EDITOR'S EYE

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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 29, 2013 0 comments
I recently enjoyed an early press tour of Panasonic’s soon-to-open Innovation Center in Newark, NJ, an open-windowed retail-like space off the lobby of the company’s new headquarters building. I’m not usually much for these types of dog-and-pony shows, and little of what the company shared that day was directly related to the consumer electronics audio/video segment that’s of prime interest to our readers. But I’ve covered the firm’s CE technology for decades now, and this move from their old Secaucus, NJ campus...
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Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 24, 2013 3 comments
Hold your index finger up to the air for a moment. Can you feel that? It’s the fresh breeze of good sound wafting ever so gently across the horizon.

After years of living in a desert of low-res MP3s, crappy white ear buds, wafer-thin flat-panel TV speakers pointed away from the listener (come on!), and increasingly anemic AVRs, there is a revolution afoot.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 08, 2015 4 comments
Shanghai, for me, is literally halfway ‘round the world. Some 20 hours flying time from New York, it is 12 hours ahead in time zones and across the International Dateline: the very definition of “Tomorrowland.” The post-modern, sci-fi landscape of the Pudong section of China’s biggest trade center and most cosmopolitan city does little to deter that notion. Bound on one side by the 128-story Shanghai Tower and on the other by the Oriental Pearl, a futuristic, 1,500 foot broadcast tower, it looks like a bold experiment in animation made concrete, a slice of society that has, to date, only been imagined for amusement parks. On first sight I could only gasp at both the scale and shape of it, then grew silent with respect for not just the accomplishment, but the gutsy vision it must have took to start it.

Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 12, 2015 23 comments
As we reported last week, Vizio was in New York City on October 6 to formally introduce its much anticipated Reference Series Ultra HDTVs. Editor-in-chief Rob Sabin and video tech editor Tom Norton got a hands-on session with the big 120-inch RS120. Here's what they found.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 12, 2013 0 comments
At any given moment, we’re usually working on six to eight test reports among various staffers. Of those, perhaps two or three products might be the “latest and greatest” while the rest falls more into the bread-and-butter category—another $600 or $1,000 receiver, maybe another bookshelf speaker system. As I looked over our recent slate of reviews, I was indeed struck by how conventional the mix appears to be. And yet, as I dug a bit deeper, I came to see how well it represents technology trends that have come to define the audio/video space, circa 2013.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 15, 2016 8 comments
More than Anything, Your Speakers Make the System

I’m sometimes amazed at what I learn, or am reminded of, as we put to bed each print issue of Sound & Vision. With the bird’s-eye view that comes with crossing t’s and dotting i’s on six to eight product reviews, written by staffers with their own eyes, ears, and perspectives, I get to see themes and patterns that might go unnoticed reading just any individual piece.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 15, 2012 9 comments
I made it a point this weekend to be among the first to view Peter Jackson’s latest epic, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure, in its native 48 frames-per-second frame rate. If you’ve not been keeping up with the news surrounding this movie, Jackson made the decision early on to shoot it digitally at twice the 24 fps rate used for the last 80 years or so. The 24 fps rate is closely associated with the look of film as we’ve come to know it. Increasing that rate can greatly reduce blurring and judder on fast motion and camera pans, allowing for extra detail that would otherwise be lost when shooting either film or video at 24 fps. Fast frame rates also improve the 3D experience, making viewing easier on the eyes and reducing the instance of crosstalk or “ghosting” artifacts. But it imparts a sheen that most of us would more closely associate with native video rather than film. If you’ve looked at film-based content on any LCD television that has its 120 Hz or 240 Hz motion enhancement features turned on, you know what I’m talking about. Such circuits cause content originally shot at 24 fps to look like video — the so-called “soap opera” effect. Some folks like the look and some don’t. Whichever side you fall on, there’s no arguing that the look these circuits impart to 24 fps native content is an artifice—it’s clearly not what the director was watching when he composed the film or what he intended for your viewing.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 08, 2014 2 comments
Tom Nousaine Loved Audio, the Bass Most of All

As we went to press for the upcoming September print issue, word began circulating about the passing of Tom Nousaine, long-time former contributor to Sound & Vision, its predecessor Stereo Review, and several other home and car audio magazines. He was 69 years old.

Tom was a one-of-a-kind character, a business manager by day for Ameritech (one of the Baby Bells) prior to his retirement, and a tireless audio enthusiast and writer in the rest of his waking hours. He was a contrarian...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 12, 2011 0 comments

I took the invitation a while back to visit the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory in Los Angeles, where the company introduced its 3D Innovation Center to members of the press. PHL is a research and mastering center where Panasonic works with filmmakers on new camera, editing, encoding and playback technologies.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 30, 2015 2 comments
And Some Personal Faves…

We’ve just posted our annual Top Picks of the Year list of the best products from among all those we tested in 2014, culled from all the Top Picks named throughout the year in consultation with our staff of reviewers. Even from among this list, though, there are a few that really stand out for me, not just because of their performance but because of what I think they represent in the evolution of our hobby and the AV marketplace. Here are some of my personal highlights...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 16, 2013 7 comments
For the last several years, our annual January pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show has been all about someone else’s toys. Handheld smartphones and tablets, wearable technology (now, what is that about?), fashion earphones, smart appliances, electric car-charging stations, streaming pocket-sized speakers, you name it. It’s been awfully quiet on the A/V front…until now.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 29, 2013 3 comments
At Home Theater, we’ve long been fans of set-up DVDs and Blu-ray discs that allow you to tune your television or projector for the optimum image. Now, just in time for the Super Bowl, THX has launched a mobile app designed to help sports fans and movie lovers do just that.

“THX tune-up” is an iOS app for iPad (2 and higher), iPad mini, iPhone (4 and higher), and iPod touch (Gen 4 and higher). To commemorate the Big Game and assist as many as possible of the 7.5 million people expected to purchase a new set just for the occasion, THX is offering the app as a free download from the iTunes store through Monday, February 4th. After that, it’ll cost $1.99. An Android version is expected to be released next spring.

Before your inner geek gets too worked up, neither the THX tune-up app nor any set-up disc...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Sep 25, 2012 2 comments
With great gear, it's all about the "something special."

Reviewers at Home Theater have a near-impossible task. Their job is to communicate, with words on a page accompanied by a few photographs, an experience with an audio or video component that can only be rightly conveyed viscerally. That is to say, in real life we don’t just listen to or view components, we react to them: physically, emotionally, intuitively.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 12, 2013 0 comments
You may have heard that sales of soundbars are skyrocketing today. I’m excited about that. The best of the new premium soundbars sound pretty great, and with their unassuming presence, lack of speaker wires, and relatively simple installation, they stand to introduce legions of new ears to the joys of a high-quality home theater experience.
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Rob Sabin Posted: May 13, 2016 5 comments
The launch of Ultra HD Blu-ray reminds me of the trials and tribulations of a highly anticipated and far more complicated product launch 10 years ago that you may remember.

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