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OTHER SOURCE COMPONENT REVIEWS

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Michael Trei Posted: Mar 10, 2006 0 comments
Flexibility and value from a Scottish benchmark.

Imagine what it would be like if shopping for a new car involved the same number of decisions we must make when buying a home theater system. First, we would pick an engine, then we'd need a chassis to mount it in, and, to top it off, we would hire a coach builder to design a body to our specifications. This is, in fact, the way people bought luxury cars prior to World War II, before the car companies came to recognize that advancing technology required them to think of the design as an integrated whole rather than as a hodgepodge grouping of discrete components.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 28, 2006 0 comments
Spent almost everything on your HDTV? You can still afford a friend for it.

The war between competing next-generation, high-definition-quality DVD formats is still unfolding, a saga with more twists than an entire season of Lost. As I write this, manufacturers are still not offering specific product announcements or firm release dates. The problem is, HDTV is a reality right now. While the current over-the-air, cable, and satellite content is compelling and continuing to grow, I for one put the enjoyment of packaged media above all others, and I hate the thought that my HDTV's capabilities are often going to waste. What then to feed it?

Rebecca Day Posted: Feb 14, 2006 Published: Feb 15, 2006 0 comments
A complete system you won't want to hide in the basement.

My basement audio/video system is so last century. It's a mix-and-match collection of gear that's been retired as I've put together my real home theater system upstairs. The TV, a 30-inch analog CRT, circa 1988, doesn't even have a flat picture tube to its credit. The receiver maxes out at four-channel Dolby Pro Logic, and the speaker system is a mishmash of center and surround speakers (unmatched), with unshielded front speakers that deliver a killer image with stereo music but an unwelcome rainbow of colors when placed next to a video display. The DVD player is the only current-millennium piece in the stack, but not by much.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 28, 2005 0 comments
Oh, mama, can this really be the end?

This universal disc player may mark the end of an era. Bear in mind that I did say may.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Dec 28, 2005 0 comments
Well that sure is 1080p.

I must admit I, and I assume you, had never heard of this company before this review. The boss (Maureen Jenson) had been talking with them and had a review sample sent to our studio. I didn't find that part out until later. As far as I knew, this product quietly and unceremoniously just showed up. Its plain, unlabeled brown box was so nondescript that it lay unnoticed for several days. Had we not been clearing space to make room for the six RPTVs from the Face Off we had just finished (see our February 2005 issue), who knows how long it may have sat there. I opened the box to check out what it was, and my eye caught what your eye surely caught when you read the headline above: 1080p. As I investigated further, this DVD player only got cooler.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 19, 2005 0 comments
The Xbox 360 Is All Around Us

We offer facts, figures, and first impressions of Bill Gates and company's latest (and quite major) step toward providing Microsoft with a foothold in the world's living rooms. We look at games and accessories here, too, with a full review in the March 2006 Home Theater Magazine.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 22, 2005 0 comments
Feed your hungry eyes and ears on an attractively entertaining meal of lean on-wall speakers and tender, choice electronics.

Whether by nature or nurture, I'm a speaker guy. I'm more captivated by speakers than any of the associated electronics in a home theater system. As a result of this singular infatuation, I've always believed, as a general rule of thumb, that you should allocate at least half of the total cost of the audio portion of your system to the speakers. I don't know why the math seems to work out that way, but, in my mind, it just does. So what am I to make of a system in which the Primare electronics cost twice as much as the Sequence/REL speaker package?

Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 20, 2005 0 comments
The high end of high-end universals.

There are essentially two types of high-resolution audio: that which comes out of a high-end player and that which doesn't. Now, before I go on extolling the virtues of high-end players—and when I say high-end, I'm not talking about price alone—I should point out how impressed I am even by what inexpensive players can do with SACD and DVD-Audio. I've heard these formats sound good coming out of sub-$500 players, and that, to me, is one of the most telling indications that these formats are indeed living up to their promise of significantly higher-quality digital sound. But, as with CD, vinyl, or any other format that preceded SACD and DVD-Audio, they sound that much better through a top-shelf player. You can't say you've truly experienced a format until you've experienced it from a high-end system, and a true high-end system starts with a high-end player.

Robert Scott Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
This combo unit lets you copy VHS tapes to DVD (and vice versa) and watch either format from a single device.

Panasonic is among the many manufacturers that now make combo VHS/DVD recorders; one of their current models is the DMR-E75V. This unit includes a VHS hi-fi VCR and a DVD drive that records on DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs (but not on DVD-RW), and it plays these formats, as well as DVD-Video, CD, CD-R/-RW (recorded with either normal CD or MP3 audio), and videoCD. It can even play DVD-Audio discs, but it only outputs two channels. I found out that playing DVD-Audio involves some sort of downmixing, but I was unable to get any more specific details of the process.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
Upconversion, and then some.

Ah, it seems like only yesterday that we reviewed the first DVD player that upconverted the video signal to 720p or 1080i. It was the defining feature in last year's first-generation players. Now, as second-generation models are announced, manufacturers are already asking upconversion to share the spotlight with other features like DVD recording, DVD/VHS combo drives, and high-resolution audio playback. Sony's first entry into the upconverting category is the DVP-NS975V, which adds SACD playback without adding much to the bottom line.

Robert Scott Posted: May 17, 2005 0 comments
This universal disc changer makes beautiful music.

As most of the world scurries down the MP3 hole, gobbling up low-quality music files for the sake of convenience, I prefer the loftier heights of DVD-Audio and SACD. Not only are these formats of a higher quality than CD (not to mention a much higher quality than MP3), they offer multichannel mixes that make full use of 5.1-channel home theater audio systems. And, with a universal disc player, I can buy the music I want to hear, regardless of the format on which it is released.

Joel Brinkley Posted: May 15, 2005 Published: May 16, 2005 0 comments

Stand-alone DTV tuners may become an extinct species in the not-too-distant future, when the government's mandate to include one in almost every television takes effect in the months ahead. But for now, several million people own high-definition monitors that cannot receive free, over-the-air digital broadcasts without an outboard box. Some of these monitors are still for sale. As an example, Fujitsu still sells plasma monitors.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Apr 17, 2005 0 comments
No more excuses; it's time to go digital.

Since the arrival of the DVD recorder several years ago, reviewer types have speculated about just what would have to take place for the DVD recorder to gain mass acceptance and replace the VCR in people's homes. Obviously, price needed to drop way below the original four-figure mark, but what else? Ease of use? Naturally, but how easy is easy? Features? Maybe. VCRs aren't exactly feature-laden themselves, but that doesn't stop everyone from owning one.

Chris Lewis Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
It's a speaker system away from an HTIB, with more bang for the buck.

Back in the days before HTIBs, there was another kind of home-theater-in-a-box—better known as an A/V receiver. In this era of consolidation, we probably don't entirely grasp the impact that A/V receivers had when they debuted some 25 years ago. A preamplifier, processor, and amplifier all in one box (literally), with a radio tuner thrown in for good measure, was impressive stuff back in the early '80s. Receivers were the Swiss Army knives of home audio, and they, along with surround sound itself, are probably as responsible as anything for the audio explosion amongst the masses that we now know as home theater.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
More video-game hardware in less space.

My medication is obviously not working because I'm still talking to myself. Marveling at the redesigned PlayStation 2's jaw-droppingly slender form factor for about 10 minutes straight, I caught myself actually saying "Wow" out loud, even though I was alone. It's comparable in size to a paperback book, but it reminds me more of a portable DVD player, sans screen, in black. While some of the accessories designed for use with the original PS2 are not compatible with this new design (the vertical stand and the Multitap to allow four players instead of the standard two, although new versions of each are now available), I was happy to find that my step-up Monster Game products all still fit. The digital optical cable and component video adapter plugged into the obvious places, while the replacement AC cable now patches into the breakout AC adapter (the 8.5-volt power supply is now located outside the console, which is another secret to the PS2's profound weight loss). At just 2 pounds, it's half as heavy as its former incarnation and takes up one-quarter the space, leaving me with vast amounts of open air in my under-TV gear stack after a quick, new-for-old PS2 swap. I do wish it had a catchier moniker, rather than simply "the 70000 Series."

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