LATEST ADDITIONS

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Nov 01, 2013 1 comments
As I expected, I’ve been playing a lot of Battlefield 4. In some ways, my initial thoughts were correct, this really is a polish of BF3.

However, what I didn't expect, is that in that polish, it’s actually a better game. A definite improvement over its predecessor. The little tweaks and changes combine to make something greater than the parts marginally improved.

Thoughts and such, after the jump.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 01, 2013 11 comments
A home theater system, as I never tire of saying, is the union of big-screen television and surround sound. Conceptually speaking, the big-TV part is not a heavy lift. But some people interested in getting into home theater may have trouble visualizing what a surround sound system might look like. And it's hard to blame them. Surround systems come in many configurations, each appealing to a different tribe of listeners. How can you, as an aspiring home theater buff, decide which surround tribe you belong to? Here are some common configurations matched to the listeners to whom they would appeal.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 01, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Vamp Verza, $598; Metallo case, $101

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant two-piece add-on to enhance smartphone audio
More power, superior DACs
Sleek, serious metal construction
Minus
Makes phone heavy and bulky for your pocket
Metallo case a pricey add-on

THE VERDICT
V-Moda offers a stylish solution to turn your smartphone into the sonic titan you always dreamed it could be.

The Samsung Galaxy S III (a.k.a.GS3) was arguably last year’s second best-selling mobile phone, behind the iPhone 5, and the popularity of this non-Apple device—reportedly over 30 million units in consumers’ hands—in a sea of Android competitors speaks volumes. Smartphones do a lot, often serving as many folks’ primary media player, but they face the quandaries of all modern portable gear: Performance must contend with the realities of physical size and weight, as well as battery life. One such casualty is the diminutive digital-to-analog converter inside the phone, which turns the digital audio signals into analog audio that we can hear over headphones or the built-in speaker. As a GS3 user for the past 11 months, I have no major gripes about the onboard DAC (in this case built into the Qualcomm WCD9310 chip), but it is fair to say that it wasn’t selected only for audio quality, but perhaps partly because it’s tiny and it won’t overwhelm the phone’s battery.

Josef Krebs Posted: Oct 31, 2013 0 comments
Deadwood: The Complete Series, La Notte, Monster Cars: Monsters University 3D & Cars 3D, and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Series 9.
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Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 31, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,900

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, dynamic sound with enveloping surround
A wealth of inputs and listening options
Key functions can be operated with TV remote
Minus
Voices can sound a little thin
Much more complicated and expensive than most soundbars

THE VERDICT
If you don’t mind a little complexity, the YSP-4300 is one of the best soundbars you can buy for movie and TV viewing.

Soundbars are supposed to be simple, right? The home theater sound system for people who can’t figure out an A/V receiver, right? Well, the Yamaha YSP-4300 isn’t simple. Its 24 speaker drivers, numerous inputs, 10 surround modes, 55-button remote, and 80-page manual make it almost as complex as one of Yamaha’s receivers. The only thing that’s simple about it is that there’s a lot less to hook up than with a full surround sound system.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 31, 2013 2 comments
Picture
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Cloud Atlas is something of a cinematic curiosity. It is incredibly ambitious and deftly executed, weaving together six disparate tales with similar themes of oppression and rebellion, each told with the same handful of actors playing the key roles in each scenario. Set in different locations and in eras ranging from 1849 up through 2321, the movie serves up everything from a single slave earning his freedom on a sailing ship to a genetically engineered hostess inspiring a full-on societal revolt. But even when the all-star filmmaking team of the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer has three hours to play with, not one of the half-dozen narratives can be particularly deep or overwhelmingly original. They have, however, fashioned an enormous event movie that pushes technique—dramatic as well as purely technical—into bold new territory.
Corey Gunnestad Posted: Oct 31, 2013 0 comments
Picture
3D-ness
Sound
Extras
Interactivity
Good witches, bad witches, good witches who become bad witches; it’s all in a day’s work for the Wizard of Oz. The story of how the Wizard of Oz first arrived in Oz and became the great and powerful Wizard of Oz is chronicled in Oz the Great and Powerful. This prequel to The Wizard of Oz pays reverent homage to the original classic film in many ways but most noticeably by mimicking its famous prologue. Just like when Dorothy leaves Kansas and her monochromatic world magically morphs to glorious, exhilarating Technicolor, so it goes for the Wizard as well. After a 20-minute black-and-white prologue cropped in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Oz’s balloon arrives somewhere over the rainbow, the image bursts into vibrant color, and the aspect ratio expands to a full 2.40:1.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 31, 2013 1 comments
With the introduction this week of the BeoLab 17 compact speaker, BeoLab 18 column speaker, and the BeoLab 19 powered subwoofer, luxury A/V manufacturer Bang & Olufsen has begun marketing its first component-quality wireless music system and the first wireless system from anyone to offer WiSA certification.

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Michael Antonoff Posted: Oct 31, 2013 0 comments
Seventeen years is an odd interval for measuring progress, but if you’d been sleeping under a pile of VHS cassettes and emerged as a flash mob of cicadas, you’d be impressed by how far home entertainment technology has come.
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Al Griffin Posted: Oct 31, 2013 1 comments
Q My new TV has four HDMI inputs. Would I get better picture quality if I bypassed my receiver and hooked all the equipment up directly to the TV? I also plan to run a TosLink digital audio cable from the TV to the receiver for sound. Any issues there to consider? —Jose / Colorado Springs, CO

A Whether or not you’ll get better picture quality from your proposed setup depends on the video capabilities of the receiver you’ve been using to handle HDMI switching. A number of A/V receivers provide both high-quality video deinterlacing/scaling and an ability to pass-through 1080p signals with no degradation (this Marantz that Sound & Vision recently reviewed, for example). But some other models are known to reduce the chroma (color) resolution of signals passing through, or to clip above-white and below-black information at the extreme ends of the video brightness range.

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