A/V VETERAN

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 20, 2013 0 comments
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. Follow the yellow brick road. And your little dog, too! I’m melting! Ding dong the witch is dead. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The Wizard of Oz has likely contributed as much to the American lexicon as anything prior to Star Trek. (Just kidding— though “I’m giving ‘er all she’s got, Capt’n, He’s dead, Jim, Engage, Fascinating, Make it so, and I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer” do have their loyal fans.) The movie wasn’t a huge hit when it first opened in 1939, but it made up for it years later, particularly starting in the 1950s when it became an annual TV event.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 08, 2006 Published: Oct 09, 2006 0 comments

Recording comes to HD DVD, but only in Japan for now, with this Toshiba HD DVD player/recorder/hard drive PVR.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 21, 2006 0 comments

I always find it odd when they refer to movie <I>previews</I> (what everyone I knew called them when I was growing up in Connecticut) as <I>trailers</I>. Trailers (okay, I surrender) are mini movies, assembled for one purpose: to put asses (pun not…oh, never mind) in the seats for the film itself.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 26, 2014 2 comments
Ultra HD Blues…and Reds, and Greens I recently completed a review of Sony’s new VPL-VW600ES Ultra HD (4K) projector. This isn’t a sneak peak—that would cannibalize our coverage. The review will appear in the May 2014 issue of Sound & Vision. But for those who can’t wait, I’ll just say here that while the 600ES isn’t the champ in all respects, it’s still, overall, the best-looking projector I’ve yet had in my home theater.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 22, 2014 0 comments
A few months back I wrote about the hazards of assuming that any Ultra HD set you might buy today will be future proof. At the risk of repeating myself, some of the points I made there are worth going over again in a different, shorter form—not least of all because new readers are unlikely to devour a long, two month old blog!
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 13, 2014 3 comments
Ultra HD has been around for a couple of years now, but prices have now dropped to the point that acquiring an Ultra HD set can be a serious consideration for folks in the market for a new TV, particularly early-adopters. TV makers hope that the next Big Thing in video will be Ultra HD, or as it is widely (and imprecisely) called, 4K. They also hope that Ultra HD has the legs that home 3D (now in its, “Hello, I must be going” phase) lacked.

Ultra HD can be much more than simply 4K resolution (more precisely, 3840 x 2160 in the consumer arena—4K in the pro world , including digital cinema projection, is 4096 x 2160). It also has the potential to offer a wider color gamut, an increased color bit depth, and less aggressive color subsampling. If that string of technobabble sounds intimidating, it simply means that in addition to more pixels, Ultra HD could provide a wider and richer color palette than does our current HD standard.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 06, 2009 3 comments

Time for a dip in the summer movie pool. My splashing around has so far been limited to Star Trek and Up, but both, in their own ways, are the best of the summer lot so far (as of early June). Yea, I know, it's not even summer yet. But don't tell Hollywood. In any case, I can hardly wait for the Blu-rays of both of these films, sure to be coming to your local video store in the fall.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 20, 2005 0 comments

"Buy any 61-inch or larger Samsung HDTV or any Samsung 1080p HDTV and receive a high definition, upconverting DVD player."

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 25, 2006 Published: Jun 26, 2006 6 comments

It's hard to fight the notion that an upconverting DVD player works some kind of magic on the lowly, standard definition DVD. I've written about this before, but if recent Internet forum traffic is any indication, the confusion continues.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 29, 2013 4 comments
Despite all the talk about 4K (or Ultra HD) displays, there are already a bazillion hours of “standard” 2K HD programming out there in videoland. Consumer 4K sources will be slow in coming, and they might well arrive over the Internet. The question remains as to whether or not the inherent data rate limitations of streaming video could dilute or eliminate the supposed benefits of 4K resolution—apart from the marketing hype.

Over the next couple of years, therefore, and assuming that 4K sets take fire in the marketplace, the smart money will be on upconverting 2K sources to 4K. No form of upconverting can add real resolution; genuine Ultra HD starts and ends with 4K resolution. Nevertheless, we expect plenty of action on the 2K to 4K upconversion front. Since consumer 2K is largely (though not entirely) 1920 x 1080 pixels, and consumer 4K is 3840 x 2160, it would appear that such upconversion might simply involve taking the content of each 2K pixel and quadrupling it (with no added enhancement) to fill a 2 x 2 pixel area on the 4K display. But that will gain nothing in subjective resolution, and may actually reduce image quality due to the added processing required. Most upconversion, therefore, will likely include enhancement and/or other digital manipulation, designed to both eliminate possible upconversion losses and better simulate the look of true 4K.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 09, 2007 0 comments

I predicted years ago that we would be downloading music over the Internet long before <I>high quality</I> downloads were possible. That's the state we're in at present. Downloads that offer genuine CD-quality sound (forget about downloads up to SACD or DVD-Audio standards) are still more a promise than a reality.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 27, 2014 3 comments
Some months back I ran across a region-free Blu-ray of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra’s 2014 New Year’s Concert (Sony Classical). I already owned the 2012 edition (it’s an annual event, as you might have guessed!), which I hadn’t yet watched. The price was right for this 2014 version, so I added it to my collection. That is, I added it to my shelf of as yet unseen Blu-ray discs (I suspect all serious collectors have such a shelf). It waited there patiently until I felt the need to pull out a few potentially good sounding concert Blu-rays. This one seemed like a good candidate, so I popped it into my Oppo player.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 01, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.tjn.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=194 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>George Lucas is a fan. I don't mean of <I>Star Wars</I> (though he is, I suspect, that, too); rather, he's a fan of digital cinema. And he wanted his magnum opus, <I>Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith</I>, to play in digital on the biggest screens in the world. That covers a lot of territory, but the screen at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, which measures 32 by 86 feet, just might be the biggest anywhere.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 28, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.tjn.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=194 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>I'm a huge fan of having a physical copy of video content (high-definition or otherwise) for my own personal use any time I see fit. The downloading paradigm scares me. It opens up all sorts of ways for the provider to stick it to the consumer. How about paying <I>every</I> time you want to watch? How about additional compression so our downloaded movies are "High-Definition Quality," like those "CD-quality" MP3s? How about spyware or adware along for the ride? Pop-up ads in mid-movie, anyone?

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 19, 2005 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/headshot150.tjn.jpg" WIDTH=150 HEIGHT=194 HSPACE=6 VSPACE=4 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Your favorite <I>first-run</I> movies could be coming soon to a theater near you&mdash;your own home theater&mdash;in full high definition.

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