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OTHER SOURCE COMPONENT REVIEWS

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Chris Lewis Posted: May 28, 2004 Published: Jun 01, 2004 0 comments
Marantz gets universal for less than four figures.

Slowly but surely, more readers are asking questions about high-resolution, multichannel audio. They want to know what kind of progress the SACD and DVD-Audio formats are making. In most ways, I think they're right where we thought they'd be at this point, if not ahead in some respects. Sure, the naysayers are out in force, but it's entirely predictable that they would be. A technology's early days are the safest time for naysayers, as this is when all new technologies inevitably struggle. It wasn't so long ago that the DVD-Video detractors were out in force, and I think we all know how that turned out. Am I saying high-resolution/multichannel audio will ultimately have the impact of DVD-Video? Hardly, at least not in these videocentric times. Am I saying that SACD and DVD-Audio will change the world? Obviously not. But I am saying that it doesn't make much sense to dismiss a technology, or technologies, before they've had a chance to show what they can really do.

Chris Chiarella Posted: May 01, 2004 0 comments
Where's the DVR? Come to think of it, where isn't the DVR?

Amazing but true, many TiVo and ReplayTV owners out there just see the devices as neat, little living-room boxes that record their television programs, and they simply don't care about the technology inside. Thanks to steady improvements in digital-video-recorder technology, consumers don't have to care if they don't want to. Not to be like that weirdo in the mask and spoil the magic trick, but there's a simple hard disk drive inside—in many cases, the same exact brand and model you have inside your PC. However, while computer-based "video capture" applications seem to have plateaued in terms of features and convenience (at least for now), the more user-friendly dedicated DVR hardware has undergone some interesting transformations, in and out of the home theater.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 01, 2004 0 comments
The DVD-V3800 combines popular technologies from yesterday and today.

Samsung was the first to market with a backwards-compatible, single-box DVD/VHS combi player a few years ago. It's still a hot product as consumers continue to wrestle with the whole VHS-versus-DVD quandary. Most manufacturers keep upping the ante in small ways, adding this output or that performance enhancement on the digital half—there's only so much room for improvement on a standard VHS recorder, after all—without really rocking the multimedia boat. Finally going a step further, Samsung has incorporated a multi-format flash-memory card reader into the top-of-the-line model in their recent wave of value decks.

Benjamin Dover Posted: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
You can have it all (almost).

If you're like me, you're sick and tired of format wars. When will these companies learn that having to choose between formats only leads to consumer frustration and, sometimes, outright rebellion? Perhaps this is why DVD-Audio and SACD have not taken off like their proponents might have wished. And perhaps this is why several companies have introduced universal players that will play both formats in addition to DVD-Video and good ol' CD.

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Feb 01, 2004 0 comments
Pioneer and TiVo go on the record.

It baffles me that the digital video recorder hasn't caught on with mainstream consumers. Everyone I know who's spent 10 minutes with one of these gems is instantly addicted. It has a VCR's functionality, a digital cable box's user-friendliness, and a computer's brain. As far as I can tell, only two things are preventing the DVR from making it big: price and permanent storage.

Joel Brinkley Posted: Jan 04, 2004 0 comments

Five years ago, Panasonic produced the very first DTV receiver set-top box. All of the company's succeeding generations of these products have been among the best. The latest incarnation, the surprisingly small and inexpensive TU-DST52, is no exception.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Dec 01, 2003 0 comments
A Combi for Everyone

It's finally happened. No longer does the desire for high-resolution audio mean that you must decide between two formats or max out your credit card on one of the high-end combi units. With the DV-563A, Pioneer has released a DVD player that not only offers progressive scanning and multichannel SACD and DVD-Audio playback, but it costs only slightly more than an entry-level DVD player. The difference in price is so slight that anyone looking for a DVD player would be insane not to look at the DV-563A. Keep reading because, believe it or not, the review's not over.

Peter Putman Posted: Oct 27, 2003 0 comments

As the US stumbles forth into the age of digital television, Zenith is pretty much sitting in the catbird seat. That's not because Zenith and its parent company, LG Electronics, make a slew of HDTV-ready monitors, integrated HDTVs, plasma displays, and LCD TVs (they do); nor is it because they're one of two major manufacturers of ATSC set-top receivers (they are). It's because Zenith holds the patents on the 8VSB modulation system employed for terrestrial digital television. As each new Zenith receiver and integrated HDTV comes to market, the company is pretty much in the lead with the latest 8VSB demodulator chipsets.

Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 01, 2003 0 comments
Denon punches their ticket to the universal dance.

When you boil it all down, you realize that most format wars are somewhat ridiculous. Sure, it's fun to get the blood up every few years, and those of us in the A/V press certainly appreciate the opportunity to ramble on about these conflicts' various aspects and ramifications. Format wars ultimately belong in the software section, though, where the most that a wrong decision will cost you is the $20 or $30 that you spent on a disc, tape, or whatever else. When it comes to hardware, format wars can cost people hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Ultimately, that's no good for either side, let alone the buying public as a whole. Thanks to universal disc players' rapid emergence, the previously contentious (and occasionally ugly) high-resolution-audio war is now software-based, as it should be. This doesn't mean that the DVD-Audio and SACD camps don't still take shots at one another. Now high-resolution-player buyers have the luxury of either ignoring the conflict altogether or simply enjoying it for what it always should've been, secure in the knowledge that big bucks are no longer on the line. With competition between the various and ever-growing assortment of universal-player makers, capitalism survives, but nobody gets burned. The result should be a boom in universal-player buying over the next couple of years.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 14, 2003 Published: Jul 15, 2003 0 comments
Lexicon's next generation arrives with a bang.

You can't please everybody, especially in the home theater world. Lexicon came close in 2000 with the release of the MC-12, an end-all pre/pro that carried on the company's tradition of performance but also addressed the few issues that people had with earlier Lexicon controllers like the MC-12's direct predecessor, the MC-1. Almost everyone, myself included, loved the MC-1's sound, tweakability, and just about everything else. As with any high-profile piece, though, people did raise questions about the MC-1—some legitimate, some not. The MC-12 directly addressed the important issues, like the lack of analog bypass and a six-channel input. (Remember that, when the MC-1 debuted, SACD and DVD-Audio were still just a twinkle in the audiophile's eye.) Even many of the peripheral issues, such as aesthetics, got some attention on the MC-12. The only remaining issue was price, as the MC-12 cost a few thousand dollars more than the MC-1. True, but Lexicon didn't replace the MC-1 with the MC-12; they simply provided the MC-12 as another option.

Mike Wood Posted: Jun 27, 2003 Published: Jun 28, 2003 0 comments
Samsung SIR-TS160, Zenith HD-SAT520, and Sony SAT-HD200 HD DirecTV Tuners: Connect to the future of digital TV.

Whether we like it or not, digital video connections are the way of the future. Growing consensus from manufacturers suggests that consumers who have HD-capable displays that only have analog (Y/Pb/Pr or RGB) high-definition connections won't be left out in the cold, which is good news. However, while Hollywood may allow legacy equipment to remain in service, they prefer the potential copyright protection that's available through digital signals. We enthusiasts like the opportunity to pass digital signals directly to the display without stopping along the way for an unnecessary conversion back to an analog signal. Finally, several manufacturers have come out with new HD-capable DirecTV tuners to accommodate the growing number of displays with digital connections.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 09, 2003 Published: Apr 10, 2003 0 comments
By the time you read this, Paramount's two-disc special collector's edition of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home should be available. While it was never my favorite Star Trek film, the movie does offer some memorable funny-because-they're-true lines. One that I often quote occurs when time-traveling Scotty confronts a 20th-century computer. When he eventually realizes that he'll have to use a horribly outdated keyboard, he quips, "How quaint."
Joel Brinkley Posted: Mar 10, 2003 0 comments

Sony and Zenith have enviable records in the world of DirecTV and digital television set-top boxes. Sony's first such product, the SAT-HD100, was among the best on the market, with topnotch performance and a host of enviable features. That receiver, along with one by Panasonic, were the two most sensitive I had ever seen. And while the Sony had some problems, among them a noisy fan and the lack of aspect-ratio control, last year I judged it the best of a troubled lot.

Joel Brinkley Posted: Feb 15, 2003 0 comments

Anyone in the market for a digital television receiver in recent months might have found them hard to come by. Manufacturers stopped making older models early this year when they began working on newer ones with updated features and receiver chips. Because most digital receivers these days also double as DirecTV tuners, one factor motivating this retooling was DirecTV's decision last year to make DVI the official digital-connection format for the service, forcing manufacturers to provide new receivers with DVI outputs.

Chris Lewis Posted: Feb 11, 2003 Published: Feb 12, 2003 0 comments
The high-resolution combi-player takeover continues.

How pleased am I that the trickle of combination SACD/DVD-Audio players has quickly reached a full flow? Visitors to my whiskey cellar (all right, my whiskey cabinet) may notice recently cracked seals on more than one of my special-occasion bottles of rare Wild Turkey. I've been on the soapbox about this issue. While no one needed a crystal ball to predict that the market would kick-start once Pioneer released their combi player, I still had my doubts. After all, this SACD/DVD-Audio format war started out as nasty as any of them. But then, I always took solace in precedent. Dolby and DTS didn't exactly exchange Christmas cards at first, either (and they still don't); now, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find applicable hardware that doesn't accommodate both formats. Deep down, I suppose I always knew that high-resolution combi players would ultimately be the norm, but I doubted that it would happen this quickly—and besides, it was more fun to do a bit of preaching.

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