diaphragm to produce a luxuriously warm sound that becomes addicting on its own terms.

There once was a piano tuner named Opporknockity. A customer asked him to re-tune a piano he’d done the week before. “Sorry,” he replied, “Opporknockity only tunes once.” Luckily for consumers, Oppo Digital isn’t as stingy as Opporknockity. You can buy all the Oppo products you want.
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Daniel Kumin Posted: Oct 30, 2014 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
True 5.1-channel sonics from a soundbar system
Reasonably neutral tonal balance
Fairly deep response
Unexpectedly substantial volume
Minus
Restrained treble
No IR passthrough

THE VERDICT
This Vizio is a large, affordably priced, true 5.1-channel soundbar system that actually plays loud, with respectable bass extension and very presentable sound.

Vizio has come a long way from its roots in a small PC-monitor brand (Princeton) a decade or so ago. Depending on your metrics, the California firm is now the No. 1 brand in both LCD HDTVs and soundbars. Today, the soundbar has ridden the coattails of the big-screen explosion to become an important product category in its own right. And with many serious loudspeaker makers getting into the game (likely a matter of survival in some cases), the ante has been raised so that what was once a mere profit-sweetening sales-ticket afterthought to a TV sale is now a hotly competitive category where performance and features figure as prominently as price.

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SV Staff Posted: Oct 30, 2014 0 comments
Panasonic today announced today that its current 58- and 65-inch AX800 series of 4K/Ultra HD TVs have received a firmware upgrade enabling them to stream 4K content via Netflix.
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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 30, 2014 17 comments
Got a tech question for Sound & Vision? Email us at AskSandV@gmail.com

Q I’m trying to choose between new AV receivers from Sony, Denon, and Yamaha. The Sony is the frontrunner, but I am hesitant to pull the trigger because it’s not HDCP 2.2 compliant. If I connect an HTPC to this AVR, will I have problems in the future playing Ultra HD movies? How about satellite? Will I have the same problem if I eventually upgrade to an Ultra HD-capable satellite receiver?—Sam Shirzadegan

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Oct 29, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Is Y Tu Mamá También (rough translation: So’s your mama) a wry and trenchant story about class, friendship, sexuality, and globalization in a rapidly changing Mexico—or is it a gussied-up piece of soft porn? Both, I think, but it’s all done so affably and naturally (the sociology, the politics, and the porn) that it comes off as a work of great charm and comedy and sadness. A gorgeous young married woman and two rambunctious teenage boys—best friends, one wealthy, one poor but aspiring—take off on a road trip to Mexico’s rural beaches.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 29, 2014 0 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning go-to cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut with this fantastical tale of a 21st-century ghost in the machine. Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) believes that mankind is on the verge of a new order of artificial intelligence. It involves “transcendence,” whereby the electrical impulses of the brain—the emotions, memories, and ideas that make up our consciousness—are uploaded into a supercomputer. And after Will is shot by a member of a radical neo-luddite group (no, seriously), that’s exactly what he does to himself, losing his physical form and becoming a being of pure software.

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