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EDITOR'S EYE

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Rob Sabin Posted: Feb 18, 2013 16 comments
As a consumer electronics editor and reporter, I’ve never been a big fan of company profiles. We are frequently contacted by public relations reps who think their client has a good backstory worth telling consumers. But I usually prefer to let those company’s products speak for them in the Court of Test Reports, believing that hands-on feedback about the equipment is what readers really want, and that positive observations we might report in an article do a disservice if the gear fails to live up to it. Matters are complicated further when the company is one that advertises in our magazine or on our Website. Any upbeat comments naturally become suspect, and might cast doubt on a good product review arrived at independently and fairly. We never want to look like we’re in bed with any manufacturer, so why even go there?

Such was the case with Emotiva, a Web-based direct-sale audio company out of Nashville, TN that has carved a niche for itself delivering what’s best described as “affordable high-end.”

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Rob Sabin Posted: Feb 10, 2013 0 comments
Thanks to a kind invitation from The Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing, I was lucky enough this week to get a backstage tour of the Staples Center in Los Angeles just as rehearsals for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards were getting underway. This was Thursday afternoon around 2pm, a little more than three days before tonight’s broadcast of what’s become known as “Music’s Biggest Night.”

It was quite the scene over there and the energy level was already pretty high...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 29, 2013 3 comments
At Home Theater, we’ve long been fans of set-up DVDs and Blu-ray discs that allow you to tune your television or projector for the optimum image. Now, just in time for the Super Bowl, THX has launched a mobile app designed to help sports fans and movie lovers do just that.

“THX tune-up” is an iOS app for iPad (2 and higher), iPad mini, iPhone (4 and higher), and iPod touch (Gen 4 and higher). To commemorate the Big Game and assist as many as possible of the 7.5 million people expected to purchase a new set just for the occasion, THX is offering the app as a free download from the iTunes store through Monday, February 4th. After that, it’ll cost $1.99. An Android version is expected to be released next spring.

Before your inner geek gets too worked up, neither the THX tune-up app nor any set-up disc...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 04, 2013 1 comments
I love the walk down (short-term) memory lane that accompanies the preparation of our annual Top Picks of the Year feature. At the forefront of that is the great pride I take in revisiting all the hard work our reviewers and edit/art staff have put in throughout the prior 12 months.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 26, 2012 11 comments
Editor-in-chief Rob Sabin reminisces about a meeting with superstar amplifier designer Dan D’Agostino and lessons learned from a demonstration he'll never forget.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 15, 2012 9 comments
I made it a point this weekend to be among the first to view Peter Jackson’s latest epic, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure, in its native 48 frames-per-second frame rate. If you’ve not been keeping up with the news surrounding this movie, Jackson made the decision early on to shoot it digitally at twice the 24 fps rate used for the last 80 years or so. The 24 fps rate is closely associated with the look of film as we’ve come to know it. Increasing that rate can greatly reduce blurring and judder on fast motion and camera pans, allowing for extra detail that would otherwise be lost when shooting either film or video at 24 fps. Fast frame rates also improve the 3D experience, making viewing easier on the eyes and reducing the instance of crosstalk or “ghosting” artifacts. But it imparts a sheen that most of us would more closely associate with native video rather than film. If you’ve looked at film-based content on any LCD television that has its 120 Hz or 240 Hz motion enhancement features turned on, you know what I’m talking about. Such circuits cause content originally shot at 24 fps to look like video — the so-called “soap opera” effect. Some folks like the look and some don’t. Whichever side you fall on, there’s no arguing that the look these circuits impart to 24 fps native content is an artifice—it’s clearly not what the director was watching when he composed the film or what he intended for your viewing.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Dec 10, 2012 2 comments
Find out why Editor-in-Chief Rob Sabin thinks the concept of transmitting high-quality sound via a wireless link should not be taken lightly.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Nov 21, 2012 4 comments
As the holiday seasons kicks off, a report from dealnews.com suggests that Black Friday will see some insane TV deals—like 55-inch 1080p HDTVs going for $499.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Sep 25, 2012 2 comments
With great gear, it's all about the "something special."

Reviewers at Home Theater have a near-impossible task. Their job is to communicate, with words on a page accompanied by a few photographs, an experience with an audio or video component that can only be rightly conveyed viscerally. That is to say, in real life we don’t just listen to or view components, we react to them: physically, emotionally, intuitively.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 10, 2012 10 comments
Regular readers of Home Theater have heard me espouse, maybe once or twice too often, my belief in a broad definition of what makes a home theater. At the risk of repeating myself, perhaps verbatim, it’s not about how many speakers you have, how expensive your electronics are, how big your screen is, or whether you own a front-projection system.

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Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 03, 2011 2 comments
I’ve given a lot of thought lately to our Top Picks list and what it should take for a product to achieve Top Picks status. This is no small matter. Most of us on the edit staff have counted on magazines just like this one to help direct our purchases, so we take the responsibility seriously. Home Theater’s list of best products needs to reflect the highest standards we can apply—and to be presented in a fashion that’s intuitive and useful.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 03, 2011 8 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
A lot of consumer electronics editors and reviewers have a love-hate relationship with product ratings. The love side comes from knowing they make readers happy. Assuming the ratings structure is well thought out (that is, simple and easy to understand) and the ratings are applied with fairness and accuracy, they wrap the whole product up in a nice little ball and tell you, at a quick glance, whether it's a winner, loser, or in-betweener. Perhaps most important, a good rating, or a good rating coupled with a seal of approval like our Top Picks designation, is validation that the product is worthy of the money you plan to spend on it. Given the sea of black boxes, identically thin TVs, and similar speaker systems out there, we recognize that giving you this validation is really the essence of our job at Home Theater.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Aug 25, 2011 4 comments
Have you been throttled lately? If you have, Home Theater wants to hear about it.

Okay, I'll explain.

In this brave new world where streaming media from the likes of Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu have virtually eliminated video rental stores and threaten to carry away our beloved reference-qualty Blu-rays on a river of rushing bits, the notion of "internet access" takes on new meaning. The capacity of the data pipeline running into our homes affects both the quality and quantity of the video content we can download, not to mention our ability to upload, store, and share our personal media in the Cloud.

And on this front, I'm afraid all is not well in Streamville...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jul 14, 2011 3 comments
Take a deep breath and inhale that acrid air, my friends. No, it's not the wildfires burning out west this season, but the stench of fuming Netflix customers as they cancel their subscriptions in droves following the announcement Tuesday of a startling 60% rate hike for the company's popular streaming/DVD combo plan.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 12, 2011 0 comments

I took the invitation a while back to visit the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory in Los Angeles, where the company introduced its 3D Innovation Center to members of the press. PHL is a research and mastering center where Panasonic works with filmmakers on new camera, editing, encoding and playback technologies.

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