It's really strange—and a little unsettling—being without Internet access, though it's also kind of refreshing to unplug from the constant torrent of incoming information and spam for a little while. After a long day of bus rides, factory tours, and presentations by Epson execs, we ended up at a hotel in Matsumoto (near Nagano) with futons for beds on woven-wicker <I>tatami</I> floors.
One clear trend at this year's NAB show is the proliferation of digital video cameras with a native resolution of at least 4K (roughly 4000x2000 pixels). Among the entries in this field is a prototype from JVC, which doesn't even have a model designation, much less a price or shipping date.
I was particularly impressed that JVC was displaying the camera's output on a 55-inch 4K flat panel, probably a Sharp, though the rep I spoke with couldn't say for sure. Unfortunately, the photo above, taken directly off the screen, does not do the razor-sharp image justice. Even more amazing was an IBM 4K monitor nearby measuring only 20 inches or so diagonallyI could get close enough so my eyeball was almost touching the screen, and I could barely see the pixels. These flat panels give me hope that 4K will migrate to consumer displays.
After the Samsung reviewers' workshop at DreamWorks Animation last week (see my report here), we were treated to a preview screening of Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D. However, we were instructed not to publish anything about the movie until it opened on May 26that is, today.
Last Sunday, my wife and I joined 25.8 million of our closest friends to watch the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards on CBS. So why am I writing about it here? Because this is <I>Ultimate AV</I>, and the Grammys are all about the best in audio <I>and</I> video. The audio part is obvious—this is "music's biggest night" honoring the best recording artists, and all the performances are live, a technological tour de force in its own right. But the show is no less dedicated to video, both on stage and in the home.
To quote Professor Farnsworth on <I>Futurama</I>, "Good news, everyone!" I figured out how to answer reader questions in my blog (not that it was all that difficult). Now that my company e-mail account is up and running, you can simply send your questions to me at:
At SID 2011, LG Display had an interesting demo in its bootha series of flat panels of different sizes and resolutions to show how these two parameters are related. To maintain a given amount of detail as the screen size increases, so must the resolution, even as the number of pixels per inch decreases. The two largest screens have 4K resolution, while the two smallest are 720p (roughly 1K). I was unable to find out why they had such different color profiles.
<I>I'm looking for a DVD changer that will play five DVDs in succession with no intervention from the user. I have an elderly disabled mother who is terrified of going to sleep at night. She watches DVDs of </I>I Love Lucy<I> all night, but once I go to sleep, she can't change the DVD when it's over. I put an old Toshiba DVD changer in her room, but once the first disc finishes, you have to press Next Disc, then wait until it loads, then press Play. She cannot operate the remote.
A friend of mine is a correspondent for KCET, the Los Angeles PBS station. A few days ago, he told me that he had been assigned to cover the Michael Jackson memorial held yesterday at Staples Center and that he was not looking forward to it at all. Aside from the logistical nightmare of getting through the traffic jams and police barricades, he didn't get what all the fuss is about. "Sure, Jackson was a good entertainer," he said, "but was he really important enough for all this?" He also wondered why so many people can become so active over Jackson's death—showing up at the gates of Neverland Ranch and the Jackson family home, signing up for tickets to the memorial—but not over much more important issues such as health care.
<I>I purchased an SPL meter to level the speakers in my 5.1 surround system. I read an article in </I>Home Theater<I> magazine about how to use this device, but I'm still not sure how to do it. For example, I'm not sure where to put the dial—do I start at 80 or 120?
For many, online distribution of high-def video and audio is the Next Big Thing. There's just one small thing impeding the flood of content—bandwidth. An incredible solution to this problem was quietly demonstrated at CES this year by a company called R<SUP>2</SUP>D<SUP>2</SUP> ("Twice the Research, Twice the Development"). Founded by hippie love child Leia Organic Skydancer, R<SUP>2</SUP>D<SUP>2</SUP> has developed what it calls Hypernet, a system that bypasses the Internet completely, offering nearly unlimited bandwidth and instantaneous transmissions using the principles of quantum physics.
I saw Men In Black 3 last night, and as with most 3D movies, I chose to see this one at an Imax theater, which uses two projectorsone for each eyeto increase the overall brightness of the image. Even though MIB3 was shot in 2D and converted to 3D in post-production, I thought the 3D effect was quite good overall. In fact, it seemed to me that the movie had been shot with 3D in mind, with lots of depth in many imagesI especially enjoyed Agent J's fall from the skyscraper as he jumps back to 1969.
I just got back from seeing Disney/Pixar's <I>Up</I> in digital 3D. The movie itself is beautiful, both visually and conceptually. The story is charming yet poignant with lots of laughs, the voice actors—led by Ed Asner as the gruff Carl Fredricksen—are superb, and the animation is stunning. Interestingly, many of the animated items, even most of the dogs, are essentially photorealistic, but the humans are deliberate caricatures. I suspect Pixar goes this route because it's so difficult to animate truly realistic-looking people thanks to the exquisite human sensitivity to facial detail and body language. I have no problem with that, but I was disappointed in the 3D presentation for several reasons.
Our latest poll questionDo You Prefer the Sound of Digital or Analog Audio Media?has inspired more comments than any I've posted up to now, and I'm grateful to everyone who has added their two cents to the discussion so far, as well as those who will do so in the future. This is exactly what I had hoped these questions would stimulatea lively but respectful discussion of the issues that concern all who enjoy the audio/video hobby.
Apropos of this week's Vote question, I recently came across an item from TVB.org (formerly the Television Bureau of Advertising), which analyzed the November Nielsen data and found that wired-cable service to American TV households has hit a 21-year low, though it's still the dominant TV delivery system at 60.7 percent. Meanwhile, what that group calls "alternate delivery systems" (ADS)which in this case means only satellite and microwave broadcasting, not over-the-air or onlinehas hit an all-time high of 30.5 percent.