UNIVERSAL REMOTE & ACCESSORY REVIEWS

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 28, 2005 0 comments
Have my buns finally met their match?

Back in the days when I was a Quentin Tarantino wannabe, when I manned the counter at my local video store, I made frequent use of a rickety old metal stool as I pounded the computer keys. This prompted my boss to observe, "You like to sit more than anyone I know." Whether he ran with an especially prone crowd—or perhaps the rigors of retail work simply made my knees weak—I did set a precedent, and I appreciate finer seating to this very day. But, now that my fondness for home theater consumes my every waking moment—and some of my dreams—I welcomed the chance to test-drive something different, something bold: 5Binc.'s RX2 5.1 Media Chair.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Access to news, sports, weather, and Amazon Top 10 lists • Many components are not available in the built-in database • Electronic Program Guide updates via home Wi-Fi network

High Wi-Fi (Not Wifey)

Acceptance Factor
From the waist down, Acoustic Research’s ARRU449 looks like the stereotypical universal remote control with a symmetrically arranged layout of small, backlit buttons. From the waist up, though, there’s a bright and colorful LCD screen that quickly catches your attention. Invisible to the eye is the remote’s other distinguishing feature: Wi-Fi connectivity. This allows the remote to access the Internet through your wireless network in order to download Electronic Program Guide (EPG) information along with news and weather highlights. In addition, the ARRU449 can periodically download software updates as they become available. Even though the ARRU449 can access the Internet, it doesn’t include a Web browser. That means you can’t go online directly. Instead, the remote uses something called click365 technology to download the EPG and other data—including news, weather, and sports stories—in the background.

David Vaughn Posted: Jul 05, 2012 0 comments
Do wireless HDMI kits really work? We test three to find out.

In late 2003, HDMI-equipped consumer-electronic devices started to appear on the market. Unfortunately, the transition to digital has been anything but smooth. Although HDMI was a vast improvement over DVI (Digital Visual Interface) in its ability to carry both audio and video in one cable, it came with its own set of issues.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 02, 2005 0 comments

Power conditioning has long been an assumed requirement for the best audio-video systems. And there's no shortage of manufacturers lining up to supply the perceived need. Need line filtering, surge and spike protection, and multiple outlets? Ding! There are dozens of choices, some more effective than others. Need a device that will not only clean up your power line, but also maintain 120 volts when your power company is straining to keep up with demand? Ding! The field narrows, but there are products out there that will do that, too. Need battery backup in case of a partial or complete power failure? Bzzzt! Wrong question. Until recently, you'd have to look for that in the computer department of you're nearby electronics supermarket.

John Sciacca Posted: Jun 06, 2012 0 comments

Summer’s arrival means it’s time to peel your pasty self off of the couch and head outside for a little sunshine and fresh air. But just because you’re stepping outside the indoor A/V sanctuary doesn’t mean you have to go all Trappist monk with your entertainment. And I’m not talking about dragging an iPod and headphones or (heaven forbid) some relic of a boombox outside.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
What if you could put your home theater (virtually) anywhere?

Simply put, Belkin's PureAV RemoteTV accepts the output of any NTSC video source, converts that analog audio/video signal to MPEG-2, and sends it wirelessly to a display device in another location, in better quality than is possible from similar devices. It essentially eliminates the need for a second source component—not just the hardware, but any related service, as well. Already have a single TV/DVD setup but want to enjoy programming in another room? Want to keep an eye on what someone else is watching or be sure to get your money's worth by displaying your pay-per-view movie on two different TVs? This is the way.

Bob Ankosko Posted: May 29, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $129 At a Glance: Turns any HDTV into a videophone • Easy-to-use onscreen interface • Simple set-up—usually

Don’t be fooled by the name and calligraphic logo. You won’t find this Biscotti at Starbucks or the local pastry shop, but it does pop up on Amazon.com when you search “Biscotti TV Phone” (“Biscotti” alone leads you to an excellent selection of the scrumptious Italian biscuits). Although video chatting on computers has been around for years, business-style video conferencing on a big screen is still rare among everyday consumers—something Biscotti Inc. hopes to change with its tiny Biscotti-shaped TV phone.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: May 02, 2001 Published: May 03, 2001 0 comments
The fifth sense.

From the time movies first emerged as a pastime, filmmakers and theater owners have tried to come up with ways to make the movie experience more and more realistic. The picture (other than size) couldn't change, so they tried other ways. Some, like the Smellorama, didn't work. Others, like multichannel sound, did. Moving from one channel to six or eight channels, most people would think, "I'm surrounded by sound. What else is there?" What all, or at least most, systems lack is the ability to touch you—to literally touch you. Clark Synthesis' line of transducers aims to change that with tactile sound.

John Sciacca Posted: Jan 14, 2011 0 comments

There are so many Pow! Bang! Ka-chow! buzzwords thrown out by the consumer electronics industry's marketing war chariots that smaller, more important things often get lost or completely overwhelmed in the ground clutter.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
What's shaking in the world of convergence?

One of the reasons I sleep well each night, secure in my job at HT, is the fact that seemingly every unusual product that comes down the pike is deemed "convergence" and falls into my lap. The Crowson Technology Tactile Effects System (TES) 100 wasn't exactly what I thought it would be: I anticipated a little added shaking of the sofa at appropriate moments, and the TES 100 certainly delivered, but the Couch Kit's two magnetic transducers turned out to be actual loudspeakers that also happen to channel enough physical vibration to move whatever is pressed down upon them, ideally the two hind legs of a big piece of furniture. Two rubber feet help to isolate the front legs. The less-expensive Chair Kit comes with one transducer and three rubber feet.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 15, 2004 Published: Oct 01, 2004 0 comments
Why I can never watch Super Speedway in my home theater again.

Even I can't believe how far I'll travel for a great home theater demo. Hidden up in the cold, cold reaches of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is the headquarters of D-BOX Technologies, which features the coolest faux living room in North America. I aimed to try their Odyssee motion simulator firsthand. My brother told me that home theater gear depends upon the demo perhaps more than any other product, and this was never truer than with the Odyssee.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 02, 2007 Published: Jun 02, 2007 0 comments
Wash, rinse, condition, repeat.

I don't personally believe in fairies, nymphs, leprechauns, or even the boogeyman. In a rational, engineering-driven world, there's little room for such simpleminded fantasies. Reason, and reason alone, can explain the universe at large. Logic isn't only for Vulcans (now there's something I can believe in); it makes our part of the galaxy go around, too. That being said, I'm beginning to grudgingly accept the existence of gremlins—gear gremlins—as I don't have any other explanation for the last two months of nothing but misfortune and malfunction when it's come to anything electronic in my home.

John Sciacca Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

App is a word that was barely even part of the public lexicon a few years ago, but now has become such an entrenched part of it that even my mom — quite possibly the least technologically inclined person on the planet — drops the phrase, “There’s probably an app for that.”

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Apr 01, 2004 0 comments
The Harmony SST-659 universal remote—smart, so you don't have to be.

Programming a universal remote is, to put it mildly, unfun. About 10 more-colorful adjectives came to mind before unfun, but this is a PG-13 magazine—and I'm a lady, after all. If you're financially well endowed, you not only have the luxury of buying one of the higher-end A/V controllers that can control your gear and do your taxes at the same time, but you probably also have a custom installer who can handle the joys of programming that controller all by his or her lonesome.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 21, 2005 0 comments
Sometimes, solving a problem is as simple as knowing the right tool to use.

Gustave Flaubert was a realist and a perfectionist. No wonder he came up with this gem: "Happiness is a monstrosity! Punished are those who seek it." This might well be the mantra of anyone who seeks to put together a high-performance home theater. Unless you start with a set of blueprints and a lot of expertise, you're going to run into a few punishing problems on your way to home theater happiness. Fortunately, Wilkinson's First Law of Home Theater (mine, not Video Technical Editor Scott's) states: "There ain't no problem that can't be solved by throwing large amounts of money at it."

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