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OTHER SOURCE COMPONENT REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 28, 2001 Published: Mar 01, 2001 0 comments
A mean machine isn't a lean machine.

I hate going shopping by myself. I don't know whether it's the result of nature or nurture (after mapping the human genome, maybe they'll discover a treatment for the cheapskate gene), but I am often afflicted with serious outbreaks of miserable, miserly thriftiness. At its worst, it can make an innocent trip to the grocery store a torturous hell—as I rub brain cells raw attempting to mathematically determine, among other things, which roll of toilet paper provides the best deal per square foot. Considering my penchant for the finer-but-cheaper things in life, I should be absolutely thrilled by the vertiginous free-fall of prices on entry-level DVD players over the last few years. It wasn't that long ago that the least expensive DVD player would set you back $1,000 or more. Today, it took me fewer than 10 minutes to track down a DVD player selling for less than $120 at a national retailer. While the available information on this machine was pretty sparse, I'd be shocked if it weighed more than five or six pounds. Giving it the weighty benefit of a very generous doubt, six pounds brings the cost of the player in at just under $20 per pound. That's a lot to pay for a roll of Charmin, but it's dirt-cheap for a DVD player. Interestingly, I've noticed that low-end DVD players and cheap toilet paper share a close correlation: The lower the price, the thinner and lighter each one gets. At some point, the performance of both really begins to suffer.

Chris Lewis Posted: Feb 11, 2003 Published: Feb 12, 2003 0 comments
The high-resolution combi-player takeover continues.

How pleased am I that the trickle of combination SACD/DVD-Audio players has quickly reached a full flow? Visitors to my whiskey cellar (all right, my whiskey cabinet) may notice recently cracked seals on more than one of my special-occasion bottles of rare Wild Turkey. I've been on the soapbox about this issue. While no one needed a crystal ball to predict that the market would kick-start once Pioneer released their combi player, I still had my doubts. After all, this SACD/DVD-Audio format war started out as nasty as any of them. But then, I always took solace in precedent. Dolby and DTS didn't exactly exchange Christmas cards at first, either (and they still don't); now, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find applicable hardware that doesn't accommodate both formats. Deep down, I suppose I always knew that high-resolution combi players would ultimately be the norm, but I doubted that it would happen this quickly—and besides, it was more fun to do a bit of preaching.

Mike Wood Posted: Dec 27, 2000 Published: Dec 28, 2000 0 comments
Recordable DVD . . . Need We Say More? Probably.

Here it is. The moment you've been waiting for. Recordable DVD! That's right. That last remaining excuse for you not to buy a DVD player has finally been expunged, at least to some extent. While they made announcements at last January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, manufacturers are just now following through on their release plans for recordable DVD players. As usual, the excuse was copyright issues, that never-ending thorn in home theater's side. Panasonic finally sent us a sample of the DMR-E10 DVD-RAM player, which should be available for the holiday season and, if nothing else, is just one of the coolest products to come along since DVD first came out.

Robert Scott Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
This combo unit lets you copy VHS tapes to DVD (and vice versa) and watch either format from a single device.

Panasonic is among the many manufacturers that now make combo VHS/DVD recorders; one of their current models is the DMR-E75V. This unit includes a VHS hi-fi VCR and a DVD drive that records on DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs (but not on DVD-RW), and it plays these formats, as well as DVD-Video, CD, CD-R/-RW (recorded with either normal CD or MP3 audio), and videoCD. It can even play DVD-Audio discs, but it only outputs two channels. I found out that playing DVD-Audio involves some sort of downmixing, but I was unable to get any more specific details of the process.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
DVD recording for smarties.

I have a confession to make: I never took umbrage with having to set the clock on a VCR. I set my own. I set my mother's. I was even known to sneak into my friends' homes and set theirs while they slept, taking joy in the knowledge that their VCR could finally live up to its true functionality potential once I had put the blinking 12:00 out of its misery.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Nov 21, 2006 Published: Nov 22, 2006 0 comments
HDMI: It's not just for video anymore.

HDMI is a wonderful invention filled with promise. When utilized to its fullest, it can offer the best of both worlds: uncompressed audio and video signals and intelligent, two-way communication over a single cable. Manufacturers have long teased us with talk of complete home theater systems that you can set up using just two or three cables, but the reality has fallen far short of the promise. Most designers have used HDMI only as a top-grade video connector, paying little attention to its audio and communication abilities. Armed with the new HDMI 1.2a spec (the products here were designed and released before 1.3 was finalized), Panasonic is aiming for the ultimate in connection and control with their new EZ Sync HDAVI Control products.

Joel Brinkley Posted: Jan 04, 2004 0 comments

Five years ago, Panasonic produced the very first DTV receiver set-top box. All of the company's succeeding generations of these products have been among the best. The latest incarnation, the surprisingly small and inexpensive TU-DST52, is no exception.

Steve Baldwin Posted: Jul 02, 2001 Published: Jul 03, 2001 0 comments
Comparing the Incomparable? The Philips SACD 1000 ushers SACD into the world of multichannel audio. Does this bring the high-resolution format closer to DVD-Audio or drive them farther apart?

Apples and oranges are both great, but generally you like one or the other better. Sure, they're both fruits, and they're both sort of round, but there are lots of things you'd do with one and not the other. Ever mix vodka with apple juice? I haven't either, although the mere thought brings a shudder. Ever tried orange sauce with pork chops? Not likely.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 18, 2006 0 comments
Is it possible to improve the greatest invention since the wheel?

If I needed any additional proof of the iPod's ubiquitous nature, I found it the other day when my son pointed out a state trooper with an iPod stuffed into his uniform shirt pocket and telltale white earbuds popped in his ears. I'm sure the trooper was perfectly capable of doing his law-enforcing job whilst enjoying a tune or two, but the thought of state troopers packing iPods gave me pause. What's next? Carthusian monks contemplating God's gift of the click wheel while rocking out to some Gregorian chant?

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Dec 01, 2003 0 comments
A Combi for Everyone

It's finally happened. No longer does the desire for high-resolution audio mean that you must decide between two formats or max out your credit card on one of the high-end combi units. With the DV-563A, Pioneer has released a DVD player that not only offers progressive scanning and multichannel SACD and DVD-Audio playback, but it costs only slightly more than an entry-level DVD player. The difference in price is so slight that anyone looking for a DVD player would be insane not to look at the DV-563A. Keep reading because, believe it or not, the review's not over.

Robert Scott Posted: Nov 07, 2004 Published: Nov 01, 2004 0 comments
High-resolution, multichannel music is now within reach of the masses.

Time was, you had to choose between SACD and DVD-Audio if you wanted to hear high-resolution, multichannel music. And the players weren't cheap. Those days are gone, and a format war has been averted, thanks to universal players that don't care what kind of optical disc you feed them. Some of these players are even cheap—only in price, at least in the case of the Pioneer DV-578A, which gives you a lot of bang for $199.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Feb 01, 2004 0 comments
Pioneer and TiVo go on the record.

It baffles me that the digital video recorder hasn't caught on with mainstream consumers. Everyone I know who's spent 10 minutes with one of these gems is instantly addicted. It has a VCR's functionality, a digital cable box's user-friendliness, and a computer's brain. As far as I can tell, only two things are preventing the DVR from making it big: price and permanent storage.

Rebecca Day Posted: Feb 14, 2006 Published: Feb 15, 2006 0 comments
A complete system you won't want to hide in the basement.

My basement audio/video system is so last century. It's a mix-and-match collection of gear that's been retired as I've put together my real home theater system upstairs. The TV, a 30-inch analog CRT, circa 1988, doesn't even have a flat picture tube to its credit. The receiver maxes out at four-channel Dolby Pro Logic, and the speaker system is a mishmash of center and surround speakers (unmatched), with unshielded front speakers that deliver a killer image with stereo music but an unwelcome rainbow of colors when placed next to a video display. The DVD player is the only current-millennium piece in the stack, but not by much.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 28, 2001 Published: Jun 29, 2001 0 comments
Move over, Volvo. There's a new Swedish import to love.

I used to be one of those snide individuals who took joy in deriding people who drove Volvos. In my admittedly limited experience, a swiftly moving Volvo was invariably piloted by an aggressive female hell-bent on a mission to get Junior to his soccer game or Missy to her Brownie troop meeting on time. In the minds of these monomaniacal matriarchs, the brakes included on the vehicle were exclusively for emergencies. Then, through a curious train of events, I became the owner of a used Volvo 740GL. Despite some of its nagging proclivities—like spending more time parked in the mechanic's garage than in mine—I became quite enamored of that car. Its boxy shape and heavily overbuilt feel made it a deeply comforting and enjoyable automobile in which to travel. I'm not talking the plush and cushy kind of comfort here. This was more the secure and stable kind of comfort.

John Sciacca Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments

Peanut butter and chocolate. Wine and cheese. Lennon and McCartney. Some things are great on their own, but when they meet their perfect counterpart, the result can be pure magic.

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