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OTHER SOURCE COMPONENT REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 14, 2007 0 comments

Toshiba recently issued an update for its second-generation HD DVD players, primarily for the HD-A20 and the HD-XA2. I installed the update on an HD-A20, the middle model in Toshiba's HD DVD lineup (though shortly to be superceded in the launch of a third generation).

Chris Chiarella Posted: Aug 27, 2007 0 comments
Think of it as the Xbox 360.1

In the video-game business, the stakes are high. So, the Big Three have detailed road maps and five-year plans. A new console usually remains unchanged for at least a few Christmases, save for possible software updates and minor technical variations. However, this isn't the case with the Xbox 360. After only a record 17 months in its original incarnation, it has transformed into the Xbox 360 Elite, with two noteworthy hardware upgrades plus a fresh style.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Aug 27, 2007 0 comments
1080p HD DVD for $500—sort of.

The new models of HD DVD and Blu-ray players are coming faster and faster. Even better, they're getting cheaper and offering more features. The big draw for the HD-A20 is its 1080p output. That, and a price tag of $499.

David Vaughn Posted: Jul 08, 2007 0 comments

The past year and change has been an interesting time for home theater enthusiasts, with the introduction of two competing high-definition movie formats, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The scenario is very reminiscent to the 1980's when VHS and Betamax had their own slugfest for the wallets of consumers, but in this new "war" the battleground has evolved.

Posted: May 19, 2007 0 comments

Although 1080p video has been encoded on every HD DVD disc released so far, the first generation HD DVD players have been "limited" to mere 1080i output. With the second generation this changed, first with the upscale $799 HD-XA2 and now with the HD-A20. At $499 the Toshiba HD-A20 is a mere $100 more than Toshiba's entry-level HD-A2, which maxes out at 1080i. So, the question we're here to answer, is this 1080p player worth that extra hundred bucks?

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 05, 2007 Published: May 06, 2007 0 comments
Teasing the high end while still embracing the previous generation.

I recently read somewhere that DVD's install base had eclipsed that of VHS, the former king of meat-and-potatoes home entertainment. I flashed nostalgically on DVD's initial toehold in rental outlets like Blockbuster and stores such as Suncoast, as well as its relentless growth to the point where VHS was relegated to a single shelf before disappearing altogether. I'm sure that recordable DVD still remains a runner-up to the ubiquitous videocassette—even though blank DVDs cost less than blank tapes and recording decks are at all-time-low prices. Still, for reasons that escape me, VHS just won't lie down, even though the consumer electronics coroner has pronounced it dead.

Chris Chiarella Posted: May 21, 2007 Published: Apr 21, 2007 0 comments
Putting the fun back into next-generation consoles.

Nintendo's follow-up to their popular GameCube—number three in the Big Three consoles of the previous generation—is the Wii (pronounced "we"), which represents a very different approach from SCEA's and Microsoft's next-gen gaming offerings. The humble Wii de-emphasizes the absolute latest and greatest in graphics and game audio, supporting a maximum video resolution of only 480p, in EDTV mode. Instead, it offers innovation in game design and control. And you can buy two of these Wii consoles for the price of the stripped-down PlayStation 3 model.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 23, 2007 Published: Mar 23, 2007 0 comments
Together again for the first time.

As I unboxed this month's Spotlight System, I flashed on the innovative histories of Marantz and Snell Acoustics. Saul B. Marantz was a bona fide American audio pioneer in the 1950s and 1960s. His company's electronics not only sounded amazing, they were drop-dead gorgeous. Maybe that's why Marantz's early designs regularly sell on eBay for more than their original prices. Peter Snell was one of the brightest speaker designers to emerge in the mid-1970s. Back in the day, I owned a pair of his first speakers, the Type A, and had many conversations with Peter about music. In those simpler times, Saul Marantz and Peter Snell could launch their companies armed with not much more than a driving passion to produce great audio gear—and the inspired engineering to make the dream real. Best of all, both companies still adhere to their founders' perfectionistic traditions.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Mar 02, 2007 0 comments
Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box.

Well, no one saw this coming. We’re not that far into the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray, and LG has come out with the BH100, a player that plays both formats. So, is that it? Format war over? Hardly.

David Vaughn Posted: Feb 25, 2007 0 comments

The first car I owned was a VW Bug that cost a whopping $500 in 1986. It wasn't the prettiest car on the block, but it got me from Point A to Point B. When Toshiba's first generation HD-A1 HD DVD player arrived on the scene it reminded me an awful lot of that trusty old bug: slow, ugly and clunky, but once the movie started to play, the picture was so outstanding that I could forget it's little quirks. Oh yeah, and it cost a cool $500 as well!

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
The universe is still expanding.

People seem to love bashing the last great format war—SACD versus DVD-Audio—in which, of course, there was no real winner. My personal opinion has always been a little different. I consider it a unique pleasure to bask in the warm embrace of 5.1 high-resolution channels of some of the best popular music ever. I continue to do this, as I always have, by way of an affordable universal disc player, as one could fairly call it in the days before HD DVD and Blu-ray. I'm glad to see that manufacturers are still supporting the high-resolution audio formats, helping the consumer take advantage of all the great software currently available, much of it heavily discounted in the aftermath of the conflict.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
Games and movies collide, again, this time in high-def.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD player is targeted specifically at the owners of the Xbox 360 gaming console—or those on the fence about purchasing one. It's an affordable way to bring HD DVD into your existing multimedia system. This small disc spinner will not work by itself; rather, it will only operate in conjunction with one of the two available versions of the Xbox 360, or with a PC (sort of, as you'll see later). It's another box (which will of course take up more space), and it lacks the sleek approach of a single-chassis solution. But the easily replaceable USB cable that connects the HD DVD player to your Xbox does offer a bit of placement freedom. This in turn makes the drive's integrated USB hub potentially more versatile.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 14, 2007 0 comments
It’s curious timing for a new PS2 accessory, but this one is a dandy. For those of you who just couldn’t wait for the debut of the PS3, or, more to the point, couldn’t afford to buy one of the scarce wonder boxes off of eBay, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your favorite PlayStation titles in high definition right now, thanks to the Xploder HDTV Player for PlayStation 2 ($40).
Posted: Feb 11, 2007 0 comments

There's probably a smug look on the face of the cynics among us right now. You know, the types who are so negative about the format war that they're willing to ignore the fact that we not only have high-def on a disc, but we have the best HD we've ever seen and heard, period. And Toshiba, which launched the HD DVD format with two players in Spring of 2006, released its second generation players in December and January, with not even a full year in between the two generations.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
They want to take you higher.

The component that put NAD on the map in the mid 1970s—the 3020 integrated stereo amplifier—didn't look like a giant killer. Finished in an indeterminate shade of grayish-brown and devoid of gee-whiz features, the 3020 nevertheless became one of the best-selling audiophile amplifiers of all time—and not just because it sounded better than anything going for two or three times its humble MSRP. The 3020 had that special something that made it, well, lovable. Over the decades, the engineers squeezed a bit of the 3020's magic into every NAD product, but they've pulled out all the stops with the new Masters Series components. They had to, as the ultimate NADs are competing with the likes of Anthem, Arcam, B&K, and Rotel. They're playing with the big boys now.

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